Looking for your next Washington town to explore? This time of year, there is one place that comes to mind right away – Leavenworth.
If you’re anything like me, you love twinkling lights. Nothing makes a night stroll more beautiful than buildings lined with strings of light. There can be little debate that the small Bavarian village, Leavenworth, does this best, and it’s definitely a sight to see. Beginning in early December the entire village goes all out, lining store fronts, hotels, and restaurants with hundreds of beautiful lights.
Recently my fiancé, Cam, our dog, Roscoe, and I went on a weekend getaway to this unique mountain town. Here are some of our recommendations for this must-see Washington town!
Where to Stay
No matter what accommodations you prefer you can find it for your weekend in Leavenworth. Looking for a cute B&B within downtown so you can walk to everything? They have it! What about a luxurious spa weekend? Check out the Posthotel. There’s motels and smaller hotels as well. We wanted to stay a bit outside of town to be able to explore some of the great trails in the area. We found Hansel Creek Cabins through Airbnb and it checked off all our boxes. Pet friendly, free parking, great scenery, and within our budget. No matter what your taste, you can find the perfect place to stay! Note, if you stay outside of town be prepared to have to search and pay for parking. Parking fills up quickly, especially during this time of year, and we did spend some time searching for a place to park.
What to Eat
With a dog friendly patio (weather permitting) Fresh Burger Café was a win in our book! The service was fast and the burger delicious. Do you like Bloody Marys and giant cinnamon rolls? Louie’s Café had the breakfast of our dreams, and we’re picky when it comes to breakfast food! You can’t leave without having some traditional food! too We stopped in München-Haus for dinner after smelling the amazing aromas passing by. With tons of great options around town, no matter what you choose won’t steer you wrong!
Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival
One of the biggest draws of Leavenworth is its holiday spirit. If you’re visiting during a weekend in December, you’ll be able to experience the holiday magic with the annual tree lighting. Enjoy the festival on December 6 to 8, 13 to 15 or 20 to 22. The tree lighting begins at 4:30 PM if you want to see the big show, but if you visit outside of those days in the evening, you’ll still be able to see the town lit up with all of the beautiful lights, and maybe even skip the crowd!
Grab a pretzel and hit the streets! Leavenworth has tons of great shops. Take a carriage ride down the cobblestone streets to some of the best shops, including Kris Kringl for some Christmas decorations for this year’s celebration! Roscoe’s favorite was, A Paw Above, where we made sure to grab a bag of fresh dog biscuits.
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
Did you know that Washington state was the last place in the U.S. that had wild reindeer (also known as caribou)? The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is a family-run USDA certified farm. Less than a 5 minute drive from downtown Leavenworth, they offer farm tours year-round. But, if you go November through February you also get a chance to meet and take pictures with Santa Claus!
The tour may have been our favorite part of our Leavenworth trip. Walking on-property we were greeted by some fuzzy miniature horses. Down by the barn the most ADORABLE baby reindeer was available to take pictures with while you checked in, pursued the gift shop, grabbed some hot cocoa and met Cocoa the barn cat. The tour starts around a campfire where you get a crash course in reindeer education. Did you know that the reindeer shed their antlers once a year? Then they grow back and can be up to a foot bigger than the year before. You’ll learn this and much more after the tour!
The best part of the tour was by far the hands-on experience with their herd of reindeer. You’ll be able to feed and interact with all of them. My personal favorites were the babies who gobbled up the food right from your hand!
As you plan your visit check their website for availability and book your tour! Did you know that goats and sheep carry a spore that is deadly to reindeer? If you’ve been near a goat or sheep, please do not wear and clothing or shoes that have been in contact with them. Make sure to let the staff know on arrival.
Icicle Gorge Trail
Want to get outside the town to explore? Check out the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Roscoe, Cam and I decided on the Icicle Gorge Trail. The trail is well maintained and provides gorgeous views! Approximately 4 miles, it took us about three hours round-trip with lots of photo-ops.
Remember, the sun sets early in the fall and winter months so plan accordingly. You do not want to unprepared hiking in the dark! We took our trip in early November before any snowfall. Be sure to do your research if you are new to hiking in the mountains during the winter months. There are also many opportunities for snowmobiling rentals and tours.
One of our favorite parts about our Leavenworth weekend is its location! Nestled in the Cascades mountains, you’re able to get all the great restaurants and shops the town has to offer as well as fantastic outdoor activities. When it’s time to walk off all the delicious food and drinks, Leavenworth, and the surrounding area, has a lot of great options. If you’re looking for an easy walk from downtown be sure to check out Waterfront Park. Enjoy the view as you walk along the banks of the crystal-clear Wenatchee River. Find the interpretive signs that explain the natural and cultural history of the area. We took our dog, Roscoe, through the park. If you’re looking for a longer walk take the bridge. It connects to Blackbird Island and Enchantment Park.