Leavenworth, Washington, a picturesque Bavarian-themed town with plenty of old-world charm situated in the Cascade Mountains.
Winter in Leavenworth provides plenty of entertainment, food and drink, and quaint Bavarian shops filled with cuckoo clocks and dirndl dresses to steins brimming with local craft beer.
Leavenworth offers a unique experience for visitors any time of the year, but it’s even more special during the winter.
WHERE IS LEAVENWORTH?
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more charming place than Leavenworth; it’s located 117 miles east of Seattle and is surrounded by the fantastic Cascade Mountains.
Because Leavenworth is only a little over 2 hours from Seattle, it’s a popular day trip for many Seattle residents.
HOW TO GET TO LEAVENWORTH IN THE WINTER
If you’re coming from the Pacific Northwest, it’s a pretty easy commute to get to Leavenworth.
There are 3 different options (car, bus, or train) for getting to this winter wonderland nestled in the mountains of Washington State.
DRIVING TO LEAVENWORTH IN THE WINTER
If you choose to drive to Leavenworth, you won’t regret it. The Bavarian town of Leavenworth is accessible from US Highway 2, and the drive through the Cascades has been recognized as one of the most beautiful drives in the United States.
Suppose you plan on doing some of the winter activities that Leavenworth offers.
In that case, I recommend driving so you can access things like Stevens pass for skiing and the hundreds of nordic trails around the area.
Pro tip: If you are driving to Leavenworth in winter, make sure you either have a 4×4 vehicle or bring chains for your tires. Because you are heading into the mountains, you’ll most likely encounter snow on your drive.
TAKE THE TRAIN TO LEAVENWORTH
If you’re flying into Seattle, you can take the train to Leavenworth, which I think could be a fun experience although we’ve never done it before.
If you don’t plan on venturing far from all of the Christmas lights in Leavenworth’s town center, I think the train is a great route. You can even book a shuttle service to pick you up from the Icicle Train station and take you to where you’re staying for the night.
The train departures are 6:08 AM Leavenworth to Seattle and 4:40 PM Seattle to Leavenworth. You can book tickets for your train ride to Leavenworth through Amtrak here.
TAKE A BUS TO LEAVENWORTH
There are a handful of different options for getting to Leavenworth by bus. Northwestern Trailways offers daily service to Leavenworth, and you can get up-to-date information here. If you’d like to leave the stress of driving the winter roads in someone else’s hands, you can check out some bus tour options below:
- Customized Tours & Charter Service 206-878-3965
- Pacific Alaska Tours 206-937-2010
- NW Adventure Tours 425-445-1514
- Sound Excursions 206-486-6002
LOCAL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FROM WENATCHEE
There’s also a convenient public transportation system if you find yourself in Wenatchee wanting to get to Leavenworth. Link Transit serves Chelan and Douglas Counties with safe, reliable, and cost-effective public transportation services.
- Route 22 – Wenatchee to Leavenworth
- Route 22 – Leavenworth to Wenatchee
- Link Guest Service Center 509-662-1155
WHAT TIME OF YEAR IS BEST FOR VISITING LEAVENWORTH
We’ve visited this charming Bavarian town every season, but something draws us to Leavenworth in the Winter. Perhaps it’s the snow-covered Cascades or the Bavarian village all dressed up in lights. Regardless of what we think, Leavenworth is a year-round tourist destination that offers something for everyone.
WINTER IN LEAVENWORTH:
Known for its Christmas-lighting ceremonies, Bavarian Ice Festival, and endless snow activities, Leavenworth is a magical wonderland in the winter.
SUMMER IN LEAVENWORTH:
With hot summer days and plenty of sunshine, summer in Leavenworth is a great time to float down Icicle Creek, head to Freund Canyon for some mountain biking, or enjoy some whitewater rafting.
SPRING IN LEAVENWORTH:
When the snow begins to melt and wildflowers start to bloom, it marks the best time to head out on some of Leavenworth’s top-rated hikes. Spring in Leavenworth is a great time to get out and explore before the summer heat begins to set in.
