"i hate it, and boy do i love hating stuff"
September 20, 2019 11:14 AM   Subscribe

One Scottish tourist travelling through the Pacific Northwest finds themselves in Leavenworth, WA - and promptly loses their mind. (SLTwitter)

For those who don't know, Leavenworth has done their main downtown district in a kitsch Bavarian theme to create a tourist trap - something that could be disconcerting to a European traveler.
posted by NoxAeternum (81 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
I particularly enjoy the "Twisted Couture" sign in oldey-worldey font.
posted by Frowner at 11:17 AM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ok but Krampus' Kave is legit a great store name. Wish my local small towns had more nerd stores, tbh.
posted by rather be jorting at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2019 [20 favorites]


Somebody should send them to Frankenmuth, MI next. The fried chicken isn't bad (not great, but not bad either). For a bonus, the (self-declared) world's largest Christmas shop is on the outskirts of town.
posted by ardgedee at 11:20 AM on September 20, 2019 [19 favorites]


My favorite quote from the replies: Are you a Leavenworth or Remainendorf
posted by acidnova at 11:21 AM on September 20, 2019 [71 favorites]


Weird. Most of Washington just looks like a truck stop. I'm not sure this is an improvement but hey.
posted by klanawa at 11:22 AM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


My old men soccer team has a player who owns a house near Leavenworth. Every year we have a cabin weekend...

Let's just say there are some pretty decent brewhouses.

And

"It has been 168 days since the last goat mounting incident..."
posted by Windopaene at 11:25 AM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


I want him to visit Solvang, CA next.
posted by Chuffy at 11:26 AM on September 20, 2019 [21 favorites]


They need to stop at my favorite public domain Disneyland.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:32 AM on September 20, 2019 [15 favorites]


The search for "normal ass grocery store" definitely should have come up with "der Safeway". Also it turns out it's quite a bit of work to create a city sign code that "provide[s] a fair and equitable “playing field” for all signage users while continuing to support the advertisement needs of business owners and protecting the economic benefits derived by the City’s Old World Bavarian-Alpine theme." I'm still impressed that they got all the chains to go along.

But kudos to a certain kind of forward-thinkingness in the 60s - you rarely hear anybody talking about all the other similar railroad towns along the Wenatchee - Dryden, Peshastin, Monitor... Cashmere gets some Aplets and Cotlets love, but it's hard to imagine it getting a twitter thread.
posted by lantius at 11:41 AM on September 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


I want him to visit Solvang, CA next.

That was my first thought, too. Google maps virtual drive, starting at the windmill next to the Solvang Brewing Co.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:42 AM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


I hope some town in Germany had reimagined itself as a small town America strip mall complete with a Curves, a nail salon and a Hallmark shop.
posted by misterpatrick at 11:43 AM on September 20, 2019 [105 favorites]


Someone get this cat down to Maryhill.
posted by Caduceus at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


On the other side of the coin, I've been to Scotland many times and have seen restaurants advertising "authentic American...." whatever. True, it wasn't an entire village dedicated to faux Europe, but I'll never forget this so-called Tex-Mex restaurant in Edinburgh that served hot dogs and hamburgers and french fries (still listed on the menu as "chips) and then a few other menu items that were more Scottish than American. But the servers all wore cowboy hats!
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:47 AM on September 20, 2019 [15 favorites]


Following lantius' lead, I looked up what design, building or sign code Solvang might have, and I found their (1988) Community Design Element (PDF), which identifies the distinctive image of the Village Area as "old world" Danish, not to be confused with Leavenworth's Bavarian styling.

But they do have delicious pastries, and the nice open air Solvang Festival Theater (Google maps; official site), which has plays and performances in the summer.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


Best comment: "How can a whole town be a two-star Disney hotel?"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:56 AM on September 20, 2019 [18 favorites]


the only quarrel I have with reading the entire american west experience as "because we felt like it, in the '60s" is that some of it was in the '50s
posted by jackflaps at 11:58 AM on September 20, 2019 [19 favorites]


Last year I had cause to visit Santa Barbara, which had its building codes adjusted to promote Spanish mission-style architecture in the 1920s after its downtown was destroyed in an earthquake. It’s kind of beautiful, and I found it much more relaxing than most American downtowns I’ve been in.

