Leavenworth, Washington: Local Guide with Best Things To Do
Smack dab in the center of the Pacific Northwest sits a town that’ll make you swear you’ve been transported to Germany. Leavenworth’s Bavarian-themed architecture draws many tourists from Seattle and the surrounding areas, especially during popular times like Oktoberfest and the Christmas lighting ceremonies.
The town’s German theme is charming yet undeniably kitchy, but there is much more to Leavenworth than lederhosen and pretzels if you know where to look. (Though while we’re on the subject, you should definitely get a pretzel while you’re there!)
With plenty of trails and nearby Stevens Pass Mountain Resort, there are endless opportunities to go hiking, resort skiing and backcountry alpine skiing. The Wenatchee River carves through town, making it the perfect destination to go whitewater rafting on class III—IV or go floating on a SUP on the more gentle creeks.
We lived in Leavenworth for 6 months and seriously fell in love with this mountain town. We’re sharing what to do, where to eat and how to experience Leavenworth like a local.
Where is Leavenworth?
Nestled in a valley with Washington’s iconic Cascade Mountains as the backdrop, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic setting. Located 117 miles east of Seattle, Leavenworth is a popular spot for Seattlites to visit on weekends and makes a perfect addition to any visit to Washington state.
How many people live in Leavenworth?
With a population of about 2,000 people, Leavenworth is still technically a small town. But with the amount of tourists and outdoor explorers roaming through the valley, the town is always buzzing (especially during busy times like Oktoberfest and Christmas!).
What time of year is best to visit Leavenworth?
Honestly, each season in Leavenworth is distinctly different and has its own perks.
Winter in Leavenworth:
Known for its famous Christmas-lighting ceremonies, Leavenworth is undeniably magical in the wintertime and is a perfect home-base for a multitude of snowy activities.
Summer in Leavenworth:
With endless sunshine, summer in Leavenworth is the perfect time to grab a tube or paddle board and float down the calm waters of the Icicle Creek. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try whitewater rafting.
Spring in Leavenworth:
Blankets of wildflowers cover the mountainsides, making spring a fantastic time for hiking and mountain biking.
Fall in Leavenworth:
Autumn brings with it colorful leaves, crisp air and festivals, like the famed Oktoberfest.
What’s with the Bavarian theme?
Leavenworth hasn’t always been full of bratwurst and steins.
This town in central Washington was once a thriving logging village, but when the railroad re-routed their track, the town quickly started to die. To revive the community and bring tourism to the area, leaders of the town realized the unique mountain setting was very similar to Bavarian Germany, and thus change started to happen.
The architecture, building signs and street names began to change to mimic German style. To draw more visitors, the town started to host Maifest, the Autumn Leaf Festival and of course the Christmas Lighting Ceremony.
While most people think of Leavenworth as a tourist destination, it is much more than that. It is home to a vibrant and active community of outdoor enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and artists.
In the midst of the Cascades, Leavenworth has access to incredible hiking, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking. With all the outdoor activities, Leavenworth attracts adventure-seekers from Seattle and around the United States, as well as those who are just there to soak up the beautiful views and German vibes.
Where to Stay: Leavenworth Hotels
Although we have never stayed in a hotel in Leavenworth (because we had our own apartment, there are no shortage of great places to choose from.
Best Location Possible: Bavarian Lodge
Directly across from Front Street Park, you can literally see the Christmas Lighting Ceremony from your room. The Lodge is one of the best rated hotels in town with helpful staff to assist you with all your questions on where to go and what to do in Leavenworth.
Family Friendly Hotel: Icicle Village Resort
Less than a 5-minute walk into town, this resort has a great location away from all the noise of the village. This Leavenworth hotel resort has amenities like an onsite spa, swimming pool for the kids, and a free breakfast.
Unique Accommodation: Sleeping Lady Resort
Located a bit out of town, this resort is nestled in a picturesque valley and has amenities like a hot tub, onsite restaurants and snowshoeing trails.
