Welcome to the guide to visiting Leavenworth, Washington during the holidays! If you’re planning a trip to this charming Bavarian town, you’ll want to read on for tips on when to go, how far in advance to book your accommodations, what to do, and where to eat while you’re there. From snow tubing and reindeer farms to shopping, sledding, and old-time photos, there’s plenty of festive fun to be had in Leavenworth. I hope this guide helps you plan the perfect holiday getaway to this cozy corner of Washington state.
When to visit
If you’re planning a trip to Leavenworth during the holidays, you’ll want to be aware of the crowds and traffic. While weekends tend to be the busiest, you can expect the town to be bustling no matter when you visit during Christmas break. To avoid the worst of the crowds, consider going during the week. We arrived around 5pm on a Saturday and the traffic was so bad that it took us an hour to get the last 5 miles into town but the rest of the trip had much calmer traffic so I’d suggest not arriving on a Friday or Saturday if you don’t want to deal with extreme traffic.
How far in advance do you need to book accommodations?
As for booking your accommodations, it’s best to do so as far in advance as possible. I personally booked my hotel in February for a December trip, but if you wait until closer to your travel dates you may have fewer options to choose from. Airbnb can sometimes have last-minute availability, but it’s always safer to book early.
Where to stay in Leavenworth
When it comes to choosing a place to stay, it’s a good idea to find a hotel or Airbnb within walking distance of the main downtown area. This will make it easier to get around and avoid the hassle of finding and paying for parking. We stayed a little over a half mile away on our trip, which seemed walkable at first, but ended up being too far in the cold weather. Next time, we’ll make sure to book a hotel closer to the main strip so we can easily go back and forth between the hotel and town.
Fun things to do in Leavenworth, Wa
When it comes to things to do in Leavenworth, Washington during the holidays, you won’t be short on options. From winter sports and animal encounters to shopping and cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone in this charming Bavarian-style town. In this section of the guide, I’ll give you some ideas for things to do during your visit so grab your gloves and hats, and get ready to explore all that Leavenworth has to offer during the holiday season.
Snow Tubing in Leavenworth
Snow tubing at the Leavenworth Ski Hill is a must-do activity during your visit to Leavenworth, especially if you have kids. The hill is equipped with a pulley system that takes you and your tube to the top, so you can sit back and relax rather than having to hike up a hill in the snow. The hill itself is also a lot of fun, with a few twists and turns to keep you entertained. We loved it!
It’s best to arrive when they open to avoid the crowds, as the line can get quite long as the day goes on. We purchased tickets for six runs, which was the perfect amount for our group, and it took us about half an hour to complete them. If we had come later, it probably would have taken a lot longer since the line tripled by the time we were finished. You can’t make advanced reservations for snow tubing, so just check their website for conditions and availability, and then head on over.
More Experiences in Leavenworth, Wa
If you’re looking for more winter experiences in Leavenworth, you can also visit the reindeer farm, go on a sleigh ride, take a snowmobile tour, or go snowshoeing. All of these activities should be scheduled in advance because they get booked up quickly!
Things to do in Downtown Leavenworth
Downtown Leavenworth is also worth exploring, with its charming shops and holiday-themed attractions. There’s plenty to do and something for everyone.
One store you won’t want to miss during your visit to Leavenworth is the Kris Kringl Christmas store. This massive shop has two levels of holiday-themed items, including ornaments and decorations for your tree. As you shop, you’ll be able to gaze up at Santa’s sleigh full of toys hanging above you. Be sure to keep an eye out for the upside-down trees and the room full of holiday miniature villages, both of which are must-sees. Whether you’re looking for a new ornament or just want to get into the holiday spirit, the Kris Kringl Christmas store is the place to go.
During our visit to Leavenworth, we stumbled upon a charming little shop called Village Alps. The store had a huge selection of hot sauce, which caught my husband’s attention, as well as an assortment of gifts and saltwater taffy. The employee at the counter was very friendly and gave our kids some taffy for free, while my husband picked out a particularly spicy hot sauce that he was excited to try (which will probably make steam come out his ears).
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Nutcracker Museum, but it turned out to be a really enjoyable experience. My daughter was the one who suggested it, and I’m glad we went. Although there is an admission fee, it is relatively cheap and well worth it. The museum has an impressive collection of nutcrackers, and your kids will be amazed by the variety on display. Don’t forget to participate in the scavenger hunt while you’re there – they provide mini clipboards to help you explore the museum and have some fun while you’re at it.
You should definitely bring some sleds along with you when you travel to Leavenworth. There are snowy hills everywhere, but a popular place for some fun is right in the middle of the town square at Front Street Park! There’s a small hill for your kids to sled down while you sit on a bench with a latte and watch the fun.
