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Bavarian Bliss

sunny 70 °F

Ah, Bavarian bliss - snowcapped mountains, sausage and beer, lederhosen, and BMWs. No, I have not taken up residence in the fabulous state of Bavaria in Germany; I have simply crossed over Washington’s Cascade Mountains into a little town called Leavenworth.


Leavenworth sits just two hours East of Seattle and is one of only several “Bavarian Villages” in the United States. The history of Leavenworth can be summed up as follows:

Leavenworth was a bustling town of settlers in search of gold and farmland in the late 1800’s. Over the years the town continued to grow, the logging industry flourished, and Leavenworth was soon connected to the Great Northern Railway. But Leavenworth’s glory days were short lived as the railway lines were re-routed, the timber industry faltered, and suddenly things came to a screeching halt. In the 1960’s some folks got together (most likely over a stein of German beer) and developed a strategy and I am guessing their conversation went something like this:

Hmm, where did everyone go?

I dunno, but we better do something quick.

I know! Let’s create a tacky Bavarian village in the middle of nowhere and see who shows up!

Well, I don’t know how it exactly came down, but I do know this somewhat kitschy little town is like stumbling upon a haystack in Times Square. Something seems oddly out of place. I like Leavenworth, but I am also put off by it. In some ways it feels forced and unnatural, but it also feels quaint and charming. Leavenworth hosts a multitude of attractions: Christmas lighting ceremonies, outdoor Sound of Music performances, and wienerschnitzl galore which lure thousands of travelers from far and wide to experience the spectacle of Bavarian bliss each year.


For me, Leavenworth’s greatest feature is free wine tasting. Dozens of Washington wineries take up real estate on the main drag, luring passerby with free wine. I am a sucker for these free tastings, and although I am no wine connoisseur I can generally tell a bad wine from a good one. Washington and the neighboring state of Oregon produce some very good wines, and despite my mixed feelings about Leavenworth, this is truly the perfect setting to try them all.


I have only been to Leavenworth twice, which may be enough for one lifetime. I know I am being a little harsh, but there is an element of authenticity that I feel is lacking. Despite that, there is no denying that Leavenworth is truly beautiful and worth a short visit, and in my experience the wine tastings help too.


Posted by Jennylynn 22:29 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites

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