Well, it’s nearly summer and we’ve managed to survive 2020 so far, so Sasha and I celebrated by flying to Germany!
Just kidding, I wish! But we did take a weekend trip to the adorable Bavarian town of Leavenworth, just a 2.5-hour drive East of Seattle. What I love about Eastern Washington is that just over the pass (either Snoqualmie or Steven’s), BAM! There’s sunshine…in fact, over 300 days of it each year!
You can easily make a trip to Leavenworth just for the day, but if you’re staying overnight, it’s probably because you love the mountains and hiking like we do! Or maybe you just need a little escape from city life in Seattle. Here’s the route we did over two days; as you can see, there are two ways to get from Seattle to Leavenworth, so I recommend making a loop so that you can see both beautiful drives!
**PIN THIS POST!!**
Things To Do in Leavenworth
Depending on the time of year you visit, the main draw in Leavenworth is exploring the small Bavarian town, eating bratwurst and hiking. Christmas is the most popular time to visit, as it becomes a winter wonderland with the beautiful East Cascades as its backdrop, replicating the German Alps.
Temperatures tend to be a bit more extreme than in Seattle, so if you’re visiting in winter, pack all the layers. In the summer, temperatures can reach the 90’s and sometimes over 100 F so take it easy in the sun. The best time to visit Leavenworth (besides Christmas) is in June when it’s not yet too crowded and the temperatures are pleasant.
Walk the Waterfront Park Trail or Stand Up Paddle Board on the River (3 miles of easy, flat trail that snakes along the river – great for kids or biking!)
Try a Cookie at the Gingerbread Factory
Visit the Nutcracker Museum
Check out Die Musik Box
Go Floating / Tubing on the River (summer)
Take a White Water Rafting Tour (typically starts in June)
Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage ride (winter)
Sample all the Cheese Your Heart Desires at the Cheesemonger’s Shop (perfect for foodies, this shop is basically an underground cellar and a bit hidden. They sell local cheeses, chocolate and hot sauces from all over the world! They’ll even cube the cheese for you and put it into a plastic bag for takeaway (the perfect snack atop a mountain peak!)) Bonus points if you bring your own reusable container to avoid the plastic bag!
Go for a Hike (keep reading on to see the top hikes near Leavenworth below)
Get a Coffee at J5 (they have excellent pour overs with a selection of beans from all over the world. The staff is really friendly, too!)
I Scream For Ice Cream at Whistlepunk Ice Cream
They make all flavors in-house.
I’ll be honest, Leavenworth is a bit kitschy and has a bit of an amusement theme park feel to it during the summer, but during the winter it’s a different story. It comes alive with the true winter wonderland spirit with white snow on the ground and children sledding down the hill. But if small mountain towns aren’t for you, it’s easy to simply spend an hour in town walking the streets, pop into some shops to check out locally-made Washington arts & crafts, grab a coffee, eat a bratwurst, and be on your merry way into the mountains for some time in nature.
Where To Stay in Leavenworth
Sasha and I usually aren’t the kind to drop $500 per night on accommodation, but in 2021 we had the privilege of celebrating his business’ success with a weekend retreat at the Post Hotel, one of Washington’s most beautiful hotels.
Average nightly rates are around $500, but it includes breakfast, lunch, snowshoe rentals, dessert and the famous spa. All the food is made in house using local organic ingredients from Eastern Washington, so it’s in line with feeding your mind, body and soul.
The spa includes 8 different steam and sauna rooms, each with their own unique decor, including the cooling mint room, a plunge pool, a eucalyptus steam room, and a lavender mist room. It’s absolute heaven on Earth, and we spent the entire weekend in the spa with the exception of meals in between.
Every day at 9:00 AM there is free yoga in a beautiful studio overlooking the snow-capped mountains. It’s magical.
While in Leavenworth, I highly recommend eating at Mana, a five-course pre set menu featuring local Pacific Northwest fare. The chef spent some time on the Big Island of Hawaii, which I could tell straight away from reading the menu because it’s got some Hawaiian flare to it. The restaurant’s name also comes from his inspiration and time in Hawaii. Mana means spiritual life force or sacred energy. Upon arrival you’ll find a napkin folded like an envelope with a beautiful message, each different. As we went around the table and read our special messages, we found that they rang so true.
During Covid, they have the ultimate setup for physical distancing. There are individual pods, enclosed like a tent or a greenhouse, and heated with an overhead heater above the table, and one on the ground for your feet. They even provide you with a blanket! It was very comfortable and an overall outstanding foodie experience, especially since Chef Collin himself came out and delivered the food to us and told us about each dish!
Wenatchee is just a 30-minute drive from Leavenworth, and between the two towns there are plenty of excellent hiking options in the East Cascades. On the way from Leavenworth to Wenatchee, be sure to stop by Smallwoods, a general store selling locally made Washington goods from Peshastin (the town you’ll pass through), including jerkey, butters, jams, fresh cherries or apples (in season), pasta, etc.
You can also make a pit stop at Anjou, a bakery that, quite honestly, has gone down in service and baked goods quality over the years, but their mocha is spot on. They make their own chocolate ganache and their own home made almond milk. If you’re here during June – August and you fancy a cherry pie, you’re in luck!
Hikes Around Leavenworth & Wenatchee
A few things to remember about hiking in Washington:
- Follow hiking etiquette (hikers going up have the right of way. If you’re coming down, stop over to the side to allow hikers to pass)
- Do not park illegally
- Pack all your trash
- Please do not play music. It is disruptive and inconsiderate to those of us who come into nature to escape the noise, not listen to your tunes
- Dogs are not allowed on some hikes. Please do your research before you go, and if they are allowed, keep them on leash at all times and pack the poop!
2 miles RT (leisurely flat trail run or walk)
100′ elevation gain
Tumwater Pipeline Trail
2.4 miles RT
100′ elevation gain
6 miles RT
1,800′ elevation gain
6 miles RT
2,000′ elevation gain
8 miles RT
2,280′ elevation gain
Northwest Forest Pass required
9 miles RT
1,665′ elevation gain
Northwest Forest Pass required
Sauer’s Mountain Trail is located just outside of Leavenworth in a small town called Peshastin on private property owned by a sweet elder gentleman named Mr. Sauer. He worked in the Washington Forest Service creating and maintaining hiking trails for his whole working career. He is not in his 90’s and has a mountain named after him! The start of the trailhead is literally in his backyard lined with beautiful vineyards (Eastern Washington is wine country!) He greets all hikers warmly and welcomes them along with his 13-year-old Australian blue heeler dog named Blue.
This stunning turquoise lake is nestled in the famed Enchantments, which requires a permit to backpack overnight. Colchuck is one of the hikes that you can do as a day trip without a permit, however, note that the parking lot is small and is only one of two entry points for the Enchantments, so parking can be sparse.
A big thanks to my friend and hiking buddy, Liz for these photos!
On the way back home, if you have time, drive through the tiny town of Roslyn, an old mining town. It’s literally just a few blocks and there isn’t much there, but you can walk around, stretch your legs, and do a spirit tasting at Heritage Distillery. Their brown sugar whisky won the Best Flavored Whiskey in the World Blind Tasting Award in the London two years in a row.
For more ideas on weekend getaways or day trips from Seattle, check out my Washington State Archives!
**PIN THIS POST!**