You might venture over to the eastern slope of the Cascades, expecting more of what you’ve already experienced (or expected to experience) of this region: the sight of some of the continent’s most dramatic peaks, the scent of evergreen forests blanketing the landscape, the rumble of whitewater through deep gorges. And you’ll find all of this in and around the mountain town of Leavenworth — but that’s only one part of the story.
Prepare yourself for a Technicolor awakening, or you might just succumb to sensory overload. In Bavarian-styled Leavenworth, you’ll be confronted with the smell and sizzle of grilled bratwurst, the sonorous harmony of alphorns, the feel of stucco-covered buildings as you run your hand along Front Street facades, the taste of sweet, spicy gingerbread and silky gelato. Here, it’s best to let your senses run wild. There’s no other way to experience Leavenworth.
Most cities have art festivals and art galleries, but in Leavenworth…
What: Most cities have art festivals and art galleries, but in Leavenworth you can expect an arts show that runs three days a week (sometimes four) from May to October. That’s Village Art in the Park, and it’s the Pacific Northwest’s longest continually running outdoor art show. It’s been going strong (and giving out scholarships!) since 1966.
Where: Downtown Leavenworth’s Front Street Park
Learn more: Village Art in the Park
You’ll never want to catch a show in a dark, dank, crowded theatre ever again…
What: You’ll never want to catch a show in a dark, dank, crowded theatre ever again. The Leavenworth Summer Theater puts on three shows — 2018’s roster is The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and Little Women — all set in the open air against the profiles of the Cascades. Whoever said a fancy set had to be expensive?
Where: 65 US-2, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Leavenworth Summer Theater
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort may be a great place to set up…
What: Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort may be a great place to set up shop for the night, but what’s outside your room is just as memorable. Take the self-guided art walk of the grounds — on the banks of the Icicle River — where you’ll see sculptures, paintings, woven art, and more. And that includes Dale Chihuly’s “Icicle Chandelier.” It’s the kind of art that’s so impressive, just Googling it will make you do a double-take.
Where: 7375 Icicle Rd, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort
Thursdays in summer and fall mean one thing…
What: Thursdays in summer and fall mean one thing: You should hightail it over to Lions Club Park for the Leavenworth Community Farmers Market. From 4 to 8pm, it’s a treasure trove of live music and everything local — berries from Hope Mountain Farm, tulips from Roots Produce, honey-lavender goat cheese from Sunny Pine Farms, wood-wick candles from Moon Candles, Stonewear from MF Pottery, super-fresh cookies from OH YEAH! Farms — and it’s not just the cookies that’ll have you saying that. The entire night deserves capital-letter excitement.
Where: Lions Club Park, 696 US-2 Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Leavenworth Farmers Market
Leavenworth has fallen straight out of Bavaria…
What: Leavenworth has fallen straight out of Bavaria, and we’re not just talking half-timbered buildings and an annual (family-friendly) rager of an Oktoberfest. The entire town gets decked out with overflowing hanging baskets, and businesses see who can plant the most colorful display on their storefronts. The colors are electric!
Where: All around downtown Leavenworth
Learn more: Check out the city webcams
The sound of a fresh bottle of wine breathing in its first breath…
What:The sound of a fresh bottle of wine breathing in its breath — beautiful. For a town of 2,000 people, you’d expect a lone wine bar taking the cake (err, cork), but Leavenworth has over 20 tasting rooms in the downtown area alone (yep, that’s one tasting room for every 100 people). Brush up on your terroir-and-tannin knowledge, because whenever you get here, it’s wine time.
Where: All along Front Street
Learn more: Leavenworth’s wineries and tasting rooms
A “center” for the arts should be just that. At Icicle Creek…
What: A “center” for the arts should be just that. At Icicle Creek Center for the Arts, you’ll encounter classical artists, students and classes, films, lectures, dancers, summer camps — the gamut. The roster of events would be impressive to anyone, but perhaps what most puts them on the map is the Music in the Meadow concert series. World-class artists bringing their art outdoors, in a wide open meadow at the foot of the Enchantments? When’s the last time you picnicked across from a Grammy award winner?
