Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, Leavenworth is one of the Pacific Northwest’s best kept secrets. Just two hours west of Seattle, Leavenworth might make you feel as though you’ve landed in an idyllic Bavarian village.
Best known for its Oktoberfest and Christmastime festivities, Bavarian-themed Leavenworth, Washington offers so much more – from picturesque hiking trails and whitewater rafting to wineries and spas, you won’t be short on things to do. And of course, with a variety of culinary delights and plenty of pubs, you won’t go hungry – or thirsty – either.
Whether you’d like to experience this mountain village from a horse-drawn sleigh or on a snowmobile, on horseback or with a late night gluhwein, there’s something for everyone. Ready to visit Leavenworth? Here are some of the best things to do in Leavenworth, Washington.
Waterfront Park showcases Leavenworth’s magnificent mountain views, lush forests, and the Wenatchee River. The park is accessible from downtown and the wooded walking trails are mostly flat, making it an easy way to take in Leavenworth’s natural surroundings.
From the Waterfront Park Trail you can cross Blackbird Island Bridge to Blackbird Island, and get lost exploring its different trails and beaches.
Leavenworth’s natural vistas – with clear blue water, tall evergreen trees and mountain peaks rising up all around – are not to be missed.
LAKE WENATCHEE STATE PARK
Lake Wenatchee State Park is the perfect destination for a day trip no matter the time of year. Located just 16 miles outside of town, the park spans 492 acres and has 12,623 feet of waterfront. Enjoy rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, year-round camping, and picnic areas.
During the warmer months the lake is open for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, and more. In the winter, snow lovers can enjoy 15 miles of trails for cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, and snowmobiling.
Icicle Gorge is one of the most scenic spots in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Approximately four miles long, the Icicle Gorge Trail loop crosses the Icicle River and winds through the towering green forest. It is a fairly easy trail without steep inclines, though more experienced hikers can take the steeper View Trail.
Experience striking views of Icicle Creek, the forest, and wildlife along this trail. Sharp-eyed birdwatchers may even spot a bald eagle or an osprey.
EAGLE CREEK RANCH
Eagle Creek Ranch offers some of the most fun ways to see Leavenworth, including horseback riding, horse-drawn wagon tours in the fall, and sleigh rides when the valley becomes covered in snow.
Horseback riding takes place in the spring through the fall, and visitors can choose from a number of different tour options through the scenic forest trails. Horseback riding is open to adults and children as young as six years old, and is suitable for beginners. No equestrian experience is required, but visitors must be able to follow the directions of their tour guide. Be aware that height and weight restrictions apply.
Wagon and sleigh tours are approximately 35 minutes long and can accommodate up to 8 people. Private two-person tours are also available.
The ranch is family owned and operated, and the owners reside on the ranch, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere.
LEAVENWORTH SKI HILL
For many people, a trip to the mountains wouldn’t be complete without skiing. The Leavenworth Ski Hill and Winter Sports Club has two Alpine runs, eight miles of Nordic trails, and a tubing hill.
Spectators are welcome to view the Alpine races, Nordic races, and ski jumping tournaments. If you’re looking to try something new, Leavenworth Ski Hill has the only ski hill jump on the West Coast.
Food, beverages, and plenty of hot chocolate are available at the historic Ski Hill Lodge when you’re ready to warm up after a day on the slopes.
Looking for more snow? Stevens Pass Ski Resort is also a popular option in Leavenworth.
LEAVENWORTH REINDEER FARM
What could be more magical than the chance to pet a real reindeer? The family owned and operated Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is open year round, though it’s especially appealing during the holiday season.
The Reindeer Farm offers educational hour-long tours that teach visitors about these magnificent animals, followed by the opportunity to feed, pet, and take photos with the reindeer.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience in Leavenworth, so advance reservations are recommended. They fill up especially quickly during the holiday season.
Leavenworth is more than just steins of German beer. Wine lovers can spend a relaxing afternoon at Silvara Cellars. The Silvara winery produces award-winning handcrafted wines that capture the terroir of the Pacific Northwest.
