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We had the pleasure of visiting Leavenworth, WA for a few days in August and boy did we love it there. It’s a picturesque town in the Cascade mountains of Washington with a surprising Bavarian theme.
We spent three days and two nights in the town and took our time wandering the streets and shops, exploring the food and beer, and thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the Wenatchee River.
It was a great family friendly place to visit. Overall was very stroller friendly with lots of different things to do.
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A Brief History of Leavenworth
Now you might think Leavenworth was originally a German settlement based off of its architecture and the fact that it’s known as a “German town”. But that is not actually the case. Formally known as Icicle Flats, the town has a long history of logging back to when the town was founded in the 1890s. It was once home to the second largest sawmill in the state.
But once the railroad was rerouted away from town, Leavenworth became basically a ghost town. It wasn’t until the 1960s, almost 40 years later, that two businessmen from Seattle who had recently bought a local cafe came up with the idea to rebrand the town.
They got the idea to create a themed town from the Californian town of Solvang who have a Danish themed city. With some inspiration and a little help from Solvang, Leavenworth started its transformation into a Bavarian Themed town.
Now the town is a bustling tourist attraction and one of the top tourist destinations in the Pacific Northwest. The town itself is small, about 2000 people, but they welcome millions of tourist each year. Leavenworth boasts many different festivals and attractions keeping with the Bavarian theme.
Where is Leavenworth?
Leavenworth is in the Cascade Mountains in northern Washington. It’s located between Seattle and Spokane but is closer distance-wise to Seattle. From Seattle, depending on your route, it about 117-135 miles. While from Spokane it’s about 180 miles.
It is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from Seattle depending on the route you take. The drive from Seattle is a beautiful scenic drive but you will have to cross over either Stevens Pass or Snoqualmie Pass to reach the town.
If you are traveling from the east, it’s about a 3-hour drive from Spokane but the drive is quite flat and desert-like until you reach Wenatchee, about 30 miles from Leavenworth.
The town is located on the Wenatchee River which is a tributary of the Columbia River. The river originates from Lake Wenatchee which is a glacier and snowmelt fed lake. So the river is a little brisk but nicely refreshing on a hot August day.
Where to Stay?
We found a reasonable place to stay at Mrs. Anderson’s Lodging House. The location was perfect for us. It was right downtown and let us easily head back to our room when our kiddo needed a nap. I highly recommend getting a room in the core area where you are an easy walk to everything especially if you have to get back to your room frequently for nap time.
Mrs. Anderson’s was a cute older building nestled between a brewery/pizza place and a burger joint. It has 10 rooms in varying size, most have private bathrooms but two share a hall bathroom. There are several decks and common areas residents can enjoy.
The hotel was undergoing some renovations to the lobby while we were there but there was no work going on that disturbed us during our stay. The common areas were clean and have cute rustic decor. I believe the hotel had changed hands recently and all the rooms had their decor updated. The pictures on the website showed more country, quilt type rooms than the adorable rustic look that they now featured.
We stayed in Room 5 which was the perfect spot for the three of us. Mrs. Anderson’s had decorated the room with rustic touches and antique furniture. It had an awesome feature wall of reclaimed wood which added nicely to rustic, neat feel.
Officially it sleeps 2 but with our girl still in a crib, we brought along her pack and play for her to sleep in. Our room was large and easily fit the pack and play with plenty of space to move around. It had its own sitting room which was perfect for us to have some fruit together before heading out to explore.
We had the shared balcony to ourselves most of the time which was a perfect spot for Beau and me to relax, get some work done and have a local beer or coffee while LJ had her nap.
Normally when we book a hotel room we prefer to use the hotel’s direct website. Unfortunately, it was difficult to navigate and the price of the room was double what we found elsewhere. We ended up using Booking.com to reserve our room.
Due to the renovation of the lobby, there was no staff on duty but the check-in and key retrieval were very simple. We were emailed instruction along with a door code and a lockbox code for our key. There was also a contact number listed had we needed anything during our stay.
What to do?
Now the town boasts many different things to do including shopping, wine tasting, a Reindeer farm, and even a Nutcracker Museum. We tend to enjoy explore a town by walking around and trying the local food and drink on offer.
