Washington State is home to one of the nation’s most beloved Christmas destinations for families. Leavenworth, a Bavarian valley in the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, was named by Lifed.com as one of the Top Ten Places to Spend Your Christmas holiday. It offers families a European-style, Bavarian Christmas that leaves visitors feeling like they have jumped into a beautiful, snowy picture on the front of a Victorian Christmas card. Here are several reasons to make Leavenworth your family’s holiday destination:
Festivals and Events in Leavenworth
Leavenworth continually hosts exciting festivals and events throughout the year, with our family’s favorite events happening October through January. Leavenworth puts on one of the best Oktoberfests in the country, including three weekends every October of music, brats and celebration. Children can play and explore in their bouncy house maze and slide as well as climb the wall set up in Front Street Park.
Every Friday through Sunday the first three weekends of December, Leavenworth showcases a Christmas Lighting Festival that your entire family will love! Children will awe at the splendid display of over half a million lights lighting Leavenworth’s magical, Bavarian-style village. During the day, the Front Street Gazebo, which is next to a picturesque sledding hill, is bursting with music and carolers accompanied by caroling groups that parade Front Street.
Families can climb aboard a dressed up, horse-pulled Christmas sleigh jingling with bells and ride along Front Street as well as take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Father Christmas and more Christmas characters. Every Sunday during the Christmas Lighting Festival, children can participate in the “Cookie Crawl” and collect and taste free cookies, including gingerbread men. It is fun for the entire family.
Every Martin Luther King weekend each January, Leavenworth celebrates winter in their annual Bavarian Icefest. Live ice carving, snowmobile sled-pulls, snow sculpture garden, snowball toss and ice fishing are some of the sights and activities families can enjoy together during this festival as well as a nightly firework show! Search more Leavenworth events here:
Nordic Skiing, including Night Skiing
Twenty-six kilometers make up the Leavenworth Nordic Trail System, which is comprised of varied skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing terrain in four different areas within Leavenworth, WA. If you haven’t experienced skiing the five kilometers at Ski Hill that are lighted for night skiing, you are missing out on a refreshing, festive run in Washington’s beautiful Cascades.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to follow Alicia Walters Blog on Facebook and Instagram.
You can also find Stevens Pass twenty seven miles east on U.S. Hwy 2 giving an additional twenty-eight kilometers of tracks and skating lanes. Visit the Nordic Center for trail passes, including lodging and lift passes. Full of outdoor, scenic, winter fun, Leavenworth winter recreation also includes: tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and even dog sledding.
For the thrill seeker in the family, visitors to Leavenworth can also experience Nordic ice climbing through the Northwest Mountain School. John and Olivia Race, IFMGA certified guides, offer rock climbing instructions as well as alpine climbing avalanche courses and back country skiing to Leavenworth visitors.
Where to Stay
Leavenworth offers an abundant variety of Bavarian-themed lodges, condos, and hotels for visitors to keep warm during their Nordic-style skiing adventure. Accommodations fill up quickly and additional options are located in Wenatchee, an approximate twenty-thirty minute drive from Leavenworth. Sleep in a cozy, Bavarian Bed and Breakfast or stay in one of the many comfortable Leavenworth hotels as well as options for RV’s and camping. For more information on lodging in Leavenworth, click here.
Sledding and Snowshoeing in Leavenworth’s Family Parks
Front Street Park
A favorite location for families with young children experiencing their first trip down the slopes on a sled, Front Street Park in Leavenworth is beautifully outfitted with tall pines, all lit up for Christmas as well as a Victorian-style gazebo often filed with festively dressed carolers and musicians. Create magical family memories with your little ones as they throw snowballs and chase you down the hill in their newly broken-in sleds.
This park is a wonderful place to capture those Christmas photos as it sits on Front Street, which is lined on both sides with Bavarian shops whose owners really know what it means to “Deck the halls.” The shops look especially spectacular at night as half a million Christmas lights set the stage for an enchanted Christmas spree under the snowy Cascades. Leavenworth also has four ice skating rinks for skating enthusiasts or those who just enjoy watching the skaters with a cup of hot chocolate.
