Plan a Magical Family Escape to Leavenworth

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Escape the buzz of the city and take your family to a magical place that is only a short drive away, but will make you feel like you’ve flown overseas. Leavenworth is a is a Bavarian-styled village that offers families the opportunity to experience the Christmas spirit year-round while enjoying epic outdoor activities, up-close encounters with wildlife and more. Read on for your guide to experiencing a taste of German family  adventures, right in Portland’s back yard.

Leavenworth, Washington

Nestled in the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington, Leavenworth is a faux Bavarian village that provides visiting families with plenty to do. At the heart of the city rests Front Street Park with its gazebo and Maypole. This beloved spot is Leavenworth’s recreation center where children run and play during the warm months and sled from dawn to dusk all winter long. Families don’t have to travel far to find exceptional outdoor activities that can all be done against the epic back drop of towering mountains and blue skies.

Stay

There’s no better basecamp for your family adventure than the Bavarian Lodge located across the street from Front Street Park. With its lodge-style ambience, large and luxurious rooms, and fantastic amenities, this hotel ensures that families will enjoy a memorable mountain town experience. The rooms feature fireplaces, private balconies, patios, family rooms and jacuzzi tubs—and provide the whole family with a fun but relaxing stay.

The lodge has an onsite micro pub called the Woodsman Pub, where parents can sneak away for a light bite and brews. The kids will love splashing the year-round outdoor heated pool while parents relax in the two hot tubs, all of which are surrounded by beautiful views. When you aren’t relaxing in luxury, shops and restaurants are only steps away.

Play

Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing & Hiking

During the winter months, your kids may very well wear themselves out sledding down Front Street Park’s hills. Encourage them to save their energy! There are Nordic ski and snowshoe trails that run right through town. Just walk a couple of blocks from downtown to Waterfront Park for a short but beautiful trek on the 3km of trails that follow the Wenatchee River. If you are feeling adventurous, Icicle River Trail is only a short drive and has 8km of trail and offers families scenic views, and a gentle terrain that is appropriate for all ages and abilities. For a more challenging trail, The Golf Course Trail is 8km and features rolling hills, expansive views of the Wenatchee River and an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife including deer, osprey and eagles.

If you are open to a little bit more of a trek, north of Leavenworth you’ll find Lake Wenatchee and Plain which offer 22 km of Plain Valley Nordic Ski Trails, and the four Lake Wenatchee Nordic Sno-Parks that have over 50 km of groomed classic and skate ski trails. If your family is in need of snow gear including either snow shoes or skis, Arlberg Sport Haus is located in downtown Leavenworth and their friendly staff will help you find everything you need and get you fitted. Der Sportsman is another store front located across from the park that has skis for winter snow play and gear for summer activities as well. If the snow isn’t falling when you visit Leavenworth, no worries. During the summer months all of these ski and snowshoe trails make perfect spots for day hikes and biking. Hiking and walking trails also abound throughout and around the town.

The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm

If you didn’t believe in reindeer before you visited Leavenworth, you well by the time you leave. The Leavenworth Reindeer farm is a must experience when you spend any time in Leavenworth! Located just one mile from the Bavarian Village, the farm is home to a friendly heard of Reindeer and an assortment of farm animals including a pig and some turkeys. When you first arrive you have a chance to wander through the farm store and to check out the many animals. The farm runs tours throughout the year that are both educational and hands on! That’s right, you and your kiddos get to feed and pet the farm’s reindeer!

At the beginning of the tour, your family will get to enjoy a 10-15 minute presentation, led by one of the farm owners. This portion of the tour is educational and hands-on, with an opportunity to touch and hold shed Antlers. During the winter months, you’ll gather around a warm campfire, and during the summer, you prop up at shaded picnic tables while learning about the heard. When the presentation is done, you are given food and allowed to feed the local reindeer. During the summer months kids are given a massive willow branch and get to go fishing for reindeer!

There’s some exciting news at the Reindeer farm. The farm is in the process of building a Geodesic dome that will be completed in the summer of 2022. Soon families will be able to walk in the dome and see herds of reindeer from all over the world.

Eat

Leavenworth may be a faux Bavarian town but the food is legit! After all of the outdoor activities, you can start satisfying big appetites at Munchen Haus, a quintessential Brat & Beer garden that serves delectable dishes that fill hungry bellies and warm both body and soul! Their outdoor courtyard is heated and offers all the views you could dream of while you enjoy your brat (they’ve got a variety!), pretzel and soup. Mom and dad can also sip on a suds (they make their own brew) while regaining strength for the rest of the day.

La Javalina is the spot to go if you are looking for a next-level Tex-Mex breakfast. Their breakfast tacos are filled with food items like squash, sweet potato, eggs, and mole pork. They also offer toast options that will change your view of toast all together. We recommend their plumb jam and ricotta toast. The little ones will love it.

Sulla Vita is a must-try Mediterranean eatery offering small bites, wood fire pizza, and hand-made pastas that melt in your mouth and leaving you yearning for more. From stuffed mushrooms to prosciutto-fig pizza, to the shrimp linguini, you can’t go wrong ordering any of their dishes. And if you are yearning for something Farm to table, you must try Watershed Cafe. Their PNW artisanal cheese plate is incredible and they have an assortment of bruschetta including the Oregon buffalo carpaccio that will have you wanting more. For your meal, we suggest the Watershed all-natural RR Ranch Beef Meatloaf and the Teriyaki Roasted Wild King Salmon.

Before you leave town, make sure to visit the local shops and stop by the Nutcracker Museum and pick up a gift or a souvenir to take home. After all, who says the spirit of Christmas has to end with December?

—Annette Benedetti

Featured photo via Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

This trip was paid for by Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.

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