Leavenworth is a Bavarian-themed village nestled in the mountain range of Central Washington. Originally called Icicle Flats, Leavenworth was initially settled as a trading post in 1885, when settlers came to trade with members of the Wenatchee, Chinook, and Yakima tribes, who had long used this land where the Wenatchee River and Icicle Creek met to hunt as well as fish for salmon.
When the Great Northern Railway was completed in 1893, Leavenworth (still known at this time as Icicle Flats), began to establish its reputation as a Northwest frontier town, eventually becoming a well-known and successful timber producer, with the local Lamb-Davis sawmill becoming one of the largest in the country. Proximity to the new railway brough jobs and prosperity to Leavenworth.
In the 1960s, those sources of revenue and recreation had all but disappeared, and local leaders turned their sights to reinventing Leavenworth as a tourist destination. Town leaders decided to transform the look of this frontier town to Bavarian Village, and to start a series of annual festivals. Their vision paid off…the combination of Leavenworth’s Bavarian charm and a robust festival schedule draws over one million visitors to this area each year.
Today Leavenworth is known (and loved!) for their Oktoberfest and Christmas festivals, their stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities and their charming Mainstreet, teeming with award winning shops and restaurants. There are many nearby alpine lakes (Colchuck and Perfection Lake) that offer visitors the chance to paddle, SUP (Stand Up Paddle), swim, and Lake Wenatchee offers waterski and wake board opportunities, too. The surrounding mountains provide year-round opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing.
Best Restaurants Leavenworth
Looking for wood-fired pizzas made from scratch along with other delicious Italian fare? Look no further than local favorite Sulla Vita! Open afternoons and evenings and offering pizza, a full menu, and a wine bar, too!
“From the top pf the mountain to the bottom of your glass” – Icicle Brewing’s motto sounds perfect! Offering award-winning craft beer and delicious food and drink, this gastropub makes a great stop after a long day of adventuring in the sun in Leavenworth.
If Leavenworth’s Bavarian-themed village has you craving German/Alpine food, this is the place to go! Favorites include pretzels with cheese sauce, German sausages and spaetzle…and washed down with German beer, of course!
Top Activities Leavenworth
There is year-round fun to be had at one of Leavenworth’s top attractions – family-owned Leavenworth Reindeer Farm! Learn from true reindeer conservationists all about what makes these animals magical and have a chance to interact with reindeer, too. Make memories with the whole family that will last forever!
Experience Leavenworth from high above at Leavenworth Ziplines! Certified guides will lead you and your family (or you and all your work colleagues!) on an adventure from. Ridge to ridge overlooking Beaver Creek Valley. Guests can choose from several tours and those who really want to go for it can ride up to 9 ziplines, experience one double decker platform and one zipline that is ¼ mile long! Get your thrill on at Leavenworth Ziplines!
From more mild water pursuits like floating and tubing to true Whitewater rafting, Osprey Rafting in Leavenworth can help you plan an unforgettable outing with the ones you love! Sun, fun and memories for life!
Best Festivals and Events Leavenworth
There is a reason many visitors refer to Leavenworth’s Oktoberfest as one of the best ones outside of Germany – because it is! In 2022 the festival will move to nearby Wenatchee, but there will be shuttles running from Leavenworth to Wenatchee throughout the day and night. Enjoy German music, German dance, and song and, of course, German beer!
Village of Lights is RIGHT! From December through February, Leavenworth celebrates the season with over half a million lights! In December, this festival also offers music, entertainment, holiday characters that make for great photo ops, caroler’s, kid’s activities, daily advent calendar and prized, gingerbread houses, roasting chestnuts, photos with Santa and more! Everyone will be in the holiday spirit when you visit the Village of Lights!
There is so much to love about the Leavenworth Farmer’s Market! This event is popular with locals and visitors alike and runs from June to October each year. Enjoy local produce, delicious food, locally made artisanal goods and live music!
No matter how you and your loved ones define vacation, you will love spending time in Leavenworth! Your Destination Leavenworth by Meredith Lodging vacation rental will have you close to all the fun, while still providing an ideal place to rest and recharge. Check out our collection of Leavenworth vacation rentals collection.