Leavenworth, Washington is one of the coolest places to visit on the West Coast of the US (and such a unique place)! This is a guide to the best things to do in Leavenworth in winter, including food, winter activities, and more!
Did we leave out anything you should be on your itinerary for winter in Leavenworth? Let us know in the comments!
Be sure to book yourself a hotel well ahead of time as the winter in Leavenworth can be a bit busy!
Top tour option in Leavenworth:
- Historical shared walking tour in Leavenworth (only $29/pp!)
Top lodging options in Leavenworth:
- Icicle Village Resort (our #1 pick – great for kids and/or couples!)
- Leavenworth Village Inn
- Bavarian Ritz Hotel
- Alpine Rivers Inn
Before we get into the fun winter activities in Leavenworth, we discuss a little practical information if you’re planning a winter trip there!
At the very end of the guide, you will find our recommended things to pack, where to stay, and more!
Leavenworth Winter Tips + FAQ
Below is a quick guide to some things to know before visiting Leavenworth during the winter!
When is it Winter in Leavenworth?
In Leavenworth, the winter season typically starts in mid-November and lasts until the end of February. While snow is prevalent outside of that, we will be referring to winter as December, January, and February throughout this guide.
Average Snowfall in Leavenworth
Leavenworth annually receives approximately 89 inches of snow and the snow permits you to do several winter activities like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter hiking, and more!
Winter Temperatures in Leavenworth
Below, you will find the average winter temperatures in Leavenworth, Washington (month by month).
- Leavenworth in December: Highs around 34F, lows around 21F
- Leavenworth in January: Highs around 34F, lows around 20F
- Leavenworth in February: Highs around 43F, lows around 22F
On average, the Washington town gets about 202 sunny days annually.
How to Get to Leavenworth from Seattle
Seattle is located approximately two and a half hours away from Leavenworth and you can get there via your own car, bus, and train. It is a must-visit if you have more than just a weekend in Seattle in the winter months!
Usually, you will find a daily bus departing Seattle for Leavenworth. Click here for up-to-date information.
There is also a direct Amtrak train that departs Seattle daily at 6:08am and 4:40pm.
Best Things to Do in Leavenworth in Winter
Go Snowshoeing in Leavenworth (and Nearby)
Snowshoeing is one of the most popular winter activities in the area and you’ll find fantastic trails in and around Leavenworth to do the activity!
Choose between trails provided by local businesses or managed by the US Forest Service and explore the peaceful and tranquil Washington forests and vast meadows.
The area provides both groomed and ungroomed trails of various difficulties. If you’re seeking a more leisurely trek, an easy stroll alongside the creek, or within the forest, check out the following trails:
- Eagle Creek
- Hatchery Creek
- Icicle River Snowshoe Trail
- Icicle Road
- Leavenworth Ski Hill Snowshoeing Trails
- Little Wenatchee Road
- Wenatchee River Road
Those seeking a more adventurous trip, consider the ungroomed trail at Chiwaukum Creek. You’ll see many tributaries flowing into the Wenatchee River along your snowshoe journey!
Check Out Lake Wenatchee State Park
Lake Wenatchee State Park has a variety of winter recreation opportunities ranging from sledding, cross-country skiing, snow camping, to snowshoeing.
The area manages four sno-parks, including South Park, North Park, Nason Ridge, and Chiwawa. They provide more than 50k groomed ski trails and 12 miles of snowshoe trails.
South Park has 12k groomed trails running through the forest, along the lakeshore, and above the Wenatchee River. The North Park offers 5.3k of scenic groomed trails, a peaceful alternative to the bustling trails of the South Park.
The groomed trail system of Nason Ridge will bestow you with panoramic views of Lake Wenatchee and the Cascade Mountains.
Chiwawa sno-park includes the 8k groomed See and Ski trail and the 6k groomed Squirrel Run trail. As a bonus, a winter camping area is available in South Park.
Get Festive at the Christkindlmarkt
You can enjoy the many festivals organized in the Bavarian-style village, but the most important of all is the Christkindlmarkt! This annual Christmas market, held during Thanksgiving weekend, will be the perfect start to your holidays.
The cherished Leavenworth tradition takes place in Front Street Park and also in the Festhalle. Explore Christkindlmarkt, enjoy some delicious Bavarian food, buy handmade arts and crafts, and enjoy live music in the Gazebo.
Your youngsters will like the Lantern Workshop where they can decorate their lanterns with festive supplies and participate in the Lantern Parade.
Don’t miss the Christkindlmarkt Welcome Ceremony organized on Friday and Saturday nights. The program includes the Bavarian Brass, Leavenworth Alphorns, and the Bavarian tradition of Böllerschützen.
Play Around at the Bavarian Ice Festival
As a winter destination, Leavenworth has plenty of things to offer. One of the prominent events organized in the town is the annual Leavenworth Ice Festival!
