Leavenworth's Waterfront Park and Upper Valley Museum offer a quiet alternative to the town's faux-Bavarian tourist attractions.
Anyone going to Sleeping Lady Resort will likely spend at least a little time in downtown Leavenworth — so it may be helpful to know there’s a whole other Leavenworth just a few blocks from Oom-pah-pah Central.
It includes Waterfront Park, a splendid 1.5-mile greenway that runs the length of the town along the Wenatchee River, and the excellent Upper Valley Museum (near Waterfront Park’s eastern end) which covers the history of the town before it became a faux-Bavarian tourist attraction.
Housed in a roomy bungalow built in 1903, the Upper Valley Museum was once the summer home of a timber merchant and, in 1982, became a bed-and-breakfast called Haus Lorelei on the River. When it went on the market in 2002, philanthropist Harriet Bullitt and the Icicle Fund bought it and donated it to the Audubon Society. The house and its grounds are now known as the Barn Beach Reserve. The museum looks back to Leavenworth’s past incarnations as a Native American settlement, a logging community, a railroad town and a hub of the orchard industry.
The building, which also houses an art gallery (Icicle Arts), couldn’t be more appealing in its setting. It has a ringside seat on some Wenatchee River rapids where you can watch white-water rafters speed by. From its west lawn, you have a spectacular view of the Cascades.
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Along with informative exhibits, it has striking architectural features of its own — notably an enormous two-sided fireplace built from polished, rounded granite rocks gathered from the Wenatchee River and Icicle Creek. If you’re looking for a bit of history and a break from the tourist hustle, the Upper Valley Museum and Barn Beach Reserve are your answer.
The Upper Valley Museum, 347 Division St., is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday (11 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 1-April 30). Call 509-548-0728, or see or www.uppervalleymuseum.org
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org