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Leavenworth, Washington Travel Guide Popular
Last Updated: Nov-08-2011, Hits: 10,445, Rating: 4, Reviews: 2, Votes: 2 Bookmark and Share
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Leavenworth, Washington Travel Guide Restaurants (36)
Hotels and Lodging (41)
Bars and Nightlife (7)
Attractions (19)
Services (5)
Links (3)
Washington Travel Forum (1)
Location: North America
Geography: Mountains, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Romantic, Adventure
Popularity: Moderate Tourism
Costs: Moderate
Attractions: Skiing, Wineries, Hiking, Fishing, Festivals, Cultural Attractions, Camping, Scenery, Food Destination, Golfing, Rafting

Facts and Stats:
Population: 2,347
Land Area: 1.2 sq mi
Government: Constitution-based federal republic
Country Dialing Code: +1
Area Code: 509
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: United States Dollar
Time Zone: PST (UTC-8)
Current Time:

Leavenworth is located in central Washington admist the Cascade Mountain Range. While providing a wide range of outdoor activities in the surrounding wilderness, the town is best known for its Victorian style Bavarian Village.

Leavenworth is located in the Wenatchee River Valley in Chelan County at an elevation of 1,200 feet. The town is located on the Wenatchee River which has its headwaters about 20 miles north at Wenatchee Lake and empties into the Columbia River 30 miles southeast of Leavenworth in Wenatchee. The area is surrounded by wilderness and mountain peaks that reach up to 9,000 feet high.

Brief History:
Leavenworth was first settled by the Yakima, Chinook, and Wenatchi Native American tribes. During the gold rush of the 1860's, pioneers began settling in the area known as "Icicle Flats" which is located where the Icicle and Wenatchee rivers meet. This was the site of the original town.

In 1892, The Great Northern Railroad began installing train track up the Wenatchee Valley along what is now Highway 2, and over Steven's Pass the following year. The completion of the railroad in 1893 brought prosperity and growth to the area. The President of the Okanogan Investment Company, Captain Charles Leavenworth, bought the land where the present-day downtown is located. At this time, Leavenworth had about 700 residents.
Logging had become a mainstay in town, and in 1903 the Lamb-Davis Lumber Company from Iowa built the 2nd largest sawmill in the state.

In 1906, the town was officially incorporated and the population swelled to 5,500.

In 1922, the The Great Northern Railroad moved its operations to Wenatchee and rerouted the tracks from Tumwater Canyon to the Chumstick Valley, bypassing Leavenworth. With no access to rail lines, the sawmill closed in 1926 and the lumber company left. Then The Depression hit almost turning Leavenworth into a ghost town.

The town struggled for the next couple of decades until Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) was created by longtime residents Pauline and Owen Watson. In 1962, they proposed turning the town into the Bavarian Village you see today, however, the residents went further than that. They created festivals, made German style clothes, opened German restaurants and truly transformed Leavenworth into an alpine village. The change worked and Leavenworth has become one of the most popular tourist areas in the Pacific Northwest boasting over 2 million visitors annually.

People & Culture:
The spirit of Leavenworth is that of citizens that refused to let their town disappear. They resurrected the town with their own money and without government aid. They studied German culture and transformed their town into a Bavarian village with enough authenticity to entice a number of German and Austrian citizens to relocate here.

As tourism is the lifeblood of Leavenworth, the town hosts many themed festivals that draw in the crowds every year. Below is more information about the festivals:

Ice Festival January The Ice Festival celebrates winter with games, competitions, and fun for the whole family. Weekend events include the "Great Smooshing Race," an Ice Cube Hunt, and the Northwest Regional Dog Sled Pulling Championships. The festival ends with a fireworks show.
Ale Fest April This beer festival features beers mostly from local Northwest brewers. All procedes benefit the Nutcracker Museum.
Maifest May This celebration of spring features a parade, live entertainment, traditional German dancing, a lederhosen contest, and more.
Leavenworth Spring Bird Festival May Come bird with us the third weekend in May, and discover the natural beauty of North Central Washington state. While birding is the heart of the weekend, activities also include wildflower walks, arts events, and family activities to ensure fun and learning for everyone, and for birders of all skill levels, with enough built-in "down time" to explore the friendly Bavarian village that we call home.
Wenatchee River Festival June Located near Leavenworth in Cashmere, this weekend is centered around a variety of rafting and kayaking competitions.
Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration June Features accordian competitions and performances.
Kinderfest & July 4th Celebration July We celebrate the 4th of July with a town festival that celebrates children and their families. This is a FREE event for children. Our mix of hands on crafting and professional entertainment provides for a wonderful day in the sun. Celebrate our countries independence with wholesome entertainment and smiles that dim even the brightest of sparklers.
Leavenworth Wine Tasting Festival August Enjoy tasting the wines of premier Washington State vineyards in a country setting while browsing art booths and listening to great live music.
Wenatchee River Salmon Festival August The Salmon Festival is fun for all ages, and admission and activities are FREE. Come and take part in the many inter-generational hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, wildlife "edu-tainment", music, art, and experience a meaningful cultural exchange with Native Americans in their tribal village.
Autumn Leaf Festival September The Autumn Leaf Festival celebrates the turning colors of the Autumn Leaves and is the town's original festival; originating in 1964 when the City of Leavenworth adopted the Bavarian theme. The festival includes food, entertainment, and a parade.
Oktoberfest October Join us the first 3 Weekends of Oktober! That's Oktober 1st and 2nd, 8th and 9th, and 15th and 16th. Free transportation, live music, German food, arts and crafts, Bavarian clothing sale, and activities for the whole family (oh yeah and did we say "beer"?).
Christkindlmarkt November Leavenworth's Annual Bavarian style Christmas market for the whole family offering craft and food vendor booths, continuous entertainment, and lantern decorating for children.
Christmas Lighting Ceremony December Visitors come back year after year for this famous Leavenworth festival. Saturday at dusk everyone gathers to sing "Silent Night" and witness the lighting of the village as it is transformed into a magical wonderland of lights.