FALL IN LEAVENWORTH:
Fall brings out the beautiful change of colors in the trees and the cooler crisp air.
This is the perfect time to make a trip to Leavenworth because you’ll encounter fewer tourists unless, of course, you go during the famous Leavenworth Oktoberfest, which brings in tourists from all over the world.
WEATHER IN LEAVENWORTH DURING THE WINTER
Prepare for cold weather, meaning sturdy snow boats, a nice cozy coat, and of course a hat and gloves. Because you are heading to a winter wonderland, you want to be comfortable while you’re taking in all of the fun activities that Leavenworth has to offer in the winter.
Leavenworth WA Winter WeatherLEAVENWORTH WEATHER
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WINTER IN LEAVENWORTH: LEAVENWORTH WASHINGTON WINTER ACTIVITIES:
If you’re wondering how to spend winter in Leavenworth, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to dive into the best things to do during the winter in Leavenworth.
LEAVENWORTH REINDEER FARM
Leavenworth’s reindeer farm is nestled in the Cascade foothills and only a mile from Leavenworth’s Bavarian Village, making it a perfect thing to do with the kids.
The most popular months to visit are November and December, so be sure to book your reservations early! Not only does your ticket include time with the reindeers, but you’ll also get some hot chocolate, cider, and cookies.
If you visit the Reindeer farm before Christmas, your kids will be delighted with a special guest appearance, SANTA! We recommend booking at least two months ahead of time for the holidays since tickets sell out quickly.
LEAVENWORTH SKI HILL HAS A TON TO OFFER
The local ski hill has a ton to offer those who want to play in the snow. The Leavenworth Ski Hill features 4 trail systems of perfectly groomed corduroy and rope tow-served ski runs. These slopes are ideal for newbies or a relaxing day on the hill, and the costs are far more reasonable than bigger ski areas like Steven’s Pass.
SNOW TUBING LT MICHAEL ADAMS TUBING PARK- SKI HILL
Snow tubing is exciting for the whole family, and it’s a fun thing to do with kids in Leavenworth. Take advantage of the rope tow that’ll pull you up in your rented tube before you joyfully descend down the hill. This is a fun way to take in an afternoon in Leavenworth. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about your child not liking it. The ski resort provides a free one-time ride before purchasing a ticket. Isn’t it great?
HAVE A HOT TODDY AT LEAVENWORTH SKI HILL
If skiing isn’t your thing, but you’d like to experience what it’s like to hit the slopes without the chill of being outside. Head over to the Leavenworth ski hill 2 miles from downtown and enjoy a hot beverage in their historic ski lodge.
SNOW BIKE AKA FAT TIRE BIKE AT LEAVENWORTH SKI HILL
With the growing popularity of biking, it’s not surprising that the local Leavenworth ski hill offers fat tire biking trails. Many people are familiar with using fat tire bikes on sandy paths, but in towns like Leavenworth, a fat tire bike is a perfect way to get around with a lot of snow.
If you’re looking to rent a fat tire bike, check out Downtown Bikes in Cashmere, WA, just a short 15 min drive from Leavenworth.
LOCATIONS & TIMES FOR RIDING YOUR FAT BIKE AT THE SKI HILL
- On the snowshoe trails all the time
- On the Nordic ski trails every evening of the week from 6p-10p
PRO TIP FOR RIDING THE TRAILS IN LEAVENWORTH:
During winter operations, a season pass or a day ticket will be required. Season passes are available online, and day tickets available at the Ski Hill ticket booth or at the fee box in front of the ticket booth).
SKI JUMPING AT LEAVENWORTH SKI HILL
Are you an adrenaline junky, or do you have a kid who’s looking to take their ski skills to the next level? Ski jumping may be the perfect way to burn off a bit of energy. Once the snow flies, ski jumping is the weekend treat at “D” hill, behind the Leavenworth Ski Hill Lodge.
On-site coaching is available by appointment. Beginners typically begin with a ride down the landing hill and progress to the 15-meter jump before graduating to the 27-meter leap. After each run, you return to the top using a rope tow! To learn more, click here.
