You do not have to go to Europe to experience the European architecture, culture, and cuisine. Chelan County, Washington is the home of Leavenworth and this American town entirely modeled after a town of Bavaria. You can experience, learn, and enjoy Bavarian culture without taking a transatlantic flight. Just take part in the many festivals and recreational activities that Leavenworth has to offer.
The History of Leavenworth
The land where Leavenworth now stands in Washington was formerly owned by a couple of Native American tribes – the Chinook, Yakama, and Wenatchi tribes. The tribes mostly lived off the elk and deer in the forests and catching salmon from Icicle Creek. However, in 1890, when the European settlers came to America, they developed other resources such as gold mining, timber, and the fur industry. When the early 1900s came, the town’s population and industry boomed even more with the construction of the main base of the Great Northern Railway Company. Leavenworth became an official town. However, after the main base of the railway company was transferred to another town, Leavenworth quickly dwindled and became a ghost town for many years.
Leavenworth – A Model Bavarian Town
The 1960s became a decade of renewal for Leavenworth. The locals knew that they could not profit much from maintaining the town’s image of a timber town. In a stroke of genius, inspired by the Alpine Hills and mountains surrounding their town, they had the idea of turning Leavenworth into a tourist destination. They brought a piece of Europe into a heart of the Pacific Northwest by modeling their town after a Bavarian village. The members of the community took tourism seriously by creating various festivals such as Maifest, the Autumn Leaf Festival, the Christmas Lighting Festival, and Leavenworth’s rendition of Oktoberfest. The idea was a success for the community, and this Bavarian-themed town drew in an annual crowd of over 2 million people.
Top Things to Do in Leavenworth
During winter, reminiscent of the Swiss Alps in Europe, tourists can have an enjoyable time skiing or snowboarding in Leavenworth’s Stevens Pass Washington Ski Resort. The resort has 52 routes open for beginner to expert level. There are also a lot of hiking and biking areas such as Colchuck Lake Hike, Sauer Mountain Hike, and the Icicle Ridge Hike that are ideal for fitness enthusiasts and nature lovers. Boating in the Leavenworth Outdoor Center and white-water rafting along the Wenatchee River are also popular activities in Leavenworth.
For those who are looking for more relaxing time, there are many great places to listen live music, try the local delicacies, and have some rest in the town’s Scenic Hot Springs. For those who like shopping, the town’s farmer’s market is open on Thursday nights from June to October at the Lion’s Club Park. If you can’t catch the farmer’s market, there is a fair trade shop as well called the Jubilee where visitors can buy handcrafted materials from artworks, woven baskets, and toys.