Leavenworth Washington is a small town located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. This little town has expertly transformed itself into an adorable Bavarian Village! In winter Leavenworth becomes a virtual winter wonderland! It’s the perfect winter destination right here in the US
Leavenworth Washington Winter travel guide
WHY visit Leavenworth in the winter season? Because the winter months in Leavenworth are MAGICAL! Along with snow capped mountains the holiday season brings Christmas lights, holiday cheer, and fun winter activities for the whole family!
Looking for the ultimate winter destination? A Leavenworth Washington winter getaway can’t be beat, it’s the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit and one of the best places for a winter trip in the whole country!
Use this winter travel guide to plan the Ultimate Leavenworth winter getaway!
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.
I KNOW Bavaria! I spent part of my childhood there and it just so happens to be my favorite place in the entire world! You can get a taste of my beloved Bavaria right here in the United States! My conclusion? Because Leavenworth packs a whole lot of Bavarian charm into such a small space, it is almost more Bavarian than Bavaria!
In Leavenworth you’ll get mega doses of:
- German beer and beer gardens (don’t miss the German Chocolate cake craft beer at Icicle Brewing Company!)
- Bavarian tunes being piped through speakers
- Schnitzel, bratwurst & spicy mustards
- sauerkraut and German potato salad (although not sweet like you find in Bavaria
- Mural studded buildings
- Nutcrackers and MORE!
Front Street is the main drag in downtown Leavenworth. It’s where you’ll find most of the attractions in town, as well as shops and restaurants. Front Street Park is where you’ll find the gazebo and lots and lots of holiday lights in winter!
Leavenworth Washington Christmas
Is Leavenworth a Christmas town? Yes! Leavenworth Washington is a magical Christmas time destination! a virtual snow globe come to life! The entire town is lit in festive fashion with Christmas lights and Christmas decorations. The lights go on Thanksgiving weekend and remain lit through the month of February! They call it the Village of Lights!
Fun things to do in Leavenworth in Winter
Price range key:
$30 and under: $
$60 plus: $$$
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
The reindeer farm was probably my favorite part of the whole Leavenworth trip. It is definitely one of the top things to do in Leavenworth, YEAR-ROUND! On the 1-hour tour visitors get to spend time inside the enclosure with the reindeer! The winter calendar includes special visits from Santa and the characters from Frozen!
A geodesic projection dome has been added to the farm which will feature Northern Lights shows! They book up months in advance so reserve your tickets ASAP.
Location: 10395 Chumstick Hwy
What’s more Bavarian than a beer garden? Stop by München Haus where they have toasty warm fire pit tables, tasty food, and yes German beer! Brats, pretzels, German potato salad, kraut, and sometimes they have live music on tap! It’s not just a restaurant, it’s an experience!
Location: 709 Front St (right in the downtown area)
Stop in for a hot drink and a little spicy gingerbread cookie or gingerbread house. The smells took me right back to those Bavarian Christmas markets of my childhood!
Location: 829 Front Street
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
They have over 9,000 nutcrackers in their impressive collection! Make time to watch the really interesting documentary playing in the museum! !
cost: $ ($5 adult! (discounts for seniors and youth, children and military FREE!)
Location: 735 Front Street
wine tasting and cheese!
Wine tasting is BIG in Leavenworth! The small downtown area has several tasting rooms.
See the Leavenworth website for a full list!
What goes better with wine than cheese???
Be sure to stop in at the Cheesemonger’s Shop! “Cheese, Meats, Wines & Beers, European Foods, And more”!
Location: 819 Front Street
horse drawn carriage
There are two companies offering carriage rides in town:
- Leavenworth Carriage Company: Take a short ride around town or book one of their additional services (Dinner rides, engagements, weddings, reunions, sightseeing by reservation) Locate them downtown!
- Hans Christian Andersen Carriage Company: Rides are first-come, first-serve, no reservations. Leaves from near the Mai Pole on Front Street. $40 for the first 2 riders, $5 for each additional rider. Cash Only.
