Leavenworth, Washington is tucked away in the Cascade Mountains and is possibly one of the cutest little mountain towns that you will ever see. M had visited there earlier in the fall and knew that I would love it- they really play up Christmas, so we booked a trip to make sure that I wouldn’t miss out on any of it! There is quite a bit of snow being up in the mountains, but I actually didn’t find it too cold. It doesn’t have the chill of the wind off of the water, and the snow really added to the Christmas vibe. Certainly one of my favourite new towns!
We weren’t actually sure if we were going to be able to make it to Leavenworth when we set out in the morning of January 1. There was a good amount of snow on the 31st and overnight into the 1st, and there was a good likelihood that the highway to Leavenworth would be closed until it could be cleared. We set out and crossed our fingers, and thankfully we made it up! There were a few messier parts, and a lot of people drove ridiculously slow (10 miles/hour slower than the already much reduced speed) but we arrived in a little under three hours. I loved the drive because I was able to grab some beautiful shots and video clips of driving through the mountains, so blue and clear!
We weren’t able to check into our hotel until 3pm, so we left the car there and wandered into town. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Leavenworth, it quickly grew in the late 1880s as a timber/logging community. By the early 1960s, the town population had dwindled and there was little keeping people there. A committee formed to come up with a solution to revitalise the town, and decided to remodel itself on a Bavarian village. Yes, this tiny town in the mountains of Washington state looks straight out of Germany! It is cute and charming and a lot of fun to wander through. When you walk into town from the south end (where most of the hotels seem to be), you quickly realise that the entire town is in fact Bavarian. And it’s wonderful.
If you are anything like me, you love soft pretzels. Once you get the idea in your head, you have to have one. And so, seeing a town that has both pretzels and Christmas decorations to the hilt, I realised that somehow, somewhere, someone had read my mind and designed this town for me.
Ahhh, the Nutcracker Museum! We decided against going through it (I wanted to be able to see as much of the town as I could), but there are over 5,000 nutcrackers in this museum! I thought that I had a fairly decent collection myself, but it is nothing compared to the Museum.
Kris Kringl is an enormous, two story, beautiful store that sells Christmas ornaments and decorations all year round. I was *this* close to buying about ten different ornaments but I decided against it- that is a slippery slope with me, and I knew that if I opened my wallet for one ornament, I would open it for all of them! Still, we took our time wandering around the store and I haven’t seen so many ornaments in one place since the Christmas store in Banff. (Note to self: consider opening a Christmas themed store in the mountains somewhere….)
I found the most adorable cupcake shop, Cupcake Blues! It’s quiet and unassuming but these were some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eating a looooooot of cupcakes. They are so cute, the buttercream was the perfect consistency and taste (not too sweet), and the icing to cake ratio was ideal. You need to stop by if you are there!
Ha! I snuck M onto the blog 🙂
What I love about Leavenworth is all of these little details- I hope that I can visit Neuschwanstein myself, but I loved this little mural of it here!
We stopped at the Icicle Brewing Company; M was picking up a shirt for his brother and he wanted to grab a beer himself! While I am not a beer person, I am a hot chocolate person! And the aforementioned pretzel finally happened. We enjoyed our drinks upstairs while watching the big Seahawks game. I feel like a terrible person but I just don’t like football; it’s slow paced and boring to me. However, it was fun to see how excited everyone else was!
Of course I loved the Nutcracker on the beer taps…
We had dinner at the Baren House, a very cool German style restaurant. I personally am not a huge fan of German cuisine, I don’t love sausage. Or pork. So, I just had a burger, but it was still a good meal! Great atmosphere, not too busy.
Obviously I was going to have a picture in front of the pretzel-themed Christmas tree…
How pretty does the town look at night, with all of the lights??
We left early the next morning, around 8am! The roads were mostly fine; we didn’t see any accidents on the roads down, but there were a couple for those heading up the mountain. Overall, I absolutely loved the town and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone in Washington! The views, the food, the atmosphere, everything was lovely and well-worth the drive.
What is your favourite small-town destination?