GO SLEDDING- ONE OF THE BEST LEAVENWORTH WINTER ACTIVITIES
SLEDDING- IN TOWN
Another great thing to do in Leavenworth with kids is sledding, a wintertime favorite for both young and old. There are a couple of different options for places to go sledding. If you’re looking for something in the heart of the Bavarian village, I recommend the park right downtown.
It’s free, it’s easy to get to, and you can grab a bite to eat at München Haus when the kids (or adults) get chilled.
SLEDDING AT THE GOLF COURSE
If you’re looking for a bit more in your sledding adventure, head over to the local golf course to get your sled on! If you don’t have your own sled, you can purchase one on-site, but of course, you’re welcome to use your own if you have one.
- The fee is $10 per person ($31 per family – max 2 adults).
- You need to bring your own sled or purchase one on-site.
- The sledding hill is open from 9:30a – 4:00p.
STEVENS PASS SLEDDING
In 2018/19, Stevens Pass opened an area at their Nordic Center for free family sledding and snow play. The Nordic Center is about 6 miles east of the ski resort at the top of Stevens Pass.
There are no rope tows, so you’ll be walking up and down, but it’s a great way to keep warm. You’ll also need to bring your own tube or sled.
The hill is intended for kids under the age of ten, so your thrill-seeking big kids may need to grab their skis and be dropped off at the resort en route to the sledding hill.
Leavenworth has 16 miles of tracks and skating lanes that provide a wide range of nordic skiing terrain across three regions around Leavenworth. Each area has its own distinct flavor, ranging from novice to expert.
- The Icicle River Trails are an excellent location for first-timers who want to enjoy the region’s beautiful scenery. Nordic lessons take place here.
- The Golf Course offers a variety of intermediate trails along the Wenatchee River. You’ll experience wide sweeping bends with fantastic views of the Cascades.
- The Ski Hill boasts both downhill and more advanced Nordic trails. These trails wind through stunning woods and return to the historical Ski Hill Lodge. Ending your day of skiing at the lodge with an après-ski cocktail is the perfect way to end a day of skiing.
ADDITIONAL NORDIC SKIING TRAILS AROUND LEAVENWORTH
LEAVENWORTH SLEIGH RIDES
Get your jingle on with a Leavenworth Sleigh Ride. Let the holiday sleigh rides take you back to yesteryear and become the best part of your winter in Leavenworth tradition.
You’ll have a wonderful time riding in a horse-drawn sleigh across open fields along the Icicle River, with the magnificent Stuart Mountain Range in the backdrop for your photos.
Warm up with steaming hot chocolate, spiced cider, and coffee at the woodstove.
LEAVENWORTH SNOWMOBILE RENTALS
Explore Leavenworth from a different perspective with a guided snowmobile tour! Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours take you on a guided tour through the Cascade Mountains as you cruise past snow-covered fields and frosted trees.
You will have your own guide that will take you on an experience like no other. Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals provides access to some of the best trails in the Pacific Northwest.
This is a perfect way to get out and experience some of Washington State’s finest backcountry winter views.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the warm and cozy clothes to head out on your snowmobile adventure because you’ll be suited up in snowmobile suits, boots, gloves, and helmets (available free of charge if needed)
WENATCHEE STATE PARK
Lake Wenatchee State Park is tucked in the Cascade Mountains and offers a variety of winter activities for people of all ages. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, snow camping, and making snow angels and snowmen are all popular things to do at Lake Wenatchee State Park.
Lake Wenatchee State Park is jam-packed with activities that everyone can enjoy. If you need more info about things to do at Wenatchee State Park, click here.
A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to Washington state parks for day use. For more information about the Discover Pass, visit the Discover Pass web page.
WINTER CAMPING AT WENATCHEE STATE PARK
If you’re looking for a snowy adventure to test your ability to handle the snow, why not try some snow camping. Wenatchee State Park is a great place to try it.
You can drive right to where you want to camp, and there are heated restrooms with showers nearby!
Most of the campsites are closed in winter because of the extensive trail system. Still, a part of the south park day-use area is turned into a winter camping location for those who want to camp in the snow.
Come enjoy the snow!
