The town of Leavenworth, Washington is surrounded by the tall spires of the Cascade Mountains. Leavenworth has long been known for its kooky Bavarian theme, which it purposefully took on years ago to attract more tourists. But the town is coming into its own, gaining popularity not for its Nutcracker Museum and German-themed restaurants but for easy access to the mountains, excellent wineries, and plenty of purveyors that peddle more than schnitzel.

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The Great Outdoors

Visit any time of year, and you’ve got plenty of options for accessing the outdoors in Leavenworth. Popular area activities include zip-lining, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, and rock climbing. If it's your first visit, a few must-dos include rafting the turbulent class III rapids of the Wenatchee River, hiking the stunning alpine gems of Stuart or Colchuck Lake, and taking a leisurely stand-up paddleboarding trip along Icicle Creek, so pristine you can spot salmon under your board (don't let them throw off your balance!).

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Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Leavenworth offers the unique opportunity to combine outdoor pursuits with a little self-indulgence. The town is part of the burgeoning Cascade Valley Wine Country, which includes nearby Wenatchee and Lake Chelan, while downtown Leavenworth is home to an astounding 18 tasting rooms that make it easy to string together an evening of tastings. Be sure to pay a visit to top-rated Boudreaux Cellars, Eagle Creek, and WineGirl Wines who are quick to handout samples to thirsty adventurers.

The dining options include a mix of kitschy German-themed restaurants and a growing number of more innovative cuisine. There are two open-air bratwurst-and-beer gardens, Leavenworth Sausage Garten and Munchen Haus, both of which are excellent. Don't miss newcomer Watershed Café for impeccable, locally-sourced cuisine.

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Where to Stay

There are no better accommodations in town than Sleeping Lady Resort, named for the nearby mountain ridges that trace the profile of a woman in repose. The grounds are stunning, with cabins spread throughout the forested and an outdoor hot tub to ease your tired muscles. Located above a steep ridge, it's not uncommon to see deer grazing quietly in the evenings and mornings. The resort’s on-site dining options are superb with many ingredients grown right on the property’s organic garden.