Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Destinations: Leavenworth, Washington

100_6703When Seattleites seek a getaway in the Pacific Northwest, places that come to mind are the San Juans; Vancouver, BC; and Portland, OR. For a quick jaunt (approximately 118 miles from Seattle), “Little Bavaria” or Leavenworth, WA, awaits.There you will find no shortage of sausages, German-inspired décor and lederhosen. On most weekends, some type of festival is happening so it makes sense to consult the Leavenworth Events Calendar when plotting your trip.

The local tourism bureau boasts that Washington is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world, competing with places like Napa Valley. In light of this, start your adventure at one of the nine Leavenworth wineries and tasting rooms (travel to nearby Cashmere, Peshastin and Wenatchee for more).


At the Willow Crest-Pasek Cellars Tasting Room (939 Front Street, #B), you can savor upwards of 10-12 wines for $2. (If you buy a bottle, your $2 is applied toward the purchase.)

The tastings are energetic, staffed with entertaining wine connoisseurs providing palate-cleansing treats like chocolate-covered almonds and posh crackers.

Once done wining, it’s time to explore. You’ll encounter several indoor malls (oddly reminiscent of Wall Drug); fudge and pretzel shops; restaurants serving…you guessed it…bratwursts and burgers; drinking establishments; and gift shops stocked with nutcrackers, music boxes and tchotchkes—including dog-themed gifts, Leavenworth souvenirs, shot glasses, tiles—and hats. An interactive choice for kids and adults alike is The Hat Shop (719 Front St.):

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After trying on hats, you will likely be hungry and thirsty. If it’s sunny, you may want to locate a place to bask and chow, where you can enjoy your friends and surround yourself with happy tourists. Once you discover the München Haus (709 Front St.), you are there—in a courtyard with wooden tables and benches with family-style seating. Beer and wine selections can be had at the outdoor bars. Sausages abound as do the 18+ mustards & sauces that complement the meat.


When you’ve had enough bratwurst (and cannot find the pulled pork sandwich you are craving for dinner and were told existed at a restaurant that only serves breakfast and lunch), you turn to the next best thing: Los Camperos Mexican Restaurant (200 8th St.). There, your crew will tell the friendly waitrons, clandestine-like, that it’s your birthday. They will make you wear the sombrero and take pictures, as the patrons laugh, happy not to be in that spotlight.

Once you are done exploring, you will want to check in at home base. The lodging choices are plentiful. The Adventure Inn (321 9th Street) is a good location (off the main drag) with a courtyard beer garden der Hinterhof with bands playing on Friday and Saturday nights, May through September. The headliners on this particular night—the funk-inspired Mugsy’s Grove—surrounded the birthday girl, still playing their instruments, honoring the day and being the impetus for the much-desired dance party. A memorable ending to an excellent day.

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