Did you know there's a Bavarian village in the Pacific Northwest?

Spend the weekend in Leavenworth – no passport necessary

By Corinne Whiting,

If Europe isn’t currently in the budget, try this for a quick fix. From Seattle, head two and a half hours east over the pass to Leavenworth, where Washington’s version of Bavaria bustles with quirky charm. This unexpectedly Euro-themed town proves a hot spot for visitors year-round – for reasons that increasingly extend beyond bratwursts and beer.

This carefully planned tourist destination boasts "a festive culture of merriment, beer drinking and cozy fireplaces" — Photo courtesy of Icicle TV

As an added bonus, traveling in the shoulder season (or mid-week) comes with plenty of perks. Think few to no hikers with whom to share the trail, access to friendly locals, easy parking and seasonal deals. At Icicle Brewing Company, for example, mid-week growlers come at a discounted price.

Get outside

Outdoor enthusiasts find activities here in any season — Photo courtesy of MountainSchool.com

You'll find this tourist-ready town at the base of Washington’s north central Cascade Mountains. Every detail here screams "Willkommen," from the Bavarian-alpine architecture and downtown maypole to the annual Oktoberfest celebration.

Yet many come here for the bounty of outdoor recreation options – from fishing and rafting on the Wenatchee River that flows through town, to mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and skiing in the surrounding Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Locals suggest hiking up Icicle Ridge or out Red Bridge, the two main town trails, or taking a fatbike onto the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club trails (find rentals at Arlberg Sports Haus).

Sleep among the trees

Enjoy beautiful outdoor artwork at Sleeping Lady; the dramatic Chihuly Icicle Chandelier is a definite highlight — Photo courtesy of Andy Porter

Set up at camp at Sleeping Lady’s dreamy mountain resort, where highlights range from the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts and the property's self-guided art walk (maps available at Guest Services and O’Grady’s Pantry) to the delicious, on-site Kingfisher Restaurant & Wine Bar. Take advantage of such enticing amenities as a spa and heated pool, plus activities like yoga classes and "Sip, Eat & Paint" parties. Other lodging options in town include Loge Camp and Posthotel. 

Savor the flavors

Leavenworth residents like to live globally and eat locally – meaning flavors from around the world are created using regionally-sourced ingredients — Photo courtesy of Icicle TV

For your Leavenworth culinary tour, be sure to try Mana (eight sensational courses set in a yellow house), Watershed Cafe (where the menu features Hama Hama oysters) and Yodelin Broth Co. (from the same restaurant group).

At Icicle Brewing Company,a friendly 25-barrel brewhouse with convivial waitstaff, a simple food menu reveals options like a giant pretzel dipped in Beecher's cheese and a delightful salad topped with manchego, Applegate turkey, aged balsamic and Chukar Cherries. 

Next to Icicle, find Sulla Vita, a delightful tapas spot owned by a husband-wife team (he’s a pilot, so the fare shows off plenty of global influences). Libations flow freely throughout town; try bustling venues like Blewett Brewing, Boudreaux Cellars, 37 Cellars and Blue Spirits Distilling.

After plenty of indulgences, enjoy espresso with a view at tiny Argonaut; order the Namaste Latte with turmeric and honey, perhaps accompanied by a granola bar or seasonal toast. And be sure to pop into The Hunter's Wife, where plant-powered meals and refreshing smoothies (like the "Mystic Matcha") provide healthful fuel.

Relish festival season

Check out the Icicle Brewing website to learn the venue's live music schedule — Photo courtesy of Icicle Brewing Company

In any season, this town caters to devotees of culture and lovers of delicious fare. Some upcoming events include the Vox Docs Film Festival, Taste Leavenworth, Leavenworth Film Festival and Ale Fest.

Looking for even more alluring ways to pass your days? Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, stroll the seasonal farmers' market, or explore the local retail scene. (Be sure to stop by Posy Handpicked Goods, a woman-owned shop that supports small businesses mostly from the Pacific Northwest.)

Happy exploring, and prost!