Find Your Bavarian Escape: A Beginner's Guide to Leavenworth
Nestled amongst the majestic Cascade mountains, you can find a Bavarian haven. Leavenworth, located a few hours outside of Seattle, fulfills your wanderlust even if you don’t have a passport with its Bavarian architecture, German beer gardens, and classic European offerings, like homemade gingerbread and plenty of sausage and pretzels.
Leavenworth started as a small logging town, and at one point, it was the headquarters for the Great Northern Railway. However, when the railroad relocated in the 1920s, it seemed that Leavenworth would soon become a ghost town.
Determined to revitalize the city, two Seattle businessmen took a trip to Solvang, California, a Danish-themed city, and decided to bring the same idea to Leavenworth. Thus, the Bavarian town became a weekend getaway destination for visitors near and far.
When you visit Leavenworth today, you would never guess that this town almost ceased to be. The streets swarm with tourists and weekend shoppers, locally-owned boutiques abound, and the variety of restaurants and pubs ensure that you’ll never go hungry.
With the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of Leavenworth’s offerings, especially if you’re only there for a short trip. Here are some fantastic local businesses to help you sort out your Leavenworth itinerary.
Stay at the Obertal Inn
The first thing you’ll need when you visit Leavenworth is accommodations. The Obertal Inn is privately-owned, inexpensive, super cute, and within walking distance to almost everything you’ll want to see.
Don’t let the 2-star rating fool you; the rooms are clean and fresh, they offer plenty of communal seating areas so that you can enjoy the sun and meet new people, and they offer a good sized breakfast buffet in the morning.
If you’re exploring Leavenworth on a budget, the Obertal Inn offers budget prices with fantastic amenities. And, they’re privately owned, which makes us Cha Cha!
Head to Louie’s for Bloody Marys
When you walk up to Louie’s, you’ll see a sign claiming that they have the best Bloody Marys in Leavenworth. I’d argue that they’re some of the best Bloody Marys I’ve ever had.
As the waitress placed the Bloody Mary in front of me, overflowing with toppings like bacon, olives, and cheese, I audibly gasped. It was a dream come true.
Beyond the heaven-sent Bloody Marys, they have a full list of breakfast cocktails for those who prefer something else.
Frankly, the Bloody Marys were enough to sell me on this place, but the menu was great, too. Filled with hearty breakfast items like scrambles and biscuits and gravy, their food guarantees that you won’t go away hungry. In fact, they offer the option to split dishes for customers with a lighter appetite.
Check out Munchen Haus for Lunch
When you dream of Bavaria, part of the vision is likely the beer gardens, filled with laughter, music, shared tables, and heartily poured beer. You’ll find a little taste of this at the Munchen Haus.
After I moved away from Prague (in the Czech Republic) a few years ago, the thing that I missed most was spending summer days drinking beer with my friends in beer gardens. Munchen Haus took me straight back to those happy days.
Like a traditional beer garden, Munchen Haus offers sausages of all types, pretzels, sauerkraut, and pretty much any traditional German pub fare you can think of. And, of course, there’s plenty of beer on tap from Leavenworth-based breweries.
Seating is open, and since the tables are all long picnic tables and benches, patrons are encouraged to share. There’s seating both upstairs and downstairs, but since the upstairs seating is harder to find, I found that it was a lot less busy, and it offered beautiful views of the mountains that I would have missed had I sat in the main area.
Owned and operated by the Brulotte family, the Munchen Haus began as a small kettle corn stand, and it has grown to its current glory over the past 19 years. It’s a true example of the small business dream.
Besides the food and beer, the local shops are probably one of the highlights of a trip to Leavenworth. Many of the businesses are local, so it’s worth it to get lost and simply browse. Unfortunately, we can’t outline every single shop in Leavenworth, so here are three that were easy to get lost in.
The Nussknacker Haus
If you love German-styled knick knacks, then you’ll enjoy the Nussknacker Haus. Primarily featuring nutcrackers big and small, the Nussknacker Haus also offers other traditional German toys and trinkets. Each of their offerings was created by a specific artist, so you know exactly where your new souvenir comes from.
Das Sweet Shop
When you need your sweet tooth fix, head to Das Sweet Shop. With ice cream, baked goods, homemade candies, and more, you’ll feel as though you walked into Willy Wonka’s factory.
The Cheesemonger’s Shop
If you love cheese, then you can’t miss The Cheesemonger’s Shop. As you go down the stairs into the cool basement shop, you’ll feel as though you were transported to another continent.
Beyond offering all the cheese you could ever ask for, The Cheesemonger’s Shop also offers gift packages, Cheese of the Month club memberships, and more!
Enjoy the Nightlife
Leavenworth is more of a weekend getaway than a party city, so you won’t find many clubs, dancing, or wild nights here. However, you can find live music, trivia, and other fun nighttime events almost every evening.
The Loft Bar
The Loft offers more of a local feel. On any given night, they’ll have trivia, DJs, board game nights, and more. They also offer 30 beers on tap—perfect to complete your Bavarian day.
If you’re trying to find a place where the locals hang, then The Loft Bar is for you.
Whether you need a relaxing getaway or you’re looking for an adventure in the mountains, Leavenworth has the offerings.