For whatever reason, most of my travels take me out of my home state, or even out of the country. But when you live in a state as stunning, adventurous, geographically-varied and exciting as Washington, there's no excuse not to explore your own backyard! Washington's Playground, a pocket of north central Washington that includes Chelan County gems such as Lake Chelan, Wenatchee, and Leavenworth, invited me to spend a weekend experiencing all they have to offer. Unsurprisingly, I was not disappointed.
Our home base for the weekend was Leavenworth, a Bavarian-inspired town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains. After the railroads left town in the early 1900s, the town had to come up with a new idea to keep money coming in, and its quaint, German folktale essence was born around 1960 to entice visitors. It's easily walkable and tourist-friendly with shops and restaurants lining all the main streets, decked out in adorable German decor. Although I was eager to start exploring, after the three-hour drive from Seattle, Michele and I were ready for a refresh with some bubbly and a delightful Italian meal from Sulla Vita.
After picking up iced lattes at the best shop in town, J5, we started off the next day bright and early with a hike on a nearby trail. There are dozens of state park trails just a few minutes outside of town—some of them are off of dirt roads and require a fee, so make sure you're informed about the trail you pick before you head out. I can guarantee any of them will be absolutely gorgeous! I'm usually more of a beach and ocean girl, but there's something to be said for a clear mountain lake or a river rushing through the trees. It was blisteringly hot—the middle of July is like that in Chelan County—that Michele and I wanted to jump right in.
Although there’s something to be said for spontaneous travel, I ended up being pretty glad that our itinerary was planned out in advance. Right when we got back from our hike, we were on the schedule for massages at our resort. The Alpine Spa at Icicle Village is a cozy day spa that makes you feel right at home when you walk in, down to the robe and slippers. I opted for a coconut oil aromatherapy massage, which was ideal for treating the constant tightness I have in my neck and shoulders from working at a computer all day…but especially for relaxing after spending our energy hiking.
Since we had a light breakfast, after our spa treatments Michele and I were ready to eat again. Experiencing new foods and restaurants is my favorite thing to do when I travel, and honestly—German food is one of my favorite things to eat, mostly because of pretzels. We were spoiled for choice in Leavenworth! The most popular spot in town is called München Haus, where thankfully, a vegan bratwurst is on the menu which I enjoyed with three kinds of mustard out of the available sixteen.
Yeah, I was in heaven.
Walking off lunch, we popped into a few of the shops that are sprinkled across several blocks. Although there are lots of German-themed places for tschotskes and souvenirs, there are also a few shops that carry independent retailers you’d find at boutiques in the city. There’s something for everyone, even very aesthetic Pacific Northwest gear, incense holders, jewelry and natural beauty products. One of the places we spent the most time in was Obertal Mall, which has a gallery and a few shops…and is all air-conditioned!
By the time we were done shopping, we were ready for happy hour drinks at the best Mexican restaurant in town—South. I was surprised by how lengthy and unique their menu was…so much so that we ordered four or five appetizers between the two of us. Their specialty margaritas added a great touch as well—I went with the blueberry and Michele got the basil. Ceviche, stuffed peppers, street corn, and guacamole also appeared on the table, and we loved it all.
Taking a stroll to walk off dinner, we stumbled upon the stunning and new Posthotel, which is now at the top of my list to stay at next time I visit the area! We were able to get a tour and enjoy stargazing on the pool deck on a cozy patio sofa, which was the perfect nighttime activity to cap off our busy day.
Since Washington’s Playground is such a large area to cover, I’ll be sharing the rest of our stay in part two of this blog post: a day trip to Chelan, wineries, boating on the lake…all the details coming soon!