Next to downtown Leavenworth
If you are just looking for beautiful, winter scenery, Waterfront Park offers a paved trail along the winding, Wenatchee River and is a mere walk’s distance from downtown Leavenworth. Eagles, owls and birds of all varieties congregate in the trees surrounding this beautiful trail and during the winter, it is a great place for snowshoeing.
The Most Festive Christmas Shopping You’ll Ever Experience
If you enjoy Christmas shopping, look no further than the splendid shops along Leavenworth’s Front Street. These shops are unique in that their employees all seem to share in enthusiasm for Christmas and especially Christmas shoppers. Some of our family’s favorites include:
907 Front St.
Welcome to Department 56 headquarters and a Christopher Radko ornaments supplier. Two-stories of ornaments, Christmas displays, including old-world handicrafts such as Christmas pyramids and hand-made ornaments galore! Children can take their picture next to a life-size Santa and reindeer display on the upper level as well as test out several sleigh bells and nutcrackers, lining the walls of Kris Kringl.
Employees at Kris Kringl dress like Santa’s helpers and are very knowledgeable about ornament designers and how to make your Christmas tree shine bright with unique treasures.
Gifts from Russia
900 Front St. #H, Leavenworth
Vera and Josh are the married owners of Gifts from Russia, a store that specializes in hand painted matryoshka nesting dolls and other traditional, hand-carved, Russian-made toys. The dolls and other gifts range in price from very affordable to very expensive, depending on the quality of the painting and craftsmanship. Nesting dolls of many varieties showcase a burst of color and Russian artistry and you’ll want to return again and again to look at all the beautiful dolls and toys in Gifts from Russia.
The Nutcracker Museum
735 Front St., Leavenworth
The Nutcracker Museum in downtown Leavenworth is a National Heritage Museum. This is a stop the entire family can enjoy together. A short video presentation gives the history of the nutcracker and the museum hosts nutcrackers as old as the 1400s!
Your family will see the various and creative designs used to crack a nut including nutcrackers made of porcelain, ivory, silver as well as the conventional, Christmas nutcracker made of wood.
The Gingerbread Factory
828 Commercial St. Leavenworth
You’ll feel like Hansel and Gretel walking into this life-size gingerbread house! This bakery offers a variety of meal options, including gluten-free options and showcases famous cookies including gingerbread cookies as well as beautiful decorated ginger bread houses. Outdoor seating offers a stunning view of the Cascade Mountains as you enjoy hot chocolate with your comfort food made at one of Trip Advisor’s Top Ten restaurants in Leavenworth.
Schocolat Fine Handmade Chocolates
843 Front St. in Leavenworth, located inside Ganz Klasse, a home furnishings boutique
Don’t leave Leavenworth without trying their delectable, European style Belgian truffles, caramel sauces and confections. Their almond toffee is layered with premium chocolate that is made in small batches to ensure superior taste and freshness and their vanilla caramels melt quickly in your mouth for some of the softest, most delicious caramel you’ll ever experience. Also try their banana crème-filled truffles and their Bernadette, a caramel made with fresh roasted pecans. Their chocolatier also makes seasonal molded chocolate figurines that will delight children and you will want to try their hot chocolate mix.
Dining in Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth restaurants cook up a splendid variety of brats, sausage, wood-fired pizzas and traditional Bavarian fare. Favorites include: Mountain Home Lodge Restaurant (a little pricey, upscale atmosphere with gorgeous view of the Cascades), Munchen Haus, Visconte’s Ristorante Italiano (delicious olives, chicken parmesan and lasagna), Idlewild Pizza (best pizza in Chelan County), and Icicle Brewing Company (family and pet friendly with a great selection of brats and German pretzels) to name a few.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to follow Alicia Walters Blog on Facebook and Instagram.
Front Street in Leavenworth is filled the smells of delicious food everywhere. I recommend trying some of their authentic brats as you walk along Front Street, taking in the Christmas lights. Visit Trip Advisor for reviews and menu recommendations.