Marvin Walder/The Broadside
Bend, Oregon is well known to be a travel destination and outdoor sports mecca with deep historical roots in the logging industry. Coincidentally, there’s a town in Washington that has a similar history but is also very unique from anything you would typically see in Washington or Oregon. The town in question is Leavenworth, which is a town of around 2,400 located southeast of Seattle and east of Steven’s Pass. What makes Leavenworth unique is the strong Bavarian theme present throughout the town. This, combined with the majestic backdrop of the Northern Cascades, creates a unique atmosphere that is strongly reminiscent of alpine towns in Europe.
Historically Leavenworth was a logging town, very much like Bend. The expansion to the west in search of new lands and resources brought many settlers to the Pacific Northwest, and the introduction of railroads caused massive expansions and developments of many areas. However, just like in Bend, the logging business eventually started dying out. While Bend had amassed a larger population and more industry by the time this happened, Leavenworth teetered on the brink of collapse like many smaller gold and logging towns. Finally, in the 1960’s, the town leadership decided to make a drastic change to the town. Inspired by the mountainous backdrop that reminded those of German heritage of home, they rebranded the entire town into a Bavarian-styled destination for travelers.
The similarities don’t end there, both Bend and Leavenworth offer many opportunities for outdoor activities such as mountain biking, hiking, lakes, and even nearby ski resorts. Both towns are also built on a river due to their logging histories, which opens the opportunity for rafting and other such activities in the summer months. While Bend has more to offer in terms of everyday living, business, and its developing tech sector due to its size, Leavenworth dominates when it comes to the vacation atmosphere and Germanic food. The main downside of Leavenworth is that due to its nature as a tourist town, and Washington’s sales tax, things can get pricy.
Leavenworth is a unique and interesting town, that offers much in terms of a vacation destination. The town is very much geared towards providing this atmosphere with a variety of festivals and events that it typically hosts, alongside the year-round Bavarian theme that encompasses the town. For those that enjoy something new, or Europeans that are interested in a reminder of home, Leavenworth could be an interesting destination for a future trip. For more info about Leavenworth and its upcoming events, local attractions, and current conditions, more info can be found on the Leavenworth website.