Leavenworth is a little mountain hamlet in the heart of the Northern Cascades of Washington with a long history of perseverance and reinvention. Now-a-days it’s an unexpected fun-filled Bavarian-themed wonderland, but it didn’t start out that way.
The town began with the completion of construction of its railroad line and building of a sawmill in the timber-heavy region in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Incorporated in 1906, the small timber community briefly became the headquarters of the Great Northern Railway, but when the headquarters relocated in the 1920s the timber economy took a plunge.
In the 1960s, the little town, whose population has remained steady at a little under 2,000 since its beginnings, decided it needed a make-over. With research and guidance assistance from the University of Washington, the town began its transformation into the authentic Bavarian-themed mountain hamlet it is today. All of the buildings are strictly based off of the traditional architecture found in the Bavarian Alps. Street and shop signs use Bavarian names, and though you won’t find many chains in town, the ones that were permitted were only allowed to do so if they adhered to these strict rules.
Today the town is known for its beautiful architecture, authentic foods and small-town charm. From shop-owners of the locally owned businesses to the dedicated volunteers at the historical society (two of whom lead us on a wonderful tour), you’ll soon discover that community pride and friendliness are another huge part of the town’s attractiveness.
Explore the easily walkable downtown shops and restaurants. The deck at Icicle Brewing Company is a popular hangout and you’re sure to get your fill of schnitzel and spatzle at the Baren Haus Restaurant. Just be sure to leave room for our group beer and brats dinner.
Walk off your meal on a scenic stroll through Waterfront Park, just below the downtown and hugging the glacier-fed aqua-toned Icicle Creek.
The Nutcracker Museum is a must. With over 6,000 nutcrackers from around the world and across time on display, it is the world’s largest collection. A truly unique and fascinating destination.
Learn more about Leavenworth’s history at the Carroll Mansion. The oldest museum in Leavenworth County it is operated by the Leavenworth County Historical Society.
The more adventurous can enjoy river rafting and kayaking through several local guide services or zipline from ridge to ridge over Beaver Creek Valley with Leavenworth Ziplines.
Visit our YouTube channel for a short video of Leavenworth.