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Visit Leavenworth, Washington

Updated on January 26, 2014

A Little History

We all love success stories, and we all love stories of great achievement. Who remembers the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could”? If you remember that story, and loved it as millions have, then you will love the story of Leavenworth, Washington.

Located on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth is a small community of 1,900 citizens a short distance from the Apple Capital of Washington, Wenatchee. The planning for the town of Leavenworth began in 1892 when it was decided that the Great Northern Railway would build a direct route over Stevens Pass, connecting western and eastern Washington.

Captain Charles Leavenworth purchased land where the current downtown exists, and laid streets parallel to the new railroad tracks. The town was officially incorporated in 1906, and it soon became a thriving timber community as well as the headquarters for the Great Northern Railroad.

Unfortunately for the town, the railroad moved its headquarters to Wenatchee in the 1920’s, and with that move the decline of Leavenworth began. Coupled with the decline in the timber industry, Leavenworth appeared to be destined for ghost town status unless a drastic change happened.

That change occurred in 1962 when Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) began a project to turn Leavenworth into a replica of a Bavarian village. This idea was the brainchild of Owen and Pauline Watson, business owners, who had seen a similar village in Solvang, California in 1958. They began Project LIFE, the town leaders agreed, and the re-birth of Leavenworth began.

Today, Leavenworth is arguably the number one tourist destination in the state. Hundreds of thousands flock to the city for the annual Octoberfest Celebration, as well as other festivals held there each year.

Downtown Leavenworth
Downtown Leavenworth | Source

A Magical Place To Be

Events Held Each Year

Make no mistake about it; Leavenworth is a tourist town and it has tourist activities all-year long. With warm summers, great snow in the winter, and beautiful scenery everywhere you look, Leavenworth is a great place to spend a weekend, and there never seems to be a shortage of events to attend.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTING FESTIVAL

Held December through mid-January, this is one of the highlights of each year. The entire town becomes a Christmas wonderland with a dazzling display of lights.

CHRISTKINDLMARKT

Held the last weekend in November, this festival is a Bavarian Christmas craft market and is a must-see event for anyone interested in crafts.

ICE FESTIVAL

Complete with snow sculptures, Smooshing contests, Dog Sled Pulling contests, and a chili cook off, this festival held in January is the perfect getaway when you are feeling the winter blues.

MAY FESTIVAL

Live entertainment throughout the town and the Maipole Dance are the highlights of this popular welcoming of spring.

RIVER FESTIVAL

Leavenworth is located on the banks of the Wenatchee River, so it is only natural that there would be a festival celebrating river activities. White water rafting and kayaking are available for individuals and families, and you can count on this June celebration having live music all festival long.

ACCORDION FESTIVAL

What would a Bavarian village be without accordion music, and during this June event hundreds of accordion players roam the streets playing their tunes.

KINDERFEST

How about a great festival for children? Held in July, this is a weekend of fun and activities for kids of all ages.

AUTUMN LEAF FESTIVAL

Held the last weekend of September, the town if filled with leaf peepers from around the world, all eager to view the dazzling fall colors.

SALMON FESTIVAL

Also held in September, the Salmon Festival fills the town with the smell of baked and barbecued salmon. Plan on eating much more than normal.

OKTOBERFEST

Three weekends in October this town celebrates that great Bavarian tradition. Plan ahead and make reservations early because the town will be overflowing with visitors for this great celebration.

CLIMATE

Leavenworth, as stated earlier, is on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains, and as such is much drier than one would expect. It is perfectly situated so that the weather is near-perfect during each season. Summers will see temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s, and winters are famous for their snowfall and yet moderate temperatures, with lows rarely dipping below 20 degrees. The table below gives a more detailed description of the climate.

