The best things to do in beautiful Leavenworth
Want to experience Bavarian charm without venturing too far from home? Head to Leavenworth, Washington in the majestic Cascade Range. It is just a 2 hour drive from Seattle – no passport required!
All things to do in Leavenworth
Leavenworth may be small, but it is important for the activities. Whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation, Leavenworth has it all.
Leavenworth is most famous for its annual Christmas lights. From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, more than 500,000 lights adorn the city, turning it into a winter wonderland. The lighting ceremonies that take place the first three weekends of December in the town square are the most popular times to see the lights.
A short walk from Leavenworth Square is the Nutcracker Museum. The museum began in 1995 as a private display of a local couple’s huge collection of nutcrackers, but has since grown to include collections from around the world.
Sitting at one of the world’s highest latitudes, the vineyards around Leavenworth thrive in the particularly dry climate of eastern Washington, using nearby rivers for more controlled irrigation.
Stroll through Leavenworth town center and you’ll come across over a dozen tasting rooms to suit almost any palate. Do you like dry wines? Head towards Villa Monaco. And the port? Try the chocolate port at Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards. And you will find 12 kinds of hard cider at Bushel & Bee Taproom. This interactive map will help guide you through downtown Leavenworth, or you can take part in the Leavenworth Wine Walk. Held in the spring and fall, the event features over 20 wineries as well as local cheese and other goodies.
You can stretch out a bit in one of the wineries just outside Leavenworth. Just 5 minutes from town, Silvara Cellars offers a relaxed atmosphere where you can taste wine while taking in the expansive mountain views. The winery produces award-winning wines in small batches such as Chardonnay, Blueberry, Malbec and Sangiovese.
About 10 minutes out of town is a log cabin housing the Icicle Ridge winery. He’s a newcomer to the Washington wine scene, but he takes pride in its warm atmosphere and creative wines. Here you’ll find creations like Chocolate Cherry Passion and a raspberry riesling blend called Razzamatazz.
Festivals all year round
If you aren’t visiting Leavenworth while the lights are on display, don’t worry! There are festivals all year round, usually with one main event per month.
Taste Leavenworth is a popular event in April that showcases local and local produce and food. In May, locals and tourists alike to celebrate the arrival of spring during Maifest. The three-day event includes a parade, traditional Bavarian dances, and even crafts for mothers, since the event usually falls on Mother’s Day weekend. And it wouldn’t be a true Bavarian town without a spectacular fall Oktoberfest celebration. The festival includes three weekends filled with authentic German food, music and, of course, beer.
With an abundance of dry and powdery snow, the areas around Leavenworth are perfect for winter sports. Skiers and snowboarders head to the Stevens Pass ski area, just 40 minutes west of town. It has over 1,100 skiable acres, the majority of the trails being rated intermediate. The ski school offers fairly affordable adult lessons. There is even night skiing.
If you prefer to stay level, strap on cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club trail system. The club also offers tubing and ski jumping. Plain Valley has over 4 miles of groomed trails, as well as nearby restaurants for a comfortable meal.
Perhaps the most popular winter activity in Leavenworth, however, is sledding in Town Square. In the winter you will see people enjoying the snow with all they can sledding!
On the water and on land, Leavenworth has several options for summer activities.
In town, head to Waterfront Park, where you’ll find the Leavenworth Outdoor Center. This family operation will set you up for tubing, kayaking or paddleboarding. They provide everything you need and will even pick you up from most local hotels.
Watch the Wenatchee River for more adventure and whitewater rafting. The Class III and Class IV rapids are sure to make your heart beat faster. There are several rafting companies that operate out of Leavenworth.
Leavenworth is also home to an extensive network of trails with hikes ranging from very easy to difficult. The park’s easy, flat waterfront trail winds along the river and has plenty of benches. This trail is great for bird watching, and if you get hot you can stop at one of the beaches for a quick dip!
If you are looking for spectacular views, be prepared to work for them. The more difficult trails like Dirty Face Peak or Fourth of July Creek are difficult climbs and will take most of the day. Make sure to bring extra water! Some trails lack shade.
If all of these activities make you want to take a break, head to one of Leavenworth’s spas.
Relax in the Aspen Leaf Day Spa’s organic garden inside the Sleeping Lady Resort before enjoying one of its many services. Jade therapies are the specialty of the spa. The mineral is known for its healing and balancing properties, and incorporating it into your massage or any other treatment will definitely leave you feeling rejuvenated.
The Posthotel’s on-site spa is a dip in true luxury. Unique treatments include body polishing, scrubs, facials and massages. Or you can combine them all into a multi-hour spa experience. Be sure to take advantage of all of the spa’s amenities, including separate men’s and women’s saunas and a saltwater pool.
Best restaurants in Leavenworth
You are in a Bavarian-style town, so tasting traditional German cuisine is a must! But there are plenty of other mouthwatering restaurants showcasing regional ingredients.
Authentic German fare
The family-owned München Haus started out simple, with grilled Bavarian sausages and local beer. Over the years, the casual restaurant has grown to offer more German fare, like potato salad and pretzels. And you just can’t sit outside in the beer garden, taking in the views of the surrounding Waterfalls.
For really good schnitzel, head to the Andreas Keller restaurant, where you can bread or grill the German dish. Started by a father who then passed the restaurant on to his daughter, Andreas Keller has been serving German dishes for over three decades. There is live music most evenings, as well as a menu for the elderly.
You can sample fresh, regional ingredients at the relatively new Watershed Cafe. With a constantly rotating menu, this farm-to-table restaurant feeds on local farms and waters of the Pacific Northwest. There is an outdoor terrace with a wonderful view.
Other delicious dishes
Italian is on the menu at Visconti’s, where chefs use fresh, local ingredients to prepare old-world dishes. Steaks, pork chops and pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven. The extensive wine list and romantic ambience make Visconti a perfect place to meet.
Step into a real gingerbread house to take advantage of all the offers at The Gingerbread Factory. Just seeing the house is a treat, but inside you’ll find freshly made desserts including cookies, cinnamon buns, and of course, gingerbread! This fun place is the perfect end to a fun day in Leavenworth.
Other restaurants to check out include Blewett Brewing for some interesting pizzas (one of them has ranch dressing on it) and small batch beer, and Mana for a five-course prix fixe organic meal that caters to all of your senses.
Best hotels in Leavenworth
To fully immerse yourself in this Bavarian-style city, stay at the Bavarian Lodge, located in the heart of the city. Visit the on-site restaurant, the Woodsman Pub, for an afternoon aperitif and beer before heading to the outdoor pool and hot tub to relax.
For a more upscale stay, book a room at the Posthotel Leavenworth. The main focus of this adults-only hotel is relaxation and rejuvenation. And it’s easy to do just that. Located along the soothing river, the Posthotel features a spa, putting green, saltwater swimming pool, sauna and plunge pool. Perhaps the most relaxing setting is the nap room!
Forget about traditional hotels and discover the Pacific Northwest by camping in Lake Wenatchee National Park, located just 20 minutes north of Leavenworth. For an added adventure, opt for a winter visit to snow camping. But don’t worry, there are heated toilets and shelters.
Pro tip: The secret of this Bavarian town has been revealed, so it is best to book your stay well in advance. For other US cities that will make you feel like you’re in Germany, check out this page.