You'll notice a strong Bavarian theme in Leavenworth's architecture, restaurants, and festivals. This is not because the town was settled by German immigrants - it's actually a marketing ploy thought up by some town business people in the 1960's, to attract tourists and save the town from dying.
Leavenworth originally thrived mainly because The Great Northern Railroad made it a headquarters in the 1890's. So when the railroad moved its tracks in the 1920's to bypass Leavenworth, the local economy took a major nosedive. The idea of remaking the town into a Bavarian-themed village was partly inspired by the beautiful mountains and scenery around, apparently reminiscent of Southern Germany. This remodelling was paid for entirely by local citizens.
In the summer people come to Leavenworth to experience the Bavarian ambiance of the town.
I really did like how every building and store had authentic Bavarian architecture. Surprisingly, it didn't come across as too "Disneyland" - it really suited the town. Even the local Safeway (grocery store) is done up in Bavarian architecture!
With the Bavarian architecture comes the obligatory German restaurants. Schnitzel and bratwurst, anyone? And with the bratwurst comes the German inspired gift shops selling cuckoo clocks and beer steins.
Fondest memory: Leavenworth is not just one big Bavarian theme park of a town. I found many unique stores as well. There was a fantastic toy store in particular that I loved as it sold the cutest puppets I had ever seen. I purchased a honey bee puppet and it stayed next to my bed in my bedroom for many years!
Favorite thing: I really enjoy walking around and looking at all the building murals - I guess that's the obvious thing to do here! They certainly do remind me of being in Southern Germany. Most have a Bavarian theme, but I'm not sure if this one with all the animals would be considered Bavarian or not. It's my favorite, nevertheless. A little different than the other ones...
Favorite thing: There are two sets of washrooms in downtown Leavenworth. One set is right in the centre of town where the maypole is and the other set are next door to Cafe Verona's at 820 Commercial; essentially go down 8th Street from Front Street to Commercial Street. Remember Damen means women and Herren means Men! The washrooms are a little strange. Everything in the women's was stainless steel and no toilet seats. Strange...
It seems so authentic and the shops are loaded with items made in Germany from cuckoo clocks to beer steins.
Fondest memory: It is such a beautiful mountain town and makes you believe you are in another country.
Favorite thing: Take a boat out on Wenatchee River. Whether summer or barely spring (as pictured here in March) it's beautiful!
Fondest memory: Once a moribund logging town, Leavenworth transformed itself into a Bavarian village in the 1960s. Almost every building in town is decorated with ornate woodwork and Bavarian motifs.
Fondest memory: Traditional horsedrawn carriages and wagons are an important feature in many Leavenworth festivals and events.
Fondest memory: Professional and amateur artists sell their work in Front Street Park (downtown Leavenworth), every week Thursday through Sunday. Art in The Park continues every week, weather permitting.