I’m no stranger to Leavenworth, as many of my followers know. Being born and raised in the Bavarian village, I’ve got some deep insight to the ins and outs of this place that’s hard to beat. Staying for a week, a few days, or just a day trip, there’s something for everyone in this post.
A Year-Round Town
There’s never a bad time to visit Leavenworth. Seriously! While I regularly hear friends and travelers proclaiming that you must visit during the annual winter Village of Lights, there’s far more to this hamlet than just twinkling lights and Santa photo-ops. Spring is when the hillsides are alive with stunning wildflowers in any color of the rainbow. Expect hot weather and lots of sunshine in the Summer — perfect for river floats, epic hikes, or a cold locally-brewed beer. If Fall colors are your jam, you’ll find the sheriff’s buttload of brilliant leaves in Leavenworth beginning in October – seen easily throughout town or with spectacular backdrops on a scenic drive in the valley.
If you’re visiting Leavenworth in the Spring, prepare yourself for a landscape bursting with flowers on the hillsides, buds in the orchards, and life springing from nearly every inch of the valley. Traditionally, Spring is one of the quietest times in town, thus if you’re looking for an “off season” to visit, this is your time. Enjoy discounts on lodging, fewer lines for restaurants, and more time to get a feel for what Leavenworth is like for those who live here (and love it!).
Summer’s your jam? You likely love water, hot temperatures and plenty of outdoor activities. With horseback riding, zip-lining, hiking, river floating (in rafts and/or tubes) and bike riding all within minutes of town, there are plenty of activities to keep even the most avid outdoorsy person busy from sun-up to sundown for weeks at a time.
Fall brings a much welcomed cooling to the valley, yet also carries over most of summer’s activities (but without the heat). Enjoy trails with brilliant foliage every direction you look, then tuck away in one of the town’s drool-worthy restaurants with a bottle of locally produced wine.
Yup, there’s a lot of delicious food in this small town. From traditional German fare, to inventive multi-course meals, there’s definitely something for everyone. If you’re just looking for a cold brew or a great glass of wine, consider Bushel & Bee or Icicle Ridge Winery. Both offer a local feel with plenty of choices for even the most discerning wine enthusiast or beer-lover. Unfortunately, my favorite cocktail bar, Pika Provisions, sadly closed, but I’ve given Blue Spirts Distilling more ethan one whirl and find them solid every time! Of course pizza’s popular with everyone, and there’s no better place to find it than at Blewett Brewing & Pizza. If you’re craving something super-special – Mana is just a block off of Front Street and offers a 3-hour, multi-course experience that you’ll likely talk about long after your return home. Larch sits in a plain alley just on the backside of Front Street, but their pasta dishes are anything but plain. Watershed boasts views off their deck of the beautiful Wenatchee River and Blackbird Island.
If you’re looking for something more casual, Leavenworth has brats on practically every corner, but those at Munchen Haus may be the best around. Delicious soft pretzels at Rhein House can be enjoyed while overlooking Front Street Park and the bustle below. Yodelin Broth offers both upstairs (indoors) dining or views from their lower patio overlooking Blackbird Island – both with sizable salads, rich broth bowls, and epic burgers. If you’re heading out for a round of golf, don’t overlook the Pub at the Club at the clubhouse – nearly everything is house-made and couldn’t be more reasonably priced. Save room for dessert! Locally made ice cream from Whistlepunk tops off any night (or head back on a hot summer day, but expect a line).
Insider Tip: Follow @LeavenworthEats on Instagram for more tasty tips.
This town is full of fun things to see and do. Spend a morning learning the history of how this tiny town became a Bavarian Village at the Greater Leavenworth Museum, then walk downstairs to the Nutcracker Museum to take in their collection of 5,000+ nutcrackers. Enjoy a brisk walk just a mile out of town to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm and I promise you’ll fall in love with these adorable ruminants! Wine taste at one of the area’s dozens of tasting rooms (check out the Chamber’s list here). Learn about the life of salmon at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery on Icicle Road. Continue nearly to the end of the road and you can (seasonally) enjoy a 4.5-mile walk along Icicle Creek on the Icicle Gorge Trail.
Heading here in the winter? The local Chamber of Commerce has created something far superior to the Christmas Tree Lighting of my youth. Now, instead of a crush of visitors on Friday and Saturday nights as the switch is flipped on, the lights in Front Street Park’s trees are illuminated 24/7 – from Thanksgiving weekend through the end of February. That means if December travel doesn’t work out, there are many other opportunities to view the splendor for months. Christmastown is the town’s celebration of December holidays with planned programming daily throughout the month. January’s month-long Winter Karneval will be reminiscent of Germany’s traditional Fasching with ice-carving, fireworks, and events smattered throughout the wintery landscape. As February rolls along, think of Love in the Village with more programmed events, and special packages for sweethearts and lovers.
Insider Tip – The gorgeous white lights in Front Street Park’s most iconic trees are now on year-round, so there are stunning opportunities for twinkling lights anytime!
Where to Stay?
Leavenworth has no shortage of hotels, inns, B&B’s and short-term rentals. While I’m not providing a complete list, the local Chamber of Commerce is always a fabulous source for overnight options. With that said, my most recently stay at Blue Elk Inn was definitely worthy of sharing. They’re a perfect walking distance from downtown, are small enough to be quiet, yet large enough to offer all of the amenities that make a stay pleasant for me: Comfy bedding, plenty of room, hot tub/sauna, and (of course) it’s got to be pet-friendly. Bonus points at Blue Elk is their breakfast. I expected the usual make-your-own-waffle machine, but instead found fluffy delicious eggs, piping hot french toast, great coffee, and exceptional service. And did I mention the affordability factor? Pricing is surprisingly reasonable (particularly if you’re considering a mid-week stay).
Whether you’re walking, riding, or hiking, take in the natural beauty and enjoy yourself thoroughly, but also be respectful of the area. From pristine wilderness to busy restaurants to rural agricultural roads, taking a few extra moments to drive more slowly, to pick up someone else’s trash, or to show a little extra patience to those working in this bustling town is always a good idea.
Insider tip: If you’re looking for an extra-special experience while in the Leavenworth area, reach out to Tom Potter at the T-Pot Experience for personalized concierge services put together an unforgettable experience!