Perfect for a Bachelorette Party: Enzian Inn
Looking for nice Leavenworth hotel to celebrate your best girlfriend walking down the aisle? Enzian Inn is a 5 minute walk to the main street, they have big rooms and a good breakfast so you can bounce back from the night before and start your winery tour off right.
It seems like there are festivals every weekend in Leavenworth. Some are small, but the bigger ones mean you’ll need to book your accommodation in advance, as the town fills up to capacity. Oh, and if possible, arrive early in the day on Friday because traffic will back up all along Highway 2 on busy weekends, like the Christmas Lighting ceremonies. Here is a list of just the major festivals Leavenworth hosts:
Bavarian Ice Festival (January - Martin Luther King Jr. weekend)
Taste of Leavenworth (April - First weekend)
Maifest (May - typically Mother's Day weekend)
Bavarian Bike & Brew (June - First weekend)
Kinderfest (July - 4th of July weekend)
Autumn Leaf Festival (4th weekend in September)
Oktoberfest (October - First 3 weekends)
Christkindlmarkt (November - Thanksgiving weekend)
Christmas Lighting Festival (December - First 3 weekends)
Things To Do in Leavenworth
If you are wondering what to do in Leavenworth, Washington, you've come to the right place. We've rounded up a list of things to do in this mountain town — from outdoor adventures to fun activities in town — everybody will find something fun to do in Leavenworth!
1. Skiing at Stevens Pass Resort
We may be a bit biased because we spent a winter season working at this ski resort, but we think a visit to Stevens Pass Washington Ski Resort is a must during any winter trip to Leavenworth. It's located about 45 minutes west of Leavenworth on Highway 2, so you’ll pass by it on your way to or from Seattle, making it a perfect stopping point.
The mountain has 52 major runs varying in difficulty, making the resort suitable for all levels, from beginners to experts. Our favorite runs are on the backside of the mountain! Try Gemini and Outer Limits!
New to skiing/snowboarding? No problem. The instructors at Stevens are fun, patient, and super helpful. (We might be a bit biased because Ben was an instructor) But I bet by the end of your lesson you'll want to come back for more!
Tip: If possible, plan your visit to Stevens Pass for a weekday because you’ll avoid the weekend crowds on the mountain. But if Friday to Sunday is the only time you can visit, plan to arrive by at least 8 a.m. for decent parking and shorter lines. Instead of waiting to purchase your ticket at the ticket booth, you can pick them up at many locations in Seattle or on your way at the Chevron in Sultan. You can also buy tickets online, so there are many ways to avoid standing in line!
Hungry? There are a few restaurants to choose from on the mountain – from sit-down meals at the Bull’s Tooth to specialty pizzas at the Iron Goat, there’s something for everyone.
For a morning meal, try the super filling and delicious breakfast burritos, and for a quick lunch, our go-to choice is chili from Cascadia Kitchen or a slice of pizza from the Iron Goat.
2. Mountain Biking at Stevens Pass
After the snow melts, Stevens Pass transform into a bike park, with trails and obstacles throughout the mountain and chairlifts to carry the bikes. We tried it out for the first time last summer, and let me tell you, it is an experience!
If you’ve never been mountain biking before, we’d definitely recommend taking a lesson, as there’s so much more to it than simply “biking downhill”. And if you’re an expert, Stevens Pass has some incredible (super scary-looking!) runs.
You’ll get geared up in a full-face helmet, knee and elbow pads, and gloves, and you’ll feel like a total badass! I’ll be honest and tell you that it is scary your first time, but it is such a rush! Ben decided it is his new favorite sport!
Note: Make sure to get the damage coverage. At Stevens they use great equipment and I was surprised to hear that the rental bikes cost over $5,000! Trust me, pay for the coverage, so you don't have to worry about breaking a wheel spoke.
