THE TINY (TOURIST) TOWN: Winthrop, Washington 

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Really small towns fascinate me. And the people who live in these small towns likewise interest me. Especially since I’m a big city beach boy from Torrance, California (a suburb of Los Angeles), with a population of 143,000+, within a population of 3.8 million+, where it’s non-stop city for over 160 miles with 172 IN-N-OUT restaurants. So when I stumble upon a tiny town with a population of 400 like Winthrop, Washington, I need to know the history and why are people living there.

YouTube: WinthropWashington.com
YouTube: WinthropWashington.com
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Winthrop is in the Okanogan county, just about 2 hour drive north of Wenatchee. Native Americans of course first set up along the the banks of Methow, Twisp, and Chewuch rivers. in 1868 gold was discovered, so you guessed it. People headed west (and some headed north), and by 1883 (yep, just like the Yellowstone prequel) people settled in building up a town that also had some great fishing and hunting, with sweet berries to snack on. Although not one of the founding settlers, the town was named after writer and world traveller, Theodore Winthrop, famously known to be the first Union solider killed in the Civil War. After a major fire and a flood that caused residents to rebuild the town in the early 1890’s, came the real loss of 1915, when most of the mines shut down. In 1972, State Highway 20 was built, people started planning for travelers and built up a western theme restoration, inspired by theming towns like Leavenworth and Solvang (California), making it a fun place to visit and certainly take some Instagram photos.

YouTube: WinthropWashington.com
YouTube: WinthropWashington.com
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Plus it’s the home of Jack’s Saloon, the oldest legal bar in the state of Washington. The downtown itself is so cool with its wooden boardwalks, shops to get souvenirs, and lots of foods to taste. And not only is Winthrop a great area for outdoor activities like rock climbing and river rafting, Winthrop is also famously known for the annual Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival in May. 

So who lives there and why? Once you take that scenic drive up and finally get into the tourist town in the beautiful north Cascades mountains with so much to do for the adventurous and travelers, with ideal campgrounds, hotels, shops, the answer is clear. “Because”. 

Some call it a tourist trap, but I’m OK with that. Just be aware that according to National Motorist Association is one of the, "Worst Speed Trap Cities" in North America. But why would you rush through town? Slow down. Enjoy the scenery. But note that although it’s a town of about 400 people, get there on a sunny Spring Sunday, it’s gonna feel like the population is more like several thousand, as you drive around looking for a parking space. Get there on a nice day, have lunch outdoors at the Duck Brand or Sheri's Sweet Shop. Heck, I’d stay for a couple of days just to take it all in and wonder why they haven’t filmed a movie here.

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