A Very Bavarian Spring

Alpine Adventure Vacation to Washington's Leavenworth

Pack your bags for this alpine adventure in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. The Bavarian-style hamlet of Leavenworth could be a stand-in for a mountain village in Europe. Just a few hours by car or train from Seattle, Leavenworth is one of the best places to combine the great outdoors with vibrant cultural experiences.

Hike the American Alps

Leavenworth’s flower power peaks in spring, and some of the best places to see the blossoms are on nearby alpine hikes throughout the Cascade Mountains, often called the “American Alps.”

Hikers who like big views and a landscape carpeted in wildflowers should head for the Icicle Ridge loop. The full Icicle Ridge Trail is nearly 30 miles, so stick with this 5.5-mile (round-trip) journey for a “high-five” of bountiful scenery: wildflowers, forest, waterfalls, the Wenatchee River, and Leavenworth!

Seeking something short but sweet? About 30 minutes north, you can explore the Hidden Lake Trail alongside beautiful Lake Wenatchee. ADA accessible for the first half mile, this hike through cedar and fir forest features two “cave trees” and streamside picnic areas.

Wondrous Waterfront

Leavenworth’s Waterfront Park lives up to its name, located right alongside the flowing Wenatchee River. Easily accessed from downtown, this oasis feels like a wilderness world away with its quiet beauty and abundance of animal life, including deer, beavers, and even bears (keep a respectable distance; bears aren’t big on selfies). There’s a playground, and the park is dog friendly.

Flat and easy hiking and cycling trails wind alongside riverbanks flanked by trees that make forest bathing all the more sublime. On hot days you can take a dip at a pocket beach.

From Waterfront Park, easily access neighboring Blackbird Island, a nature refuge treasured by birders. Bald eagles and osprey are just a few of the winged wonders you might see. Bonus: Barn Beach Reserve is next to Waterfront Park, where you can find the Wenatchee River Institute—a nonprofit educational center offering all kinds of programs, events, and lessons for learning more about protecting and caring for the area’s environment. You can download a self-guided tour brochure, too.

Euro-Vision

Leavenworth’s alpine surroundings and Bavarian-style downtown uniquely blend Washington State’s natural beauty with European charm. Have fun with some cool adventure twists like the epic alpine coaster and a Reindeer Farm tour where you can meet, greet, and feed reindeer like Sven. Plus explore art and culture in the heart of Leavenworth.

Get your thrills at Leavenworth Adventure Park. The Tumwater Twister Alpine Coaster is 2,700 feet long, with a vertical drop of 234 feet and three 360-degree spiral helix circles (whoa!). Riders control how fast (up to 27mph) or slow they go! As you speed along, don’t miss views of Leavenworth village, the Wenatchee River, Icicle Ridge, and Tumwater Canyon.

Reindeer in spring? Sure! You just have to know where to go. And you should go to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm just a mile from town. Owned and run by a local family, visitors can meet (and feed!) Sven and Co., a herd of reindeer relishing life in the Cascade Mountains.

The farm is open year-round (book ahead!), including special Summer Nights on Fridays and Saturdays. Spring Bonus Event: On Saturday, May 25, 2024 (Memorial Day weekend), join Elsa and Anna for a special “unFrozen” event with the reindeer (costumes encouraged).

Take it easy in town with an e-bike tour, or stroll to see Leavenworth’s famed Bavarian-style art and architecture. Add food and drinks to the adventure too. From May to October enjoy Art in the Village and events of all kinds, including AlpenFolk live music and Yoga & Wine at Icicle Ridge Winery.

Food & Drink in Leavenworth

Haus Calls: For an iconic Leavenworth food and drink experience with Bavarian décor, craft brews, and German sausages, head to München Haus. Hang out in the beer garden sampling imported German and locally produced brews. There are alcohol-free beers too, along with ciders and wines.

Local Brews: Icicle Brewing Company has deep roots in Washington’s thriving hops industry and a longstanding tradition of creating award-winning brews. The independently owned brewery is committed to sustainable practices and to combining their passion for mountains and the joy of beer. Drink to that!

Straight from the Source: For farm-to-table excellence in Pacific Northwest cuisine, Watershed Café sources much of their seasonal menu from Washington growers and producers. Sample menus can include Hama Hama oysters, Million Dollar Meatloaf, and Oregano Buffalo Carpaccio. Libations like the Lemon Tart Spritzer are equally fresh and tasty.

Broth for the Body and Soul: Fuel your mind-body connection with a visit to Yodelin for a host of artisanal bone, chicken, and vegan broth soups and meals. (Okay, they have burgers, too!) Yodelin walks the talk in their commitment to sustainability, using no plastic, no fossil fuels, and a 100 percent electric kitchen, among other initiatives.

Morning Glory: Is there a better way to start your day than at a coffee shop in the mountains? Argonaut Coffee regulars don’t think so, and neither will you when you visit this friendly café in Leavenworth. Pair a lavender and honey latte with a blueberry streusel muffin.

Pass the Pasta! You’ve never seen pasta in this many shapes, sizes, and colors… at least, we don’t think you have! Leavenworth’s Larch is the creation of chef Ben Herreid, and he knows pasta for the seasons. The menu is a menagerie of options, from agnolotti with spring peas to mushroom ravioli and bucatini carbonara.

Give it a Swirl: Leavenworth Valley’s wine scene has moved from up and coming to solidly on the map. The terroir here helps produce outstanding wines with complexity and character. Sample the varietals among Leavenworth’s many tasting rooms and wineries, and check out their cider scene, too.

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