- Travel and Places»
- Visiting North America»
- United States
Visit Leavenworth, Washington
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.
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.
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.
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.
Live entertainment throughout the town and the Maipole Dance are the highlights of this popular welcoming of spring.
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.
What would a Bavarian village be without accordion music, and during this June event hundreds of accordion players roam the streets playing their tunes.
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.
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.
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.
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
Avg. July High
Avg. Jan. Low
More sights to see in Washington
- Washington State Tourism: Five Must See Sights
Five sites that are an absolute must if you visit Washington State.
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.
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.
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
Howard Johnson Express Inn
Alpen Rose Inn
Fairbridge Inn & Suites
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort
Aspen Condos at Icicle Village
Best Western Icicle Village
Alpine Rivers Inn
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)