Tasting options include a flight of three two-ounce pours with a sommelier, or a self-guided tasting by the glass or the bottle. The tasting room’s oversized windows offer dramatic views of the landscape. In the warmer months, visitors can enjoy a glass or two on the patio overlooking the beautiful Cascade Mountains, or with a walk through the on-site gardens. In the fall you can get cozy by the outdoor firepits while sampling a top-tier Chardonnay or unique red blend.
Silvara is family-friendly, though they ask that children remain supervised at all times and don’t disturb other patrons. Silvara also welcomes bridal parties of up to 20 people for a maximum of 90 minutes.
Visitors can take Silvara wine home by the bottle or the case, or have it shipped to addresses all over the United States.
If wine isn’t your taste, there are also a number of breweries and distilleries in the area, including Icicle Brewing Company, Doghaus Brewing, and Blue Spirits Distilling.
In the summer months when the temps get a bit warmer, book a tubing or white water rafting trip with Osprey Rafting.
Tube down the Wenatchee River on a Leavenworth Tubing Trip! The trip can be as short or long as you want, and shuttle service is included to make it easy to get back to your car. Ages 12+ mostly, although sometimes the age can be lowered to 10+, depending on water conditions.
Want to more excitement? Try a Family Float down smaller rapids on the Wenatchee River (ages 4+). Enjoy scenic views and a fun adventure. You can also enjoy a Main Event whitewater rafting trip to see some Class III rapids!
Leavenworth is famous for its annual Oktoberfest celebration! It may just be the closest you can get to Munich in the United States.
The annual festival includes dozens of vendors and artisans, live music, and tons of traditional German food and beer.
Leavenworth has much to offer all year round, but it is a special place to be at Christmastime. Between the Bavarian architecture, the twinkling lights and a dusting of snow, during the holiday season, the town resembles an old-world Christmas village come to life.
And if you can’t make it during the month of December, don’t worry – many of Leavenworth’s Christmas-themes attractions are open all year.
CHRISTMAS LIGHT DISPLAYS
Leavenworth is known for its truly stunning Christmas lights. Lighting ceremonies are held every Saturday and Sunday in December at Front Street Park until Christmas.
Enjoy a hot gluhwein (German for hot mulled wine), explore the local shops, and take in the beautiful light displays throughout the village.
One of Leavenworth’s most unique attractions, the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, is popular with families and children. The museum’s collection includes more than 7,000 nutcrackers from over 50 countries.
You’ll find antique nutcrackers carved from wood, as well as modern creations. The museum has a number of children’s activities and a gift shop next door.
If Christmastime conjures memories of warm spiced gingerbread, the Leavenworth Gingerbread Factory is sure to delight. The cafe and bakery makes delicious gingerbread cookies, gingerbread men, and gingerbread houses, and a wide variety of different cookies and pastries.
A staple of Leavenworth village since 1988, the Gingerbread Factory has expanded its menu so there’s something for everyone. Their traditional sweets and customized baked goods are available to ship nationwide.
At Kris Kringl, it’s Christmas all year long! This two-story 6,000 square foot store is a Christmas lover’s dream. This is your destination for Christmas decorations, trees, ornaments, and toys. Whether you’re looking for something traditional from the old world, or something kitschy and quirky, you’ll find just about anything you could imagine at Kris Kringl.
The store has an especially exciting collection of Christmas villages – themes range from classic North Pole to Harry Potter, Disney, Minecraft, and Margaritaville.
MOUNTAIN SPRINGS LODGE
Mountain Springs Lodge is a mountain chalet dream come to life. The property offers a number of lodging options: luxurious mountain suites, cozy cabins for two, log cabins perfect for a family, or spacious multi-bedroom lodges that sleep 19-28 people.
The size and variety of lodging options make the Mountain Springs Lodge popular for wedding parties or large family gatherings. There are limited pet friendly accommodations as well.