We did not go to the Reindeer Farm, which is only 5 minutes from downtown but friends of ours have visited and said it was fabulous. They run daily tours which involve an educational portion as well as the opportunity to feed and pet the reindeer. It sounds like a great place to visit once LJ is a little older.
We meant to visit the Nutcracker Museum but unfortunately did not have our timing right and were there during their opening hours from 1pm-5pm. The admission price is very reasonable at just $5 for adults. The museum is home to over 5000 nutcrackers and you can go on a nutcracker hunt. Armed with a list of nutcrackers you and the kids can go searching through the museum to find the nutcrackers described on the list. A great way to keep the kiddos occupied or something to do on a rainy day.
Waterfront Park, just blocks for the downtown core, features a very stroller friendly hard packed, gravel path along the Wenatchee River. This is where we spent the bulk of our time in Leavenworth, walking the paths and enjoying the river. The trail is very easy so great for all ages, although there is a hill to walk down to get to the path.
The path takes you along the shoreline and then crosses over a bridge onto Blackbird Island. You can walk along the outside of the island or straight through the center. On the other side of the island, the path will take you to Enchantment Park.
The best parts about Waterfront Park are the multiple accesses to the river. The Wenatchee River is crystal clear with an easy current and was exceptionally refreshing on a hot August day. We took the opportunity to go for a nice cool swim on two of the afternoons we were there.
Leavenworth Outdoor Center offers tubing, kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities to visitors. They have multiple vans which will drop you either 2 miles or 4 miles upstream depending on the conditions. Then you can float or paddle downriver back to Waterfront Park.
At around $15 per person, you can rent a tube and lifejacket then get a ride to the drop off point upriver. It’ll take you about 2 hours to float back from the 2 mile drop off but you can always make stops along the way at the many beaches along the route.
We would have loved to have done this but felt LJ is a little young still at only 9 months old. She would probably just launch her self out of the tube into the water trying to grab at something.
Icicle Brewing is the largest brewery in Levenworth. They have a large patio and are planning an expansion into the back brewing area for a music stage and more seating.
They use local ingredients as much as possible in both their beer and food menu. The water used to brew the beer actually comes from Icicle Creek, which the brewery is named for.
While we were there Icicle had 10 beers on tap some were staples while others were seasonal. You can find Icicle beer outside of Levenworth, in both Washington and Northern Idaho. They also do growler fills, sell growlers, crowlers, bottles, cans, and even kegs.
I tried their Dark Persuasion which is a German Chocolate Cake Ale. It was delicious! Beau even went back one evening to pick up a crowler (a 32oz can) to have back at the hotel once LJ had gone to bed.
Beau had their Priebe Porter which was also tasty. We also sampled the Colchuck Raspberry Wheat which was also very nice but a little sweet for Beau and my heart was already won by the Dark Persuasion.
I will definitely be on the lookout for their chocolate cake ale, fortunately, they have a “Beer Finder” app to help!
Blewett Brewing is a brewery and pizza joint and it was conveniently located right next to our hotel! They had tasty beer and exceptional pizza.
Originally it was just a pizza place but the two brothers that owned it felt Leavenworth was missing something vital a brewery. So they rebranded and opened as Blewett Brewing and continued to offer their amazing pizzas.
We tried pints of their Heferweizen, Lager and Mango Wheat. Beau loves a good Hefe and Blewett’s Der Heferweizen did not disappoint. It was tasty enough for us to stop in before we left Leavenworth and grab two crowlers to go. Oh, and they have 25% off crowlers on Wednesdays! Bonus!
I tried both their Punch Dance Mango Wheat Ale and their Helles Lager. The Mango Wheat was surprising, it was very cloudy but also very tasty. The Lager was deliciously light and refreshing on a hot August afternoon.
The pizza though was fabulous! We tried their Sister Kathy pizza and it was smother in mushrooms, arugula, and cheese. The crust was super thin and crispy just how we like it.
Check out Blewitt if you are in the mood for tasty cold beer and to die for pizza!
Dawghaus Brewery is a small brewery found in a basement which calls its self ” a nano brewery with a tiny tasting room and a huge heart”. It was a tiny spot and had a selection of 8 beers on tap.
