There are many unique places in the Northwest, though perhaps nowhere as unique as the American Dream town of Leavenworth.
Have questions about our history, how to get here, what the seasons are like, who that notable nutcracker is, or who to contact for more information? We have done our best to answer them below. If you don’t see your question, feel free to contact us here or just give us a call at (509) 548-5807. We are happy to help!
Americans have baseball and apple pie. Bavarian’s have brats, beer, and nutcrackers. Why nutcrackers, though? In Germany (and especially German Bavaria) nuts are common ingredient in desserts. The decorative, wooden handled, big mouthed pieces offered entertainment and a conversation piece as the family or guests awaited the final course. Leavenworth boasts our very own Nutcracker Museum, featuring everything from traditional German nutcrackers to historical stone pieces used as far back as the Roman Empire. Speaking of nutcrackers, that brings up another question…
We are a hop, skip and a stein away from the Puget Sound. Simply take Highway 2 east towards Stevens Pass, and you’ll smell the brats in about two hours. If you’re taking I-90 east, take the Cle Elum exit and continue on Hwy. 97 over Blewett Pass. Follow the signs, and Woody will be waiting for you in about the same amount of time it takes you to travel on Hwy 2.
Amtrak serves Leavenworth from Seattle and Spokane daily on the jaw-dropping Empire Builder line, taking you across dizzying vistas and beside majestic peaks. If you’re about the journey as much as the destination, strongly consider this route.
Once in Leavenworth, while you can certainly drive through downtown, the area is made for walking, biking (and after a nice winter snowstorm) sledding. Miles of trails beckon for your bike, boots, or skis, and local transit serves our valley multiple times daily.
All our shop owners are friendly and knowledgeable regarding Leavenworth, the surrounding area, and best bets for fun depending on the season. If you want to talk to the experts (and who doesn’t), stop by the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce offices, right across Highway 2 from the new parking lot. Grab a cup of coffee, let our vacation experts hear about your vacation plans, and prepare to get inspired.
Glad you asked. Woody is our official ambassador to Leavenworth, you’ll have to forgive his wooden personality. But the man is willing to work for peanuts! Can you blame us? Be sure to keep your eyes out when perusing our website for Woody’s Pick’s. These are things that Woody is particularly excited about, guaranteed to give you a crackin’ time and you’d be nuts to miss them.
Unlike the “wet” side of the state, Leavenworth enjoys all four seasons and 300 days of sunshine. Spring brings mild conditions, apple and pear blossoms, the golden hue of the hills outside of town turn emerald, and you can literally hear the Icicle River coming to life, with thousands of gallons of glacier water tumbling down the canyon every second.
If our summer guests crave warmth, chances are they won’t leave disappointed. Highs are generally in the 80’s-90’s, and overnights are refreshingly crisp. Moonlight walks, heavy ice cream consumption, and lots of dips into Lake Wenatchee and Icicle River are highly encouraged.
Autumn is bustling. Millions of boxes of pears and apples come off our trees, and the local foliage gives us Technicolor show that would make New England blush. September and early October daytime highs are still consistently in the 80’s and high 70’s and make for a perfect family getaway when you want that last fleeting brush with the summer past.
Oh, yes. Winter. Beautiful Leavenworth winters. Snow caressing chalet rooftops, lights twinkling as far as you can see, carolers strolling down the lane, hooves softly treading on new powder pulling sleighs full of families and lovers…we can paint the picture, but you can see it already, can’t you? There’s a reason we’ve been multiple accolades naming us the”ultimate” holiday town. We’re only a tank of gas away. Saddle up Rudolph and we’ll see you soon.
Believe it or not, our area wasn’t always Bavaria. Instead, the towering mountain peaks and bountiful land was known amongst Native Americans as some of the most plentiful land anyone had laid eyes on. The Yakama, Chinook and Wenatchi tribes all hunted the same land for deer & elk, and also fished Icicle Creek for salmon.
Settlers hungry for gold, timber, and furs soon settled the area, and by 1890, Icicle Flats was born. The area exploded with the arrival of the rail line near the turn of the century. At that point, Leavenworth was a whole lot less Bavaria and a whole lot more Deadwood! The logging and sawmill business was great…until it wasn’t. When the railroad re-routed its rails and moved out of town, it almost turned Leavenworth into a ghost town. The area scuffled along for more than thirty years, always on the brink of extinction.
In the early 1960’s, town leaders had a bright idea: change Leavenworth’s appearance to draw visitors. If the gorgeous alpine hills had no equal except in German Bavaria, the city planned on completing the experience.
This was no mere facelift. In addition to completely renovating the downtown area, community leaders created a series of festivals, drawing revelers into town. From there, the Autumn Leaf Festival, Maifest, and the immensely popular Christmas Lighting Festivals were born and continue to this day.
To say the change worked is like saying you can taste a hint of cabbage in kraut. For decades, Leavenworth has been a top tourist destination in the Pacific Northwest. More than a million tourists walk our streets every year, finding Bavarian authenticity and Northwest hospitality.