This was probably the one destination we had been looking forward to from before launch day. When we came up with the crazy idea to travel and made the decision to try out a Thousand Trails membership, we sort of used the location of the Thousand Trails parks to guide our destinations. One of the parks was in Leavenworth, Washington. We had never heard of this town prior to beginning the journey planning, and we were certainly surprised and excited to discover that Leavenworth is a Bavarian town that hosts a three weekend Oktoberfest. And this Oktoberfest was happening for two of the three weekends we were going to be there.
First, a little fun history. You all know how much Katie loves the history…
Leavenworth was a logging town back when that was the cool thing to be (or you know, a necessary thing in the context of history). But when the logging life began to fade, the mayor at the time was brainstorming ideas to keep his little town on the map. He came up with the idea to utilize the heritage of some (maybe many) of the town’s population at the time to encourage tourists to visit and thus not become a logging ghost town. Voila! The Bavarian town of Leavenworth was born.
With this in mind, picture literally every building adorned with some sort of German type mural, lettering, or architecture. Is German lettering a thing? Who knows (someone certainly does)? But, when you see it, you just think Bavarian lettering (except maybe if you are the person who knows if it is a thing or not).
The Safeway, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and more were also built with and contained these common themes. BUT being terrible at photojournalism we did not capture a single image of these chains (despite being there for two full weeks) to show how everything in this town revolves around the concept of being a German town. (But you can Google them if you want to see them.)
Anywho, what we do have are these shots of the town and they give you an idea of what a Bavarian town in the middle of Washington is like.
We arrived on October 5th and as many of you know Doug’s birthday is October 6th. So to celebrate, we did what any family in the area would do, we went to a reindeer farm! Yes, a legit farm with over ten furry nosed reindeer that we got to feed, pet, dodge antlers, and take photos with. There were also chickens that the children were fond of feeding and a swing set and other toys that again made the children quite happy. But seriously, we touched reindeer and got a little lesson on the animal from the owners too. So roadschooling win for sure! Did we mention we got to get up close and personal with adorable, large antlered, gentle, furry beasts?
Turns out the Leavenworth Thousand Trails RV park is a solid 30 minutes of curvy mountain roads outside of Leavenworth, so the trip to town was less often that we had originally anticipated. Seriously, we have learned time and again to check the distance from our home for the week to the promising entertainment we plan. All future planning (and any detours we have made) have taken this to heart!
Despite being a bit far from the Bavarian hub of Washington, the campground was very beautiful. And even with the many visitors due to Oktoberfest, eerily quiet. So quiet, in fact, you could stand outside (without the kids around, obviously) and not hear anything. Sometimes not even a freaking bird. It was magical and weird at the same time.
Check out these shots from our time exploring the campground and its amenities.
The campground also had some glorious hiking trails. But Katie didn’t venture too far on them alone with the kids. The weird quietness of the forest, the fact that the dogs always seemed to smell something and want to go further and faster, and the fact that it seemed so remote, made it hard to adventure as much as she’d have liked. Still, there were a few good hiking days done here.
Plus, Katie took the kids to Enchantment Park in the heart of Leavenworth and while we took them there for the playground, she quickly discovered a walking path surrounded by fall colors and convinced the children a hike was a great idea! Mostly, the four-year-old heard the word “island” when Katie explained there was a bridge to a small island called Blackbird Island, and immediately wanted to find the buried treasure…
Here are some shots from that adventure:
We ventured to the close by Lake Wenatchee State Park and discovered an absolutely gorgeous and very clear lake. The two-year-old is also now fond of lying down in random places. So there are a couple shots of that from this lake trip.
We also ventured to the local Farmer’s Market and were bummed when they cancelled the final market of the year and we didn’t get to go a second time. We did, however, get ice cream and have authentic (we think) German dinner instead. Katie’s meal (pictured below) was an apple-potato-sage-veggiewurst. It was quite delicious.
We made a couple of RV repairs. The couch/bench broke, so we fixed it. And our sink was leaking, so Doug fixed that. We are becoming more and more handy every time something breaks.
And the moment you have all been waiting for. Our first Oktoberfest experience. One of the reasons we were so excited about the Leavenworth Oktoberfest was that it was family friendly and fairly inexpensive (only $20/per adult) to enter the official section of the event. After arriving in town and spending a large amount of time looking for free parking (and failing because Leavenworth actually has incredibly crummy parking infrastructure in place for being such a hot spot year round tourist destination), we decided to pay the $20 to park. Fun fact, each paid parking lot was run by organizations and groups in town, so at least the $20 went to a local group fundraising (sort of) by standing in a parking lot and taking tourists’ money.
Guess what? We never went into the official paid section of the Bavarian town’s Oktoberfest! We walked around downtown (which is where the kid section and some of the music was), ate lunch and had a local beer at a Mexican restaurant (I know, I know), paid for the kids to play in the kid area of bounce houses, watched a very entertaining clown/street performer for a long time, browsed the year round Christmas store, stopped into Icicle Brewing Co. for a second beer and a soft pretzel, didn’t wait in the super long lines, and saved at least $40!
Here are the photos of our Oktoberfest experience.
Here are some additional random shots from the week that were too good not to share.
Even though we spent two weeks here, we don’t feel we really explored as much as we wanted. There were a couple hiking trails we wish we could have made it to and a ton of restaurants that sounded amazing that we didn’t get to try either! Maybe next time!
And the Totals Are:
Days on the road: 100
Miles towed: 1,967
Camp sites visited: 20
Breweries visited: 19
National Parks/Recreation Centers/Monuments visited: 5