If you’re anywhere near the Pacific Northwest, particularly Washington State, you simply must spend a weekend in Leavenworth. A German-themed town, Leavenworth, Washington is a gorgeous little Bavarian Village, which certainly has its charm: the snow-capped mountains views, the lush surrounding trees that turn into breathtaking fall foliage in Autumn, the little shops with endless places to drink wine or beer.
But to be completely honest, I personally find the town itself somewhat of a tourist trap, with all the real wonder just miles outside the city in nature. (Yes, the PNW has literally turned me into a tree-hugging hippie — well, not really, but I can certainly appreciate nature more!)
My boyfriend and I have ventured out to this little town a couple times with friends to go camping and hike a trail or two. But we definitely had the most fun by ourselves during our most recent weekend trip in Leavenworth. Not only were we able to explore more activities outside the city, we also got to enjoy some romantic alone time together. And trust me, ladies — even while I am not the most outdoorsy person, I highly recommend going with your boo for a romantic weekend getaway.
Table of Contents
|The Road Trip|
|Finding a Camp Spot|
|Posthotel: A Luxury European Hotel|
|Putt Putt with a View|
|The Bavarian Village|
|Hiking & Canal Walks|
All Roads lead to Leavenworth
When road tripping to Leavenworth in Eastern, Washington, there’s two popular routes you can take if traveling from Seattle. You’ll either take Highway 2 if you’re coming from north of Seattle or I-90 if you’re coming from downtown or anywhere south of the city. Both paths are quite scenic, although we really like the less-crowded northern route, which goes through Stevens Pass Ski Area. But you’ll want to check road conditions because sometimes, part of Highway 2 is closed down for either snow conditions or wildfires.
Roughin’ It Up
While normally those who know me would immediately assume we stayed in a gorgeous, luxury hotel during our weekend stay in Leavenworth, you would be wrong this time. My boyfriend and I decided we’d try camping again since this would be one of our last times camping in the PNW. (For those who don’t know, we’re moving to downtown Chicago in just a few weeks!)
After so many failed camping trips over the last two years, we were determined to get this one right. In the past, we had either underestimated the nighttime cold weather, didn’t properly put up our truck tent, or somehow mysteriously got a hole in our blow-up mattresses. But this time, we had a new mattress, plenty of blankets and warm jackets, and a spacious 6-person ground tent. And to be honest, it was a pretty great time! Plus, the views driving to our camping spot throughout Leavenworth were so cool. Check it out…
We did actually have some issues originally finding a camping spot though.
Camping 101 in Washington State
Prior to tracking down a camp spot, we had planned to go on a spontaneous trip where we would just drive out to someplace remote around Lake Wenatchee, just 30 minutes north of Leavenworth. Well, we learned the hard way after 3 hours of driving around that that was just not going to happen.
Camping Tip #1: Most land in Washington is private and very rarely will you find a decent, remote spot you can pull up to in the middle of nowhere to just set up camp.
Obviously, this brilliant idea to find a remote spot to camp was not my own. But I figured I’d let my boyfriend take lead and not nag him for the first hour. He genuinely just wanted to find a quiet space for us to set up camp since many of the nearby campsites looked like gypsy camps.
Camping Tip #2: Always reserve a campsite in Washington State a few days before your trip.
In case you aren’t aware, Washington State is crowded AF and everybody and their damn mama loves to go camping. So book in advance if you want to secure a spot, as they will pretty much all be full if you just “wing it.” Public land around lakes is usually the first to go.
Camping Tip #3: If you didn’t reserve a spot, you’ll want to Google campsites around Leavenworth. There are a handful in the area, so if you’ll lucky and drive around for a bit, you should find something.
Luckily for us, we stumbled upon the very last spot at Eight Mile Campsite, just 10 miles outside of the Bavarian village. The spots there weren’t as tight together as other sites we had seen, so it worked.
Stay in European Luxury
If you are planning to stay in a hotel, there’s one I totally recommend (yes, even over camping) for a romantic, relaxing, upscale weekend in Leavenworth. The Posthotel & Spa is absolutely stunning from the outside. We actually found it on one of our strolls that I’ll get into below. As we came across a bridge on our walk, we saw people were taking photos of something behind us.
When we turned around, voila. There she was. This huge, elegant structure with patrons strutting around the pool or lounging poolside in chairs wearing white robes and toting flutes of champagne in their hands. It was like some kind of celebrity rehab! That’s when of course I became pissed. Like how could I have not known about this place?! And why were we not staying there?!
Amenities fit for a Queen
So, of course, I did some digging into this place because I felt so out of the loop. Apparently, my aunt, who lives in Seattle with her family, had actually stayed here before years ago for a job trip and said it was even better than it looks from the outside.
The Posthotel prides itself on its Wellness Area, boasting soothing saltwater hydrotherapy pools along with steam baths and saunas. Not to mention the spa itself uses European spa practices, of course, not that I even know what that means but it sounds amazing because it’s European.
And omg, the rooms, you guys… They’re so charming that I can’t decide if I want to honeymoon here or lock myself in one of the rooms just to finish writing my novels! And I can’t forget to mention the dining options, which of course also comes with a European style breakfast, a light lunch, and evening coffee & tea. It’s soooo giving Grandhotel Pupp vibes, am I right?!