Where: 7409 Icicle Rd, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Icicle Creek Center for the Arts
The kids will have plenty to rave about…
What: With 20+ wine-tasting rooms, Leavenworth may seem adult-focused, but the kids will have plenty to rave about, too. Nutcracker hunts at the Nutcracker Museum, riding their bikes along the berms and rollers of the Leavenworth Pump Track, dropping a hole-in-one at Icicle Village Resort’s mini golf course (Bavarian-themed, of course) — heck, actually, who said these activities were kids-only?
What speed of water is right for you?
What: What speed of water is right for you? The Icicle River is a gentle float by raft, Lake Wenatchee will have you mastering that paddleboard, and the Wenatchee River brings Class II, III, and IV rapids if you’ve got sweat to break and something to prove.
Where: Icicle and Wenatchee Rivers, Lake Wenatchee
You’re not imagining things…
What: You’re not imagining things — if it’s a Saturday morning during the summer, that’s the Leavenworth Alphorns playing in the distance. You’ll spot them at local festivals and parades, too — just like in Bavaria.
Where: Saturday Serenade at the gazebo
Learn more: Leavenworth Alphorns
What kind of good Bavarian-themed town wouldn’t know its way around a dough hook?…
What: What kind of good Bavarian-themed town wouldn’t know its way around a dough hook? Here, local bakeries make authentic breads, strudel, pretzels, pastries, gingerbread — all Oma-approved. The pies at Homefires Bakery look Chihuly-level impressive, and grabbing some homemade sourdough from Bavarian Bakery should be stop #1. Stop #2? Farmers market. Stop #3? The trail.
Where: Multiple spots along Front Street
If you can only leave Leavenworth with one souvenir…
What: If you can only leave Leavenworth with one souvenir, let it be from Schocolat. They make all their chocolates, pralines, caramels, bars, and truffles European-style in small batches in their onsite kitchen. When you walk in, you’ll be bombarded with way too many choices, so let’s narrow it down: Eye their European-style bon bons or their Icicle truffles — the latter is English toffee or a vanilla caramel, encrusted with almonds, hand-dipped in milk or dark chocolate, and sprinkled with Australian pink sea salt. Yum.
Where: 843 Front St #C, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Schocolat
Welcome to the family. At Icicle Ridge Winery…
What: Welcome to the family. At Icicle Ridge Winery, walking through the front doors is walking into their 5,000-square-foot log cabin home. Take a minute to position yourself in front of the picture windows (looking out onto the vineyards), and then grab a seat at the massive hand-carved table. Which of Louie and Judy’s award-winning wines would you like to try first?
Where: 8977 North Rd, Peshastin, WA 98847
Learn more: Icicle Ridge Winery
If you want to taste regional flavors in some of their finest incarnations…
What: If you want to taste regional flavors in some of their finest incarnations, Leavenworth has options for you. One of the best is Mana, where “local” is so much more than a buzzword — 90% of the ingredients featured in their single-seating, eight-course dinners are foraged or otherwise gathered locally (reservations required). You can also sign up for a cooking class with Chef Colin.
Where: 221 8th St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Mana Restaurant
Fresh house-made gelato. Sorbetto from scratch…
What: Fresh house-made gelato. Sorbetto from scratch. Traditional Italian recipes with local Leavenworth ingredients. Visconti’s also has a full lunch and dinner menu — the pizzas and sausages are what you’re smelling — and a full dessert menu not limited to the cold stuff. This may be a German-inspired town, but their gelato, tiramisu, and cioccolata are hard to beat.
Where: 636 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Visconti’s
You can’t leave Leavenworth until you’ve sat down to an authentic German meal…
What: You can’t leave Leavenworth until you’ve sat down to an authentic German meal, and sausages are a specialty here. Check out Munchen Haus, grab a seat in the beer garden (and a stein!), and let the tastes commence. There are some dozen mustards to try on your Bavarian grilled sausage, spiced to a tee with a recipe straight out of southern Germany.
Where: 709 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Munchen Haus
Ponderosa pine…white pine…lodgepole pine…
What: Ponderosa pine…white pine…lodgepole pine — can you smell the difference? That’s okay. We can’t either. All of Leavenworth’s dozen-plus hiking trails bloom with fragrance come summertime, some taking you along rivers, lakes, and creeks, some high up into the Cascades, some below views of the Stuart Range, and some deep into the Glacier Peak Wilderness.
