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Longing for a little bit of Germany here in the US? Head to Leavenworth, WA, where you’ll get a taste of Bavaria close to home. What a great spot for Oktoberfest—or any day you want to sample great beer, tasty wine, and German treats.
Bona Fide Bavarian… and I’m not just talking about the pretzels. As delectably salty, soft, and all other things that make a Bavarian pretzel divine as these doughy twists may be, they are not the only—or, shockingly, the best—on-theme traits of Leavenworth.
No, I’m not in Germany. I’m in Leavenworth, WA. Come along as I explore the German gem of the Pacific Northwest.
Where is Leavenworth?
Leavenworth is probably the worst-kept secret of the Cascades, even if it is the best-kept town. Thanks to an ongoing commitment to renovation for recreation, the word has gotten out and around that Leavenworth is the place to stretch those epicurean muscles, whether hitting the slopes or the bar.
Speaking of bars, Leavenworth has raised the bar for entertaining. After all, the town was specifically designed to do so.
Reminiscent of the German Bavarian mountains, the Cascades surrounding Leavenworth inspired the people of the town to style their homes as a complement.
As such, these people established the aesthetic and incorporated businesses and yearly festivals to match. Hence, the killer pretzel.
However, as I mentioned, there is much to appreciate about Leavenworth beyond even this fine treat. Take a friend and take the weekend to explore all of the ways you can treat yourself when you visit the PNW’s little streusel-topped slice of German paradise.
Not sure where to start? Might I suggest a seat at the breakfast table?
The Most Important Meal of the Day
Any day is lucky for a foodie who finds herself in Leavenworth. You could be pacing outside the bakery for a morning pastry, roaming the streets at lunchtime for an authentic German sausage, or settling in for the evening with a fine schnitzel.
Are you unsure whether to start your day on a savory or sweet note?
Try Crepe Café Sisters, where ‘either/or’ becomes ‘and’ the second you step up to the counter. The Razzle Dazzle, dressed in a fetching attire of sauce and fruit, both of the raspberry persuasion, is as showstopping-ly sweet as its name suggests. The Kickin’ Chicken is a hot take on a traditional breakfast wrap.
Perhaps you’re looking to sit and stay awhile before you start your day. In that case, pull up a seat at O’Grady’s Pantry and Mercantile. You can sample everything from the simple French Toast Breakfast to the eclectic Tomato Basil and Avocado Bagel.
I recommend stopping in at Local Yokel if dietary restrictions are a concern. The Blueberry, Pear Grape Smoothie takes its fruit seriously, incorporating all three flavors into a quick delicious morning drink. The Peanut Butter Banana Toast makes it its mission to leave you satisfied until lunch.
Late Morning on the Trails in Leavenworth, WA
Looking to walk a little of that morning manna off? Take the scenic route into the afternoon along one of the area’s many trails.
The trails have something for anyone looking to enjoy the season and the views year-round. Ski Hill Loop allows the adventurer to trek the 2- or 5-mile trail around the Leavenworth Valley. The Icicle Gorge takes guests on a 3.5-mile excursion dripping with crystal pools and roaring waterfalls. You’ll forget for a moment the mountain wilderness isn’t the only attraction in that part of the Cascades.
Is that the stroke of noon, I hear?
The Ladies (and Gentlemen) Who Lunch
Call it a stroke of luck because an afternoon lunching in Leavenworth is a veritable experience as much as a midday respite. The Leavenworth Sausage Garten makes no bones about its business. The dining establishment serves precisely what you might expect from a sausage garten. This includes a 50% pork/50% veal Bockwurst, a 100% pork Bratwurst, and a yellow curry and pork Currywurst.
For the folks looking for a little afternoon refinement, check out Mozart’s Steakhouse. If the Fondue and Pan Seared Scallops aren’t enough to convince you, the Seared Steak Salad and the Bourbon Burger remind you that it isn’t all sauerkraut and stollen in our beloved German village.
If you’re looking for a taste of the unconventional in between your traditional fare, grab a pizza cone at Coned Bros. Classic pizza toppings—and, yes, that includes pineapple—enveloped in a shell of dough is how the diner dresses up an old favorite in a new way. The pizzeria puts a quirky spin on your favorite pizza pie without getting the delivery twisted.
Sufficiently fueled to head back out, you might consider a sunny afternoon on the river fishing, kayaking, or horseback riding along the stony shore. Of course, if you’re hearing sleigh bells and seeing snowflakes, the more appropriate pastime might be sledding, snowshoeing, or, for the truly, intrepid, ice climbing!
Reminder. Your dinner reservation is at 6 pm.
