Inside Leavenworth: Washington's Own Bavarian Village

Leavenworth WA
Leavenworth WA | © Michael G Winters / Flickr
Samantha Ladwig

The Evergreen State is overflowing with recreational oddities, the most prominent of which might be the entire town of Leavenworth.

Leavenworth is a town unlike any other. Sitting quite literally in the middle of Washington State, tucked into the Cascade Range with a population of just 2,000, it has all the characteristics of a standard mountain village. But there’s a kick. Leavenworth is an exact replica of a Bavarian village and the German-inspired town hosts almost 2 million visitors every year.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BjVXLACBBly/?tagged=leavenworth

Travelers come from all over the world to meander through the colorful, timber-framed shops whose entryways don hand-painted Bavarian-style signs and oversized planters packed with Petunias. Summertime visitors drive for hours to inner-tube down Icicle Creek—which runs along the town’s backside—and hike the Cascade mountains that encircle the village. Leavenworth is the definition of a quaint, small town, but that wasn’t always the case.

Originally, the land was home to the Yakama, Wenatchi, and Chinook tribes, who lived off of the deer and elk roaming in the surrounding forest and the salmon in Icicle Creek. But in 1890, white settlers made their way to the already occupied area and hunkered down. Uninterested in the food resources, the new settlers put their efforts towards mining gold, chopping timber, and skinning furs.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BjTovefBsL5/?taken-at=214841160

Soon after their arrival, construction began on a local railroad that would, in the early 1900s, become the Great Northern Railroad‘s main base. Like so many railroad hubs, the town’s transportation resulted in a population boom, as well as the town’s officiation. This may seem like a cheerful beginning for the Bavarian village that tourists know and love today, but it’s not. Shortly after the railway construction, The Great Northern Railroad uprooted to a different location, leaving a ghost town in its wake. Leavenworth remained vacant for decades following.

In the 1960s, the town decided to give itself a large-scale makeover to jumpstart its economy. If the townspeople couldn’t profit as a timber community, then hopefully they could profit as a tourist destination. And just like that, inspired by the Swiss Alp-like mountains surrounding the town, Leavenworth brought a bit of Europe to the Pacific Northwest.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BKhQqsWh2ED/?taken-at=228935497

Decades later, Leavenworth continues to function as a tourism hub. From their annual Oktoberfest to their Christmas Lighting Festival to their Summertime International Accordion Celebration, the Bavarian-styled village is chock-full of seasonal events that draw visitors year-round.

If you want to see more of the place and you’re looking for accommodation options, read our guide to the best hotels in Leavenworth, bookable through Culture Trip.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
close-ad
Edit article