All accommodations feature a stone fireplace and hot tub, jacuzzi, or soaking tub, as well as modern conveniences like free wifi and streaming television. The place is steeped in history, and showcases the local rocks, woods, and mountain views.
ACTIVITIES AT MOUNTAIN SPRINGS LODGE
Mountain Springs Lodge also offers a variety of outdoor activities on the property.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Leavenworth when it snows, consider a visit to Mountain Springs Lodge. The lodge offers horse-drawn sleigh rides as long as snow is on the ground. It is a magical way to experience the scenery, and includes a stop at Beaver Creek Barn for a hot cider. What better way to spend a winter afternoon?
Or, if you’d like to move a little faster, head to Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours at Mountain Springs Lodge. Visitors can book snowmobile tours from one to three hours long with the help of trained guides who will lead you on your adventure through the snowy woods. There’s even a nighttime tour – the Starlight Express – for something truly special. .
In the warmer months, visitors can enjoy Leavenworth Ziplines or Wild at Heart Horse Rides – also located on the Mountain Springs Lodge property.
Leavenworth Ziplines offers guided zipline adventures for groups of up to 8 people.
Wild at Heart Horse Rides offers guided tours ranging from 4-8 miles, private advanced rides or half-day excursions. It’s a great way to experience the quiet forests, wildflower meadows, and mountain views.
SLEEPING LADY RESORT AND SPA
Leavenworth has a number of beautiful places to stay, from downtown hotels to cozy mountain resorts. But one of the most unique spots is the Sleeping Lady Resort and Spa.
The accommodations at the Sleeping Lady are pet friendly, and come in a variety of guest rooms as well as two cabins. The Rookery Cabin is suited for larger groups or families, while the Eyrie Cabin is ideal for couples.
The decor is more modern compared to the knotty-pine of the Mountain Springs Lodge, but still has a rustic, laid back feel. The resort is designed to be a peaceful retreat, so while you’ll find lots of thoughtful amenities, televisions are not among them. (There is, however, free WiFi!)
ACTIVITIES AT SLEEPING LADY RESORT
One of the main draws of the Sleeping Lady Resort is the onsite spa. The Aspen Leaf Spa invites guests to relax and connect with the natural surroundings. Enjoy a signature spa treatment, take a walk in the organic garden, and emerge rejuvenated and ready to enjoy the rest of your trip. The spa offers a range of massages, facials, foot treatments, body scrubs and more. Appointments are recommended.
What makes the Sleeping Lady most special is the way it is integrated into the natural surroundings. Hiking trails are accessible just beyond your doorstep. The property is wooded with towering evergreen trees, rooms are separated by winding trails, and the outdoor hot tub blends right into the landscape so it looks more like a naturally occurring hot spring.
There’s plenty of onsite dining here: The Grotto, O’Grady’s, and King Fisher Restaurant. The Sleeping Lady is about 10 minutes from downtown Leavenworth, WA, and you can find golf courses nearby too.
Is Leavenworth worth visiting?
We definitely think Leavenworth is worth a visit! It’s full of beautiful scenery and plenty of activities year-round, which makes it a popular day trip for Seattle locals.
Can Leavenworth be a day trip?
Absolutely, Leavenworth is a great day trip destination. Enjoy plenty of great outdoor activities here, like hiking, mountain biking, climbing, or whitewater rafting.
What is there to do in Leavenworth in October?
Oktoberfest is a huge draw to Leavenworth in October. In addition to this popular festival, you’ll also find beautiful fall scenery, great hiking, an awesome farmer’s market, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in October.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TRIP TO WASHINGTON
- YOUR WASHINGTON VACATION
- SPOKANE: 14 Awesome Things To Do In Spokane
- SEATTLE BEACHES: 12 Sensational Seattle Beaches You Don’t Want To Miss
- BELLINGHAM: 19 Amazing Things To Do In Bellingham, Washington
- SAN JUAN ISLANDS: 18 Sensational Things To Do In San Juan Islands
WHERE TO STAY IN LEAVENWORTH
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