Which may be partially because I grew up in a city with a lot of Spanish architecture; New Orleans’ French Quarter is full of that, albeit rendered in bricks and wood rather than adobe. It, too, is really refreshing compared to the average American post-car architecture. I’ve moved back there it and it is a constant delight to be somewhere not shaped entirely by what’s convenient for drivers rather than pedestrians.

There is one reply to this thread: “how can a whole town be a two star Disneyland hotel“. And really as someone who has lived in a place whose architecture gets borrowed for that sort of thing? More towns can and should be that. Most American architecture is for cars first, or perhaps for cheapest erection possible first, with being for humans a distant third, if that. More like this, please; more borrowing of pre-car layouts, more borrowing of stylings that encourage details at a human scale and acknowledge the local climate rather than giant bland easy-to-build boxes full of central A/C.
posted by egypturnash at 11:58 AM on September 20, 2019 [30 favorites]


Oriole Adams: Also in Edinburgh you can find the Wild West.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 12:01 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Here's the dad joke I used to tell when we would visit Leavenworth (we have friends who live there):
"What's the next town on the highway past Leavenworth? Twelveworth."

When our friends had young kids, other neighborhood kids would just show up at their house, whether they knew them or not, and ask if they could swim in their pool (in the summer), or borrow a sled (in the winter). It was a very refreshing to see a free-rangey kid neigborhood.

posted by ShooBoo at 12:02 PM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


I hope some town in Germany had reimagined itself as a small town America strip mall complete with a Curves, a nail salon and a Hallmark shop.

Birmingham - It's Not Shit, a UK website from back when they were called websites, did a satirical take on Birmingham's annual xmas German market where Frankfurt got an xmas Birmingham market with knockoff phone covers, expired batteries, counterfeit designer clothes and expired toiletries. It was funny because it was painfully plausible.
posted by srboisvert at 12:05 PM on September 20, 2019 [13 favorites]


come for leavenworth stay for the horrible plywood alpine shit in north bend, 100% "better"
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 12:06 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Moth dad is the same guy who had a fit a few years ago because Americans didn't have egg cups.
posted by octothorpe at 12:39 PM on September 20, 2019 [15 favorites]


This reminds me that there is a town in Spain that is painted Smurf blue.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 12:41 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Another one for the list: Helen, Georgia (images; street view).
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:42 PM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


I went through Leavenworth once on my way to a campground...during Octoberfest, apparently. It took me something like 20 minutes to go the half-mile or so through town due to the sheer mass of pedestrians streaming back and forth across the road.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:44 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Washington has a few of these - We also have Winthrop, which is the wild west version of this, inspired for the same reasons, as far as I can tell (for the hell of it/tourism). Then there's also Poulsbo, the nordic/viking inspired town which I unironically love, but mostly because they have a kick ass bakery there - you just have to get over the fact that you are in extremely close proximity to a stockpile of high-yield strategic nuclear weapons.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:46 PM on September 20, 2019 [10 favorites]


So is the prison made up to look like a gothic castle or something?
posted by Naberius at 12:48 PM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


egypturnash: Most American architecture is for cars first, or perhaps for cheapest erection possible first, with being for humans a distant third, if that. More like this, please; more borrowing of pre-car layouts, more borrowing of stylings that encourage details at a human scale and acknowledge the local climate rather than giant bland easy-to-build boxes full of central A/C.

Good point -- and you don't need to go back to Europe to identify these development patterns. Native peoples can provide the best examples of how to build cities and buildings for local climates, and at human scales. And the new designs don't need to replicate old communities, but rather look at the features, scale, and orientation to be considerate to the local environment. Europeans brought over European styles, which didn't always make sense in the Americas.


Wobbuffet: Another one for the list: Helen, Georgia

As featured in Atlanta! (FanFare post, possible spoilers for the episode "Helen," episode 4 in season 2).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:50 PM on September 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


My favorite visit to Leavenworth is the time I went up there with a boyfriend and was pointing out all the quaintness, and then we rounded a corner and saw an ugly cement bunker-looking building, and he went, "Ah, and is this where they run the Von Trapps out of town every year?"

