Guide to Leavenworth in the Winter

Note: This guide to Leavenworth in the winter was updated in December 2022 to show all current information. Some of the original festivities and dates have change since the original publishing in 2020.

Leavenworth, WA is one of our favorite Pacific Northwest getaways. We’ve visited this cute Bavarian town in every season but there’s something extra special about Leavenworth in the winter.

Imagine a village with Bavarian-style buildings, surrounded by evergreen trees and mountains all covered in a blanket of white powdery snow and you’ll be picturing Leavenworth in winter. 

Then, add thousands of twinkling lights in the village square from December to February and you have a Leavenworth Christmas winter wonderland that rivals scenes of a European yuletide.

Read on for our tips and suggestions for planning a Leavenworth winter break including how to get to Leavenworth, where to stay in Leavenworth, and lots of things to do in Leavenworth, WA in the winter months. We also have a guide if you are headed to Leavenworth this Summer.

Getting to Leavenworth in the Winter

Snowy road

Getting to Leavenworth by Car

The drive to Leavenworth from Seattle, Portland or Spokane is a scenic one but in the winter the roads can be challenging. We have always driven our car to Leavenworth in the winter and to date have not had any issues. However, since you’ll be driving through a mountain pass it’s necessary to check road conditions and the mountain pass report and have good winter tires. At times you may even need to carry chains.

Getting to Leavenworth by Train or Bus

If you prefer not to drive you can take an Amtrak train from either Seattle or Spokane. The train from Seattle to Leavenworth comes all the way from Chicago so it can be a bit delayed. You will arrive at the Icicle train station which is about 2 miles from town so you’ll want to take a taxi if you have luggage.  You can check the schedule and purchase tickets on the Amtrak website or by calling 1.800.872.7245.

Tip: If you want to take the train to Leavenworth for a romantic Pacific Northwest getaway from Seattle or Spokane make sure to plan ahead because they don’t run daily and do tend to book up in advance, especially in winter.

You can also reach Leavenworth by bus. Greyhound runs a daily bus service from Seattle or Spokane as does Northwestern Trailways, and Amtrak Thruway offers an accessible bus service that can be booked with Wanderu.

Note: In previous years there have been special trains and buses going to Leavenworth on winter weekends for the Christmas Lighting Festival. However, at this time of this writing in December 2022, there is nothing scheduled. Hopefully, they will resume soon.

Top Leavenworth Activities in Winter

Nordic Skiier
Image from Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Leavenworth is a perfect base for a ton of winter activities. Not only are there plenty of things to do in town but there are also lots of options nearby for embracing the snowy season. Including romantic evenings by the fireplace.

Leavenworth Sledding

Kids walking up snowy hill with sleds in Leavenworth WA
Image from Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Kids and adults of all ages will have a thrilling time sledding and tubing in and around Leavenworth. When the snow falls you can sled or tube for free right in the center of town on the little hill in Front Street Park. Bring your own sled or buy one at one of the local shops and be sure to go after dark as well when the square is lit with twinkling lights.

For even more sliding excitement head to the Leavenworth Ski & Tubing Hill. It’s only 2 miles from town and has a 100-foot tubing hill complete with a rope tow so you don’t have to trudge back up the hill. You purchase tubing tickets on-site through the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club which gives you six runs you can use anytime throughout the day.

Skiing in Leavenworth & Stevens Pass

Ski hill in Leavenworth WA
Stevens Pass, Washington

As the name implies you can go skiing at the Leavenworth Ski Hill which is super close to town. The local hill offers alpine downhill, cross country, and snowboarding with 2 rope tows, and a ski jumping hill. It’s a great place for kids to learn and there are lessons available. Tickets for each activity can be purchased separately or you can buy the “Play All Day” pass which includes all the winter activities available on the hill.

If you’re looking for more slopes and speed head over to Stevens Pass at the crest of the Cascades. This ski hill has been thrilling skiers for more than 80 years and is loved for packing a powdery punch with displays of stunning vistas. It’s only a 40-minute drive from Leavenworth to Stevens Pass and there’s even a daily shuttle service between the two.

Snowmobiling Paradise

The Leavenworth, WA area is one of the best in the country for snowmobiling. With an annual average snowfall of 150 inches and hundreds of miles of trails to cruise, it’s a snowmobiler’s dream come true. If you have your own snowmobile just pick up a trail map and choose from the many spectacular routes in the area. 

But don’t worry if you don’t have your own, there are plenty of options for getting out on those powdery trails of fun. At Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals you can rent single or double sleds for a half-day or full-day with or without a guide, helmets and maps provided. CJ-Rentals offer full-day rentals within Fish Lake Recreation Park and they will drop off and retrieve the sleds anywhere within the park.

If you don’t want to go it alone go with Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours, they will take care of everything. There are a variety of guided tours to choose from ranging for 1 hour to 4 hours and suitable for all levels of experience. There are even magical nighttime rides.

