Leavenworth, Washington is one of those places that I always remember passing through on any long trip to my Grandparent’s house. This was usually around Christmas time, and there was something about that snowy village that made a song pop into my head
“Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”
Because really, Leavenworth is its own little winter wonderland tucked into North Cascades. People from all over the state and beyond come here to experience this unique Bavarian town for the holidays.
So what is so magical about this little place?
I decided to visit there for myself for the very first time to find out (and to celebrate turning 24, woot woot!) It turned out to be a beautiful, romantic weekend. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a winter getaway.
Below are some of the amazing things I saw, ate, and did while visiting Leavenworth.
One of the greatest appeals of Leavenworth in the winter time is that you have a good chance of actually experiencing a white Christmas! Nestled high in the mountains, Leavenworth is blanketed by snow nearly all winter long. The surrounding peaks add to its serene atmosphere, as do the snow-dusted Bavarian store fronts. In the town center, there is a small hill for children to sled and play on, and you are a short drive away from Stevens Pass for skiing and snowboarding. The chilly weather just makes grabbing a hot cocoa and warm German pastry even more enjoyable!
After spending two days in Leavenworth seeing all that it has to offer, I can say that there is something for everyone. There are countless souvenir shops where you can buy beer stein ornaments, miniature nutcrackers, and furry hats. If you are looking for gear for your outdoor adventures, Leavenworth has that too. One shop will even look up your family crest and have it printed on all kinds of memorabilia. Some of the shops sell winter and Christmas-themed goods all year long, making Leavenworth seem more like the North Pole than a tourist destination. I ended up buying a gorgeous wool stocking sold at a fair trade shop, right next door to a comic book store. Leavenworth is a great place to find unique gifts for your family and friends, or stock up on all the winter décor you will ever need.
Fun for Everyone
Being surrounded by the snowy mountains, Leavenworth is a great place go on some wintery adventures. If skiing or snowboarding is your thing, check out Steven’s Pass and hit the slopes. If you are on a tighter budget, you can bring your own sled to many of the surrounding hills for free. In town, there are several museums and galleries to see as well. The famous Nutcracker Museum houses thousands of antique nutcrackers and shows a short video on the history of the nutcracker. Entry fee proceeds go toward maintaining the museum and running special events.
If you are not familiar with Bavarian food and European delicacies, Leavenworth is the place to go. Known for its succulent bratwurst sandwiches and sweet pastries, Leavenworth has something to satisfy every palate. Several shops offer fresh made fudge and sweets in a variety of flavors, from Olde Fashioned chocolate, to fried cinnamon rolls. Each restaurant offers its own signature specials as well. Renaissance Cafe is known for its house-made biscuits and “God’s Food”. Others offer meaty sandwiches, hot soups, and sassy cocktails. I got a mouth-watering side of roasted garlic with seasoned crostini, and a turkey herb melt for lunch. If you are looking for boozy concoctions, wander into any pub or bar and you are sure to find the perfect drink to hit the spot.
Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Events
Most notably, Leavenworth is known for its holiday atmosphere and famous Lighting Festival. The storefronts, gazebo, and surrounding buildings are covered in over half a million lights! The seasonal lighting ceremony includes music by local bands and fun events for the kiddos. Book your accommodation in advance if you hope to attend the events. Even if you miss the ceremony, the lights stay up through December. We were in Leavenworth a day after the festivities and it was still bustling and beautiful. If you are looking for affordable and cozy accommodation, check out airbnb.com. We found a wonderful studio within a 6 minute walk of downtown for only $131 per night. I would definitely recommend this place! The hosts were super helpful and the space was perfect.
Leavenworth, Washington is a magical place to visit in the winter time. If you are looking for the perfect holiday getaway, you will find it here. You will not be lacking things to do, see, and eat! Find out more about Leavenworth at Leavenworth.org, or leave your questions in the comments below!