Wenatchee Lake is a glacial-fed, large alpine lake. It’s sunny and warm in the summer, but it’s bitterly cold and snowy during the winter. It’s an ideal year-round family vacation, with everything from hiking, swimming, and kayaking to nordic skiing, snowshoeing, to sledding.
Steven’s Pass is calling your name if you enjoy hitting the slopes and getting fresh powder. When you combine some of Washington’s finest snow and terrain with a beautiful Bavarian village, you get an unforgettable winter experience.
Located within two national forests, Stevens Pass caters to outdoor enthusiasts of all levels with seasonal activities, including skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking.
Stevens Pass is a unique experience because you can ski or ride under the stars at night skiing when the sun goes down. Suppose you’re looking for something fun to do with your evening. In that case, I highly recommend an evening of skiing followed by Hot Toddie at Steven’s pass lodge.
For those who don’t want to drive to the mountain, you can book a shuttle that takes you from downtown Leavenworth up to Stevens pass. For more information, click here.
Looking for a completely unique activity? Try Leavenworth dog sledding; dog sledding in Washington is one of the many great winter activities in the area. (currently closed since Covid)
Picture this, your hair flying in the wind as a team of beautiful dogs lead you through a thrilling journey in the Leavenworth wilderness, introducing you to incredible mountain sights. After this heart-pounding adventure, you’ll get some one-on-one time with the dogs while you get to participate in feeding and watering them.
This is a great way to make friends with these fascinating furry animals while embarking on a trip of a lifetime.
LEAVENWORTH NUTCRACKER MUSEUM
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum has one of the largest selections of Nutcrackers in the US; with over 7,000 nutcrackers of various shapes and sizes, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience for tourists.
People from all around the world come to see this unusual collection. They walk away a bit more educated after learning about the nutcracker’s history.
Snowshoeing is a beautiful way for the whole family to have some fun and get in a bit of exercise during the blustery cold season.
Snowshoeing will take you out into the open, allowing you to breathe fresh air while floating on freshly fallen snow for a bit of exercise and enjoyment. If you can walk, you can snowshoe.
If you’re looking for a snowshoe tour, a popular one is the Snowshoe/Wine Adventure. This tour allows visitors to embark on an epic snowshoeing adventure and indulge in a light lunch and local wine tasting.
POPULAR SNOWSHOEING AREAS
- Lake Wenatchee State Park
- Plain Hardware & Plain Valley Ski Trails
- Wenatchee River
- Stevens Pass
- Leavenworth Ski Hill
SIP YOUR WAY THROUGH THE BLUE SPIRITS DISTILLERY TASTING ROOM
From what I’ve been told, the Blue Spirits Distillery Tasting Room on Front Street is currently closed, where we would usually go to enjoy a tasting.
But the Highway 2 location is more extensive, offers great outdoor patio seating, live music most weekends, and has ample parking space for everyone.
So if you ask me, this is the perfect spot to taste rum, vodka, tequila, & whiskey. Not only does the distillery serve top-shelf liquors. But you can also get a charcuterie board and other tasty dishes while cozying up next to the outdoor fire tables in the winter.
DRINK CRAFT BEER IN LEAVENWORTH
After an adventurous winter day in Leavenworth, there’s nothing better than a drink or two at the brewery. Our favorite brewery in Leavenworth is Icicle Brewery, with its savory snacks such as warm Bavarian pretzels, cheese plates, soups, and of course, its beer.
Icicle brewery offers interesting and consistently good beers. Our favorite is the Bootjack IPA, a PNW style brew with some citrusy hops. The Icicle brewery also has outdoor patio seating and even a fire table or two for those chilly times.
2 OTHER GREAT BREWERIES ARE:
- Blewett Brewing Company
- Doghaus Brewing
Are you an adrenaline junky looking for a heart-pumping adventure? Look no further than ice climbing. Ice climbing in Leavenworth isn’t for the faint of heart.
In fact, it’s rated one of the top 10 Ice Climbing Destinations in the nation. For experienced climbers, come check out these pristine ice conditions as you scale the ice falls and embark on a new and unique adventure in Leavenworth.
