Why Leavenworth, Washington Should Be Your Next Winter Destination
When I first heard that my mother and grandmother wanted to go to Leavenworth, WA, a city supposedly styled as an old Bavarian town, I lost one of my remaining nine lives.
Why would I, a thriving 20 years old with much more exciting things to do, want to visit a town in the middle of nowhere that looks like a German town that I also assume is in the middle of nowhere?
Well after only THREE HOURS in this quaint little town, I can guarantee that Leavenworth should skip right to the top of your “Stunning Locations to Visit During the Winter” list.
We all have those right? No?
Well I have one.
While in the car, in the midst of brewing in my teenage angst, I decided to do a little research on this Leavenworth. (Holla, Wikipedia.)
It turns out that Leavenworth was established in 1906 near Wenatchee River in Chelan County, WA. It was the headquarters of the Great North Railroad for twenty years until the railroad was relocated to the town of Wenatchee. This pretty much left Leavenworth cold and kinda pointless, and devastated it’s local economy.
The city struggled until 1962 when the community started Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everybody), and decided to transform the entire town into Bavarian inspired city.
You have to hand to the townsfolk, they don’t do bake sales to raise money. They completely rennovate an entire city to look like Germany.
And that was enough to peak my interest, as we pulled around a curve in the road and saw the full view of the city.
I mean come on. Even I, who was completely uninterested until 5 minutes before, can appreciate a cute little European town nestled in the valley of ice capped mountains.
When we arrived at 3:30PM we were lucky enough for there to be some sunshine and an unhindered view of the North Cascade mountain range that bordered the city. With the town alive bustling with hundreds of people, we slipped into the crowd and began peeking through shop windows and restaurants, dipping out toes into the Bavarian experience.
We took in the Bavarian-styled buildings with paintings of landscapes or scenery on them, wooden beams, and local shop signs, all covered with a dusting of snow and low-hanging icicles. The entire town was laced with wreaths and red bows left over from Christmas time, the the air was filled with screams and giggles of little kids as they ran up nearby hills and sled down them.
We came across an underground restaurant named Andreas Keller and after looking at the menu we decided we had to eat there. I didn’t know if I even liked German food, but after this I was certain I did!
We were greeted by a host dressed in traditional Altbayern Leiderhosen and frauleins dressed in Dirndls. Despite being underground, the restaurant had a warm and inviting environment and really felt cozy. There were a lot of families with kids enjoying themselves, older couples having a nice dinner, and just tourists getting their Bavarian fix!
You may soon realize that I am possibly the world’s biggest foodie (my religion is called The Food Network). I don’t remembered the name was of my order, but it was a deliciously moist breaded pork cutlet with a mushroom sauce. My mother and grandmother had a traditional Bavarian meal of spaetzle and schnitzel, and I could see the eyes roll back in their had. You could say we were satisfied.
We finished our meal and paid (of course I had to get a picture with the leiderhosen-ed host and waiter before I left), and when we emerged up the stairs onto the street level, Leavenworth had transformed!
You couldn’t see them during the daylight hours, but all the wreathes, and bows, and decorations on the buildings and trees were lined with colorful Christmas lights. We hadn’t seen the transformation from Andreas Keller inside because it was underground.
Immediately the beautiful day time scenery of buildings and mountains was transformed into a night sky of twinkling lights, illuminated trees, and left over Christmas spirit.
At this point it was only 5:30PM.
We did more sight-seeing, window shopping, picture taking and reveled in the Europeanness of the city before we had to leave.
So, coming from a skeptic, I can one hundred percent recommend visiting Leavenworth, Washington.
You get the historic and cultural feel of being in southern Germany without having to buy the $700 plane ticket. It was a great time for kids, parents, dogs, and (obviously) college students alike, and the biggest issue they seem to have is finding a parking spot because it’s so popular.
It’s a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle, WA and it’s completely free unless you decide you want to buy something.
So don’t be a travel snob like I was— you may surprise yourself and have an amazing time! Put Leavenworth at the top of your travel list for sure.