3. Hikes near Leavenworth
There are so many hikes near Leavenworth that you could literally go on a new hike each week and still not exhaust all the trails. We can't even begin to compile a comprehensive list, but we're sharing some of the more popular and easier trails to hike if you have limited time in Leavenworth.
Icicle Ridge Hike
If you’re facing the west edge of Leavenworth, you’ll see Icicle Ridge towering above town. This is a moderate hike with several switchbacks and takes roughly 60-minutes to reach a beautiful lookout point with the option to go higher still.
Sauer Mountain Hike
This moderate hike is especially stunning in the springtime, as the mountainside is covered in a blanket of wildflowers. To get the top, it takes roughly 1.5 to 2 hours (3 miles out), and you can continue hiking along the ridgeline for a bit, or you can simply turn back.
Note: The entrance to this hiking trail is on private property. The owner welcomes hikers, but asks for a donation for parking your car on his property.
Colchuck Lake Hike (Enchantments)
If you’re an avid hiker and want something truly epic during your time in Leavenworth, consider hiking to Colchuck Lake. This is the entry point for the famed Enchantments, and many people camp up here in the summer months (which requires a permit that is obtained through a lottery).
If you’re not one of the lucky few to get a coveted camping permit, you can still make the hike up to Colchuck Lake for a day. Pack a picnic lunch and a swimsuit. Colchuck is refreshingly chilly, but for a slightly more comfortable swim, the smaller neighboring lake to the west is heavenly, especially in late afternoon.
4. Soak at Scenic Hot Springs
We're kind of obsessed with seeking out hot springs on our travels, so when we heard that there was one not too far from Leavenworth (or more specifically, Stevens Pass), we knew we had to go! Getting to Scenic Hot Springs requires an 1.5 - 2 hour hike up into the mountains, and requires snowshoes (or skis with skins) after a fresh snow, but that's when the views are best.
The views of snowcapped ponderosa pines and the Cascades peeking out in the distance is quite spectacular. The hot springs itself has changed a bit in the last few years. Though we've been told that Scenic isn't what it used to be in the past, we still thoroughly enjoyed relaxing in the steamy water as snow kissed our shoulders and we chatted with the others.
What used to be one large pool with a wooden platform, is now 3 tubs of water in varying temperatures. A maximum of 10 people can be at the hot springs at one time, and you are likely to have company during your visit.
If you plan to visit Scenic Hot Springs, you must make a reservations according to the guidelines on this website. You must also pay a small fee, which goes to the maintenance of these springs ($5 per person on weekdays and $10 on weekends or holidays). If possible, we'd recommend visiting on a weekday, because it will be less busy, and trust us when we say 10 people would be very crowded in these hot springs.
Note: Scenic Hot Springs is private property, so if you do not reserve in advance, it is considered trespassing. Plus, you wouldn't want to hike all the way up to find that the pools are full.
When you make a reservation and pay the fee, you will get detailed directions to the hot springs. Out of respect to the man who maintains the springs, we will not post directions in this article.
What to expect:
The water is naturally hot and fed by tubes into 3 tubs. It is not super clear, and you will notice some "floaties". There should be a mesh "strainer" to clean out the water a bit if you'd like.
Clothing is optional at this hot spring, so make sure you're comfortable with nudity if you decide to go here.
There is a small primitive outhouse near the hot spring.
Responsible Travel Tip: Please don't litter - not even fruit peels! On one visit to the hot spring, the snow was starting to melt which revealed grapefruit peels and pistachio shells that someone had left in the fall. It really was not a nice sight when the rest of the surroundings are so beautiful. If you plan to eat, please pack out all your garbage because there is no trash bin at the hot springs.
5. Whitewater Rafting with Wild Water
The Wenatchee River is thrilling and quite beautiful and attracts water sports enthusiasts from all over the state and country. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a whitewater rafting trip with our friends at Wildwater.
They offer a variety of different trips to choose from and you’ll be in good hands with their experienced guides. Owners, Lance and Justine, are super passionate about rafting and have a love for this part of Washington.
