Last Christmas, we ventured on our first road trip in the Pacific Northwest, first of the many I hope will follow. We drove about 2.5 hours from our home in suburban Seattle to the town of Leavenworth.
Leavenworth is nestled between the Cascade mountains. When you come to Leavenworth, you are amazingly transported to an alpine town in Germany – not only because Leavenworth is on the foothills of tall peaks, but because it is a little slice of Bavaria, right in the middle of Washington, USA, complete with shops selling bratwurst, store fronts bearing names such as “Kris Kringl“, biergartens and all manner of cuckoo clock souveniors.
And this town really comes alive during Christmas, with the whole main street decorated with fairy lights, a large Christmas tree, a Christmas market fashioned after the Christmas markets of Europe, and the crowds to rival any Christmas market in Europe.
Here are some tips for visiting Leavenworth:
- The drive to Leavenworth passes through the Cascade mountains and is stunning, especially around the Snoqualmie pass.
- While Christmas time is magical, do not visit during Christmas holiday weekends. The decorations are lit up close to Thanksgiving and stay on well until February. The more the time gap between your trip and Christmas/ New Year, the less crowds you will encounter. The crowds take away from Leavenworth’s natural beauty and give the appearance of an overcrowded theme park.
- If you do visit in winter, definitely take a horse carriage ride in the snowy fields. The horses, decorated with bells and red ribbons, will make you feel you are on a reindeer sleigh ride in this beautiful winter wonderland.
- The more widely known hotel chains do not have a presence in Leavenworth. Most accommodations are of the charming bed and breakfast variety, tend to sell out quickly and could be outrageously priced. If you do not plan to spend too much time in the hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites is a good option for a decent no-frills night’s sleep and a surprisingly good free breakfast the next morning.
If you are planning to explore the beauty of Washington, US and the Cascades, definitely consider stopping at Leavenworth for its quaint Bavarian charm and gorgeous scenery.