Memorial Day Weekend is mere days away. If you’re aching to get out of town but fearing there isn’t a viable destination at this eleventh hour, consider heading east to the Cascade Mountains. While only a two-hour drive from Seattle, a few days in Leavenworth will transport you to a sweet little slice of Bavaria. And with so many fun things to see, do and eat, you’ll be planning your return visit before you can even say bis später.
Where to stay?
The Enzian Inn (pictured below) is right across the street from downtown Leavenworth, and the decor is a warm, gorgeous, Bavarian-style that both grown-ups and kids will find comfortable and fun. They offer several room styles, with the Family Room being a popular pick — with two queens plus a sleeper sofa, it offers plenty of room to kick back and enjoy the view of the outdoor pool. Plus, the complimentary breakfast buffet is especially popular with the kids because of the daily alphorn performance (think Ricola cough drops!).
At the expansive Icicle Village Resort at the town’s western entry off Highway 2, you can choose from rooms at the Best Western Plus Icicle Inn or the Aspen Suites Condominiums. Either way, you will be a skip and a hop away from all the fun at the Icicle Junction Activity Center (more on this later).
For accommodations closer to nature, check out Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, a beautiful 67-acre property surrounded by mountains and creeks. Here, you will find a variety of cabin and bunk room styles, an onsite spa and several dining options as well as a cool outdoor pool and family play barn — just a few of the amazing amenities at Sleeping Lady. If you want more room and privacy, or if you’re traveling with extended family or friends, a vacation home rental is a super fun way to go. Check out Leavenworth’s own site for finding a weekend place that’s just right for your family.
What to do?
Wow, where do we start? Leavenworth is a town that likes its festivals; there is at least one for every month! Mother’s Day weekend in May has Maifest, with plenty of traditional German music, dancing, and even medieval knights and horse-drawn wagons. June features the Bavarian Bike & Brews festival — perfect if you and the kiddos love to watch or participate in road racing (and if the grown-ups like microbrews). In July the Kinderfest and Independence Day festival is all about celebrating children; hayrides, a bike parade, tons of hands-on activities, and of course, music, crafts, and loads of tasty treats.
Downtown Leavenworth has Front Street Park, with its charming gazebo and maypole; a prime spot for sitting under a shady tree and people-watching while eating an ice cream cone. Waterfront Park, nestled along the Wenatchee River just a few blocks from downtown, is a birdwatcher’s dream. Enchantment Park has play fields, a playground, and several hiking trails and bike paths, as well as a bridge that connects you to Blackbird Island.
The Leavenworth Summer Theater features kid-friendly shows in a beautiful outdoor theater just a few minutes from downtown. If your family loves The Sound of Music or Fiddler on the Roof, add this venue to your list of to-do’s. You may even get to sing along with the Von Trapps!
For something totally offbeat, check out the Nutcracker Museum on Front Street. Yes, we said nutcrackers! At this awesome museum, see over 6,000 nutcrackers dating back 500 years. Your kiddos will go nuts for it (couldn’t help ourselves there). Or stop by Smallwood’s Harvest for tons of farm fun on the cheap. You can also pick up fresh fruits and veggies, grab a scoop of ice cream, and shop for unique gifts and specialty food and wine while your kiddos feed the goats, chickens, and alpacas or pan for gold.
Looking to get wet?
River tubing, stand-up paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, and kayaking are all excellent options. Rent equipment and go it on your own, or book a guided trip. The folks at Leavenworth Outdoor Center will hook you up.
But wait, there’s more…
There are so many fantastic ways for you to enjoy all the incredible outdoor activities Leavenworth has to offer — fishing, biking, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, birding, zip lines, wagon rides. You name it, and Leavenworth very likely has it. At Icicle Junction Activity Center it’s all about playing, with its 18-hole Bavarian-themed mini-golf, arcade and game room, and sport court.
Of course, if you’d rather take it easy this weekend, then strolling through the charming streets of downtown Leavenworth may be more your pace. Unique kid-pleasing shops abound — from Kris Kringl, a year-round Christmas store, to The Wood Shop, featuring handcrafted toys and games, to Mainz Haus of Rock, where your little geologists will go goo-goo eyed over the crystals, fossils, and petrified wood.
Where to Eat?
Gustav’s is a family style pub that has been a Leavenworth favorite since 1982. A full selection of burgers, fries, sandwiches, and salads are available; when weather permits, the rooftop patio is lovely. Pavz is a creperie that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; choose from savory or the sweet crepes, it’s all fantastic. You can’t go to Leavenworth and not have a brat — the German sausage kind, not the in-a-bad-state-kiddo kind. Leavenworth Sausage Garten makes it own sausages on the premises; wash it down with what’s on tap. For the little ones, regular beef or veggie dogs are available and all seating is outdoors! Blackbird Bistro, one of the newer places in town, has a cozy spot on a street corner and a hip vibe. Coffee, breakfast, and lunch is what they do, and they do it well.
Don’t forget your sweet tooth! Das Sweet Shoppe on Front Street has ice cream and all kinds of fun candy including a few blasts from the past! And the Gingerbread Factory is a cafe/bakery that will charm your kiddos with their cute exterior and their delish goodies — don’t miss their gingerbread houses (available all year-long) and melt-in-your-mouth cookies.
Will you be taking a trip to Leavenworth this spring or summer? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo Credits: Myriam GP, Ferrol H., Enzian Inn