How about a snowy stroll through the Waterfront Park with views of the river and mountains that surround Leavenworth? The waterfront park encompasses part of the Wenatchee River that runs right through town. A trail map can be found here but better maps are located at park entrances.
location: a couple blocks south of downtown
horse-drawn sleigh ride
One of the best ways to see the beautiful snowy mountains that surround Leavenworth is in an open sleigh! You should be able to expect snow enough for a sleigh ride from the first weekend in December through February.
Jingle Bell your way around in a one-horse open sleigh with the Stuart Mountain Range as a backdrop! Icicle Outfitters is located just 2.5 miles outside of town. Their website says that they accept walk-in guests but they recommend having reservations. When we arrived we found out that there was a 2 hour wait at the time for walk-ins. Approximately 30 minute ride.
Location: 7925 E Leavenworth Rd, Leavenworth
These are good options if you have your own transportation:
Eagle Creek Sleigh Rides take you for a 2-mile ride (35 minutes) through snow-blanketed pastures and evergreen forests located at the foot of the Cascade Mountains.
Location: 7951 Eagle Creek Rd, Leavenworth, WA (just 7 miles from downtown Leavenworth)
Leavenworth Sleigh Rides
This is a pricier option, but the scenery can’t be beat! “A two-horse Santa inspired sleigh, the clean crisp air, the crunch of fresh snow and sleigh bells. Enjoy a hot spiced cider by open fire.”
Location: 19115 Chiwawa Loop Road, Leavenworth (Mountain Springs Lodge, 14 miles north of town)
spend an evening indoors!
Recipe for a cozy night in:
- a roaring fire
- warm pajamas
- a cup of warm cocoa
- a fuzzy throw
- spice up the air with a scented candle from the Reindeer Farm gift shop!
- your favorite card or board game
- someone who makes you laugh till you cry
- Big fluffy snowflakes falling out your window!
Hotels in town that have rooms with fireplaces: (Book as early as possible for the best selection)
- Bavarian Lodge
- Howard Johnson by Wyndham Leavenworth
- Icicle Village Resort
- Solstice Suites
- Enzian Inn
- Leavenworth Village Inn
- Pension Hotel Anna
- Obertal Inn
- Blue Elk Inn
- Fairbridge Inn
Prefer a Vacation Rental? VRBO has a fireplace preference in their search filters! (ready to book? come back and use these links, they help pay the bills!)
Winter Sports are a great way to pass the time. Leavenworth Winter Sports Club offers several opportunities for getting out on the snow!
Tip: don’t forget your sunscreen!
Location: 10701 Ski Hill Drive
Need Equipment? Check here for Information on Alpine skiing and snowboard equipment rentals and well as Nordic skis or snowshoes.
Here are some of the top recommendations for outdoor activities at the sports club:
- Snow Tubing!!! Snow tubing is fun for everyone and requires no particular skill. Simply plop yourself down in the tube and you’ll be escorted to the top of the hill via a rope tow system.
- Snowshoe Trails: The sports club also maintains several miles of Snowshoe Trails. Check here for more snowshoeing opportunities!
- Skiing: The club at Leavenworth Ski Hill offers several opportunities for skiing for all skill levels. (nearby ski hills can be found at Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge)
- Nordic Skiing: (Leavenworth Sports Club maintains over 16 miles of cross-country skiing Nordic trails on over 4 different tracks (Icicle River Trail for beginners, The Leavenworth Golf Course Trail has sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains, Ski Hill winds through beautiful trails and lighted nighttime Nordic skiing! Peshastin Mill Site Trail.
- Alpine Skiing: Downhill skiing options include two groomed ski hills serviced by rope tows, great for beginner skiers and snowboarders.
- Ski Jump: the only ski jump on the West Coast of the U.S.!
- fat biking: fat bikes are mountain bikes with thick tires, making them suitable for riding in the snow. The club offers 7 km of fat bike trails, some of them lighted for evening enjoyment. You’ll need to bring your own bike.
- Sledding: For children and adults alike, the sledding hills are a great place to relive your youth! Bring your own sled or rent a tube. Sleds can be purchased at the sledding hill or various places around town. Sledding is located at the Leavenworth Golf Club Golf Course Location, 9101 Icicle Road NOT on Ski Hill.
