If you've never been to Leavenworth, WA., add it to your summer plans! While famous for its annual Christmas festival, there's still plenty to do during the non-winter months. On a recent day trip there, I found myself surrounded by delicious food and beautiful scenery.
Check out this post for tips on planning a Leavenworth summer day trip of your own.
How to get there
Being a small town, Leavenworth is one of those places you really don't need a car if you plan on staying near the main center. If that's the case, why not take a train? From downtown Seattle, a train ride to Leavenworth via Amtrak is about 3 hours and 20 minutes, and offers incredible views.
On the flip side, taking a car gives you freedom to explore the area in depth, and make as many stops along the way as you'd like. When I visited recently, my friend and I arrived just in time for lunch, and left around 8 PM. This gave us plenty of time to walk around, try different restaurants, and go swimming.
Parking wise, we also found plenty of free, public parking spaces up the road from the main city center. While we had to walk a little ways, parking there saved us the $10 rate most other places were charging.
What to do
In Leavenworth, two of the best places to swim are the Wenatchee River, and the Hopkins Memorial Community Pool.
Before you go stripping your clothes though, know that the river in Leavenworth is absolutely FREEZING. Even on a hot day, the water feels like ice, and may have you running back to shore the moment you put your toes in...
However, this type of swimming is free and can still be a ton of fun. If you're looking to try it out, head to the Waterfront Park, and scope out where the other swimmers are. When I visited, we found a big rock to swim out to and sit on.
If you're looking to stay out of the river, head over to Leavenworth's community pool. This is a great option for those with kids, as the pool features a giant frog tongue to slide down, and a red mushroom to play under.
Float the River
One of the best ways to spend a relaxing afternoon in Leavenworth is by floating the river. At the Leavenworth Outdoor Center, you can rent tubes and get shuttled to a safe launch point up the road. Depending on where along the river you get in at, the float can last anywhere from 2-4 hours.
My big tip of advice though, is call ahead and make reservations. When I visited, I was really looking forward to floating the river, but was turned away at the doors. Tube rentals are given out for certain time slots, and sell out quickly on hot days.
Play mini golf
At the Icicle Village Resort, you'll find an 18-hole, miniature golf course. While I didn't have time to stop here on my most recent trip, I've been before and had a blast! The course is decorated with Bavarian style finishes, fountains and a waterwheel.
Shop till you drop
Leavenworth has a store for just about every knickknack imaginable. From beer steins, to cooking gadgets, one can spend a lot of time getting lost in souvenirs here.
If you're looking for a more unique store to step into, check out Kris Kringl on Front St. Here they sell everything Christmas-related year round (never before have I seen so many Santa Claus figurines in one place).
Where to eat
Leavenworth is FULL of food options. However, if you're not careful, eating here can break the bank. As a tourist destination, most of the prices are much higher than other small towns in Washington.
Two places I do recommend though, are Munchen Haus and Wok About. Both of these places served delicious food, at a price which felt reasonable.
Munchen Haus is hard to miss. As one of the main German sausage restaurants in town, it often has a long line of people waiting in front of the order window.
Don't be afraid of the wait though! Munchen Haus is quick to get food out, and has one of the best self-serve condiment bars I've ever seen. Expect to find yourself in awe at an immense array of sauces, and the large kettle of apple cider kraut (even if you're like me and only like ketchup haha).
Wok About Mongolian Grill
While not exactly German cuisine, Wok About is a must-try on your next trip to Leavenworth. The restaurant's focus is on make-your-own stir-fry. This allows you to choose exactly what goes into it, and how much - all the way down to the creation of the sauce and final garnishes.
If you're looking for delicious food, and a fun experience, this is the place to go!
What you should bring
A picnic lunch
As I mentioned earlier, the food in Leavenworth is pretty pricey. To save money, I recommend bringing some snacks or a small picnic lunch. Right in the center of town is a grassy hill perfect for stretching out a blanket and people watching. While I was visiting, there was even a local band singing German songs.
Leavenworth is hot, with summertime temperatures often over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. With so much time likely spent by the water, make sure to put some sunscreen on!