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How to spend 72 hours in Leavenworth, Washington

With the holidays right around the corner, head to Washington and get into the spirit of the season.

By: Aurora Slaughter + Save to a List

Look on any Christmas town list, and you will find Leavenworth. This quaint, picturesque city in the Cascade Mountain foothills has fully embraced the holiday spirit. While it's a great getaway throughout the year, Leavenworth is most popular during the winter because of its seasonal activities and holiday festivities.

As Washington’s signature Bavarian Village, a visit to this town will appeal to all those wishing they could transport themselves to Europe. While the iconic German architecture is reason enough to make the trip to Leavenworth, many unique and exciting attractions draw in the travelers year-round.

Planning a long weekend trip to Leavenworth? Here are some of the best things to do while visiting the city.

Where to stay: 

There are many hotel and lodging options available in Leavenworth. A few of the most popular places to stay are the Loge Downtown, Icicle Village Resort, and Bavarian Lodge.

Day 1

Hike or snowshoe to Colchuk Lake

The emerald lake is surrounded by peaks rising into the air
Photo by: Mikaela Tangeman

Distance: 8.13 miles
Elevation: 2,156 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Located in the Enchantments, about 15 minutes from Leavenworth, Colchuk Lake is well worth the mileage. Bring your cameras and marvel at the crystal clear glacier water surrounded by vibrant trees and impressive glacier peaks.

Note: Permits and a forest pass are required for this hike.

Explore Leavenworth and get into the holiday spirit

Take some time to walk down the main street and take in the unique architecture. If it's around the holidays, enjoy the festivities or do some holiday shopping.

Starting the last week of November, marvel at the holiday lights lining the main street. 

Photo by: Marco Bicca

Make pit stops at the gazebo to listen to carolers and the Festhalle to enjoy photos with Santa, gingerbread houses, and a display of Santa costumes from around the world. While making your way through main street, head into Kris Kringl - Where It's Christmas All Year Long! to buy ornaments and other decorations.

Eat at the München Haus

Finally, stop at the München Haus, the popular Bavarian-influenced outdoor sausage grill and beer garden. Order an award-winning craft beer from the local brewery Icicle Brewing Company or drink the famous apple cider kraut. Order a Bavarian Sausage charbroiled and served on an artisanal bun and choose from the selection of specialty mustards to dress it up. Snag a table by one of the outdoor fire pits, snuggle up, and enjoy.

Day 2

Ski or tube at Leavenworth Ski Hill

This smaller and beginner-friendly ski hill is a great option for all ages. Located inside Wenatchee National Forest, less than 2 miles from downtown, the ski hill and surrounding area is on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy a few hours of fun in the snow with friends and family. Before heading out, make sure to stop in the historic Ski Hill Lodge for warmth and beverages.

Want a more relaxing option? Try going on a sleigh ride.

A horse drawn sleigh crosses a snowy field with tree-covered mountains in the background.
Image from Mountain Springs Lodge.

Just 14 miles north of Leavenworth, a magical sleigh ride awaits. It is best to book this option ahead of time to ensure there will be slots available. These rides last 45 to 60 minutes and stop at the barn along the way, where you can cozy up by the fire while sipping hot apple cider. You will glide through open meadows and forests for stunning winter views throughout the ride.

Visit the reindeer farm

This popular attraction requires advanced booking, so hurry and secure your spot if meeting reindeer sounds like your cup of tea. Just a mile from downtown Leavenworth, visitors can hold shed antlers and meet the reindeer Sven and the rest of the herd. This is a great option for the whole family with exciting opportunities to feed the reindeer and meet other animals like chickens, turkeys, and bunnies.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Gingerbread Factory 

This famous bakery houses a mouthwatering array of homemade cookies, desserts, and custom-made gingerbread houses. After over 30 years of operation, the Gingerbread Factory has been featured in several magazines and tv shows. It is considered a must-see attraction for its tasty homemade gingerbread and charming atmosphere.

Day 3

Head into Lake Wenatchee State Park 

kayaks and a person sit on the beach of the lake

Photo by: Ashlee Langholz

For a chance to see stunning scenery and enjoy some fresh air, this 492-acre park is a must-visit destination during your stay in Leavenworth. Enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, hiking, and sightseeing. Enjoy hanging out by the lake on warmer days, diving in for a swim, or taking some paddleboards and kayaks out for a spin. Head to the Lake Wenatchee sled hill or onto the ice skating rink for even more exciting adventures.

Note: The Wenatchee River separates the park into two sections, so research beforehand to decide which area has the activities for you.

Visit the Nutcracker Museum 

Photo by Rosalie Barley

This one-of-a-kind museum is the only one in the world where visitors can see over 9,000 nutcrackers crafted in over 50 countries. With antique specimens dating back to Roman times to more modern versions of the nutcracker, this is a popular attraction that has gained worldwide attention and has over 30,000 visitors yearly. This is a must-see museum for all Leavenworth visitors and will leave you with more knowledge on the history of these holiday staples than you ever thought possible.

Eat at Andreas Keller Restaurant 

A group pf people sitting in a restaurant with twinkly lights on the ceiling. There is a person in a hat playing an accordion in the center.
Photo from Andreas Keller Restaurant.

Round out your 72 hours by visiting this popular restaurant that leans into Leavenworth's Bavarian theme. With constant live music, servers in traditional dress, and a yummy assortment of traditional Bavarian foods, you'll feel as if you've been transported overseas to another time and place.

Cover photo by: Afif Ramdhasuma on Pexels

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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