Sometimes I miss that guy SO MUCH.
posted by palomar at 12:50 PM on September 20, 2019 [18 favorites]


Different Leavenworth, Naberius -- that one's in Kansas.
posted by Quindar Beep at 12:58 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I've come out of the woods in some crazy places. When you're spending all your time in the presence of nature, when there just aren't many other humans around and none of the usual infrastructure, the reality of coming back into society can be shocking. And then anything outside of your city-normal can be especially surreal.

Favorite joke from the replies:

Would you say you're Leavinworth or Remaininworth?
posted by carsonb at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


you just have to get over the fact that you are in extremely close proximity to a stockpile of high-yield strategic nuclear weapons.

Don't forget all the submarine reactors.
posted by ctmf at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2019


I'm still impressed that they got all the chains to go along.

The (now closed) McDonalds in Rothenburg in actual Bavaria was willing to play along with the local traditions.
posted by scorbet at 1:07 PM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


My favorite part about Leavenworth is the not-so-Bavarian pump track.
posted by rube goldberg at 1:07 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Leavenworth and Winthrop are kind of a head fuck lol. And oh yeah there’s that town from the show Northern Exposure just around the bend from Leavenworth. And speaking of bends North Bend is where Twin Peaks was filmed. You can have a weird ass drive through the cascades.
posted by nikaspark at 1:08 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


tallmiddleagedgeek: This reminds me that there is a town in Spain that is painted Smurf blue.

Previously :)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:10 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Northern Exposure was filmed in Roslyn, which is away aways from Leavenworth
posted by Windopaene at 1:13 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Nobody remembers this, but the best part of Solvang was a little in-ground pool they had converted into a boat-pond where you could pay a quarter to run a little remote controlled boat around the pond for a couple of minutes. I was in Solvang a year or so ago and could only find one shop owner that remembered it like I did.

Leavenworth, on the other hand - great German sausages for lunch.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:22 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


Don't forget Roslyn, where Northern Exposure was filmed.
posted by lkc at 1:30 PM on September 20, 2019


Northern Exposure was filmed in Roslyn, which is away aways from Leavenworth

yeah I guess I should specify that I grew up in Texas where a one hour drive between cities was considered "going to friends house for a hang".

my sense of scale is different from most other folks...
posted by nikaspark at 1:31 PM on September 20, 2019 [11 favorites]


It's like Santa Fe with its Southwestiness building codes
posted by gottabefunky at 1:39 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Leavenworth oozes kitsch, but you couldn't ask for better access to stunning nature
posted by gottabefunky at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2019 [7 favorites]


Um...

Sol Duc Hot Springs...

Olympic Peninsula
posted by Windopaene at 1:47 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I lived in Seattle for ten years and my wife and I made a tradition of visiting Leavenworth every autumn or thereabouts.

It's been mentioned before but the drive up there (there are a couple routes) is absolutely stunning. Mountain views, waterfalls, incredible leaves from the tamaracks in the fall - it's incredible.

The fun of Leavenworth is that it sits in a beautiful valley and is kitschy and silly and everyone is just in a great mood. Parking is scarce, the food is OK, and the shops are over priced but people are smiling and everyone seems to be having a good time.

I haven't lived in the area for three years now and I really miss our yearly drives up the mountains. It was like escaping to another little world for a day and I will definitely make the trip the next time we visit Seattle.
posted by Tevin at 1:50 PM on September 20, 2019 [13 favorites]


Just spent a week in a cabin outside of Leavenworth (as briefly described here). It was lovely. The secret to Leavenworth is to spend as little time in town as possible. We did eat in town a couple of times, though. There is some good food to be had there. Also bought some good chocolate and some locally distilled tequila that was quite nice. +++ Would hot tub with Leavenworth tequila again.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:56 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I had this sinking feeling of "oh crap, I live in one of those towns" when he started searching for the year-round Christmas store, but when the follow-up comments about day drinking commenced... well... I totally live in one of those towns.

Only without the plywood faux German thing.
posted by straw at 2:15 PM on September 20, 2019


"because we just felt like it, in the 60s" seems to be the overall theme of the american west.”
100% accurate, by my east coast estimation.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:16 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Somebody should send them to Frankenmuth, MI next.

are they greta van fleet fans?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:21 PM on September 20, 2019


Helen, Georgia used to have a fantastic Bavarian bakery that would ship pretzels anywhere in the US. And it's still there! https://www.hofers.com/
posted by JawnBigboote at 2:42 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Leavenworth is nuts. The one time I visited we found a cuckoo clock store. An entire store devoted to cuckoo clocks.
posted by bq at 3:09 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


A happy site I saw in Frankenmuth was a group of Bonze looking cool in gold like robes taking in all the Bavarian kitsch.

