This storybook town resembles the set of The Sound of Music. As authentic as it may look, this alpine village, nestled in a valley of the Cascade Mountains, has not always featured Bavarian-style architecture. Leavenworth was a typical 1800s railroad boomtown that began deteriorating in the 1920s when the railroad moved its headquarters. In 1962, residents teamed up with the University of Washington's Bureau of Community Development to reinvent Leavenworth, capitalizing on the town's mountain setting. A few residents went to Europe to study the architectural style, dress and foods of Germany and Austria. Soon, old buildings—even the local supermarkets and gas stations—received Bavarian makeovers.

Today, Leavenworth is a successful tourist destination because of its proximity to Seattle. The main street, lined with hanging flower baskets, has more than 100 shops, restaurants and boutiques—some featuring authentic Bavarian items. Some of the best outdoor activities in the Northwest are located in this area. There are more than 320 mi/515 km of scenic hiking trails, river rafting opportunities, 20 mi/32 km of cross-country ski trails and two major mountains for downhill skiing. Places to visit include The Nutcracker Museum, which displays more than 3,000 nutcrackers from all over the world; the Ohme Garden County Park, a maze of stone pathways that lead to a scenic alpine lookout; and the Apple Country Tour, a visit to a working orchard (includes lunch and apple samples).

For more information, contact the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce. Phone 509-548-5807. http://www.leavenworth.org. 128 mi/206 km east of Seattle.

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