Dinner is Served
The day might be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you must do the same. Dinner is on the horizon…metaphorically, so to speak. Stop in at Gustav’s Beer Garden and Grill for an all-American experience served the Leavenworth way. Familiar favorites such as the classic Cheeseburger and BLT sit comfortably beside ethnic fare, including Pretzel Sticks and Knackwurst.
If you’re craving a little bit of this and a little bit of that come dinnertime, check out Rudloof’s Pizza und Brats. Enjoy a slice of pizza with a side of Chicken Bites, Sauerkraut, Caesar, or anything else you might be particularly interested in sampling. Calzones and Bratwurst are also available if you’re looking for something hearty instead of—or in addition to—a slice of pie.
Perhaps you’re looking for something light to finish your day of non-stop edible decadence. In that case, stop in at Visconti’s of Leavenworth. You’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of de(light)ful bites ideally suited to an evening of grazing. The charcuterie and cheese boards are not to be missed when sampling from the menu, especially if you include the Buckboard Bacon, Aged Gouda, and Roasted Dates.
The Cherry on Top
Call it a day with a visit to the Gingerbread Factory. This bakery specializes not only in the classic holiday house but also in flavored cookies and cakes to tantalize any taste. The shop is happy to offer chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, sugar, you name it.
My personal favorite? The Sugar Soft Iced Cookie, heart-shaped, of course.
What’s a girl to do after such a frolicsome, fabulous day in Leavenworth?
Rest up for the next day, of course!
Every Room is a Room with a View
Leavenworth offers a variety of ways to not only spend the day in town but the night as well, providing guests the option to stay a while in their own style.
For the family looking for a bit of space to do their own thing, condos and suites are available, equipped with fully functional kitchens and sizable yards to utilize throughout the stay. Hotels and resorts provide guests looking for a bit of luxury the opportunity to enjoy an all-inclusive experience, including dining, poolside, spa, and shopping, oftentimes within walking distance of town. For those guests who need only a place to rest at night, campgrounds and RV parks are available in the heart of the town’s great outdoors.
Go ahead. Take the weekend. Leavenworth is more than happy to accommodate you.
Pick Your Poison
Like any Bavarian town worth its salt and shaker, Leavenworth is a beer enthusiast’s paradise.
I’ll say it. Leavenworth is the Beer Garden of Eden.
Each dining establishment mentioned throughout this piece offers an astonishing selection of liquid gold and participates with the fervency of a convert in Oktoberfest.
Yes, even the pastry and dessert shops.
That being said, though it could have gone without, beer isn’t the only lovely libation you’ll find in Leavenworth, even during Oktoberfest.
This next part is for the fish out of water who wishes she could turn that water into wine.
Water into Wine
Silvara Cellars, located near Leavenworth’s main street, caters to the party of 1 and the party of everyone-and-her-dog. The winery even offers a selection of tailored wine tastings for guests of special events, featuring a red, white, and mixed experience. This last I recommend. It includes the Sparkling Blanc de Noir, a perfect complement to both a wedding cake and a good time.
Certified organic, Kestrel Vintners has a collection of tasting rooms. The Leavenworth location includes a gift shop to purchase wine and the tools to equip your own bar at home. The 2015 Tribute Red is one of those wines you’ll want to include in your take-home goodie bag, a ruby red that looks mighty fine in a souvenir glass…or any glass, for that matter.
Obelisco Estate, open a tad later than the average tasting room, is located in downtown Leavenworth. Boutique, intimate, and showcasing award-winning wines—including a Red Mountain Rosé of Cabernet Franc that maneuvered its way into my heart and onto my wine rack—Obelisco maintains a welcoming environment complete with cozy furniture and even their own resident winery dog.
Bergdorf Cellars sits right in the heart of Leavenworth, touting tradition, authenticity, and town spirit. Guests have the opportunity daily to sample the tasting room’s wines, including Gluhwein, a spiced wine particularly pleasant on chilly nights, paired with a hot bowl of buttermilchsuppe or perhaps a warm gingerbread cookie. Take it from me. It’s no overstatement to call the warm elixir ‘Christmas in a glass’.
Just outside town is Eagle Creek Winery, Leavenworth’s oldest winery. The grapes used throughout the winemaking process are cultivated onsite. Bring a picnic lunch with a glass of Cabernet Franc or Rosé on the lawn or the patio. The 2020 Unfiltered Orange Wine is perfectly at home atop a picnic table side-by-side with a turkey sandwich and some kettle chips.
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Let Wander With Wonder be your guide when planning your trip to Leavenworth or other parts of Washington and throughout the Pacific Northwest. And gute reise!