I stopped and bowed for which 20 reciprocated which was cool, blocked traffic for a second and then all the bewildered tourists moved on to chicken dinners, ceder box traps and the fudge, cheese and sausage shop for which I confess of love of Landjäger .
posted by clavdivs at 3:14 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I do not understand people who hate tourist traps

Have you even been on a road trip
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:22 PM on September 20, 2019 [24 favorites]


I do not understand people who hate tourist traps

Commercialism and cheap crap don't appeal to everyone.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:45 PM on September 20, 2019


Then there's also Poulsbo, the nordic/viking inspired town

Poulsbo has fewer kitschy stores - it's mostly just the architecture down on Front Street and the Post Office - but we do have weirdass "Viking" rituals, my favorite of which is the Julfest bonfire lighting ceremony, where a bunch of people dressed as "Vikings" (probably members of the Sons of Norway) sound a horn and beat drums at the waterfront and wait for St Lucia to disembark from her rowboat on Liberty Bay (rowed by other "Vikings"), whereupon she lights a solstice bonfire and someone loudly shouts a story about Odin at the crowd. It's amazing.

Sluys is an excellent bakery and also you can buy lutefisk tv dinners at the Marina Market down the street.
posted by darchildre at 4:16 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: i need to leave before i go purchase some ironic lederhosen
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:04 PM on September 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


What other kind is there ?
posted by y2karl at 5:11 PM on September 20, 2019


> A happy site I saw in Frankenmuth was a group of Bonze looking cool in gold like robes taking in all the Bavarian kitsch.

I brought a couple families visiting from South Korea there. At Zehnders they saw sauerkraut for the first time. I explained to them that it was more or less German kimchi, and they dug in.
posted by ardgedee at 5:12 PM on September 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


Not a whole town, but Los Angeles has a sprawling Bavarian shopping, dining and community center, Alpine Village, which is threatened with demolition to be replaced with semi-truck parking... unless it can be landmarked.

Alpine Village is also home to the annual Krampus Ball, which should be reason enough to preserve the place. Are you going to tear down the Christmas Devil's clubhouse?
posted by Scram at 5:46 PM on September 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: i need to leave before i go purchase some ironic lederhosen

...but if you do buy some, you can check out AskMe to learn how to wash them!
posted by notsnot at 6:09 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


"Leavenworth's transformation into a theme town was inspired, and assisted, by Solvang, California."
posted by kirkaracha at 6:13 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I want him to visit Solvang, CA next.

Solvang was an actual Danish colony though, not strictly a "do it for the tourists" redecoration in the 60s.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:50 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Commercialism and cheap crap don't appeal to everyone.
posted by Greg_Ace

These are the folks who hold there hands in back of them, like when I'm in a jewelry store which really ironic that fixing the arms gesture gives good intention browsing vibe.

And yes, going through the world's largest Christmas store is...is...I remember when it was near downtown, a two story building.

That's when Christmas bulbs were big.
posted by clavdivs at 7:01 PM on September 20, 2019


There’s an entire museum of nutcrackers in Leavenworth! If you don’t like next level kitsch, just don’t go there in November or December...

Roslyn is less Twin Peaksy than I expected, and it has a Mexican restaurant specializing in pre-colonization-ish recipes. I always stop there on the way home from anything on the other side of the mountains and torture myself by smelling mole negro all the way back to Seattle.
posted by centrifugal at 7:22 PM on September 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


That's when Christmas bulbs were big.

Wow, climate change really does affect everything, doesn't it?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:31 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


So I've been to Leavenworth, with the goal of hiking the enchantments (mind blowing, beautiful mountains and lakes).

We drove 8 hours after a wedding to grab a motel and sign up for the daily backpacking permit lottery. Somehow, despite a lot of research about the hiking, we utterly missed that Leavenworth is... This.

2 am, we pull up into town and I'm exhausted, and I have no idea if I'm hallucinating. It was so weird, awesome, but weird. America our great like that.

