Leavenworth is a picturesque Bavarian-style village near Seattle.
Leavenworth is 2.5 hours east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains, and resembles something out of Germany or the Swiss Alps. The snow-capped Cascade Mountains are the perfect backdrop for this charming, bavarian-style village.
Leavenworth's Front Street is fun in all seasons, with major events like the Christmas Lighting Festival, and Oktoberfest.
The town transforms into a winter wonderland at Christmas, with festive decorations, sledding at the Front Street Park, hot cider, and delicious gingerbread treats. In summertime, the hot days are perfect for sitting in a beer garden and listening to live music, while indulging in bratwurst sausages and german brews.
10 best things to do in Leavenworth
1. Celebrate Oktoberfest with authentic german beer and food.
Leavenworth's Oktoberfest takes place during the first three weekends of October. Enjoy a festive atmosphere, with beer gardens, german food, and traditional music!
2. Attend the stunning Christmas Lighting Festival in December.
Leavenworth is recognized as one of the best Christmas towns in the U.S., resplendent in thousands of twinkling lights along its Bavarian-themed storefronts and hotels. The best time to see this enchanting spectacle is during the Christmas Lighting Events in the first three weekends of December, when there are musical performances, carolers, and appearances by Santa.
3. Take the Snow Train from Seattle to Leavenworth.
Alki Tours runs a popular Snow Train from Seattle to Leavenworth, for the Christmas Lighting events, with live music onboard, and a special visit from Santa. It's a great alternative to driving up there. Tickets book fast, so get in early.
4. Visit the enchanting Kris Kringle Xmas Shop.
The Kris Kringle Xmas Shop (907 Front Street) is probably the best place on the West Coast of America to purchase authentic Christmas decorations!
The store displays are incredible, with exquisite ornaments, tree toppers, snow globes, nutcrackers and other decor. Prepare to be impressed by a store interior that looks more like a winter wonderland village, than a retail space. There's nothing cheap or tacky here, as the decorations are the real deal, sourced from Europe.
Peer inside the illuminated rooms of the gingerbread houses at Leavenworth's Kris Kringle Xmas Shop.
The craftsmanship is exquisite, and they almost look good enough to eat!
An Old World Santa peers out from amongst the decorations.
Kids will be mesmerized by the magical Snow Village, with miniature homes and building, figurines, and snow dappled trees.
Create your own village with individual pieces from Kris Kringle. Imagine something like this in your living room!
Peer into the friendly, bespectacled face of Mrs Claus.
Santa and Mrs Claus are riding in a pink chevy, suspended from the ceiling.
Each of these sets has an incredible amount of detail.
These enchanting 12" angel tree toppers are the perfect purchase, something to pass down in your family for generations.
5. See a huge collection of vintage nutcrackers.
The Nutcracker Museum (735 Front Street) has one of the world's biggest collections of nutcrackers. The glass cabinets are full of antique nutcrackers from all over the world, with themes ranging from Santa to Mickey Mouse. Walk away with a greater appreciation of the history and craftsmanship behind this collection of nutcrackers.
There are fun activities to keep kids engaged, where they are challenged to find individual nutcrackers from the hundreds on display.
These nutcrackers were made in the Erzgebirge mountain region of Germany during Russian occupation, depicting very stern looking Russian soldiers.
There are 120 steps to making nutcrackers like these, which explains why they are so expensive! It takes years to learn how to make them.
The Nutcracker Museum has a salute to Disney, with popular characters like Mickey Mouse and The Seven Dwarfs.
There are so many different categories of nutcrackers here, like teddy bears, fairytales, and santas!
6. Enjoy a sweet treat at the yummy Gingerbread Factory.
Visit the Gingerbread Factory (829 Front Street) for a delicious gingerbread cookie, beautifully decorated in every festive shape imaginable, ranging from christmas trees and stars, to cute little gingerbread men. Admire the workmanship on the gingerbread houses, and relax with an expresso.
7. Take a winter sleigh ride.
Get in the Christmas spirit by taking an invigorating horse-drawn sleigh ride through a canyon near Leavenworth, departing from the Eagle Creek Ranch or Red Tail Canyon Farm. Travel along freshly fallen snow, and breathe in the refreshing scent of pine needles from the evergreen forest.
8. Explore Leavenworth's Waterfront Park Trail.
Take a relaxing stroll along the Wenatchee River at the Leavenworth Waterfront Park in all seasons. There are some sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing in summer, along the sparkling waters of the river. The path is serene and quieter during the winter months, with views of the snowcapped mountains.
9. See an outdoor production of the Sound of Music.
Book a ticket for the outdoor production of the Sound of Music by Outdoor Summer Theater Productions, amongst the spectacular natural scenery of Leavenworth. Watch this beloved story come to life, in a mountainous landscape reminiscent of Austria. It sure beats seeing it in a theater!
10. Do a wine tasting.
Leavenworth has a great choice of tasting rooms for wine lovers. Visit the tasting room at Eagle Creek Winery along Front Street, then sip wine on the shaded patio outside. Silvara Cellars also has a lovely setting on a hilltop just outside of Leavenworth.
One of the best options is the rustic tasting room at Icicle Ridge Winery near Leavenworth, inside a beautiful, northwest log building with a gigantic stone fireplace.
The Icicle Ridge Winery is family friendly, and it's fine to bring your kids inside while you sample flights.
Take a photo infront of the vintage sleigh outside!
11. Book a rafting tour or go tubing on the river.
Leavenworth is on the junction of the Icicle and Wenatchee Rivers, and is ideal for rafting tours and river tubing on the long, summer days.
12. Take your kids to the Icicle Junction Kid's Activity Center.
The Icicle Junction Kid's Activity Center is part of the Icicle Village Resort, but you don't have to be an overnight guest to visit. Activities include seasonal mini-golf, pickle-ball courts, bike rental, a games arcade and movies. Check hours & prices.
13. Visit one of Leavenworth's two playgrounds.
Visit Leavenworth's riverfront playgrounds, at Enchantment Park, or along the Waterfront Park Trail.
14. Hang out at the play area at the Leavenworth Cider House.
Visit the play area upstairs at the Leavenworth Cider House (939 Front Street). This trendy cider house on Front Street in Leavenworth, has cider flights for you to indulge in, while watching your kids in the play area.
The bar is on the main floor of the Leavenworth Cider House.
Walk up the stairs to this play area.
15. Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm.
Step inside an enclosure full of Caribou Reindeer and hand-feed them at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Check hours & tickets.
An employee is on hand to answer any questions about the Caribou Reindeer.
The Caribou Reindeer shed their antlers once a year, the males in November, and females in May. Therefore, Santa's reindeer are all females!
There's also free range chickens, ponies, pigs and horses to see at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. The fun play area has bouncy reindeers and a swingset for kids. During the festive season, take a photo with Santa in his sleigh, in a rustic barnyard surrounded by hay bales.
Where can I stay in Leavenworth?
Leavenworth has a large number of hotels in the downtown area like the Enzian Inn, Icicle Village Resort and luxurious Posthotel Leavenworth on the river. The rustic Sleeping Lady Resort is outside of town, with a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, and the romantic Run of the River or Mountain Home Lodge.
The Posthotel Leavenworth is a super luxe getaway, with hydrotherapy pools, steam rooms, and a European breakfast.
Check out the fun lobby of the Enzian Inn during the Christmas season. Can you figure out the Christmas tree?