The best time of year to go whitewater rafting is in the late spring when the snow is melting and the river is high. This is when you’ll have the most exciting rapids. As summer progresses, the Wenatchee River gets lower and eventually rafting trips are moved elsewhere to rivers like White Salmon and Tieton Rivers.
If you book a trip with Wildwater, make sure to tell them Ben and Katie from Two Wandering Soles sent you!
6. Go Floating on the River
Summer is the perfect time to rent a tube or SUP and float down the river, with a can of beer… err I mean, water…. in hand. You can rent water toys from Leavenworth Outdoor Center (LOC), and they will shuttle you to a drop off point.
Along the float, there are a few beaches you can get out at, and once you make it back to town, there is a big red sign where you should get off the river. If it’s a weekend, just follow the crowds of other people getting out.
Do it yourself: If you have your own SUP or inner tube (you can buy cheap versions at Safeway for under $10), you can drive to Leavenworth Fish Hatchery and park your car. This is where you can enter the water; but remember you’ll need another car in town to get you back to where you parked.
Note: If you go floating (we highly recommend it!) remember to be responsible with your trash. Please, please don’t litter in this beautiful area. Beer cans washed up on beaches make for a far less incredible experience.
7. Explore Blackbird Island all year long
Literally steps from the main part of town sits Blackbird Island. Other than the small walking bridge that connects it to the “mainland”, you probably wouldn’t notice that it’s an island in the river. There are about a mile of trails around the island that you can follow for a leisurely walk or a morning run. And in wintertime, you can explore Blackbird on snowshoes or cross-country skis.
Tip: Don’t forget to look around! The views on this island facing west are some of my favorite in town! Also, if you pay attention, you’ll find small trails leading to little beaches where you can relax, swim (in the summer) and picnic.
8. Go Cross-Country Skiing or Snowshoeing
When it comes to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, there are plenty of trails to choose from. Bring your own equipment to Sleeping Lady Resort, Leavenworth Ski Hill, Lake Wenatchee State Park, or rent them at the Stevens Pass Nordic Center. And these are just a few of the most popular trails – the options are endless!
Where to rent snowshoes and/or cross country skis:
9. Sledding in Leavenworth
If you’ve got kiddos in tow, there’s no way you’ll miss the super popular sledding hill on Front Street Park. It’s a fun sight watching all those kids, but if you’re in search of a bigger hill with less crowds, head down to Waterfront Park. Walk southeast on 9th Street and take a left when you hit a T in the road, this will take you down into the park.
Tip: Bring a sled from home if possible because the ones for sale on Front Street are overpriced and there aren’t a ton to choose from.
10. Tubing in Leavenworth
If your heart is set on tubing, head to ski hill, where you can tube down the snowy hill for 90 minutes for $20 per person.
11. Visit Lake Wenatchee
If you’re up for a bit of a drive, Lake Wenatchee is about 25 minutes away and is a fun place to explore a bit. During the winter, try the cross-country ski trails and in summertime, relax at the beach. This is a stunning lake to photograph as well.
12. Mountain Biking at Ski Hill
If you have your own mountain bike and prefer free trails to the resort, head to Freund Canyon where there is a collection of trails you can ride. Trails are maintained by locals in an honor system, so be respectful.
Where to rent bikes
13. Ski Hill walk
If you really want to work up a sweat, head to Ski Hill where you can get a good run, or heart-pumping walk. There are some hills, but these trails are usually quite quiet and serene, just stay to the side when you hear a mountain biker coming.
14. Farmer’s Market
Each Thursday night from June to October from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., local vendors and growers gather in the Lion's Club Park for the Leavenworth farmer’s market.
15. Shop Fair Trade at Jubilee
In our honest opinions, Front Street is packed with corny touristy shops that aren’t worth your time. There are a few exceptions though, one being Jubilee. This nonprofit, fair trade shop in the center of town sources products from all around the world and it's profits go to supporting the art makers around the world and the local community.