The Climate of Leavenworth

Climate Categories
Leaveonworth, WA
United States
Rainfall
25.5 inches
36.5 inches
Snowfall
93.7 inches
25 inches
Precipitation Days
96
100
Sunny Days
202
205
Avg. July High
88 F
86.5 F
Avg. Jan. Low
17.9 F
20.5 F
Snowshoeing in Leavenworth
Snowshoeing in Leavenworth | Source

Outdoor Activities

Leavenworth is a paradise for the outdoorsman. The Wenatchee River offers great spots for a cool dip, as do other tributaries. The river is also a much-sought after test of white water kayakers, and a favorite spot for those just hoping to while away a few hours floating in a raft.

Of course, the fishing is superb, and locals will be glad to show you the perfect pools in which to drop your fly.

Hikers immediately fall in love with the hundreds of maintained trails in the surrounding mountains, and rock climbing and mountain climbing are also close by and readily available.

Winter is for snow fun, whether you are a cross country skier, downhill skier, or just a person who loves the quiet of a snowshoe walk in the pine forests.

From Leavenworth, you are never more than fifteen minutes away from a great outdoor adventure.

A markerLeavenworth, Washington -
Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA
get directions

How to Get There

By car, you can approach Leavenworth from several different directions:

· From Seattle, drive east on I-90 to just past the town of Cle Elum. From there take the Wenatchee exit and go east on State Route 970, which will junction with US 97 after twenty miles. Take 97 over Blewett Pass for 35 miles to the junction of Highway 2; turn left and travel four miles to Leavenworth.

· From Spokane, take I-90 west and leave the interstate at the junction of Highway 281 near the town of George. Drive north on 281 to the junction of Highway 28 at Quincy. Turn left on Highway 28 and follow 28 to Wenatchee and Highway 2; follow Highway 2 to Leavenworth.

· From Seattle via Highway 2, take Highway 522 east to Monroe where it intersects with Highway 2. Drive east on Highway 2 for 85 miles to Leavenworth.

By train, the daily Amtrak passenger train, the Empire Builder, runs from Seattle to Chicago. The closest depot is in Wenatchee, 24 miles southeast of Leavenworth.

By bus, you can take the Northwestern Trailways, which connects with Leavenworth from many towns and cities in Idaho and Washington. Greyhound also visits Leavenworth, and several tour buses, including the Accent Tours and Gray Line of Seattle, make regular trips to Leavenworth.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Never fear, for most of the year you will not have a problem finding a room to stay in; however, during the peak season, especially when festivals are being held, you would be well-advised to call ahead in advance for rooms.

If all else fails, there are many motels and hotels available in Wenatchee, twenty-four miles to the east.

If you are looking for suggestions, you can start with these exceptional motels/hotels:

Motels/Hotels In Leavenworth

Name of business
Rates
Star ranking
Howard Johnson Express Inn
From $76
2 Stars
Alpen Rose Inn
From $150
3 Stars
Fairbridge Inn & Suites
From $72
2 Stars
Blackbird Lodge
From $218
3 Stars
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort
From $195
3 Stars
Aspen Condos at Icicle Village
Not available
3 Stars
Bavarian Ritz
Not available
4 Stars
Best Western Icicle Village
From $120
2 Stars
Obertal Inn
Not available
2 Stars
Alpine Rivers Inn
From $150
4 Stars

Start Planning Now

The beauty of Leavenworth is that is speaks to visitors year-round. No matter when your vacation is scheduled, you can bet you will find activities waiting for you in this unique and beautiful tourist town.

Leavenworth truly is a town for all seasons!

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Beckie, you would love this place; the winter festival is my favorite for sure, and the hiking really is great. Thank you Irish!

      love,

      billy

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Billy - Such an awesome description! I would love to see that Ice Festival. The hiking is right up my alley as well.

