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When you think of mountain towns in Washington, what comes to mind first? Hiking, camping, snowshoeing? How about checking out Christmas ornaments? Or, maybe, enjoying a slice of pie and cup of coffee?
However you like to enjoy mountain towns, Washington has a beautiful array of choices to visit. From gazing upon glacial peaks to cozying up with coffee in a Bavarian village, these unique Washington mountain towns are sure to delight you!
Washington is home to several unique mountain communities, with each offering a special experience. Here’s a look at eight unique mountain towns around Washington state.
Unique Mountain Towns Around Washington to Visit Year-round
The history of Leavenworth is sheer brilliance: in the 1960s, town leaders realized the town was turning into a ghost town. When the railroad re-routed its rails and moved out of town, the area limped along for more than 30 years, “always on the brink of extinction.“
Rather than let it fade away like many other Washington ghost towns, town leaders decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance to draw visitors. Its gorgeous alpine hills rivaled German Bavaria’s, so the city decided to renovate the entire downtown area, create new festivals centered on the Bavarian theme, and promote its new appearance to draw visitors. It’s worked!
With the downtown area resembling a German mountain village, restaurants offer German menus featuring bratwurst and schnitzel, along with red cabbage and spaetzle. Don’t leaven Leavenworth without a visit to Munchen Haus for sausages and pretzels with cheese!
Each September, Leavenworth hosts its own Oktoberfest with drink, games, music, and more. The village is known for its annual holiday lights celebration, which attracts thousands of visitors. Looking for a romantic getaway in Washington? Look no further than Leavenworth, with its charm and beauty!
Of course, you can celebrate Christmas every day with visits to Kris Kringl, a store – really, a winter wonderland – featuring ornaments and other decorations. You may expect to see Santa there, working on his good/naughty list. Nearby, the Nutcracker Museum showcases the history of the holiday decoration, with thousands of nutcrackers on display.
Oh, and the view of the mountains surrounding Leavenworth is impressive. Nature enthusiasts also enjoy hiking and kayaking in the area.
Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Snoqualmie is a quaint town of about 13,000. About 30 minutes east of Seattle, a visit to Snoqualmie offers you an opportunity to enjoy nature, history, and great food.
The Snoqualmie waterfall is the main attraction. At 270 feet high, the waterfall mesmerizes you, as you watch from one of the overlooks. The waterfall is only one of many reasons why we also consider Snoqualmie a lovely romantic getaway in Washington state!
While at the falls, head down to the river via a hilly, but navigable trail. Once you’re on the shoreline, the thunderous sound of the waterfall crashing into the river provides the background sounds, while you explore the trees, rocks and river. The scenery along the shoreline is beautiful.
Following your visit to the waterfall, head into town and explore the small downtown area. With locally-owned stores and boutiques, you’ll have fun window shopping (you may even go home with a few new fun items!)
Enjoy lunch or dinner at any of the impressive restaurants, including The Dining Room at Salish Lodge and Spa or the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery and Taproom.
Don’t forget to check out the Northwest Railway Museum, located in a former depot. Enjoy a walk, as you explore the area’s railroad history with outdoor exhibits and old locomotives and rail cars awaiting renovation and new lives.
Only a 20 minute drive from Seattle, Issaquah is a beautiful escape for those who want to experience a unique mountain town in Washington without being too far from the big city.
A trip to Issaquah requires a stop at Cougar Mountain Zoo. While the easily-walkable zoo is home to the famous big cats, it offers impressive exhibits, from the macaws to the Siberian reindeer.
Check out the town’s Creative District, home to theaters, galleries, and shopping. The Creative District in Issaquah is pedestrian-friendly and also boasts the award-winning Village Theatre, one of the Pacific Northwest’s ‘most treasured professional performing arts venues.’ Don’t leave the District without a stop in at local candy shop Boehm’s!
Of course, a visit to this mountain town in Washington wouldn’t be complete without a hike! Nicknamed “Trailhead City,” you can explore more than 200 miles of hiking trails in the area.
A sacred place for area Native American tribes, Lake Sammamish State Park invites visitors to spend time during the day, exploring two lakefront beaches, as well as trails. Head to a nearby creek for possible salmon spotting, as well as wildlife views.
Glacier is the community closest to Mt. Baker, and located near the end of Route 542, you’ll want to reserve a spot on the bus to Mt. Baker for a visit to the volcanic mountain. For this tiny mountain town, it’s all about hiking, skiing and enjoying the outdoors.
Located about 15 minutes from Glacier, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest invites you to spend a day outdoors, exploring glacier-capped mountain peaks, old-growth forests, and mountain meadows where you may take in wildlife views. Of course, you’ll want to practice safety, as the forest is home to bears and mountain lions.
Finding accommodations in Glacier can be challenging, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist! Take a look at the options below for Glacier accommodations.
More than a century old, Concrete was the name selected after Cement City and Baker merged in 1909. The town of about 700 people is home to several interesting building, including the Concrete Heritage Museum. Only two hours from Seattle, Concrete is a unique mountain town that you could easily visit over a weekend or even within a longer day.
Concrete is also part of the Mountain Loop Highway, which offers about 30 miles of beautiful scenery around Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. From Concrete, you can visit Baker Lake, Rasar State Park, and the Cascade Trail.
While it may be small, Packwood offers a lot for hiking, mountain biking, climbing, camping, and boating. Two and half hours south of Seattle, Packwood is a tiny Washington mountain town in between Mt. Rainier to the north and Mt. St. Helens to the south.
Enjoy a 4-mile hike through dense forest along the Packwood Lake Trail toward Packwood Lake, where you can enjoy the lake’s calm water and beautiful reflection of the mountains and forest.
Hikers and mountain climbers will enjoy traveling the steep 1.3-mile trail to High Rock, which offers a majestic view of the mountains and forest. A fire lookout cabin is located on the top of the rock.
You’ll want to bring water and snacks with you, as there are no facilities along the trail (remember: pack it in and pack it out!)
Besides being the inspiration for the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, in the television series “Northern Exposure,” Roslyn offers an interesting look into the area’s history and culture. With the iconic mural Roslyn Café mural, the town is immediately recognizable, but strolling through downtown, you’ll notice other buildings used in the series.
There’s more to Roslyn than its Hollywood fame, including The Brick. As the local watering hole, The Brick is the oldest operating bar in Washington. Built in 1889, the bar includes a 23-foot long spittoon and a jail cell. The saloon is an excellent place to grab a meal.
Learn about the town’s history at the Roslyn Historical Museum, which includes 20 nationalities who have called the region home.
You can enjoy a slice of hot cherry pie and a “fine cup of coffee” in North Bend, whose Twede’s Café doubled as the Double R Diner in the television series “Twin Peaks.”
North Bend is one of 25 locations used by the show’s creators to make viewers feel as they were part of Twin Peaks. Grab a meal there, and then enjoy the dessert and coffee, like the main character did.
Learn about the people and history of the area at the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum. Nature enthusiasts enjoy hiking nearby trails, while rivers and lakes offer excellent spots for water sports and fishing.
The Best Mountain Towns in Washington State
No matter your interests – hiking, camping, art, culture – Washington’s mountain communities have something for everyone. Whether located high in the hills, or along the foothills, you’ll enjoy visiting Washington’s unique mountain towns.
Washington state is home to many, many small (and large) mountain towns, so this is just one list of unique places to visit in our gorgeous state. Have you been to any Washington mountain town? If so, let us know at our Facebook group here!