Leavenworth: Washington State's Little Germany

Welcome to a Bavarian Village near nature in the Pacific Northwest.

Looking down over Bavarian-style buildings on Leavenworth main street
Photo: Connie Coleman / Getty Images

The Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, Washington, dishes kitschy charm aplenty. With the dramatic Cascade Mountains as its backdrop, this Pacific Northwest take on quintessential Germany is an unexpected oasis of Europeanesque alpine chalets, folks clad in lederhosen, and polka performances. Unsurprisingly, it's home to one of the most well-known and -attended Oktoberfests in the country (although recent years have seen less of a focus on beer and more of a focus on family).

Leavenworth is not all about celebrating foreign culture, either; it's also a haven for the outdoorsy, making an excellent base for hiking, skiing, and boating in the Cascades and their lush foothills. It's home to some quirky establishments, many — but not all — adhering to the theme.

Find out how to make the best of a visit to Leavenworth and immerse yourself in the traditions of old-world Bavaria.

Nutcracker Museum

Nutcracker carving began as a cottage industry in rural Germany. Leavenworth's Nutcracker Museum pays homage to the centuries-old tradition with more than 7,000 quirky and historic artifacts — which, according to the museum, is "probably the world's largest collection of nut-opening devices." Some of the specimens included in the collection are believed to be from Roman times. Others are newer and treasured more for their artistic value.

Icicle Village Resort

Leavenworth even has its own Bavarian-themed mini-golf course at Icicle Village, a nature-wrapped resort within walking distance of downtown. In addition to the kid-friendly course — featuring on-theme buildings, waterfalls, and even a mini waterwheel — the village also has an alpine spa and a restaurant cooking up Bavarian specialties. Think soft pretzels, reuben egg rolls, jäegerschnitzel, brats, and apple strudel (the latter arguably Austrian).

Andreas Keller German Restaurant

Oktoberfest is like a round-the-calendar occasion at this traditional German gaststätte. At Andreas Keller, the hot pretzels are served on sheets of old-style checkered paper, in cozy wooden booths, with a side of imported draft beer and live music. Try the cream of weinkraut (sauerkraut and sausage soup) or go full Bavarian with cold potato salad and a sausage sampler.

Gingerbread Factory

Finish off your eating frenzy with an espresso and scrumptious homemade gingerbread cookie. Leavenworth's Gingerbread Factory gives sweet-toothed visitors the chance to indulge on-site or make a whole night of it with take-home gingerbread house-making kits. The bakery itself was even designed to look like a real-life gingerbread house.

Bavarian Lodge

Apart from Icicle Village, overnight guests can also stay at the Bavarian Lodge, a sizable hotel that feels more like a country inn. In good weather, the whitewashed facade oozes color thanks to the flower boxes on every window. Inside, the rooms scream alpine chic, many featuring their own fireplaces and incredible mountain views.

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