      The pictures are beautiful.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dianna, and Happy New Year to you as well. If you come I'll then Bev and I will be your tour guide. Great fun ahead!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      After I have recooperated from my trip up north, I may venture out some day to see some of the winter festivals in this village-type town. It sounds like a great place to take a mini vacation during Christmas. Happy New Year, Bill!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Peggy, it is fun during Octoberfest; I actually like the Lighting Festival more; it is so beautiful with the lights and the snow.....I'm glad you were able to visit, and thank you! Happy New Year my friend, and thank you for a year of friendship.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Bill,

      My mother, niece and I visited Leavenworth in the summer-time many years ago. It is great fun even without festivals. I can only imagine what it must be like during Octoberfest each year! I'm going to link this hub to mine. Thanks for telling us about it from your unique perspective. Up, useful, interesting and will share.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, no connection at all; the setting at the foot of the mountains is about as close to a connection as you will find....that and one hell of a lot of beer. LOL

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      This was refreshing and interesting, Bill. I'm curious tho - what is the connection to Bavaria to prompt the re-creation of a Bavarian village?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, with your heritage you would definitely love this town. I don't know how many times I have been there and I never get tired of it.

      Thank you my friend!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Now this looks like my kind of place. I love towns like this and it looks like there is so much to do around the area too! We would love to go out west one day and with my german heritage I will definitely make a stop here. I also like to Polka and the strolling accordian players sound like fun!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Irish! I know you would love this town during the winter.....it really does have a European feel to it, which is unusual in the U.S.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure Vinaya! Thank you for coming along on the tour.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      How cool does Leavenworth look!! What a wonderful town I have heard of but not for it being a Bavarian inspired town. Love the amount of different activities going on on throughout the year, Christmas certainly appeals with the ice sculptures, market, lights and snow! Great job my friend, this is a one stop shop for anyone thinking of heading there. VU ++++++

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      I will love to be there. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to take this virtual tour.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are welcome, Ruby, and thank you for reading. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Leavenworth sounds like a great place to visit. We have Octoberfest close to me. I love going. Artist sit outside and paint and the food is delicious. Thank you for sharing..

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, if you ever make it here, you will love Leavenworth.....great assortment of German beers, too! :) Thanks Deb, and Merry Christmas to you!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It is wonderful that Leavenworth was revitalized in 1962. Many towns lost out due to the fact that that proper persons were not involved in revitalization. Maybe I will get back to WA one day and spend a bit of time in Leavenworth.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Martin! May you find peace and happiness wherever you are.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for the tour and the tips. I am afraid my days of going outside are gone. Even the stimulation of a window can be a bit much.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You did spell it right, Debbie, and I know you would love Leavenworth.

      Thank you my dear and Merry Christmas!

      bill

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Bill that is awesome.. I would love to go visit Leavenworth.. I love to travel.. My husband has been to Washington state when he was stationed on a Naval ship Bremerton Washington.. I think I spelled that right..

      Merry Christmas bill

      Debbie

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Vellur! It is a beautiful place to visit.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Enjoyed reading your hub. Love all the festivals, it must be awesome to visit during festival times. Hope to visit someday! Great hub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Carol! I'm glad you were able to visit it. It's one of my favorite getaway towns.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      We have been there several times while going to visit friends close by. A lovely town and you certainly gathered all the information about what is going on. I wouldn't mind a trip there now. Thanks for a great hub on a beautiful city.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you are sweet! You managed to sound very supportive about a boring travelogue. LOL Thank you!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I loved hearing and reading about this city's highlights. You really captured a years worth of activities in this one article. Thank you so much for sharing this with us all here and truly felt like I was taking a trip there with how beautiful you painted the town.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Inner, thank you! It is really a very beautiful and fun town to visit. I've often thought of moving to that area because of their climate and endless things to do outdoors.

    • innerspin profile image

      innerspin 4 years ago from uk

      What a beautiful town! The idea for regeneration really paid off, and all the events throughout the year must attract people from far and wide. The Christmas lights look awesome. Thank you for highlighting a place I might otherwise never have heard about.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      RT, you are welcome! Isn't it amazing what one couple can accomplish?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Linda, it is a gorgeous town filled with fun. You really would love it.

      Thanks Kindred! I promise, I'm done with hubs now. :)

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      The Watsons' idea surely seems to have developed beautifully! Thanks for highlighting this spot for us with many informative details.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

      Wow, I feel like I just took a trip to the Northwest. I could almost feel the chilly, damp air. Leavenworth sounds like a fun place to visit and I loved the video compliment.