I’m going to take a break from Dubai to tell you about my trip this past weekend to a little town about 2.5 hours east of Seattle called Leavenworth. Washington has a weird thing for theme towns. Growing up, we would go camping near the town of Winthrop, an old west styled town with false front buildings and wooden sidewalks. Leavenworth is a Bavarian theme town. Just as you find in the German and Austrian Alps, tucked away in the Cascade Mountains is our own little slice of Bavaria. It’s adorable.
For my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday last Sunday, he surprised her by renting a cabin in the mountains and getting a couple of her friends from Chicago to fly out.
So cute, right? He told her they were going to Leavenworth for the weekend, just the two of them. I drove her friends Maggie and Brian out to meet his friends Zach and Kristen Friday afternoon to get ready before Kody and Cara go there. I felt a little bad at first because Cara probably thought she was getting a romantic weekend away with her boyfriend, and here we were jumping in, but I knew she’d be overjoyed to see Maggie and Brian.
Zach, Kirsten and I hid downstairs to surprise her first. She walked in slowly, admiring the decorations. As she rounded into the kitchen, we leapt out and scared her silly! She was so surprised! As we were saying hello and she was getting over her shock, Brian and Maggie snuck downstairs and came up behind her. When she turned around, she completely lost it. Tears everywhere. It was great.
Then it was time to party! We spent the evening celebrating her birthday and getting to know the Chicagoans. Needless to say we were all feeling a bit worse for the wear the next morning. Perfect for a bit of relaxing and coloring.
True story – I’ve had these crayons and that school box since about 3rd grade.
Around 11am, it started snowing. Could this place be anymore picturesque?
A group of quails puttered past the window.
By 1pm we’re finally feeling good enough to head into town. Leavenworth is such a charming little town full of shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to do some Christmas shopping and full of activities for adults and kids. There are about 5 ski resorts within an hour, plus sleigh rides, snowmobiling, ice climbing, dog sledding and snowshoeing in the foothills. In the summer time there’s river rafting/tubing, hiking, camping, fishing, paddleboarding and any number of activities you could ever think of. It’s an outdoor lovers paradise, all wrapped up in a pretty Bavarian bow.
Check out the McDonalds and Cold Stone Creamery. No building escapes the Bavarian touch.
Even Starbucks joins in on the fun.
The shortest wait for lunch is an hour (this is one of the busiest times of the year, it’s not always like this) so we write our names down and walk around taking pictures.
It’s technically snowing, but it’s pretty wet. We’re almost immediately soaked and freezing.
Leavenworth is filled with charming little shops full of things you never knew you needed. We stop in a few, including Posy that has Yoga Joes, little green GI Joes standing in yoga positions. I wish I could think of a reason to buy them, they’re so funny!
While inside, I ask my brother to hold my camera. I now regret that decision greatly. I will not subject to you all of the photos he took of himself, but it seems fair that I share at least one.
Across the street is a super modern, trendy coffee shop where I stop for some delicious PNW coffee. There are so many fun little things to buy in here, too.
After lunch, we stop for a wine tasting. Leavenworth is filled with wine shops these days. Still feeling the affects of last nights shenanigans, I opt to skip the wine and head back out into the rain/snow to take more pictures. This little horn ensemble moves all over the town playing joyful Christmas music.
Typical for a Bavarian town, there are several beer gardens throughout. Thank goodness they have fires at the tables to keep you warm!
Local musicians perform in the gazebo while kids sled down the hill nearby. It’s such a fun holiday tradition.
Finally it’s time for the tree lighting! During the month of December, Leavenworth lights up the town in a festive ceremony every Friday and Saturday night. People come from all over the region to participate and even in the cold rain, they pack the streets to watch. We all sing Silent Night, then countdown from 10. When we get to 1, nothing happens! We all look around in confusion, and finally, lights start to turn on. It’s a beautiful sight.
After the ceremony, everyone makes for their cars. It would be a good time to do a bit more wandering around the shops as they’ve all emptied out now, but everyone is so cold and wet that we just want to get back to the cabin and change into dry clothes. Technical cliches aside, the tree lighting ceremony is a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon in the mountains. It’s very popular, so get here early and expect to deal with large crowds. But it’s worth it – a fun time for the whole family.
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