In addition to the Bavarian theme of the town and the wide variety of festivals and events, the area surrounding Leavenworth is a hotspot for year round outdoor recreation including rafting, kakaying, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, camping, and other pursuits.

Food & Nightlife:
As you might expect, much of the food in Leavenworth is centered on European cuisine with quite a few German restaurants. Most of the restaurants are located within a 2 square block area right in the center of the village.

As for the nightlife, much of it occurs during the day, particularly when one of the many festivals is going on. There is often live music in the village and its restaurants and bars. Most bars do not stay open very late and you won't find any dance clubs here.

Money & Costs:
The cost of living in Leavenworth is slightly higher than the U.S. average. While visiting here isn't terribly expensive, budget travelers will have a difficult time finding accomodations under $100/night. Dining and other activities are the generally the same as other destination in the Pacific Northwest.

At the time of this writing, Leavenworth has a sales tax rate of 8.1%. Residents of Oregon, Alaska, and certain Canadian provinces are exempt from Washington State sales taxes on tangible goods.

The standard tip amount in the United States is 15-20%.

Getting There & Around:
There are 2 ways to get to Leavenworth: driving and the relatively new Amtrak train service. Below is a driving distance table of nearby cities.

Bellingham, Wa160 miles
Cashmere, Wa10 miles
Olympia, Wa175 miles
Portland, Or285 miles
Seattle, Wa120 miles
Spokane, Wa180 miles
Stevens Pass, Wa35 miles
Tacoma, Wa150 miles
Tri Cities, Wa160 miles
Vancouver B.C.215 miles
Wenatchee, Wa25 miles

If you wish to fly to the area, Pangborn airport is located 30 miles away in Wenatchee. The airport has Horizon Air flights from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Once in Leavenworth, getting around is easy if you are on foot and there is also a trolley service that covers most of the town. If you are driving in town, finding a parking spot can be difficult, particularly during festivals and peak tourist season. Another option is a taxi service that is available in the daytime and by appointment after hours. Check out the Services section of this guide above for more information.

No matter how you plan to get here, make sure you check the weather forecasts in the winter as snow sometimes causes the highways to close.

Leavenworth has a fairly dry, 4 season climate and boasts over 300 days of sunshine per year. The winters are very cold and average 71 inches of snowfall. Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Leavenworth, Washington.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures and precipitation.

Month Avg High Avg Low Precipitation
January 33 20 4.86"
February 39 23 3.62"
March 48 27 2.21"
April 57 31 1.31"
May 65 38 1.08"
June 72 44 0.99"
July 79 48 0.48"
August 80 48 0.66"
September 72 40 0.78"
October 58 32 1.95"
November 40 28 4.68"
December 32 21 5.40"

  • Police/Fire/Medical Emergency: 911

  • Fire Department: (509)548-7711

  • Sheriff Department: (509) 663-9911

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    User Reviews (2)

    Reviewed by: sloshed
    Review date: Sep-04-2015

    Lived here until I was 3 years old and never went back until now - 41 years later. Leavenworth has apparently grown significantly since I lived here, still keeping with the German theme. Other than the fact that everyone speaks English, it is easy to feel like you have been transported to Europe and makes for a nice, short getaway. I can't imagine spending more than a few days here, but there is a good amount to do over a long weekend. I think the only thing I didn't like about the town was the lack of a fine dining German restaurant. We went to a couple of the "nicer" ones, but they were just OK, and certainly didn't have upscale ambiance. Other than that, this was a very enjoyable trip. 

    Reviewed by: geordieromer
    Review date: Apr-05-2011

    There are also a number of ski events throughout the winter including the Hog Loppet Ski tour.  

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