Leavenworth – Bizarrely Bavarian

By December 31, 2014Travel The World, Travelogues

By JD Archer.

Your own little cabin nestled in the mountains, enough wood panelling to make a moose cringe, a gorgeous, glacier fed river that runs straight into a valley stuffed with vineyards, and all minutes away from a small Bavarian village.

Leavenworth KOA

Leavenworth KOA

You could probably book a flight to some place in Europe and find exactly that, or you could drive a measly four hours into Washington State and stay at the KOA in Leavenworth.

Leavenworth is a bizarre place, it used to be a healthy logging community, but when the sawmill shut down the town was left with no real reason to be there. Generally communities facing this problem turn into ghost towns, but in the 1960s Leavenworth became a Bavarian-themed tourist haven. It was an odd choice, but apparently it worked. More than a million tourists now come to Leavenworth every year.

Somehow the town manages to feel authentic, even with all the signs of tourist trapping out in the open. The downtown jumble of souvenir hat and hot sauce stores, a two-storey Christmas shop, a Bavarian McDonalds, and even an Australian store (for whatever reason), is offset by the small town atmosphere. The people are friendly, and if you want to avoid Der Tourist Traps, there are little places around town where the locals clearly spend their time.

Not even five minutes out of town, the KOA campground is a beautiful place to stay. They offer cozy cabins in many different shapes and sizes (equipped with cable TV), or you can bring an RV or a tent. The camp sits on the side the Wenatchee River. It’s got a basketball court, volleyball net, and a game room. It even has two separate playgrounds, one for children, and one for dogs.

Leavenworth is the kind of place where if you find yourself out of hot dogs at the side of the campfire, you can take a short walk through a forest and across a meadow to the Safeway, and stop in at a creepy abandoned cabin on your way back.

Bavarian McDonalds

Bavarian McDonalds

Just to add to the odd contrasts offered by Leavenworth, the town of Wenatchee is only a twenty minute drive away through apple orchards and wine vineyards. Wenatchee is the place to go if you find yourself itching to go to a Walmart (which is the first thing you see coming into town). In the twenty minutes it takes to drive there the landscape changes from mountain pine forest to interior desert. The weather and the temperature can be completely different, so bring a sweater and a pair of shorts. Also, the state police are particularly common and nasty along the road into town, so watch your speed.

The town of Leavenworth makes for a nice family vacation spot. It’s definitely different, and not something you’re soon to forget. It certainly doesn’t feel like it has any business being in the middle of Washington State, but there it is, politely waiting for you to show up and have a look around. Just be prepared to be a little confused.

Photo from usbackroads.blogspot.ca/

For More On Leavenworth Click Here.

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