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You'll be swept away by the gorgeous views Leavenworth has to offer, just a little over a two hour drive from Seattle. Enjoy a hike or float in Icicle River. (Image: Brian Munoz)

Wine, water & wonderful views in Leavenworth, WA

I'll admit it. I've developed a bit of a crush on Leavenworth. I didn't expect it to happen. I'm not the biggest beer fan, so have passed when friends have invited me to Oktoberfest celebrations. But, on a tip from a friend, I realized it was time I explored this quaint little town. An invitation to a white water rafting trip lured me there, and I was charmed by it's design and natural beauty that surrounds it.

Once a thriving logging town, Leavenworth suffered and was nearly turned into a ghost town when the railroad re-routed in the 1920s. To save itself, the town decided on a redesign in the 1960s to resemble a Bavarian Village to attract tourists, and it worked!

The scenery is gorgeous - nestled among luscious hills with the Wenatchee River running by, there's a wide range of outdoor activities available in all seasons, including hiking, kayaking, golfing, and fishing in the warmer months and skiing, snowshoeing and sledding in the Winter.

White Water Rafting was exhilarating. The snow melt put the river at a great level for our adventure and we rented rafts from Osprey Rafting (who offer fully guided adventures for those who aren't lucky enough to have an experienced friend with them) and spent a gorgeous couple of hours on the river before checking in to our hotel.

While we weren't able to visit all of the restaurants, here are some of the highlights of our visit:

Icicle Village Resort: A short walk through town (be sure to tell the roadside goats hello as you walk by), Icicle Village offered lots of fun during our stay including a nicely decorated mini golf course, pool and hot tub. Leavenworth can get mighty warm during the summer, so the pool was perfect to cool off in, and the property wisely kept their hot tub at a temperature that was comfortable to soak in after our swim during the day. Tip: You can order drinks from their restaurant J.J. Hills in plastic cups and bring them to the pool! During the winter months, the pool is inclosed in a giant bubble so that it can be enjoyed year round.

München Haus: Pick one of the many sausages offered (or a Warm German Pretzel, which I crave each time I think back on it) from one of the friendly staff and swing by the condiment bar to choose from the dozens of mustard flavors, including München Haus Amber Ale (my personal favorite), München Haus Porter, München Haus Brown Ale or toppings such as house-made apple cider sauer kraut. The outdoor patio offers a fun environment for families or group of friends and serves up local Icicle Creek Brewing Company beers.

Wineries: Part of our day-time fun in town was exploring a few of the 18 tasting rooms in town. We were only able to hit a few but were delighted by the low cost of tasting fees (most at $4-$5, with some free - $2.50 experiences). Our favorite taste of the day was a Syrah with notes of dill at d'Vinery, Eagle Creek Winery's tasting room. Be sure to pick up a tasting map when you get into town - you'll discover all the wineries are just a few blocks away from each other on the main strip of town.

Cup and Kettle: We delighted our senses in this shop that holds over 125 teas and tea blends and over 120 spices, bbq rubs, sugars, salts and peppers. A fun olfactory experience - go home with something for your kitchen or gifts for friends.

We also enjoyed designing our own antipasti plates on the outdoor roof of Viscontis, sipping creative cocktails at the Bavarian Bistro and Bar, and treating ourselves to incredible handmade chocolates from Schocolat. Whether you're spending your time in the little town, exploring the 700 miles of hiking trails in the area or enjoying a leisurely stroll across the bridge to Blackbird Island, you'll slow your pace and truly feel worlds away from regular busy city life. Only a little over two hours from Seattle, the gorgeous hills, vibrant river and quirky town are a perfect getaway destination for your next trip.

Neighborly Advice: We were only able to hit up a few spots during our visit, but here's what's on our list to visit next time, based on friends recommendations: The Gingerbread Factory because YUM. Andreas Keller Restaurant for more bavarian food. South for mexican food and delicious margaritas. Guess we'll just have to plan our next trip to this crush-worthy town.