Driving to Leavenworth for lunch

In my “Day 193” installment of living in Seattle, I shared that I’m really growing to love the area. Make no mistake about it, the winters here are miserable. Miserable. It’s dark all day, it rains all day, and it never really gets that cold. But with the spring I’ve grown to love the area, and have realized that the dreary winters are totally worth it. The weather the past week has been amazing, as it has been sunny and in the mid-60s without a cloud in the sky.

As I mentioned in my previous post I planned on making some road trips with the nice weather, and I made one of those today to Leavenworth. Leavenworth is probably the town that intrigued me most when I originally moved here. It’s a town that’s supposed to resemble a Bavarian village, about a two hour drive out of Seattle. When I first heard about it I assumed it was “authentic” and that it just happened to be where some Germans settled. Then I read the history of Leavenworth, which made me realize the whole town is more or less as authentic as the religious theme park I visited in Buenos Aires.

But that didn’t make me any less interested. So today I made a road trip to Leavenworth, and my gosh, it was amazing. Not so much Leavenworth itself, but the drive. It was quite possibly the most beautiful drive I’ve ever taken.

Even though the pictures don’t really do the drive justice, I’ll still let them speak for themselves. Most fascinating to me (at least as a Floridian) was the amount of snow at low altitudes despite the fact that it was 80 degrees outside.

As far as the town itself goes, as a German it’s kind of funny to visit. Everything in the town has a Bavarian design, from the Subway to the Bank of America to the Cold Stone to the Starbucks to the Howard Johnson. So it’s hilarious. And the main street does look fairly “authentic,” at least if you don’t look at the signs too closely (they just slap the word “Das” — German for “the” — in front of every word and think it’ll make it seem authentic).

But the town is really cute/charming. The main street has a bunch of restaurants and souvenir shops. And while no one in the entire town seems to actually speak a lick of German, the food was good enough. Below are a few pictures.

Das sign

Das Subway

Das main street

Das main street

Das biergarten

Das authentic sign

Das restaurant

I’d return in a heartbeat, and next time spend a night there. The beauty of Leavenworth is that if coming from Seattle, getting there is at least half the fun. Below are a few more pictures from the drive back.

Can’t wait for my next road trip! If anyone has any tips for where I should drive next weekend, please let me know in the comments section.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Very cool, I will have to visit from Vancouver at some point.

    not as interesting, but if you are ever near the border Lynden, Washington has a “Dutch” town, and some tasty Dutch restaurants.

    Another cool road trip is the Chuckanut Drive region north of Seattle about an hour.

  2. Great place. I have visited many times! Next time take amtrak! Only about 4 hours from Seattle!

  3. “It was quite possibly the most beautiful drive Iā€™ve ever taken.” Wow, coming from a guy who travels a lot, that is really high praise.

    Coincidentally, I just finished reviewing a few of your old posts – you’ll see a comment from me on one of them – before I spotted this one on BA. I did not know that you live in Bellevue. So glad you have come to enjoy the amazing PNW.

    Have you driven in the Columbia Gorge yet? The Mt Hood Loop is pretty amazing too. And I have a real soft spot for the area near Mt.St. Helens. While it isn’t always pretty, the landscape near the volcano has always fascinated me, along with the story of what happened in 1980 when the mountain blew. Both would make fine road trips.

    Or come down to PDX! We have a newly formed MeetUp group of PDX FFers. And the food carts here are terrific, not to mention VooDoo Donuts. Come see!

  4. Ben — if you’re home in WA during Oktoberfest, it’s worth making a trip up to Leavenworth. Their Bavarian dancing group is tremendous, and the town is flooded with slutty faux bavarian girls and bavarian bros. šŸ˜›

  5. Ben,
    An awesome B&B in Leavenworth if you ever go back is Abdenblume. As far as another drive, you should drive to Vancouver and then continue on to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway.

  6. Here’s from someone who used to live in Western Washington…

    San Juan Islands
    Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics
    North Cascades Highway
    Long Beach/Ocean Park
    Mt Rainer

  7. I’ve drive from Seattle to San Francisco and seattle to Vancouver. If there’s a more scenic drive than up to Vancouver I would like to know about it. It makes the drive even better knowing its only a couple of hours so heading up there for a weekend is not bad at all

  8. Glad to see you went back via Hwy 2, it’s a much better route than I-90. Both are beautiful though.

  9. Go to Leavenworth in December when they have all the Christmas lights up. It is really beautiful.

    I think your next road trip should be to drive the Olympic Peninsula Loop!

  10. I’ve traveled to the PNW many times (in-laws live in Central Oregon) and have heard of Leavenworth, but have never visited. Thanks for the pictures! It reminds me of a town we have in California, about 130 North of Los Angeles. Solvang is modeled after a Danish village with shops, restaurants, a town square, etc.

    Other than the town itself, maybe the best reason to visit Solvang is it’s close proximity to the Central California wine region. There are probably 30+ wineries (or tasting rooms) within a 30-40 minute drive of the village center. I’ve included a couple of links if interested.