Take a guided tour on a snowmobile! This area gets approximately 300 inches of snowfall every year, making it perfect for a snowmobile ride!
Safety Note: This is where our trip went a little sideways. As first-time snowmobile riders, we learned a couple of lessons after the fact.
1-the snow was very wet making the machine harder to maneuver
2-AND we were on a double seater, which also makes the machine harder to maneuver. The result was that we wrecked and spent the remainder of our day in the emergency room.
That being said, this is still a fun activity if you take precautions.
Both of these are about 15 miles from the town of Leavenworth.
- Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours: We chose the Grandpa’s Rocker tour option, a 2-hour, 20 mile tour that reaches a peak elevation of 2,700 ft. Provided snowmobile suits, boots, gloves and helmets. Bring: sunglasses and a neck warmer.
- location: Mountain Springs Lodge, 19115 Chiwawa Loop Rd, Leavenworth, 15 miles north of downtown (Leavenworth Shuttle gave us a lift there and back, $60 per way for two people)
- Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals: You can rent just the machine or add a guide for an extra cost. Half and full day rentals and they even have a twilight tour option!
- location: 15361 US Hwy 2, Leavenworth
warm up at the spa
There’s no better way to warm a wintery chill like a day at the spa!
- Aspen Leaf Spa at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort: Facials, massages (including hot stone!), body wraps, scrubs, and more.
- Icicle Village Alpine Spa: Same service mentioned above plus a steam room!
For a more luxury experience: Posthotel Leavenworth
boat tour of Lake Chelan
The Lady of the Lake Boat at Lake Chelan runs in winter. Lake Chelan is a long narrow lake (think Nordic or Icelandic fjord!) that cuts a path through the mountains in Chelan County. The boat tour takes you all the way up the lake to the tiny village of Stehekin, where you will spend a couple of hours before returning to Chelan. 60 miles from Leavenworth but worth the drive!
location: 1418 W Woodin Ave, Chelan, WA
Getting there without a car: FREE buses run from Leavenworth to Lake Chelan. You’ll find maps and route information OR use the Rome2Rio app to easily navigate public transportation options!
Everything else you need to know
Leavenworth Washington winter is a magical time of the year to visit, but it can also be a dangerous time to visit. My bestie and I aren’t exactly the type to take big risks, yet we still ended up in the Emergency room. And let me tell you, that is one busy little ER!
New to you activities: If you plan to participate in an activity for the first time, educating yourself as much as possible is a great way to make sure that your fun Leavenworth Washington winter trip doesn’t turn into a big regret!
Avalanches: Deadly situations exist here. Three hikers were lost in an avalanche during our visit, they did not expect to find them alive. Check weather conditions often. My weather app alerted me of the avalanche warning, otherwise we never heard anything about it. Stay aware!
road conditions / getting to Leavenworth in winter:
Driving to Leavenworth in Winter can be precarious at best. Roads in this area can close. Your best bet is to be aware of alternative options or to have a Plan B, especially in winter months. (Need a Plan B option? Wenatchee Valley Shuttle is an ALMOST guaranteed option for round trip transportation. Read more about it further down.)
The weather was fairly mild during our visit, but you will want to plan for winter weather temperatures and snowy conditions.
How to dress for the cold: LAYERS are key but winter layers can be bulky. If you are flying into Washington State you’ll want to try and fit it all into ONE suitcase, not two like my dear friend…. Ha ha, love you Kelli!
Pack light, stay warm tips:
- Fleece base layers like CuddlDuds for outdoor activities.
- Fleece lined jeans, big thumbs up!
- One pair of waterproof snow boots for outdoor activities, plus lightweight insulated boots
- Fleece neck gaiters, wear it as a scarf or pull it up over your face to keep it warm!
- PACKABLE down, layer them with a light fleece jacket to stay toasty warm without the bulk.
- Waterproof pants (comfortable and warm) snow pants are bulky and unless you are skiing you probably don’t need them.
- Wool socks and wool glove liners
- Hand warmers
average temperatures Leavenworth in winter:
average snowfall Leavenworth in winter:
When to visit
When is the best time to go to Leavenworth for a winter trip?
