Imagine a picturesque village, surrounded by snow capped mountains. Flowers everywhere - in boxes adorning buildings, in baskets hanging on lamp posts, garlands decorating horse drawn carriages with “Wilkommen” (the German word for welcome) painted on the sides roll down the street, while men in lederhosen carrying alpine horns (think Ricola) walk beside it. The buildings are painted decoratively in that old world Bavarian alpine style we all recognize. Where am I? Germany? Switzerland? Nope. I’m in Leavenworth, Washington! At the recommendation of a colleague, we decided to visit, and we’re so glad we did. But before I tell you about all the fun we had, a bit about Leavenworth……
What’s behind the Bavarian themed downtown? Well, it began in 1962, in an effort to revitalize the then struggling logging town. The “theme town” idea was created by two Seattle businessmen who led a similar Danish-themed project in the town of Solvang, California.
If you’re from the east coast like me, you may be asking, where exactly is Leavenworth? Well, it’s in central Washington, smack in the middle of the Cascade Mountains, about two hours from Seattle. The adorable town is only 1.25 square miles and has less than 2,000 residents.
And now, without further ado….here’s what we did on our awesome day out! We were so lucky to have collaborated with the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center who hosted us. A special thanks to Jessica at the Chamber, who organized everything for us!
As you'll see, we had a full schedule ahead of us. We got to Leavenworth before 10am to stroll around before we started on our day (pro tip: it gets crowded as the day goes on. Plan accordingly. There’s street parking, and plenty of municipal lots where you can pay to park.).
Our first stop was Blue Spirits Distilling where we were excited for a spirits tasting. It was so much fun! My husband selected a ginger flavored vodka, a grapefruit flavored vodka and a cherry flavored whiskey (I know, crazy, right?). I chose three vodkas - mango flavored, lavender flavored and espresso flavored! They were all delicious, and it’s difficult to say which my favorite was, but, if I had to pick one, I’m gonna go with the espresso flavored vodka!
Hilariously, I’m such a novice spirits drinker that I didn’t know that the mixers we were served were supposed to be, uh, mixed with the vodka! I thought you had to drink them separately, but then Blue Spirits explained it to me and then it all made sense! One of the coolest things Blue Spirit did was to make me a White Russian with the espresso vodka and whipped cream, which was sooo delish that I was halfway through it before I thought to take a pic! For my hubby, they made him a whiskey sour with his cherry flavored whiskey. Oh my gosh….
Although it’s just next door to Blue Spirits Distilling, we thought it would be a good idea to take a walk around the block before heading into the Goose Ridge tasting room. The tasting room was beautiful and had an upscale lodgy sort of vibe. We learned that all of the grapes come from the 2,200-acre family owned estate vineyard, which is comprised of selective parcels of land throughout the Columbia Valley.
My husband chose the cider tasting, from which he sampled the pear, cherry, apple and berry ciders. I opted for the wine tasting which included five wines – two whites and three reds. We both really enjoyed the cider tastings since it was slightly different than what's typically offered at wineries.
As for the wines, I particularly liked the Pinot Gris while my hubby went for the Sauvignon Blanc.
After Goose Ridge, it was lunchtime, and although we really wanted to sample beer, we decided that we needed to get something to eat, so we walked across the street to Icicle Brewing Company. There were already lots of people sitting out front in the “biergarten”, but we were lucky enough to find a table. FYI - there aren’t any waiters or waitresses - you go to the bar, place your order, pay and they bring it to you. That method seems to be quite popular in central Washington.
I ordered a veggie wrap and the hubby ordered a cheese plate. It was unbelievable – and delicious! Just take a look!
As I was making my way to the restrooms, there was a glassed off area that had the beer tanks on display! Super cool!
After lunch, we took a final tour of Leavenworth and realized it was time to get on the road. What a great day!
While we only had a short time in Leavenworth, there’s a ton of outdoorsy things to do all year round, too – mountain biking, golfing, ice climbing, sleigh rides - you name it!
And I can’t forget - In addition to the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce, I want to also thank Blue Spirits Distilling, Goose Ridge Vineyard & Estate and Icicle Brewing Company for our complimentary tastings and lunch and for their gracious hospitality!
Have you been to Leavenworth or are you planning a trip there? I’d love to hear about it on Facebook or in Traveleidoscope’s comment section!