Note: Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours include all gear such as snowsuits, gloves, boots, and helmets although you’re welcome to bring your own if you prefer. However, with CJ-Rentals and Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals you will need your own cold-weather clothing.

Snowshoeing & Nordic Skiing

Two people snowshoeing with mountains in the background
Image from Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

For those who don’t require the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing or snowboarding but want to enjoy some exercise in a winter wonderland, there’s snowshoeing and nordic skiing. As with snowmobiling, there are miles of groomed trails and backcountry to be explored. 

One of the first things you should do is check-in with Leavenworth Winter Sports Club. This organization has been around since 1928 maintaining trail systems and supporting a range of winter sports activities. Among the offerings are 26km of nordic tracks and snowshoe trails in and around Leavenworth.

Note: Leavenworth Winter Sports Club does not offer equipment rental but you can rent at Der Sportsmann and Osprey Ski Shop.

Leavenworth Park Trail

Taking a stroll on the Leavenworth Park Trail is a must in any season but after a snowfall, it’s especially magical. The trail winds through the forest and along the banks of the Wenatchee River making it a peaceful and scenic experience.

It’s 3 miles roundtrip and is all flat so it’s great for walking, Fat-Tire biking, or even cross-country skiing. There are also benches and interpretive signs along the way.

Leavenworth Reindeer Farm

Woman feeding a reindeer at Leavenworth, WA in the winter
Image from Leavenworth Reindeer Farm

One of the most unique things to do in Leavenworth is to visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. It’s open year-round but understandably winter is a favorite time of year. Reindeer Farm tours have set times and in November/December it’s advisable to book in advance.

Tours of the Reindeer Farm last about 1 hour and include a fun facts introduction around a campfire, a reindeer meet and greet along with hand-feeding, reindeer selfies, plus cookies and cocoa. In November and December Santa will also be there for photo ops!

Leavenworth Sleigh Rides

Two horse open red sleigh ride in Leavenworth in winter
Image from Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

If you’ve never dashed through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh this is your chance! Leavenworth Sleigh Rides is located 14 miles north of Leavenworth at Mountain Springs Lodge. Their one and two horse open sleighs can hold from 6 to 16 passengers and rides last about 40-50 minutes.

The sleigh will take you through open meadows and forests and will make a stop at the barn for hot cider by the fire. It’s definitely one of the top winter Leavenworth activities!

Christmas in Leavenworth

Christnas lights in a snowy town of Leavenworth WA
Image from Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Having visited Leavenworth at Christmas we can say without a doubt it’s one of the most magical places in the Pacific Northwest to get into the holiday spirit. If you dream of visiting a fairytale German town at Christmas, but can’t make it to Europe, Leavenworth will help fulfill that dream.

Leavenworth becomes “Christmastown” from November 25th to December 24th. The whole town decorates for the season and the Village of Lights are turned on every night from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day. Every Saturday and Sunday during these weeks there is a fun-filled Lighting Festival. There’s live entertainment, carollers, Santa’s arrival, a Christmas Bazaar, kids crafts and events, a Gluhwein Tent, and lots of other holiday festivities and treats.

Guided Leavenworth Tour of Christmastown

You can add to the excitement of Christmastown by taking a guided tour with Viator. Guides will lead you around Leavenworth while entertaining you with fun facts and history of the Bavarian style town along with making suggestions for the best places to shop, eat and drink. The tour includes some Leavenworth holiday traditions and treast including hot chocolate and Gluhwein. Check for availability here.

Visit the Nutcracker Museum


Whether Nutcrackers inspire visions of Christmas nostalgia for you or whether you’ve never even seen one before a visit to the Nutcracker Museum is one of the fun things to do in Leavenworth. 

The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum has dozens of nutcrackers on display from traditional antique German soldiers to Asian Betel cutters to carved ebony, ivory and porcelain crackers. Some of them are over 2,000 years old but they also have Star Wars and Disney nutcrackers!

Winter Karneval and Other Winter Festivals in Leavenworth

The magic doesn’t stop when Christmas is over and the Village of Lights stay lit through February. Winter Karneval runs all through January with the half a million lights still twinkling as a backdrop to fun events like ice carving, fireworks and “Fasching” carnival entertainment. February is “Love From Leavenworth” with live entertainment, special packages and promotions, romantic dinners, and daily prize giveaways.

Shopping in a Bavarian Village

Bavarian street in Leavenworth

Of course, shopping in Leavenworth is good all year round but in November and December it’s a great place to find that perfect Christmas gift. It’s also fun to go from store to store to get warm and escape the winter chill.

Leavenworth is full of unique and boutique shops carrying specialty items, gourmet foods and beautiful crafts and clothing. Here are some of our favorites:

The Hat Shop/Wood Shop is actually two stores, one has a massive array of hats and the other a huge variety of wooden games and toys. A Book for All Seasons is heaven for the book lover with a great assortment of all types of books as well as weekly readings and workshops.