(We got the day of permit, and had one of the best backpacking trips of my life, strongly recommend if you are at all into hiking)
posted by larthegreat at 8:49 PM on September 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


The other Leavenworth also has a notable number of occupants obsessed with German culture.
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:53 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Leavenworth, on the other hand - great German sausages for lunch.

Great sausages, good beer, and also decent food in general. It's totally kitschy but also everyone is having a good time, so you may as well roll with it. From what I see when I pass through, it's a place for bachelorette parties; they seem to be everywhere and of course, having a great time.

Parking, however, is atrocious.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:22 PM on September 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Both Leavenworth and Winthrop were outposts convenient to hiking trails growing up, so I have fond memories of the towns. Winthrop was also the town my cattle rustling great great grandfather homesteaded in, so the theme felt personally relevant.
posted by St. Oops at 11:24 PM on September 20, 2019


Hate is the new love.
posted by fairmettle at 2:26 AM on September 21, 2019


So I grew up thirty minutes away from Leavenworth in the Skykomish Valley and we visited frequently and from the ages of two to 15 my sister and I refused to call it anything but Christmas Town. Leavenworth is where I snuck kisses with high school crushes and tried sneak into bars and also there is the Gingerbread Factory bakery and cross country skiing by Icicle Creek and every other wonderful thing for small town kids to mess around with. In conclusion, Leavenworth is a town of contrasts.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 4:33 AM on September 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


I've been there as well. It's the most wrecked drunk I've seen otherwise normal adults... at noon. The food we had wasn't great, and the beer we had wasn't different other than being a loooong way from home, so we headed out. Not our thing, but the drive there and back from Seattle was pretty damn epic.
posted by talldean at 5:11 AM on September 21, 2019


Leavenworth is amazing! I grew up in Seattle, and a trip there was always cause for celebration. My first girlfriend was from there, and so the childhood memories were built up with goofy teen romance. I think growing up there must (at times) have been magical, surrounded by mountains, etc.

The closest culture shock experience I’ve had since was exiting the Smokies by night into Gatlinburg, TN. A resort town with rides, cheesy tourist crap, and lots of lights — I had never been there or even heard of it. At that point I’d been driving for twelve or so hours, and at first I thought I was hallucinating.
posted by cupcakeninja at 5:47 AM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


Roslyn is less Twin Peaksy than I expected, and it has a Mexican restaurant specializing in pre-colonization-ish recipes.

Even though I live just a few minutes away, I did not know about that restaurant. Thank you! Although I did know that the Northern Exposure TV show exterior shots were filmed in Roslyn, so I am not completely clueless.
posted by seasparrow at 6:54 AM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


I hope some town in Germany had reimagined itself as a small town America strip mall complete with a Curves, a nail salon and a Hallmark shop.

This is not that, but for what it's worth, the German discount supermarket Lidl has a set of store brands for products in different culinary traditions; for example, Spanish foods are “Sol & Mar”, Bavarian/Austrian foods are “Alpenfest”, British foods sold outside of Britain are “Hatherwood's”, and so on. They have an fauxmerican brand for things like hot dogs and marshmallows and such; it's “McEnnedy's”.
posted by acb at 7:00 AM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


egypturnash Metafilter: for the cheapest erection possible
posted by crosley at 10:07 AM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


When I visited Leavenworth, I stayed at Der Ritterhoff motel, which is the one on the main drag with the giant suit of knight armor out front, and it was the CLEANEST FUCKING MOTEL I have seen in my life. A+++ would stay again.
posted by matildaben at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Also, just FYI...

There are a ton of wine tasting spots..

So... You can get extremely trashed for free, if that's your thing. Seriously, there is this basement area with like, five winery tasting rooms. The Devil's Den, really...
posted by Windopaene at 2:54 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


My aunt Ursula loved Leavenworth. She moved from Munich to Kennewick, WA in the 60s after marrying my uncle. She would go every December.
posted by Tenuki at 6:47 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


You have to go to ‘Hacienda’ in Sarajevo. Best fake Mexican restaurant ever!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:55 PM on September 21, 2019


Wisconsin Dells, WI.

I won't drive Highway 12 anywhere near that kitschpit.
posted by humbug at 5:50 PM on September 22, 2019


Innes (who is trans) upon reaching Canada.
posted by juv3nal at 7:39 PM on September 28, 2019


« Older The Vexillology Version of "If They Mated"   |   least restrictive environment Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments