Leavenworth: a Hamlet in the Hills

For years, Leavenworth was a logging and railroad town, but after the railway was rerouted and the sawmill closed in the 1920s, the town was in danger of dying.

Then, in the early 1960s, community leaders proposed a face lift: Inspired by the town’s alpine setting, they opted for a Bavarian village theme. Now, more than a million visitors traipse to the hamlet every year in search of cuckoo clocks and beer steins, sauerkraut and bratwurst.

In addition to strudel and schnitzel, the town’s Cascades location means it also has spectacular recreation. Summer brings hikers, mountain bikers, bird-watchers, fishing enthusiasts, and golfers. In winter, visitors enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sleigh rides, and dog sledding—plus downhill skiing is less than an hour away.

Then, there are the arts. Art in the Park, which runs May 4 through October 31, may be the longest continually running art show in the Northwest, and every July and August Leavenworth Summer Theater presents The Sound of Music—and two other rotating musicals—on the outdoor amphitheater at Ski Hill. When Maria starts singing on the hill above the audience, people who grew up watching the classic movie will feel they’ve been transported to the Alps.

Weekend events such as spring’s Maifest, September’s Autumn Leaf Festival, December’s Christmas Lighting Ceremonies, and January’s Bavarian Ice Festival draw crowds, but the scenic beauty of the area is worth a visit any time.

—Giselle Smith

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