For more information about the 5 best places for ice climbing in Leavenworth, check this out.
No Leavenworth winter adventure would be complete without checking out the Gingerbread Factory. The famed Gingerbread shop is what you’d expect it to be: a sweets lover’s dream come true.
The Gingerbread Factory is packed with activity during the holiday season, making thousands of gingerbread houses and cookies by hand. I guess we could say that they’re giving Santa’s elves a run for their…sprinkles.
TAKE A WALK ALONG THE RIVER WALK
An excellent way to spend a chilly day is to walk along the river, which offers stunning views of the snow-covered river and snow-capped peaks. The Waterfront Park Trail is one of Leavenworth’s best-kept secrets.
The paths meander along the Wenatchee River and through peaceful riverbank woodlands. For information about how to get to the River Walk, click here.
GET YOUR SWEET TOOTH ON AT ALPS CANDY STORE
One thing you’ll notice while visiting Leavenworth is there is no shortage of sweets and treats! Alps Candy is a two-story shop on the way to Leavenworth right along the Wenatchee River. It offers a wide variety of items produced in small batches. You’ll find an impressive selection of Hot Sauces, BBQs, Mustards, and Syrups.
Additional treats you’ll find at Alps Candy Store are:
- Fresh butter and sweet cream fudge, available in over 20 flavors!
- Hand-dipped chocolates-including barks, clusters, turtles, Graham Cracker Sandwiches, and Marshmallows on a Stick.
- Brittles using the same recipe since 1945!
- World-Famous Peanut Butter Crunch
GO HOLIDAY SHOPPING- A FAVORITE LEAVENWORTH WINTER EVENT
There’s no better place to check off your holiday shopping list than in Leavenworth. Whether you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift for a loved one or looking for a new kitchen accessory, you’ll find what you’re looking for at one of Leavenworth’s boutiques or shops. With so many shops to choose from, it may be challenging to know where to start.
I’d recommend checking out Kris Kringl for charming ornaments, holiday decorations, and nutcrackers.
Another great place to check out is Jubilee Global Gifts; this is a non-profit stop with products made by artisans from around the world. You’ll find all sorts of beautiful gifts such as clothing, jewelry, candles, home goods, and more!
If you enjoy artesian cheese and need a quick pit stop, I’d recommend hitting up The Cheesemonger, where cheese lovers unite! The Cheesemonger offers a wide variety of specialty cheeses from all over the world.
DRINK MULLED WINE
Mulled wine is one of those beverages that are perfect for drinking in the winter months when you’re looking for a toasty yet spiced-up beverage to warm your bones. And, of course, there is no better place to enjoy a glass of glühwein (glow/mulled wine) than in Leavenworth.
Take a break from your holiday shopping or admiring the Christmas lights and stop in one of the many places that serve this one-of-a-kind drink.
EAT SAUSAGE AND OR BRATWURST
Duh….. You’re in a Bavarian village, so do as the locals do and grab yourself a sausage or bratwurst. The best place to do so is at München Haus Sausage Garten.
It’s a lovely outdoor beer garden warmed by fire pits and lamps. After you order your brat or German sausage, you head over to the condiment bar and top it with sauerkraut and various mustards.
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN LEAVENWORTH
- Bavarian Ice Festival (January – Martin Luther King Jr. weekend)
- Timbrrr! Music Festival (January)
- Taste of Leavenworth (April – First weekend)
- Maifest (May – typically Mother’s Day weekend)
- Bavarian Bike & Brew (June – First weekend)
- Kinderfest (July – 4th of July weekend)
- Autumn Leaf Festival (4th weekend in September)
- Leavenworth Oktoberfest (October – First 3 weekends)
- Christkindlmarkt (November – Thanksgiving weekend)
- Christmas Lighting Festival (December – First 3 weekends)
Bavarian Ice Festival (January – Martin Luther King Jr. weekend)
Timbrrr! Music Festival (January)
Although when we travel to Leavenworth, we stay in our van, a friend of ours booked themselves a stay at Icicle Village Resort and absolutely loved it