On a crisp autumn weekend in early October, Riff and I took a drive up Washington's Highway 2 to the magical other world of Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is located in the ruggedly beautiful foothills of the Cascade Mountains and a visit is like stepping into a Bavarian village.
Leavenworth was a booming timber and railroad community from the 1890's to the 1920's, with a very prosperous lumber company and seven sets of railroad tracks connecting this beautiful valley with the rest of the world. Then, in 1925, The Great Northern Railway Company decided to move it's headquarters to Wenatchee and between this devastating blow to the community and the great depression, the town was on it's death bed. The rugged mountains are perfect for ski hills and in the late 1920's, a Winter Sports Club was established with ski jumps and toboggan runs being built. This brought in winter tourists and spectators to watch the international jumping competitions that began to take place, but it wasn't enough to keep the town prosperous.
During the 1950's, things were so bad that Leavenworth was known as a Welfare town. The townspeople loved their village and got together to come up with idea's to save their town. Looking up at the gorgeous rugged mountains, the alpine theme became an inspiration to them. It took quite a few years, but the whole town decided to go with the Bavarian theme, building festivals and events around the idea, along with changing the look and feel of their buildings. It worked and Leavenworth is now a bustling thriving community, full of tourists spending their money at all the local establishments. With something like 17 festivals a year, many of them running more than one weekend, there is always something going on in this mountain village.
From magical winter wonderlands, to Octoberfest, Autumn Leaf Festivals, Ale Fests, Maifest, Bird Fest, Bike and Brew Fest, Wine Walk, Accordion Celebration, Kinderfest, Fall Music Festival, Salmon Festival and more, there is always so much to see and do.
Riff and I enjoyed and authentic Bavarian dinner at Andreas Keller that was just incredible. Soo so good! Come on, walk with us through this magical place...
No road trip is complete without a visit to a yarn shop!
Anyone who lives here has had to buy into the magical Bavarian world of Leavenworth 100%. Their work uniforms are costumes, really, and they can be seen all over town dressed in their European gear. Very fun to see, you feel like you really must be in another time and place.
Street entertainment ~ I've seen this same guy in several of the Leavenworth advertisement publications, during all kinds of weather so he must be a staple of the streets. Entertaining and fun to watch with a large crowd around him at all times. The kids love it!
Silly, goofy hats are huge in Leavenworth. I don't know if it's all the time or a Octoberfest tradition, but it was just to fun to see so many people in their finery. There is a special shop, The Hat Shop, of course, to purchase your nonsense, but the line was formed a block from the front door so we stayed away. Next time, though, I'm joining in this Tom-foolery. Yes, I am, Riff, and so are you...
Just outside of Leavenworth and in the surrounding country are a few wonderful farm stands and pumpkin patches. This old wooden farmer stands at the entrance to Prey's Fruit Barn, enticing us in with his large wooden apple. This fruit barn is wonderful eye candy in itself, and once inside, oh my goodness! The smell of the fresh fruit is incredible. Apples, pears, plums oh my! Corn and pumpkins and squash make beautiful displays beside farm fresh jams, jelly's, soup mixes and so much more. I could have spent a gazillion dollars in here, had I had a gazillion dollars, of course, which I did not. Too bad for me! If you find yourself on Highway 2 in Washington State, don't stop until you have found Prey's Fruit Barn and the attached Home Fires Bakery. Delicious!
We were chummed right in to the Home Fires Bakery with the smell of fresh brewed coffee and the best pastries this side of the Mississippi. I didn't take any pictures inside (I'm kind of shy like that!), but they had the most incredible HUGE old-fashioned floor mixer I've ever seen. It was gorgeous, as mixers go. Look at those grounds. I so love that pumpkin path!
Oh My! This pastry is called a "Twist and Shout". It was fresh out of the ovens and it made me want to shout for sure. Absolutely scrumptious!!
Leavenworth's Riverfront Park is a wonderful place to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the many festivals. Take a walk along the Wenatchee River or sit on one of the long line of benches with a good book and a cup of joe. Sweet and serene, Riff and I ended our stay in Leavenworth with a stroll through this park before jumping in the car and heading back home. A perfect ending to a magical weekend.