Where: Any of Leavenworth’s many trails
Learn more: leavenworth.org/trails
After all that time outside, you’re going to need to bubble up…
What: After all that time outside, you’re going to need to bubble up. Enter The Bubblery — you’ll want to go home with the smells from the shop bottled up, but settle for a box of their small-batch handmade soaps, fizzies, or lotions. It’s mighty-smellin’ pamperin’ time.
Where: 220 9th St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: The Bubblery
This Old European treat is the perfect complement to Leavenworth’s more savory flavors…
What: This Old European treat is the perfect complement to Leavenworth’s more savory flavors. And, celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018, The Gingerbread Factory is the place to enjoy it. You can’t miss this spot — just find the building on Front Street that looks like your childhood gingerbread houses, pop in and choose from their wide selection of ginger baked treats, and enjoy them accompanied by views of the snowy Cascades (which, like the smells, come complimentary!).
Where: 829 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: The Gingerbread Factory
A two-minute walk from Front Street…
What: A two-minute walk from Front Street (and Icicle Brewing Company!) is Waterfront Park. It runs along the Wenatchee River until it turns into Enchantment Park, and the Waterfront Park Trail — that traverses both — is awesome and super accessible. It winds three miles through quiet riverbank forests, dropping off at convenient beach inlets along the way (making swimming easy, too). When you need a break from downtown, it’ll be right there waiting.
Where: Off 9th and Main Streets, trailhead down the hill to your left
Learn more: Waterfront Park Trail
Go on, put your nose close. It’s allowed…
What: Go on, put your nose close. It’s allowed. Heck, at J5 Coffee Shop and Espresso Bar, it’s expected. Go home with a pound of the fresh stuff, or take 20 minutes to yourself to slow down with a cortado — that’s two shots of espresso and a hearty dollop of house-made whip cream. Or, you know, a pour-over will do the trick, too.
Where: 215 9th St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: J5 Coffee
Lake Wenatchee — surrounded by mountains — is nearly four square miles…
What: Lake Wenatchee — surrounded by mountains — is nearly four square miles of glacially fed water. The Wenatchee River is here, too, bisecting Lake Wenatchee State Park. Camping, swimming, horseback riding, kayaking, rafting, SUPing, just playing in the sand — hopefully, you have time for it all.
Where: 18 miles northwest of Leavenworth
Learn more: Lake Wenatchee State Park
Mountains are pretty from below, sure…
What: Mountains are pretty from below, sure, but nothing beats literally touching the treetops as you zoom through them. Beaver Creek Valley is home to Leavenworth Ziplines, where you’ll get two hours of practicing your bird skills, crossing suspension bridges, and conquering any leftover fears.
Where: 19115 Chiwawa Loop Rd, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Leavenworth Ziplines
You know those interactive touch museums they have for kids?…
What: You know those interactive touch museums they have for kids? Consider the entire town of Leavenworth one of those…for adults. Stroll the streets and feel the stucco and the timber. Find the Maipole in town square and grab the photo opp. Chase down the beer wagon, go on a treasure hunt for the town’s murals, and follow the sounds of the glockenspeil that rings every 15 minutes. If there’s ice cream afterward, it really will be like being a kid again.
Where: Throughout town, especially downtown
Learn more: Everything Bavarian in Leavenworth
Rock-climbing in Washington State is primo right here. 50…
What: Rock climbing in Washington State gets primo right here. Fifty crags are within 10 miles of town, each attracting climbers from all over the world in the summer months. The two main areas are Icicle Creek and Tumwater Canyon, and you won’t know which you prefer until you tackle them both.
Where: Icicle Creek, Tumwater Canyon, Pinnacles State Park
Learn more: Climbing in Leavenworth
Does your hometown have a shop dedicated to awesome hats? Didn’t think so…
What: Does your hometown have a shop dedicated to awesome hats? Didn’t think so. Welcome to Leavenworth, home of the Hat Shop for 30+ years, in which time it’s become a local institution. Swing by to find that perfect quirky souvenir, or just snap some memorable selfies. And if you’re in town for one of the big festivals like Oktoberfest, you can bet you’ll be rubbing shoulders with fun-loving locals preparing to go all out, Leavenworth style!
Where: 719 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
Learn more: Hat Shop