The prices are reasonable and the selection of beautiful items ranges from clothing to woven bowls to children's toys. You can feel good about making a purchase here.
16. See an Independent Film or Watch a Play
Check out the schedule of events from Icicle Creek Center for the Arts to find documentary screenings, workshops, live music, theater performances, speakers and more.
17. Drink Local: Wine Tasting & Breweries
There are plenty of wineries not far from Leavenworth, like Eagle Creek and Icicle Ridge Winery. But if you don’t want to leave the limits of town, pop into one of the many tasting rooms to sample the local vino. If wine just ain’t your thing, try the Blue Spirits Distillery on Front Street or do like we do and seek out a beer. They’re not hard to find in this German-themed town!
18. Eat a Pretzel
You know when we said there's more to Leavenworth than the Bavarian theme? Well, we weren't lying. But still, a visit to this town should include at least one pretzel with cheese sauce. They sell them all over town, so they shouldn't be hard to find!
19. Enjoy Live Music
There is no shortage of live music in Leavenworth. Each weekend night, there are simultaneous performances all over town, so the hard part is choosing which one to go to. Even on most weeknights, it's easy to wander down Front Street and listen for crooning voices of local musicians coming from the bars, breweries and restaurants along the strip.
Where to Eat in Leavenworth
This is our favorite thing to talk about, as trying new restaurants is one of our biggest hobbies. There are seemingly endless restaurant options in Leavenworth, and it can be tricky sorting out the fantastic from the mediocre. This is our list of favorites after months and month of "research" (haha).
Best Restaurants in Leavenworth
Fun Atmosphere: Munchen Haus
For an inexpensive bite and a fun beer garden atmosphere, you can’t beat Munchen Haus. With outdoor heaters, this outdoor restaurant is busy at all times of the year.
The sausages and pretzels are pretty darn good and the selection of mustards is unbeatable. They have, like, 20 to choose from. No joke. And in true beer garden fashion, you can enjoy a selection of Icicle brews. Like many other restaurants in Leavenworth, live music is common here.
Our favorite: Pretzel with cheese sauce, Mediterranean Chicken Sausage brat with apple cider sauerkraut and ALL the mustards!
Local Favorite: Watershed
This chef-owned restaurant is known by and large as serving some the best food in Leavenworth. The menu changes often so they’re able to offer the season’s best ingredients with classics like North American Elk Shepherd's Pie Skillet and creative dishes, like Grape Leaf-Wrapped All-Natural Oregon Pork Tenderloin in a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere.
Bonus: Monday is Local’s Night, and there is a special menu with more affordable prices and $3 beer and wine.
A Foodie Experience: Mana
If you happen to be in Leavenworth on a Friday or Saturday, and are looking for a truly unique food experience, consider a visit to Mana Restaurant. This beautifully intimate restaurant is set in a house and all guests are served at the same time from a set menu of 8 courses.
The menu changes frequently so the chef can creatively use what’s in season. The descriptions of each course are outragously detailed and long, you just have to take a look at the sample menu yourself. Just try not to drool on your keyboard.
While eating at Mana isn’t cheap ($85 per person), it is a food experience that’ll tantalize your taste buds and make you question everything you thought you knew about food. You can also do a wine (or non-alcoholic beverage) pairing with each course.
Note: You must make reservations in advance.
Authentic Mexican: Taqueria El Chavo
Located in Cashmere, about a 10-minute drive from Leavenworth, El Chavo is a local secret! El Chavo serves up authentic Mexican food in a quaint, no-frills
Order at the counter and your food will be delivered to your table by the super sweet staff.
Everything on their menu is fantastic. Seriously. Oh, and try the Miracle Water – a refreshing blend of lime, mint and cucumber.
Bonus: On Mondays, tacos and quesadillas are just $1!
Our favorites: Everything, seriously! But usually we order a variety of tacos – my favorites are chicken tinga (shredded and a bit spicy), burritos, quesadillas and/or tamales.
Noodle Bowl: Yodelin Broth Co.
We moved out of Leavenworth before Yodelin Broth Co. actually opened its doors, which we're still a little depressed about. We have tasted the signature bone broth bowls from local chef's pop-up shop at Steven’s Pass last winter and all I can say is dayyyyum. They’re no joke. Choose from options like halibut bone coconut curry broth and wild salmon miso bone broth and soak up gorgeous valley views.
Upscale Mexican: South
The chic décor and tempting variety of margaritas are two reasons you’ll love South. Oh, and the food is fantastic. Need we say more? It's a local favorite, and although the prices are a bit higher than the other Mexican restaurants in town, South wins on quality.
Pizza To-Go: Rudloofs
If you want a super tasty, pizza for takeaway, Roodloofs has some seriously good pie. Heavy on the toppings. You can also eat in, but the atmosphere is kind of meh (in our opinions), so we’d recommend ordering it to go. Bring it to the nearby park for a picnic or back to your room to enjoy with beer and a movie!
Our Favorite: the Barvaian Pizza: It sounds weird, I know, but the combination of bratwurst, sauerkraut and sweet bell peppers is seriously good on pizza. And what better place to try a Bavarian inspired pizza than in Leavenworth?!
Best Places for a drink in Leavenworth
Local Beer: Icicle Brewing Company
This is a town staple. Tourists and locals alike love Icicle Brewing for its fun atmosphere – think outdoor seating with fireplaces built in the table (cool, huh?!) and indoor seating with lots of games and puzzles to play. With regular live music and a solid selection of beers, it’s no wonder this place is often packed. If it’s too crowded for your liking, you can always fill up a growler! Only $8 on Thursdays if you have their growler, ($10 any other day)!
Our favorites: Dark Persuasion (If you like dark ales, you’ve gotta try this one! It tastes like German Chocolate Cake!), Bootjack IPA, seasonaly-available Lifeguard
Pizza & Beer: Blewett Brewing Company
Have a pizza-shaped hole in your belly that nothing but pie and beer will fill? We hear ya. Blewett serves wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, and has a good selection of house-brewed craft beer as well as a few ciders.
Best Bar: The Loft
This local haunt gets quite crowded on the weekends with out-of-town visitors, but if you want to experience the real local vibe, head to the loft on a weeknight. Each evening has a theme – from trivia to karaoke to open mic night – and the more casual atmosphere makes it far superior to the Saturday night madness (in our opinion).
Biggest Beer Selection: Stein
If the local brew options just aren’t enough, this beer hall inspired establishment is brand-spakin’ new and has a beverage selection so big your eyes will cross just trying to decide. Our recommendation is to ask the bartenders for a little guidance based off your tastes. They seriously know what they’re talking about. You can also order some pub snacks, like rosemary fries, to help soak up that beer.
Best Cocktails in Town: Bavarian Bistro
Known around the town for her incredible cocktail crafting skills, Asia whips up some seriously creative and yummy drinks, like a German Chocolate Cake cocktail. The pub food here is good and there’s a great selection of beer too. Plus, there’s live music quite often, and it seems there’s always a game playing on the television sets.
Snacks and Quick Bites in Leavenworth
Healthy: Hunter’s Wife
This cozy little shop is located just off the main street, so it’s easy to miss if you’re just passing through town. But if you’re craving a super healthy breakfast or just a tasty mid-day pick me up, you won’t want to pass up the Hunter’s Wife. Their acai bowls are heavenly. We especially loved the Enchantment Bowl, and we’ve heard their gluten-free waffles are super yummy too! They also have kombucha on tap and super healthy juice and smoothie options that’ll make it hard to choose just one.
Our favorite: Enchantment Bowl
2018 update: We are sad to say that the Leavenworth location of the Hunter's Wife has closed. You can still enjoy their healthy deliciousness at their nearby Wenatchee location.
