Ryan and I have been doing our best to get out and explore the PNW every chance we get since he returned home from his deployment. We don’t know what the future holds for us, and when the Army sends you to a specific region, the best thing you can possibly do is explore (like our trip to Little Mashel Falls) and work to make it your home for the time being. That’s how we found ourselves in Leavenworth, WA this past weekend.
Just under three hours from JBLM, Leavenworth is a petite Bavarian village in the Cascade Mountains in central Washington State. With Alpine-styled buildings, traditional fare, and hundreds of vendors serving up the finest in Bavarian tradition, Leavenworth is a hit for both locals and tourists, alike, all year long – but especially during the Oktoberfest and Christmas seasons. We were advised by a friend to go between the two seasonal events to experience smaller crowds, so we did. But let me just tell you. It was busy, so I don’t want to know what their actual busy season looks like! Regardless, we wanted to share how we spent our day in Leavenworth, WA and what you could do in one day.
First and foremost, we chose not to spend the night and, instead, make a day trip out of it. The drive from JBLM in good weather is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. If you have kids who need to pee, add at least 15 minutes to that (haha). Once we arrived, we followed the signs for the Bavarian village, and it feels like you’re stepping back in time – or into Bavaria. All buildings are styled to match the aesthetic, even the McDonalds, Starbucks, and hotels.
Parking is extremely competitive, so we parked about 3/4 mile from Front Street by the best local bakery, Bavarian Bakery where the pretzels and marzipan are to die for. Truth be told, the facade of the building doesn’t do much to advertise the quality of their goods, but trust me when I say to park there, buy a treat, then walk to Front Street.
We brought our appetites to Leavenworth, so we knew we needed to get food, first and foremost. We’d hoped to eat at München Haus, but the line was long for their traditional Bavarian grill and beer garden fare. So, we opted for our second choice, Bavarian Bistro & Bar, which was family-friendly and served amazing food.
Once we were fully satiated, we decided to watch the Christmas lights being strung up, sightsee a bit more, and explore the famous Nutcracker Museum, which is currently undergoing a significant expansion. Guys, their collection of nutcrackers is impressive! The kids didn’t really get it, but it is family-friendly, there is a scavenger hunt for them, and active-duty military and their families get in for free. I mean, what?! Sold.
We’d hoped to visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm before the day was through, but it was getting dark by the time we finally finished exploring, so we’ll have to chalk that up to a “next time” thing. This family-run farm exists to protect the endangered Woodland Caribou and educate visitors about this amazing animal. Even better, it’s a USDA-certified farm and a member of the Reindeer Owners & Breeders Association of America (ROBA), demonstrating their commitment to their cause.
Leavenworth is one of those cities where you can continue to discover new and exciting things each time, but we do have some recommendations from our own first trip. Ready?
Stay Here for an Authentic Experience
Linderhof Inn – Just 1/2 a block from the downtown shops, you’ll enjoy free parking & complimentary skis during the winter, as well as a full hot breakfast buffet
Pension Anna Hotel – This small hotel with just 16 rooms is an elegant chalet, complete with Alpine decor and breakfast, all just one block from the center of town
Must-See Attractions in Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum – With more than 6,000 nutcrackers within its walls, visitors come from around the world to view their unique collection of nutcrackers ranging from the Roman times to modern days.
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm – Since 2016, this small family-run farm has been providing unforgettable immersion tours to inspire and educate. Book tours only ahead of time, and if you’re around for the holidays, Santa tours are available throughout November and December.
Wine, Dine, Sip, and Sample Here
Doghaus Brewery – Bringing your furry friend with you to Leavenworth? Don’t miss a trip to this pet-friendly craft brewery, curiously located in the former morgue of the Cascade Sanitarium. It’s definitely a brewery to remember.
Schnitzel Boys Sandwich Co. – Enjoy a taste of authenticity in sandwich form. Using locally-sourced ingredients (from the pork to the bread and beyond), they believe that good food is the way to charm visitors from around the world.
Baren Haus – Perfect for both groups and small parties, this old brick building on the corner is known for serving authentic German entrees, local spirits, and great food for all ages. If you want authenticity with a twist, this is it.
Have you ever been to Leavenworth, WA? Would you like to visit this town someday?