Get old-time photos together
I found it so funny that my husband, not typically the one to suggest photo opportunities, was the one to suggest visiting Studio 1890 to get some old-time photos taken. As a photographer, I was happy to oblige and we had a blast dressing up and posing for the camera. Even the kids enjoyed it. There were several themes to choose from, but we ended up going with the Wild West because the boys wanted to be “bad guys” with shotguns. It was a memorable and fun experience and the photos turned out so hilarious. This was our favorite keepsake from the trip!
Where to eat:
First of all, keep in mind that this town is a huge tourist destination so expect the prices to reflect that. A family of four can expect to spend close to $80-$100 for pretty much every sit-down meal.
Where to eat for breakfast
For breakfast, you can save some money by bringing food to eat in your room, and sending someone to grab lattes and hot chocolate from a local coffee shop. One morning we went to Argonaut Coffee & Biscuits and wow they have delicious drinks and really unique food! The kids got chocolate cream cheese muffins and my husband and I got spicy chipotle breakfast burritos. Another morning we ventured out for a more traditional breakfast at Sandy’s Waffle & Dinner Haus (it has something for everyone!). My favorite breakfast, though, was at Crepe Cafe Sisters! It’s located inside a little mall, so you might miss it if you don’t pay attention. They have a great selection of sweet and savory crepes and I challenge you to choose one over the other. My husband and I decided to share one of each because we couldn’t decide. The kids went for the sweet, of course!
Lunchtime eats in Leavenworth
For lunch, I highly recommend walking around the town and choosing a fun lunch spot (possibly somewhere with awesome soup to warm up!). We went to The Soup Cellar and my daughter said it was the best tomato soup and grilled cheese. We all loved our soups, sandwiches, and chili dogs! If you want to keep it cheap, you could drive over to Heidleburger Drive-In and grab some burgers. There is no indoor seating here so you can eat in their outdoor seating area, in your car, or take it to go. It’s quite tasty and you’ll spend a lot less here than in other places in town.
Best restaurants for dinner in Leavenworth, Washington
If you’d like to eat at any of the more popular restaurants, you may want to make a reservation for them. One evening, we went into town for dinner without reservations, and it took a while to find a place that could seat us sooner than an hour (ended up at Colchuck’s and got a super delicious burger called the Le Royale which had bacon jam, truffle aioli, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and melted Brie). We reserved a table at Yodelin for the next evening and that was absolutely worth it! Best and fanciest soup of my life, we stuffed ourselves!
Where to get dessert
When you’re craving a dessert, Viadolce Gelato is one of my recommendations. Sounds a bit crazy to get ice cream when it’s freezing outside but we are silly like that! My husband and I ordered Affogatos, which is gelato with hot espresso poured over top. Seriously amazing. Another great place for dessert is The Gingerbread Factory which I’m sure you can guess is full of sweet treats like cookies and small cakes. The line is always out the door so be prepared to wait a while (we waited about 20 minutes but that caramel cheesecake was 100% worth it!). If you go in the mornings, they have lattes, too.
Where to grab a drink in Leavenworth
While you’re walking around, you’ll notice lots of bars and wineries to get a drink. If you have older kids, I highly recommend letting them go off on their own for a half hour or so while the adults relax with a hot toddy or spiced wine. Maybe try out Icicle Ridge Winery, which is located across from Front Street Park. It’s like a tiny log cabin down there, complete with a rock fireplace and log siding. Love the cozy atmosphere and yummy drinks!
What to pack on your trip to Leavenworth during the winter
When packing for a trip to Leavenworth, Washington during the holidays, it’s important to remember that the weather can be chilly and snowy. To stay warm and comfortable, be sure to bring plenty of warm layers, including gloves, hats, and snow boots. A winter jacket is also a must, as well as any other cold-weather gear you might need, such as thermal socks, scarves, and earmuffs. In addition to your clothing, don’t forget to bring along any necessary items for your winter activities, such as sleds, waterproof pants, or snowshoes. By coming prepared with the right gear, you’ll be able to fully enjoy all that Leavenworth has to offer during the holiday season.
I hope this guide has given you some helpful tips for visiting Leavenworth, Washington during the holidays. Whether you’re looking for winter activities, shopping, or just soaking up the festive atmosphere, this charming town has something for everyone. Don’t forget to book your accommodations in advance, plan for the crowds, and bring some warm clothing and sleds. With a little planning, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable holiday trip to Leavenworth. Happy travels!
If you love exploring Washington, you may want to check out my guide to visiting Mt. Saint Helens!