Beau had gone out to find us an evening drink while I put the baby to bed. He came back with three beers from Dawghaus Brewery. They recycle glass beer bottles, fill them and cap them for you to take with you.
We tried their Doberman Schwarzbier, Nason Dog Brown Ale, and Deputy Dog Latte Stout. A schwarzbier is a dark German beer similar to a stout.
The latte stout was our favorite from Dawghaus. We found the other two were a little on the bitter side so not to our taste.
Leavenworth is home to MANY restaurants and it’s always difficult to figure out which one to go to. I find Yelp can be useful but doesn’t always have the answer. We used a combination of Yelp, asking locals, and just randomly trying out places.
These are the restaurants we ate at and our thoughts on each.
Yodelin Broth Company
This was our favorite place to eat in Leavenworth! It is a MUST try during your visit.
Yodelin Broth Company makes artisan bone broth soups, sandwiches, burgers, and power salad bowls. The food was excellent and they had a wide range of beers to choose from.
Now you are probably thinking, soup in August? That was my thought too but they were fabulous. I highly recommend trying one of their made from scratch soups or the Fish burger. It was perfectly done.
If the food wasn’t enough they have an amazing location. You head down a set of outside and you can see their beer garden overlooking the mountains and the river.
Yodelin is a casual spot with nice wooden picnic tables outside and in. You order your food and drinks at the bar, which does get backed up a little when busy. Then, they will bring your food out to you at your table, finding you by your table number.
The restaurant had a patio area as well as a grassy area with tables too. They also had a cornhole area just off the grass. With live music several nights a week and happy hour specials what more could you ask for in a fun, unique restaurant.
Tumwater Bakery and Pizza
Tumwater Bakery and Pizza was just around the corner from our hotel and we stopped in for a delicious breakfast one morning. They haven’t been around for a long time but based on their delicious food, atmosphere, and coffee they are here to for a good time and a long time.
The interior was a wonderful mix of casual and rustic with big decorative beams suspended from a tin tile ceiling. They have their baking and prep area open so you can see all the goodies they are currently making.
We originally went in for a coffee and pastry but were swayed by eggs on toast and a breakfast sandwich sans ham. The bread was all freshly made in house as are the pastries.
They also have a woodfired pizza oven which we did not try while we were in town but if they make pizza like the way they make their bread it is sure to be fabulous. They mostly do breakfast and lunch though it looks like they have broadened their hours to include dinner Thursday through Sunday.
Leavenworth Sausage Garten
Leavenworth Sausage Garten serves only locally made sausages! Well aside from the vegetarian ones. The sister company Cured is the sausage and salami maker and only uses locally sourced meats and a singular source for spices to ensure consistency.
Both the Garten and Cured are owned by Visconti’s which is an Italian restaurant in Leavenworth. It has several locations in Washington and also owns a gelato shop in town too.
Now the Leavenworth Sausage Garten is very basic. Outdoor picnic tables and canopies make up the eating area. It’s the perfect shorts and flip-flops spot to eat a sausage.
They specialize in three things: sausage, beer, and mustard. They feature 8 locally made sausages as well as two veggie sausage options that are from Seattle. The had some imported German beers on tap as well as a few local Washington brews. And I can’t even count how many mustards they had but whatever type you wanted they had it.
You place your order at the counter and then you will be presented with your sausage on a bun in a basket. Now you get to dress it exactly how you want with mustard, onions, ketchup, relish or even warm sauerkraut.
I figured while in Leavenworth I needed to have a proper sausage. So I picked the Bockwurst (they were out of currywurst) and Beau went for the Veggiewurst (apple, sage, and potato). Both were delicious.
Leavenworth Cheesesteak Co
We stumbled upon Leavenworth Cheesesteak Co one morning in search of something to eat before LJ had her first nap. Their vegetarian burrito sounded like the perfect thing to keep us going till lunchtime and a cold beer.
We started to order two burritos but we were told NO! The guy at the window said they were massive and we were better off sharing one. And man was he right. The burrito was huge and loaded with veggies and egg we were very happy with his suggestion!
Leavenworth Cheesesteak Co is more of a grab and go type place. You order at the window and they have some standup tables available to eat at along the side. Very simple and quick but also very tasty. The biggest downfall is they don’t have coffee but you can always BYO.