  11. If you liked Northern Exposure, you’ll enjoy Roslyn (a one-hour drive south of Leavenworth) which was used for the outdoor scenes.

  12. “any tips for where I should drive next weekend, ”

    Umm… To the airport??

    Back to back weekend drive trip reports? Makes me fear you’ll become the Huell Howser of Washington state and the blog will be renamed “One Drive At A Time”.

  13. The Orcas by ferry. Then go to Victoria via Victoria Clipper. And because you like the outdoors, hit Hurricane Ridge too.

  14. I’m glad Washington is growing on you. It’s a wonderful state.

    and as for places to day trip, I’ll say it again, come down and visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area. It’s gorgeoussss.

  15. @ Brendan — Yep, am very happy to have gone two different ways. Both beautiful, but Highway 2 was definitely nicer.

    @ JohnBom — Have visited Seattle many times. Not sure if there’s something I should specifically see, but I think I have a good grasp of it.

    @ BFrankley — Hah!

  16. North Bend is where they filmed the cult TV Series called Twin Peaks directed by David Lynch. There is a fest annually organized with participation of celebrities: http://www.twinpeaksfest.com/
    If you haven’t seen the TV show or the movie you might not be so excited about this but I recommend watching the 2 seasons and taking the trip to see all the locations where they filmed. Also, the RR diner from the TV show is still in operation and serves the delicious food from the screen. Great times, wish I could come along!

  17. I agree with you that the DRIVE is WONDERFUL!

    I have take the drive and visited Leanworth many times over the last 15 years – I have a brother that lives about 5 miles outside of Leavanworth.

    The town itself – been there done that – would be ok if I did not visit again.

  18. I’ll 2nd the Columbia River Gorge drive. I live here and get to see the beauty on my commute every day year-round.

  19. Here are some others to check out that I liked:

    1. Lake Chelan

    2. Columbia River Gorge & Multnomah Falls

    3. Seaside, OR / Cannon Beach (stop at the Goonies house in Astoria on the way)

    4. Fly down to Medford, OR (with Avios) and then roadtrip to Crater Lake & the Redwoods

    5. Mt. Rainier (hike to the waterfall on the Paradise side)

    6. Ferries to Bainbridge, Vashon & Bremerton

    7. Olympic Mountains (drive the 101 loop)

    8. Snoqualmie Falls

    9. Portland

    10. See a concert at The Gorge

    11. Woodinville winery/breweries

    12. Future of Flight Boeing Tour in Everett

    13. Whidbey Island / Fort Casey

    14. Whale Watching tour in Anacortes

    15. Ocean Shores

    I actually didn’t like Vancouver that much. It’s expensive and so similar to Seattle that it wasn’t exciting. However the drive north of Vancouver up to Whistler is incredibly scenic.

    Next on the list is going to Mt. Hood over Memorial Day weekend.

  20. I would loop Whidbey island over deception pass and take the ferry back. Stop at Fort Casey and a few other state parks.

  21. @Ben. You forgot Winthrop in your list (Western style), it’s on road 20 through North Cascade National park, a great ride as well!

  22. We love Leavenworth. We don’t live there, but when we go it feels like we are going back home.

    We love it so much, we built a website “for tourists by tourists” to help tourists like ourselves find out what is there and what is happening with our reviews of places we like.

    Next time before you go, visit us at http://www.AccidentalBavarian.com to see what is happening in town.

  23. I’m moving to the area, and can’t decide — Seattle or Bellevue? While Bellevue seems clean, I worry about becoming bored (I used to live in Tokyo), and I’d like to be able to hop on a train to get to the airport whenever I choose.

  24. @Lord Fish – Sounds like the South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle would be a good fit for you. There is a ton of new development due to the Amazon HQ expansion plus you can take the SLU Trolley to Westlake Center to catch the train.

  25. I don’t know that I’d put Ocean Shores on a must do list, Canon Beach in Oregon, yes, definitely. However, it is fun to visit OS during the kite festival.

    If you enjoy hiking or mtn biking, I can’t recommend more, than a trip to Crystal Mountain this summer. Spectacular views, wildlife, food, sun, did I mention the views? On a clear day you can see Mt. Hood in Oregon, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Jefferson, Mt Rainier and Mt Baker near the Canadian border in Bellingham. Oh, and the Olympic Mountains. Dinner is great to do up there as well. http://crystalmountainresort.com/Summer-Activities/Scenic-Gondola-Rides

  26. Multnomah Falls is on the Oregon side of the Columbia gorge. Beautiful drive. Scenic stop. Breathtaking indeed.

    If in BC, yes the sea to sky hwy is a beautiful drive and continuing past whistler to Lillooet is Duffy Lake road. It’s a must do, include a stop at Joffre lakes. Googleing images will only confirm the desire. The trip should be done with at least 3 nights to soak in the experience with lots of photo stops along the way.

    Enjoy your adventures!

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