Snow is generally deep enough in the months of December, January and February for the Leavenworth winter activities listed in this article.
Crowds: When is the best time to avoid Leavenworth Washington winter crowds? If you are serious about avoiding crowds, then my intel says avoid the month of December. Weekends in January and February also bring more crowds. Also avoid holiday weekends like Martin Luther King Jr weekend, and Presidents Weekend.
Conclusion: You’ll find the fewest crowds midweek in the months of January and February!
Leavenworth Winter festival events Include:
- Christmas Town in the Village of Lights: Leavenworth in December is the time for the Christmas Town festivities! Carolers, live entertainment, Santa, gingerbread houses, food, vendors and more!
- Winter Karneval: weekends in January, ice carving, fireworks, fire dancers, ice skating and more!
- Leavenworth in February is “Love From Leavenworth” month with special touches to spark a little romance!
Dreaming of a trip to Leavenworth but can’t get there now? Check out the live webcams!
Getting to Leavenworth
Getting in and out of Leavenworth in winter can be complicated due to changing weather conditions and closing related to winter weather.
Important Note: Severe weather conditions and road closures are not uncommon in this area during the winter months. I highly recommend that you consider buying travel insurance. Travel Insurance.com is my trusted place to shop.
Closest airports & distance from Leavenworth
Seattle (Sea-tak) 135 miles
Spokane (GEG) 180 miles
I really didn’t want to rent a car and drive in possible winter weather conditions. None of the rental car agencies could guarantee me a four-wheel drive. There are times when snow chains are required on roads in the area and from what I am told rental companies do not allow you to use chains on their vehicles.
So, we opted to take the Amtrak train to Leavenworth Washington from Seattle. Amtrak offers a scenic train ride between Seattle and Leavenworth. (Amtrak has a route to Leavenworth from Spokane as well)
This was my first Amtrak experience, and for this short trip I was absolutely thrilled with the experience! After spending several hours on a cramped flight the train was luxury! The amount of room we had was obscene! AND RECLINERS! Beautiful scenery (until dark sets in) you can get up and move!
Amtrak Seattle to Leavenworth Icicles Station:
Trains to Leavenworth leave at 4:55 pm and arrive in Leavenworth at 8:17 pm. We paid $50 round trip! Return trip Leavenworth to Seattle: (7:23 am – 11:39 am) (confirm times with Amtrak)
Seattle Airport to the Kings Street Amtrak Station
The Link Light Rail tram that runs from Sea-tac to near the Amtrak Station. Every 10 minutes, 45-minutes direct , $3, purchase tickets at the station.
Take Tram Line 1, heading NORTH, exit the tram at the International District/Chinatown Station. Walk 0.2 miles to King Street Station. For detailed instructions see Rome2Rio.
Have time to kill? store your luggage at the Amtrak Station ($8 per piece)
And check out one of these nearby attractions:
- Argosy Cruises, bay and skyline tours of Seattle
- Famous Pike Place Fish Market
- Seattle Aquarium, a stay warm option!
- Skyview observatory skyscraper with a view of the city and the bay…also a warm option
- Pioneer square and Occidental square for unique and interesting sculptures
Food: If you have a coach ticket, you can purchase snacks on the train but consider this instead: PICK UP really tasty SANDWICHES at Salumi before you head back to the train station.
Shuttle: Be sure to schedule your Shuttle with Leavenworth Shuttle Service
Upon arrival our scheduled shuttle picked us up at the train station and drove us to our hotel. $8 per person.
Our Amtrak train back to Seattle canceled service because of bad weather out towards Chicago. Roads close! Have a backup plan!
Wenatchee Valley shuttle. As soon as I got a cancellation from Amtrak on our Leavenworth to Seattle trip, I knew I needed to act fast to find transportation. Enter, Wenatchee Valley Shuttle. They were a lifesaver after Amtrak canceled our train! The trip back to Seattle takes approximately 3 hours and best of all, they drop you off right at the airport! They offer several shuttles a day to SeaTac airport a couple to Spokane.
