Places that have taste of the Old CountryResidents of the Pacific Northwest don't have to travel far to enjoy the flavor of Europe. Several cities and communities in the region have a rich European heritage and old-country customs and traditions are clearly on display.
For Northwest travelers, this just adds to the list of fascinating getaway options. No need to buy that expensive trans-Atlantic airline ticket to experience a taste of Europe, whether it be villages or special events.
Here are several opportunities for you to experience the European Northwest:
LeavenworthWhen you're talking about the colorful cities of the European Northwest, the granddaddy of them all is the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth.
Back in the early 1960s, the North Central Washington town of Leavenworth struggled -- there wasn't much local industry, there was lots of cold weather and at times the town even seemed bleak.
But the Town Fathers came up with the ingenious idea of transforming most of the local storefronts into Bavarian architecture, giving the town the look of a village you might find in the Alps. That image is reinforced by the dramatic mountain scenery just at the edge of town. The transformation was complete.
Today Leavenworth attracts visitors from the U.S. and many other countries year-round. Christmas and the fall Autum Leaf Festival are popular festivals attracting many thousands of visitors. Another popular event is Mai Fest, the second weekend in May, which includes a big parade and lots of colorful dancers.
For more information, please visit www.leavenworth.org or phone 509-548-5807.
LyndenLynden is home to one of the largest Dutch American communities in the United States. In fact, Dutch is still spoken by some of the local residents of this city, located near the Canadian border in Western Washington.
You can't help but notice the Dutch windmills along historic Front Street. The Dutch Village Inn, for example, features a 72-foot windmill with three rooms inside the windmill. Signs and floral displays also show off the city's Dutch heritage along with Dutch themed storefronts and architecture along Front Street.
And, in a park opposite the Windmill Bed and Breakfast Inn is a gorgeous mural showing the Dutch lifestyle.
For more information, please phone 360-354-5995.
PoulsboIf you travel to the Kitsap Peninsula just west of Seattle, the town of Poulsbo is known as Little Norway. Poulsbo is a great place to enjoy a weekend getaway anytime of the year and it features a pedestrian-friendly, historic downtown lined with interesting shops.
There also are lots of casual and fine dining choices, art galleries with local artwork. Not to mention historic attractions including the Martinson Cabin Museum in Nelson Park on Lindvig Way.
The village overlooks Liberty Bay and is a popular spot for boaters who tie up at the city's expansive marina.
One favorite stop to get that Scandinavian flavor is Sluys Bakery for fresh-baked goodies, prepared just like in the old country. And don't miss the Poulsbo Marine Science Center, which is ideal for kids and offers a touch tank and great views of Puget Sound as well as arts and science projects for the kids.
For more information, please visit www.visitpoulsbo.com or phone 360-779-4848.
OdessaOdessa, Washington, a small town about 90 miles west of Spokane known for its rich German heritage and an annual blow-out of a festival called Deutschefest. About 80 percent of the village population descended from German or Russian immigrants.
The annual Deutschefest in September celebrates the town's ancestry. It attracts thousands of visitors each year to this rural farming community. There's an authentic local German Band - The Oom Pas & Mas -- as well as lots of German food, crafts, and other fun events.
Deutchefest is the biggest show in the Big Bend region, surpassing all other celebrations and festivals in the number of visitors it attracts. About 20,000 people visit the festival each year.
Those original settlers from Germany and Russia have transformed the then-desolate Odessa area into one at the world's richest grain-growing areas. Their descendants have maintained much of the settlers' culture, food and entertainment.
For more information, please visit www.odessawa.com or phone 509-982-2401.
Victoria B.C.If you want to visit Great Britain but do it just in a weekend and skip the transcontinental air fare, we have just the place for you. Victoria B.C. is just a short boat ride from Seattle and an even shorter seaplane ride on Kenmore Air.
Victoria boasts many historic buildings and some of the best museums in Western Canada. And the minute you arrive, you get the distinct feeling that everything is kind of prim and proper, just as if you were staying the weekend in London, England.
Established in 1843 as a fort for the Hudson's Bay Company, Victoria's British ancestry is everywhere you look. There are double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens and tearooms such as the one at the famous Fairmont Empress Hotel.
There are numerous attractions for adults and kids, most of them located around the inner harbor area close to major hotels. Victoria is a great walking city.
For more information, please visit www.tourismvictoria.com or phone 250-953-2033.
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