BTW if you didn’t know I’m totally obsessed with Grandhotel Pupp and the entire spa city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Repulic, well, now you know. So much that I’m even adding a mission here into Book 2 of the Take It Trilogy, where bougie billionaire heiresses/badass vigilantes Madisyn & Marcie intercept the drop of a Chinese businesswoman, who sells a lethal biochemical agent on the black market, and her unknown client.
Putt Putt with a View
But back to Posthotel… You also get access to the Enzian Falls Putting Course, which I’ve actually played at before with my boyfriend and his friend on our first trip to Leavenworth. It’s an 18-hole championship course with beautiful waterfalls and is walking distance from the Bavarian Village, so it’s a nice pass-time after doing some shopping or before stopping for drinks.
The Bavarian Village
Most people do a weekend stay in Leavenworth to check out the German village. For food, most restaurants and bars have German food and beer. But like I said earlier, they’re pretty overrated and overpriced. We enjoyed better bratwurst by roasting it over our campfire and for a lot less money.
Personally, the most fun part of being in the village is seeing the horse-pulled carriages and exploring the outdoors art gallery, where we’ve purchased a couple pieces of artwork. There are some cute, little specialty shops though too that are fun to drop in and peruse the hand-made knickknacks.
Also, while we weren’t lucky enough to stop in Leavenworth during holiday seasons, you’ll definitely want to. This village really comes to life for Christmastown, when it’s filled with lights and festive entertainment. And you can only imagine that Oktoberfest in a German-themed town would be crazy. Again, probably overpriced, but I assume it’d be worth it for one of these big celebrations.
Giddy Up, Cowgirls
Okay, so horseback riding is not for me. LOL. Yeah, I thought this was going to be something that was super “romantic” and carefree, and it just freaked me out. I mean, sure, there were little kids that even somehow could ride these horses since they’re trained to stay in line or whatever.
But my horse was super rowdy and disobedient! He kept pulling me off course to eat grass and whenever I tried to yank him back on track with the reins he would get such an attitude.
I just kept praying that whenever we trotted along next to the river that the horse wouldn’t get so mad at me that he’d run off into the water with me on his back! So terrifying. And my boyfriend’s still mad at me for not being able to take a photo of him on his horse, but like, I was not taking my hands off those damn reigns when I was doing everything in my power just to hang on for dear life.
But sure, if you really want to horseback ride, we used Icicle Outfitters & Guides, which is located right behind Aspen Leaf Day Spa in Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort (where I should have went instead!) Just be aware — if you’re slightly nervous at all, do not get on their one white horse! This thing literally jumped and nayed and was super out of control, but I guess the dude that wanted to ride him told them he was “experienced” (he honestly looked like he was going to shit his pants though lmao).
Hiking With Killer mountain & river views
Hiking around the area is one of the most popular activities to explore the outdoors and one you will surely take part in several times during a weekend trip in Leavenworth. One of our favorite trails was Tumwater Pipeline Trail. It’s a short 5 minute drive from the Bavarian Village and has a small parking lot. The most notable attraction is the large bridge that sits above the rushing waters of the Wenatchee River.
The views of the river are unmatched and also quite frightening. My boyfriend, being the daring thrill-seeker he is, even hiked down from the trail’s path to sit on top of a boulder and watch the water (as I was yelling at him to not be stupid and fall off). The water literally rushes so fast that if you were to fall in, you would actually die. No, like not kidding. Check out the video…
The trail is just a mile out and back and it’s pretty flat the entire way, making it super easy to walk. There’s a small waterfall you’ll have to cross on the trail, but that too was pretty easy, although your shoes will definitely get wet if you can’t skip across the rocks. But you’ll get some awesome views of the mountains and rocks across the river.
Advanced Hikers Only
If you’re a more daring hiker enjoying the weekend in Leavenworth, you’ll want to check out Snow Creek Trailhead, which was in between Eight Mile Campsite and the Bavarian Village. I couldn’t even get onto the trail, as the initial descent from the parking lot is so steep overlooking a huge cliff that I almost passed out when I saw it LMAO. My boyfriend did venture down a short ways to see the views and said it was incredible! The entire trail is about 15 miles, and it’s rated “hard” on trail websites.
Also, watch your back and keep your camera out because people have spotted bears and mountain goats on this trail!
Take a Stroll On the Canal Walk
Another easy “hike” that I highly recommend for a weekend in Leavenworth (because it’s more like a stroll) is the canal walk that’s right behind and runs adjacent to the Bavarian Village. You can start (or end) at Enchantment Park, which has lots of recreation like a skatepark, baseball field, soccer field, and playground. This series of trails spans about 3 miles and lines the Wenatchee River. Part of it even passes over Blackbird Island Park, where the bridge gives you that insane view of Posthotel that I mentioned earlier. If starting at Enchantment Park, the trails end at Waterfront Park, which will bring you to the other end of the village.
For more popular adventures in Leavenworth like climbing, birding, cycling, water sports, and zip lining, check out the town’s Recreation Page.
Ready to explore some other hikes around the state? Check out my blog, “The Best Hikes in Washington for Mountain Views, Beaches & Waterfalls.”