Recently my sister Julie, nephew Jack and niece Erin visited. Each summer they visit us and each year we find more incredible things for them to explore.
This year we decided to venture out of town to the quaint Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, Washington. We had an action packed itinerary for our trip, which started by driving east along Highway 2.
3:00 pm – A must-stop photo-op on Highway 2 is the Espresso Chalet (located just east of Gold Bar). I know what you’re thinking. “Espresso and kids?” No, I wasn’t planning on giving my niece and nephew a mega caffeine buzz. But the Espresso Chalet is a great stop because it features a gigantic 14 foot tall, hand carved wooden statue of Sasquatch.
The site of the Espresso Chalet was featured in the 1987 movie “Harry & the Hendersons,” so Bigfoot statues, signs, and other memorabilia loom large here (no pun intended).
The other marvelous feature of the Espresso Chalet is the million dollar view of Mount Index from their parking lot. It truly is one of the best views in this area.
4:30 pm – We arrived in Leavenworth and checked in to our hotel, Pension Anna.
We were fortunate to have booked the “Chapel Suite” at Pension Anna, which is an old Catholic Church that was moved from its original location in Leavenworth to the site where is stands today – next to Pension Anna. The church has been renovated/demised to feature a master bedroom and living room on the first floor, with another bedroom up in the old choir loft. It was really cool!
5:00 pm – Pension Anna is right downtown, so we walked two blocks to find dinner at Baren Haus restaurant. Julie and I shared the Bratwurst Platter, Jack had the schnitzel, and Erin had buttered noodles. It was all delicious and so German!
8:00 pm – We got tickets well in advance to Leavenworth’s spectacular outdoor production of The Sound of Music.
Leavenworth Summer Theater has been performing this play for 20 years and it is still going strong. I will say it was a fabulous production. All of the acting and singing was top-notch and the setting could not be beat.
A tear came to my eye when Maria appears on a real mountain side to sing The Sound of Music! The play is great for both adults and children, although the production does dig deeper into the Nazi storyline than the Julie Andrews movie did. Actually, their unvarnished depiction of the times gave us a better understanding of Austria’s reaction to the war. Aside from the history lesson, we loved, loved, loved the songs and costumes!
10:30 pm – Post production, we drove the short drive back to Pension Anna, under a canopy of stars with songs in our hearts.
8:00 am – Pension Anna includes a traditional Bavarian breakfast with your stay. We ate ham and other cold cuts, boiled eggs, cereal, and “breakfast pretzels” made specially for Pension Anna by a local baker. They were delicious!
10:00 am – If you are ever in Leavenworth in the summertime, a must-do is Tubing on the Icicle and Wenatchee Rivers.
We arranged our tubing trip through Leavenworth Outdoor Center. L.O.C. rents river tubes (and drives you up the river to start your trip), bicycles, stand up paddle boards, and other toys for summer fun. If you recall, Chad and I went tubing last year (read our post “Tubing in Leavenworth”), and it was so much fun, I told Julie, Jack and Erin they had to try it. At first we thought a 10:00 am reservation (we booked late, so this was the only time slot we could get) would be freezing cold. But once we got used to the water temp, it was actually great.
Our tubing trip took over 2 hours and trips later in the day had shorter routes because of the heat, so we felt we really got our money’s worth with the 10:00 am reservation.
1:00 pm – Back on dry land, we lunched at Idlewild Pizza. This restaurant has a cool modern ski-lodge look to it and their pizzas are wood-fired and tasty!
2:30 pm – The inn-keeper at Pension Anna told us we must visit The Nutcracker Museum in town, so we ventured over to it.
We were so glad we made the stop – the museum features over 6,000 nutcrackers from all over the world! Nutcrackers from Roman times to the present day.
Nutcrackers in the traditional Bavarian soldier-style, to themed nutcrackers such as the Star Wars characters,
the Wizard of Oz characters, historical figures such as Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein,
and larger than life-size nutcrackers. Each nutcracker in the museum is a functional nutcracker!
The owner of the museum, Arlene Wagner (who I believe is 90 years old this year!) was manning the front desk. I recognized her from the short introductory video the museum shows, as well as from the press clippings hanging in the front hall of the museum. I confess I was a little star-struck. This woman has met with people from all over the world, amassing an awesome collection of nutcrackers, and she’ s been on national tv (including Conan O’Brien!) three times.
4:00 pm – What better way to continue our Bavarian-themed visit than to get our photo taken – Bavarian style! Erin, who had already fashioned her hair in Austrian-styled milkmaid braids, was over the moon when we all finally agreed to join her in posing for a photo at Studio 1890 Old Time Photo Shop. Jack deserves the brother of the year award for donning lederhosen and pretending to sing and play the accordion!
5:00 pm – We had driven past some live goats right on the main street last night, so I couldn’t wait to walk back and find them. I mean – how often do you see live goats hanging out on a main highway?
It turns out the goats are tending a field right next to a putt-putt golf course, so we decided to play a round. Enzian Inn’s Championship Putting Course features a waterfall and, as mentioned, live mountain goats. Where else can you find that?!
The course was challenging but fun, and Julie and I were shamed at how poor our scores were compared with the champs, Jack and Erin. I only wish Chad had been there to appreciate the mountain goats.
6:30 pm – Time for dinner – we were sort of “Bavarian-ed Out”, so we opted to dine at Visconti’s, an Italian restaurant. They have a great outdoor patio, with wonderful views of the neighboring mountains.
8:00 am – We were back in the dining room of Pension Anna for delicious breakfast pretzels!
9:15 am – We walked over to Enzian Inn to watch their morning Alphorn serenade.
Every morning at 8:15 and 9:15, Bob Johnson (owner of the Inn and dressed in lederhosen of course) comes out on to the roof of the Enzian Inn with his Ricola-like horn to perform a few songs for the guests of the inn and gathering crowds below.While my photos from the street below are ok, this YouTube video posted by RushBabe49 is fantastic!
10:00 am – After walking back past the town square, admiring the flower baskets, the Wilkommen wagon,
and the Bavarian styled buildings of Leavenworth, we bid our “So Long, Farewell” to Pension Anna (I couldn’t resist!) and headed back west on Highway 2.
11:30 am – Before returning to Seattle, I wanted to give Jack and Erin a taste of PacWest hiking – so we stopped at the Iron Goat Loop. I loved this hike in the winter (see “The Iron Goat Loop”) and knew Julie and the kids would love the history of this trail.
We walked about a mile on the former railroad track turned hiking trail, past the snowshed walls built to protect the passing trains from snow, past the railroad mile markers, to the twin tunnels.
We decided to end our hike at the twin tunnels, but if you get the chance, do the complete loop – the trail features wonderful historical markers, more tunnels, and the views are spectacular.
Leavenworth and the surrounding area offers so many fun activities for young, old, and every age in between. This weekend trip provided a great taste of the fun to be had in Leavenworth during the summer.
We plan to go back in the winter for the Christmas Lighting Festival and the Bavarian Icicle Festival! Stay tuned…