Coffee & Cookies: Gingerbread Factory
For an afternoon treat (or morning; we won’t judge!), the Gingerbread Factory is a solid choice. Kitchy-cute, this house-turned bakery has some seriously yummy cookies.
Our favorites: Classic Gingerbread and the White Chocolate Ginger Oatmeal Cookie. We’ve tried quite a few cookies here, and those are definitely the best. In our opinion… Actually, no it’s a fact.
Sandwich On-the-Go: Parsley’s Pantry
This newly opened café is a bit bleak on atmosphere and décor, but the sandwiches are good if you’re looking for something to eat on the go.
Cute Cafe: Good Mood Food
This is one of those cozy, adorably eclectic cafes where you can enjoy a scone and big mug of coffee with a book. The scratch-made sandwiches, salads and soups are tasty too, so it’s a good stop for breakfast or lunch.
Coffee on the Go: Argonaut
For a little caffeine boost while walking around town, make a stop at Argonaut, a tiny coffee stand at the west end of the main walking street. Order a creative drink, like a Lavender White Chocolate Mocha or a Horchata Latte. There is a small amount of outdoor seating, and on a clear day you can get a fantastic view of the river and the Cascades in the background.
Our favorite: Lavender White Chocolate Mocha (light on the white chocolate), their Breakfast Sandwich is pretty solid too!
Need Groceries: Safeway or Dan's Fresh Market
Safeway is located at the east end of town and is one option for getting groceries. We’ll mention that with weekend visitors, every Friday – Sunday is ridiculously busy at Safeway and lines can get quite long. To avoid the weekend crowds and to support a local business, try getting your groceries at Dan’s Fresh Market instead.
Bonus: If you need something quick to eat on the go in the morning, head to the back of Dan’s and get a breakfast burrito. They’re packed with veggies and are pretty yummy!
Directions: How to get to Leavenworth
The scenic, 117-mile drive on Highway 2 from Seattle should take around 2.5 hours if the roads are clear of traffic and snow. That said, winter conditions can make this drive much longer, and 4-wheel drive and/or tire chains are necessary. Also, during popular festivals, like Christmas lighting ceremonies and Oktoberfest, expect traffic to be backed up on Highway 2, which narrows to one lane for much of the drive.
If you’re coming from Seattle:
If you’re coming from the westside and have a bit of time to spare, here are a few good stops to make along the way.
This local favorite is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall diner, but the treats in the bakery case make up for the dreary ambiance. Their sandwiches are super good as well – definitely split-able between two people – and are served on homemade white bread. We’re not usually fans of white bread, except for this stuff!
Our favorites: Buttermilk bar, Chocolate Chip Coconut Macadamia Cookie (especially when fresh outta the oven!), Turkey Bacon Swiss Sandwich (we always split it), Big Breakfast Burrito (could be split by 3 people. Yes, seriously.)
If it’s a nice day, a stop at these falls will only add 20 minutes to your trip and will let you stretch your legs.
This cute little espresso stand is located at Cole’s Corner and is a local favorite. It’s bright red – go figure – so you can’t miss it, and the owner is super friendly! If you order a coffee drink, be sure to read the hand-written message on your cup!
Our favorites: Salted Butterscotch Cookie (it’s to die for!)
This local hotspot burned down in a fire in the summer of 2016, and while they are preparing to rebuild, they have a food truck serving up their staples: burgers, crinkle fries and milkshakes.
Our favorites: We’ve only had the milkshakes here, and they’re pretty darn good. You can make your own flavor combo! We liked Blackberry Coconut and Caramel Coconut!
If you're coming from Wenatchee,
You probably already know the way to Leavenworth (west on Hwy 2). But you should definitely stop here on the way:
Milepost 111 Brewing Company
We discovered this place after our first whitewater rafting trip and stopped there every time we drove by Cashmere. It has a great dive bar atmosphere, killer truffle fries and delicious craft beer selection.
Have you visited Leavenworth?
What is your favorite shop and restaurant? What activity looks like the most fun? Let us know in the comments below!