Travel: 12 reasons to visit Leavenworth, WA in winter {+ 3 things to know before you go}

Willkommen in Leavenworth, WALeavenworth family pictureIt’s been a pretty hectic holiday season already and I’ve been working a ton recently while running from event to event. So, when we found out hubby had a few extra days off work, I wanted to make the most of them. We needed to get out of town and get somewhere where we could just relax and have some good family time before all the festivities next week, and I knew just where to go.

Located just a few hours outside of Seattle at the base of the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, very near the geographical center of Washington State, is the cutest little town called Leavenworth, WA. It’s been one of my favorite spots in Washington since I was a girl, and I love that it’s basically unchanged in the past three decades.

A little history: In 1962, Project LIFE {Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone} Committee was formed to transform the city into a mock Bavarian village to revitalize its economy. From the architecture to the specialty shops and retail, it truly feels like you are strolling through a quaint German town instead of a tiny town nestled in the mountains in Washington State.

Here are just some of the reasons why you should check out Leavenworth in the winter:

  1. SNOW! Seattle doesn’t get much snow, and it’s usually not until January, so the highlight of the trip was definitely the snow – both in the mountains surrounding the town and in the town itself. I was relieved to see Leavenworth already had snow drifts that were great for kids to play in. We had packed for snow but were thinking we would need to stop at Steven’s Pass on the way home to play, but it was so much more convenient having it right in town with us. Leavenworth snow
  2. Sledding, right in town. The kids were thrilled when they saw that the small city park had been transformed into a sledding hill that was perfectly sized for them. It didn’t have a ton of snow and there were quite a few bare spots, but they were still icy, so it was slick enough for plastic sleds. If you want a bigger hill, you should check out Leavenworth Winter Sports Club for skiing and tubing for more snow activities.
  3. Great food. Leavenworth has a little bit of everything, from Mexican to Italian and American mixed in with German favorites. For our big meal out we decided to eat at Baron Haus since they have a pretty diverse menu and we could get some German faire while the little guy can eat pizza. The rest of us split the two entrees and it ended up being perfect for family style sampling. For breakfast, there are Kristall’s or Sandy’s Waffle Haus as well as numerous small cafes in town. For more information on restaurants, click here. Baron Haus Leavenworth
  4. Shopping along Front Street. Mixed in with the Leavenworth souvenir shops and Christmas stores, we found some cute little boutiques with clothing, boots, signs, hats, gloves, and a hat shop and toy store that is always a big hit with the kiddos. If you venture off the main strip you will find even more small stores, little shopping malls, and gift shops galore. Hat shop wood shop Leavenworth
  5. Holiday cheer by the mile. Every store and building in town was done up for the holidays with lights, trees, and decorations of all kinds. I truly believe that even just walking through town could get anyone in the Christmas spirit. The kids especially enjoyed all the magic of the town at Christmastime and it was just what we all needed to make these last few days before the holidays really fun and festive. Leavenworth the Baron Haus
  6. Everything is very walkable, even the hotels. Our hotel we stayed at, the Linderhof Inn was literally across the street from the main town so we didn’t even need to fight for parking. Some spots are slushy so wear waterproof shoes with traction, but you don’t really need snow boots until you are outside of town exploring. Find a hotel here.
  7. It’s beautiful. It feels like the other side of the world but yet is an easy drive from home. With mountains rising 5,000-8,000 feet all around the village, it makes for a gorgeous view from every single direction. Beautiful Leavenworth
  8. Breweries and wineries. If you love beer and wine, you will love Leavenworth. Whether you grab a pint with dinner or you do a formal wine tasting, there are lots of options for enjoying Washington wineries and breweries.
  9. Plenty to keep you entertained for a weekend, or more. From sleigh rides and sledding and tubing, to dining and bar hopping, there is plenty to see and do throughout the winter for kids and adults. Leavenworth Front Street
  10. Speaking of things to do, there are lots of events throughout the winter. From tree lightings {Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first three weekends in December that includes more than 21 miles of twinkling lights} to Bavarian Ice Fest in mid-January, there are numerous events to make your winter visit even more fun.
  11. Indoor fun at Icicle Junction. If it’s really nasty out, you can head to Icicle Village and enjoy their arcade, big screen TV, and café. This is always a hit with the kids and they especially love the miniature golf.
  12. There is magic in the mountain air. Are your kids turning into whiny messes with all the holiday hoopla? Please tell me it’s not just mine. They are sleep deprived, off schedule, and have been showing their tired in every way they know how. I get it, but oh man, I just needed a weekend of relaxing without whining, fighting, or complaining. Leavenworth for the win! Leavenworth mountain air

Know before you go:

  1. Bring a small sled or toboggan. We didn’t bring ours so we purchased a plastic one for $20 after tax from Mountain Country Corner. It ended up being tons of fun – until it broke after an hour and the store didn’t want to exchange it. So, we chalked it up to a life lesson about not buying cheap junk and decided to still have fun with it in pieces. The kiddos actually cried big huge tears when we told them that the sled pieces weren’t coming home with us. Sorry, kids. Leavenworth sledding Leavenworth broken sled
  2. Bring chains, or at the very least, traction tires. On the way home from Leavenworth, the pass was pretty snowy and I was very glad I wasn’t driving once it got so covered that we couldn’t see our lane over the steep pass. I was very happy we had the chains in the trunk, but also very glad we didn’t have to use them. The snow eventually turned to rain around Skykomish and it was bare but wet the rest of the way down Highway 2.
  3. Book ahead, especially during the busy holiday season. We were there on a Monday-Tuesday and our motel we stayed at was completely booked around our stay. Try and get a hotel with onsite parking that you can walk from because parking in town is limited.

If you are in the Seattle area, I would definitely recommend putting Leavenworth on your list of must-see places. It’s really beautiful any time of year and has year-around activities from rafting, skiing, rock climbing, hiking, snowmobiling and so much more. But there is something purely magical about visiting at Christmastime and it feels like a mini Christmas village in the mountains. There’s a really good reason why Leavenworth was named the Ultimate Holiday Town USA by A&E 

Want to find out more? Check out to see their event calendar with links to activities, lodging, dining and more.

Leanne SignatureThis post wasn't sponsored in any way, I just wanted to share our favorite Christmas village.

4 thoughts on “Travel: 12 reasons to visit Leavenworth, WA in winter {+ 3 things to know before you go}”

  1. I have been to Leavenworth before and it is so much fun to travel during the Holidays and see all the sites. I need to get back their someday! Looks like you had a lot of fun.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.