Travel

Hidden Washington: Leavenworth All Year

This Bavarian-style village in the Cascade Mountains offers more than just Oktoberfest and Christmas celebrations

The town of Leavenworth features Bavarian-style buildings against a mountainous backdrop. People enjoy an all-year crowded event with a close-up of a pretzel with sauce. Discover Hidden Washington in this picturesque setting.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Beyond the beer and bratwurst and lively seasonal celebrations — notably Oktoberfest with a “K” and Christmas with a heaping dose of Nutcrackers — Leavenworth is a fabulous place to spend a long weekend. The “something for everyone” tag doesn’t necessarily apply but the mountain hamlet of fewer than 3,000 year-round residents excels for outdoor enthusiasts, food and drink lovers, and city dwellers seeking total tranquility. 

Oktoberfest celebrations fill downtown Leavenworth.

Photo courtesy of Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Mountain Sports and Other Adventures

Leavenworth is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with activities ranging from winter sports and mountain biking to peaceful nature walks. Beautiful Icicle Road also offers one of the access points for a top-of-the-list hike, The Enchantments.

Granite peaks, crystal blue lakes, and wandering mountain goats create an alpine paradise in The Enchantments.

Photo by Paul Kriloff / Washington Trails Association

Tiny thrill-seekers will love Leavenworth Adventure Park. The family-friendly park offers a range of attractions including an alpine rollercoaster, a climbing wall, and a mining sluice. Elevated above the towering trees, the coaster provides a surprisingly fast and riveting bird’s-eye view of the forest canopy.

Tumwater Twister at Leavenworth Adventure Park is Washington’s First Alpine Coaster.

Photo courtesy of Leavenworth Adventure Park

For a more leisurely pace, consider exploring the area on an e-bike. Bavarian E-Bike Tours offer a personable way to see the sights. These tours provide a local’s perspective on the history, culture, and natural beauty of Leavenworth. Glide effortlessly along scenic trails, past charming chalets, and through lush meadows, while learning about the town’s quirky evolution from logging town into mini-Munich. 

Proprietor Tom Potter is a natural raconteur with a thirst for outdoor adventure sports. His concierge service, The T-Pot Experience, is a one-stop shop for planning a trip to Leavenworth.

Three people ride bicycles on a road with scenic mountains and greenery in the background, under the clear blue sky of Hidden Washington's Leavenworth, perfect for exploring all year.

Renting an e-bike is a great way to experience Leavenworth.

Photo courtesy of Bavarian E-Bike Tours

A group of mountain bikers, some wearing helmets and gear, wait in line with their bikes near a lift station in Leavenworth. Buildings and trees are visible in the background, showcasing the charm of Hidden Washington. This destination offers all-year outdoor adventures.

The T-Pot Experience offers biking tours and more.

Photo courtesy of The T-Pot Experience

Stay in Total Serenity

Upon arrival, retreat to the tranquil haven of Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Named after the nearby mountain that resembles the titular sleeping lady, this eco-friendly resort blends rustic charm with modern comfort. Over the decades, it evolved into a year-round retreat center before being transformed into the peaceful, welcoming resort it is today.

The accommodations at Sleeping Lady harmonize with the natural surroundings, featuring cozy log cabins with warm interiors. The resort also boasts a variety of amenities including a rejuvenating spa, a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, beautiful gardens, and even a capacious performing arts venue. It’s an ideal base for both relaxation and exploration.

Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort

Photo courtesy of Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort

Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, Icicle Creek Center for the Arts sits on a 13-acre campus.

Photo courtesy of Icicle Creek Center for the Arts

Sleeping Lady Resort exemplifies environmental stewardship and community dedication, transforming from a former Catholic youth camp site into an eco-friendly haven under the vision of founder Harriet Bullitt. The resort utilizes reclaimed materials, energy-efficient systems, and organic farming, minimizing environmental impact and educating guests and the community on sustainability.

