Postcard from Leavenworth, Washington

by Bill Richards / Oct 16, 2011 /

Look at the buildings and you could be in a Bavarian mountain town.  But a closer look at the large American vehicles in the foreground and you could only be in Leavenworth, Washington.  Nestled at the eastern base of the Cascade Mountain Range, Leavenworth has cultivated the Bavarian façade since the 1960s in an attempt to draw the tourist dollar.  With an oompah band playing in the gazebo at the center of town on a recent Oktoberfest weekend, as thousands of people roamed the shops and restaurants and beer tents, the investment seems to be paying off well.

OK, so the town itself might be a little kitschy (they have Der McDonalds!), but the area produces some great fruit (apples, cherries, peaches, etc.) and is at the edge of a sportsman’s paradise with high alpine hikes to ice-cold lakes, rock climbing, river rafting, and alpine and nordic skiing.  My formative climbing years were spent on nearby cliffs and my kids had their first whitewater kayaking experience this summer on the Wenatchee River, which flows right through town.  There’s even a nordic ski jump less than two miles from the gazebo.

After a little outdoor playtime, we typically hit town for the ice cream shops and brew pub (root beer for the kids and driver) before heading back to the rainy side of the mountains (e.g., Seattle).  We may also have a polka beat stuck in the back of our heads. 


Leavenworth, Washington



Bill Richards,