Getting around Leavenworth
Leavenworth isn’t what I would call “walkable” because everything is so spread out. It’s disappointing that they don’t have a bus or shuttle that runs a route in town.
Here are your options for getting around:
If you don’t have your own transportation then you will get to know Leavenworth Shuttle well! They are the only game in town. This is probably not your least expensive option. However, if you don’t have a car it’s a great option for getting around! Drivers were friendly and helpful! It is advisable to schedule all shuttles in advance, especially during busy times.
There is a bus that shuttles to other communities in the area and it’s free! Here is the information on using the bus or use the Rome2Rio app!
The nearest rental car is in Wenatchee next time we will probably take the FREE bus over and pick up a car! Search rentals on Expedia!
Where to stay in Leavenworth
ready to book? come back and use the links in this article, they pay the bills!
We stayed 3 nights at Howard Johnson just for the fireplace! They also have an outdoor pool that is covered in winter so bring your swimsuit!
Location: 405 Highway 2 (.6 miles from downtown)
book it here on booking.com!
Alpine Rivers Inn
We moved to Alpine Rivers Inn because of their great prices. All rooms have a balcony overlooking the Wenatchee River and there’s an outdoor hot tub! This one was our favorite! Fun evenings were spent wrapped in blankets sitting on the balcony listening to the river.
Location: 1505 Alpensee Strasse (.7 miles from downtown)
book it here on booking.com!
Storybook Riverside Inn
It’s a splurge but just wow!
Storybook Riverside Inn website!
Hotel Pension Anna
Ridiculously adorable! Bavarian decor, book early!
book it here on Hotels.com!
If you want to book a cozy cabin in the country with a fireplace you want to do it months in advance. The good places book up, especially during winter high tourist traffic times.
Search VRBO now!
Where to eat in Leavenworth
Food is expensive in Leavenworth and most of the food was ok. These are a few places that we were impressed with:
- Andreas Keller, delicious German food! call ahead to get on wait list
- Mozart’s Steakhouse, more delicious German food!
- München House (the Beer Garden!) tasty snack type food
- Gustav’s, pub food with nice views.
Need more options? You can find a complete list of places to eat in Leavenworth ranked by customer reviews here on TripAdvisor.
Click here to find out about the Best German food!
Did you fall in love with Bavarian Leavenworth and think you may want to check out the real deal? Check out my Germany page for tons of ideas and full itineraries, many of them in Bavaria! Love Bavaria AND Winter? see the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle in winter! Can’t get to Germany now? How about checking these other magical Christmas cities in the US!
AMAZING! I did know about Leavenworth (one of my Austrian friends told me about it as it blew his mind when he visited after hiking in the area…) But I have only seen photos in the summertime. It’s lovely in the summer, but WOW it looks even better for a winter getaway!
Snow, fun and pretzels!? Sign me up!
I am fairly certain that I heard some German accents when I was in Leavenworth and they seemed to be having a great time! It’s so much like Bavaria (and Austria!) just condensed! I just can’t say enough about it and after reliving it while writing this post I think I may have to make it an every other winter trip! I would like to see it in summer too!
Although I don’t like being cold, snow is just so beautiful. And, Leavenworth Washington looks absolutely amazing. After reading this I’m so keen to book a trip for next winter. Thanks for sharing
I actually don’t like the cold either Elyse! however, this destination seemed worth it and I came property attired so it was actually great!
I live in BC so a trip here next Christmas would be WAY cheaper than flying all the way to Germany! 🤔
Right! the flight to Seattle was pretty darn cheap that time of the year. I think prices for everything else are better in Germany though. If all goes well I’ll be headed to Germany and France for the Christmas Markets this year!
I’m from Austria and I’ve been to Bavaria a few times. And Leavenworth definitely seems more Bavarian than Bavaria itself 😄. Looks like a great destination for a winter holiday though, I love the lights 🤩
Ha ha! indeed it is! Bavaria condensed! BTW I LOVE Austria, it also makes the list of one of my favorite places on earth!
Love those snowy rooftops and the cute reindeer! Looks like a good place to get into the Christmas spirit!
Leavenworth Washington winter, SO much to love and a great way to extend the Christmas season too! -Angie Kunze, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore