A cultural weekend in Leavenworth, Washington, can be the perfect winter escape. Nestled in a cozy valley only two hours from Seattle, the village of Leavenworth combines wintry outdoor adventures and German traditions to help visitors leave behind the winter blues. Embark to this Bavarian wonderland without a passport, and enjoy the beautiful, picturesque charm of Leavenworth.
Leavenworth can be the perfect weekend retreat for a couple. Around the town, shopping immerses visitors in the Bavarian culture, which is uniquely preserved by its 25% native German population. Many of the shops resemble gingerbread houses with ornate woodwork and steeply pitched roofs and sell authentic Bavarian goods, such as chocolate, nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, and handmade clothing.
The hospitality of Leavenworth even carries over to sleeping accommodations. Brendi Perkins, a regular visitor to the town, describes the Enzian Inn as having a couple-friendly ambience, while incorporating Bavarian culture into the experience. The owner of the inn, Bob Johnson, hails from Germany and has a tradition of playing an instrument called the Alphorn to rouse the town to action every morning.
Two outdoor activities that may stoke the romantic mood are cross-country skiing and sleigh riding. As you ski along Icicle River, you’ll find the best view of the Cascade Mountains and of Leavenworth’s picturesque downtown. And as you curl up with your sweetheart in a horse-drawn sleigh, don’t forget to notice the scenery. “The mountains are covered in snow,” says Perkins, “and it is just gorgeous!”
Enjoy your weekend at Leavenworth’s winter oasis.
Any crowd can experience Leavenworth in the wintertime by sampling town culture through festivals. The Bavarian Ice Fest, held at the end of January, captures traditional winter activities like dogsledding and ice sculpture contests. It also includes more unique traditions like smooshing, an event in which contestants strap boards to their feet and attempt to run along a course.
For a more adventurous group, the proximity of the Cascade Mountains allows for a vast range of recreation such as skiing, tubing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. If you don’t have the gear, Leavenworth Outfitters Outdoor Center, Der Sportsmann, and Leavenworth Mountain Sports all offer ski, snowboard, and snowshoe rentals at reasonable prices.
For a change of pace, visit Leavenworth’s Nutcracker Museum. It may seem odd, but the museum is one of the largest nutcracker collections in the world, with approximately 6,000 nutcrackers. In May and June 2013, the museum will hold an amateur nutcracker-carving contest, with the winning nutcracker earning permanent residence in the museum.