In 2019, three years before her death, Bullitt gifted the resort to the Icicle Fund, a non-profit she created to promote arts, environmental preservation, and cultural history in North Central Washington. 

In addition to the lush surroundings, Sleeping Lady Resort has a lively roster of events and activities. General Manager Chuck Schuringa and new chef Micah Windham (Semiahmoo Resort, Salish Lodge) have introduced experiential dining to the resort. 

To frolic with feathered friends, ask the front desk to book a guided bird watching walk with artist-in-residence Heather Murphy. Besides being a naturalist, retired forest ranger, and talented watercolor creator, Murphy leads Last Tuesday Artists for any locals or guests who wish to participate. Attendees focus on creating for two hours based on a prompt, followed by dinner or drinks at O’Grady’s Pantry.

In town, Posthotel is the call for serene bliss away from the bustle. Based on the classic Alpine resort spas of Europe, the property encourages guests to meander from meals to spa treatments and back again, clad in the hotel’s signature thick terry robes. The location also makes an ideal spot for exploring the town’s elevated culinary experiences.

Posthotel offers a unique experience featuring classic Alpine wellness and spa traditions.

Photo courtesy of Posthotel

The swim-out saltwater pool at Posthotel features massage nooks and bubble lounges.

Photo courtesy of Posthotel

Craft Drinks and General Deliciousness

If you want an excellent Bavarian-style pretzel you will find it, but Leavenworth’s food scene is diverse and delicious. Start the gastronomic journey at Yodelin Broth Company & Beer Garden, for hearty bone broth soups and tasty rice bowls. The beer garden offers a rotating selection of local craft beers, providing the perfect pairing and a great place to sit on a sunny day.

Enjoy Bavarian pretzels, beer, and a selection of ciders at Leavenworth Cider House.

Photo courtesy of Leavenworth Cider House

Yodelin Broth Company & Beer Garden is a cozy spot for hearty soups and local craft beers.

Photo courtesy of Yodelin Broth Company & Beer Garden

When you’re ready for a “seven course journey through the senses” using local, organic, and wild foraged ingredients, head to Mana. With its hand-picked asparagus, Alaskan snow crab, and fresh halibut, Mana offers next-level cuisine well off the tourist track that will transport your taste buds to a state of bliss.

Mana features local, organic, and wild foraged cuisine.

Photo courtesy of Mana

Beer nerds will always find something interesting at Bushel & Bee Taproom & Bottle Shop. The cozy tavern features an endearingly oddball menu (gin barrel-aged IPA, anyone?), and the lovingly curated bottle shop holds its own with any in the Pacific Northwest. 

For coffee, tiny and adorable Argonaut Coffee & Biscuits fuels travelers for a big day on the mountain. When it’s wine o’clock there is no shortage of tasting rooms, but residents recommend locally owned wineries like Silvara Cellars and Eagle Creek Winery.

Modern house with a stone facade and wooden roof, surrounded by a well-manicured lawn and purple flowers, set against a backdrop of trees and hills in Hidden Washington.

Silvara Cellars

Photo courtesy of Silvara Cellars

For those seeking a well-crafted cocktail, Wok About Grill is a delightful surprise. Known for its Mongolian-style stir-fry, this restaurant also boasts an impressive “wok-tail” menu. With a lively atmosphere, epic views, and friendly staff, it’s a prime happy hour or nightcap spot for locals and visitors alike. So order a “wok-a-rita” on the patio, and toast Leavenworth.

Enjoy Mongolian stir-fry and special cocktails at Wok About Grill.

Photo courtesy of Wok About Grill

Whether you’re taking in majestic views of the Cascades on an e-bike, indulging in culinary delights, or traipsing along the banks of Icicle Creek in pursuit of the white-headed woodpecker, the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth promises an excellent anytime adventure.

The Bavarian Village of Leavenworth

Photo courtesy of Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

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