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Leavenworth - A Taste of Bavaria and a Northwest Adventure Hub

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Bavaria meets the Pacific Northwest in Leavenworth, a Washington mountain town with a German flavor. Half-timbered storefronts, lederhosen-clad dancers, and apple strudel have transformed this former logging centre into an Alpine village. Yet this slice of Germany is in the Cascades, little more than 2 hours' drive from Seattle. And beyond bratwurst and beer, Leavenworth is an outdoor mecca, attracting adventure-seeking hikers, skiers, and families.

Bavarian flavor

 

A Bavarian-style makeover in the 1960s turned Leavenworth's fortunes around. Alpine-style chalets are decorated with painted murals. The deep sound of an alphorn greets visitors each morning. If you keep listening, Leavenworth's glockenspiel tinkles tunes every 15 minutes. Celebrating Bavarians' love of nuts, Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum displays 6,000 nutcrackers. You can spot colourful toy soldiers, carved ivory figures, and well-known characters such as Mickey Mouse. Or how about testing your miniature golf skills at Icicle Junction Activities centre's Bavarian-themed course?

 

Eating and drinking

 

Sauerkraut, sausages, and schnitzel top Leavenworth's menu. But there's also room for pizza and Mexican food, and, depending on the season, you may find yourself loading up on fresh strawberries and armfuls of apples from roadside stands. A chilled pint from Icicle Brewing Company makes a refreshing reward after a mountain hike. Bootjack IPA has a citrusy kick, while Colchuck Raspberry Wheat blends golden ale with Willamette Valley raspberries. Prefer wine? At Silvara Vineyards, you can snuggle by the fire with a malbec or sip sauvignon blanc on the outdoor patio.

 

  • Icicle Brewing Company, 935 Front Street, Leavenworth 98826; Tel: +1 509 548 2739; Website: Icicle Brewing Company
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  • Silvara Vineyards, 77 Stage Road, Leavenworth 98826; Tel: +1 509 548 1000; Website: Silvara Vineyards

 

Year-round adventure and activities

 

Leavenworth is a natural playground. Rafters thunder down the Wenatchee River's Class III rapids, and tubers gently float along the Icicle River. Hikers choose from 700 miles of Forest Service trails, while rock climbers tackle the sandstone Peshatin Pinnacles. Northwest Mountain School offers introductory rock-climbing classes, as well as guided climbs. In winter, Nordic skiers might spot deer along 16 miles of groomed trails. If you're more into downhill slopes, Stevens Pass is a 40-minute drive northwest. There, you can cruise down 37 trails, wind through glades, and glide across powder-filled bowls.

 

  • Northwest Mountain School, 940 US Highway 2, Leavenworth 98826; Tel: +1 509 548 5823; Website: Northwest Mountain School
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  • Stevens Pass, Summit Stevens Pass, US Highway 2, Skykomish 98288; Tel: +1 206 812 4510; Website: Stevens Pass

 

Leavenworth festivals

 

From boot-stomping tunes at the International Accordion Celebration to the Autumn Leaf Festival's kaleidoscopic colours, Leavenworth has a packed calendar. Bavarian festivities take over town each spring during the 3-day Maifest. You can tap your toes to German music and clap as traditional dancers weave ribbons around the maypole. A festival highlight is the Festzug procession, which sees everything from goats to Porsches on parade. Over 3 weekends in fall, beer fans glug their fill of seasonal brews at Oktoberfest. Drinkers enjoy live music, German food, and a keg-tapping ceremony every Saturday.

 

 

Family fun

 

Whether splashing around Blackbird Island's swimming beach or nibbling decorated cookies in the Gingerbread Factory, there are plenty of things for kids to do in Leavenworth. Each Independence Day, children can enjoy a bike parade, cupcake walk, and crafts at Kinderfest. Then, from November through February, Red-Tail Canyon Farm leads winter rides on handcrafted wooden sleighs. Passengers bundle up beneath wool blankets as horses pull the sleighs over snow-covered fields. There's a chance to snap pictures of the horses and enjoy a warming cup of cocoa at the end.

 

  • Kinderfest; Tel: +1 509 548 5807; Website: Kinderfest
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  • Red-Tail Canyon Farm, 11780 Freund Canyon Road, Leavenworth 98826; Tel: +1 800 678 4512; Website: Red-Tail Canyon Farm

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