Road Trip Idea: Go East for the Autumn Leaf Festival
Where: Leavenworth, Washington. Why: The Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival (9/26-9/28, autumnleaffestival.com). What: Since it began in 1964, the Autumn Leaf Festival has celebrated the colors of the turning autumn leaves with a jam-packed, Bavarian-themed bash. What to Expect: Community and family-friendly activities, including live music from the likes of the General’s 7 Dixie Band, part of the 133rd Army National Guard Band, and the town’s own Bavarian musical crew Musikkapelle Leavenworth; a drill team competition; a pumpkin pie-eating contest; climbing wall and inflatable play pins for the kiddos; and even its third annual pretzel-tossing contest, which requires keen accuracy to successfully hurl a foam pretzel onto the target. The contestant who tosses said foam pretzel closest to the center wins a cash prize, but we’d settle for scoring an actual soft pretzel with mustard. Hit the Parade Route: The grand parade on Saturday winds down Front Street and spotlights this year’s Autumn Leaf float, decked out with a ‘Little Village That Did’ theme to honor the town’s 50th anniversary as a tourist destination. Tradition also calls for the selection of the annual Royal Lady of the Autumn Leaves, who serves as the official Leavenworth representative at 12 parades and festivals throughout the year in the Northwest and Canada. Hotels for the fest book up fast, so make your plans posthaste—we recommend taking a day trip or staying the night in nearby Wenatchee.