Die Musik Box has an amazing collection of unique musical pieces including Magic-Motion Clocks and traditional ballerina music boxes. For Christmas all year-round stop in at Kris Kringl for festive collectibles and ornaments.

If you’re a foodie you’ll love the selection of gourmet and specialty food shops. At the Oil & Vinegar Cellar you can taste more than 25 infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Stock up on supplies for a delicious charcuterie board at the Cheesemonger’s Shop and Cured by Visconti

Pair your foodie findings with some local craft beer from Icicle Brewing, or some wine from one of the many tasting rooms in town. Some of our favorites are D’Vinery (Eagle Creek, Leavenworth’s oldest winery), Boudreaux (New Orleans French Quarter style tasting room), and Chateau Faire La Pont (and elegant space right next to Visconti’s)

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Ornate hanging wooden signs

There’s no shortage of restaurants in Leavenworth to nourish and warm your body after playing in the snow. Depending on your mood and appetite you can choose from traditional German-Bavarian food, international flavours from Europe and Latin America or delicious, locally sourced Pacific Northwest menus. 

Here are some top choices for Leavenworth restaurants:

For Bavarian/European cuisine with a fine-dining but welcoming atmosphere you won’t be disappointed with Andreas Keller Restaurant or Mozart’s. If you want an authentically casual German eatery experience don’t miss a visit to Munchen Haus for a stein and sausage.

You really can’t beat the elegant Visconti’s for homestyle Italian meals and for homemade specialties from Latin America go to South

Lake Wenathcee State Park

The State Park is known as “Sno-Park” in the winter months and offers a variety of winter sports and activities. The Sno-Park is divided into four parts: Chiwawa, North Park, South Park and Nason Ridge offering sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and even snow camping. South Park has the most groomed trails but it is also the busiest area. Visitors will need to purchase a Sno-Park Pass which you can find online here.

Where to Stay in Leavenworth, WA

Ornate hanging Hotel sign

There’s a bit of everything for winter accommodation in Leavenworth and the surrounding area. You can choose from basic hotels, Bavarian-style Pensions, romantic resorts, mountain lodges, or private homes and cabins with full kitchens.

When looking for hotels, resorts and lodges we like to first search sites like Expedia or VRBO to find the best rates and read reviews. But here are a few that we’re personally familiar with:

The Enzian Inn: Downtown Leavenworth

The Enzian Inn is an alpine-style hotel with beautiful views right in the heart of downtown Leavenworth. They also have an indoor and outdoor pool and a hot tub plus guests are entertained with an Alphorn performance, complete with lederhosen every morning.

Enzian Inn Leavenworth in Winter
Image from the Enzian Inn

Bavarian Lodge: Downtown Leavenworth

The beautiful family-run Bavarian Lodge is a full-service hotel with a small country inn feel. Amenities include a year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, in-room mini-fridge and microwave, and a full breakfast included in the room rate.

Bavarian Lodge
Bavarian Lodge Image from Expedia

Icicle Village Resort: Edge of Downtown Leavenworth

The Icicle Village Resort is just outside of downtown Leavenworth and has stunning views of the Cascade Mountains. The resort is a great choice for families with its games room, mini-golf course, and year-round outdoor heated pool. However, it’s also good for a romantic getaway with its Alpine Spa and scenic location.

Icicle Village Resort
Icicle Village Resort Image from Expedia

TIP: If you prefer to stay in a private home or cabin so that you have a full kitchen and total privacy then VRBO or Airbnb is the way to go. December is especially popular with visitors so if your first choice of accommodation isn’t available plug your dates in here to check for rooms.

Inn on 8th: Downtown Leavenworth

The Inn on 8th has a studio suite and a 2-bedroom suite above the shops right in downtown Leavenworth so you’re right the in the heart of all this Bavarian village has to offer. Plus there is a dedicated parking spot so you can leave your car and walk to all the restaurants, bars, wine rooms and shops.

Inn on 8th
Inn on 8th studio suite. Image from VRBO

Beautiful Condo in Central Downtown: Downtown Leavenworth

This 2-bedroom condo is just a short walk to the downtown core of Leavenworth. It is also just 300 feet from the river and a cross-country skiing area giving you the best of all Leavenworth offers within easy reach. There is a king bed, a queen bed, 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen and living room plus a washer and dryer making it a great choice for families or two couples.

VRBO 2 Bedroom Condo
Living Room. Image from VRBO

Festhalle Condo: Downtown Leavenworth

Festhalle Condo has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a full kitchen and living room all in downtown Leavenworth. There are also 2 balconies with mountain and village views, a gas BBQ and a private garage so you can park and walk everywhere.

Festhalle Condo kitchen and living room.
Festhalle Condo kitchen and living room. Image from VRBO

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Leavenworth in the Winter
Leavenworth in the Winter