Also known as the Bavarian Icefest, it welcomes visitors with a wide range of exciting winter activities. Immerse yourself in the Bavarian atmosphere and enjoy the outdoors provided during the festival.
Explore the snow sculpture displays, take part in ice-themed games like the frisbee sweep, ice cube scramble, and stick around to see the stunning fireworks.
Children will love taking the opportunity to try out snowboarding and skiing at Stevens Pass Grom Playground.
On the more festive side of things, you’ll also find a snowmobile sled pull, live ice carvings, a snowball toss, ice fishing, snowshoe demo day at Ski Hill, and more.
Go Snowmobiling in Leavenworth
Leavenworth boasts a thousand acres of snowmobile territory with magnificent nature views. Visitors can rent snowmobiles and plan their journey through this amazing destination!
At Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals, you can choose your snowmobile and head to the trail!
The most famous places for snowmobiling in Leavenworth (and nearby) are Sugarloaf and French Corral Loop. You can also join many of the guided tours organized by local providers.
For first-time snowmobilers and families, Suzy’s Slip and Slide is a perfect choice offering great trails with snow land views.
Intermediate or advanced riders can choose among Mile High Extravaganza, Grandpa’s Rockers, Sno Cone, and Starlight Express.
A unique adventure is offered by Moonlight Dinner Ride, with a fireside dinner in Beaver Creek Lodge at the end of your trip.
Warm Up with Bone Broth Soup at Yodelin
Try the heartiest food in the area at the most environmentally-friendly restaurant in the area, Yodelin.
Established in 2016, the restaurant offers mountain cuisine from burgers to power salads and amazing bone broth soups. The restaurant boasts ten special beer taps if you’re wanting to refresh with a local craft beer!
You’ll find an extremely healthy and flavorful menu, covering fish broth soups, rice bowls topped with salmon or chicken, and sandwiches including a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.
There are also plenty of options for vegetarians, like homemade veggie burgers. The star of the menu is the homemade fish broth.
As a bonus, the restaurant has a beer garden overlooking the Wenatchee River. Enjoy your bowl of broth and beer with a view! And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance to take part in different festivals and musical events organized at the restaurant.
Visit the Blue Spirits Distillery Tasting Room
After a day of adventure in Leavenworth in winter, there’s nothing better than to have a couple of drinks at one of the local wineries, breweries, and distilleries!
Blue Spirit Distillery welcomes visitors with various spirits, including gin, whiskey, rum, and tequila. By visiting Blue Spirits on Front Street where you will get to try the best craft spirits and enjoy live music.
The distillery is especially famous for its infused vodkas made from Lake Chelan water. If you want to have a short tasting, visit the newly opened Blue Spirits Distillery Tasting Room, located in the center of downtown.
You can stop there, taste their famous pickle vodka, and enjoy some small bites and professionally crafted cocktails.
Go Snow tubing at Lt Michael Adams Tubing Park
Another popular winter activity you must not miss is snow tubing! This is a perfect family, solo, or group adventure! Visit LT Michael Adams Tubing Park, sit in your rented tube, and cruise down the slopes!
The rope tow will pull you to the top and then send you gliding down the hill. You don’t need any special skills to be able to do this activity, so it really is the perfect thing for families or groups of people!
The recommended minimum age for kids is 8. Dress accordingly and please note that ski boots are prohibited. You can’t buy tickets ahead of time, either.
Tickets will be available at the ticket booth as soon as you arrive at Ski Hill. Purchase your tickets, grab your snow tube, and head off!
At the end of your journey, stop at the Ski Hill Lodge and have some snacks and hot chocolate to warm up.
Take the Christmas Train to Leavenworth
If you want an organized way of visiting Leavenworth during winter, join one of the train trips organized by Alki Tours! The winter journey starts from Seattle aboard a special, chartered Amtrak train.
Once on board, relax and enjoy your continental breakfast, listen to strolling musicians, magicians, and even Santa. You’ll travel through the Cascade Tunnel, the second-longest in North America, and eventually reach the Bavarian-style village.
Soak up the Christmas atmosphere as you’re surrounded by festive entertainment, food booths, sleigh rides, and a village that resembles a sea of lights!
In the evening, the train will take you back home, and you’ll have a cozy dinner on your way.
Visit the Village of Lights Christmastown
Leavenworth is known as one of the best Christmas towns in the USA. Every year, this small mountain village comes alive with festive lights and holiday spirit!
Experience the magic of the lighting festival in Leavenworth. Watch half a million lights sparkle around you, enjoy the music and Christmas entertainment, and meet strolling carolers and holiday characters.
A month-long celebration also contains a Gingerbread House competition, gift wrapping station, Krampus night, an opportunity to win a Christmas tree loaded with gifts, and Santa’s costume displays.
You can also take a sleigh ride with the kids. If you get hungry after your adventures, visit the Sausage Garten to try a selection of homemade sausages.
For a larger dinner, stop at Sulla Vita. Kids will love visiting the Gingerbread Factory!
Go Nordic Skiing in Leavenworth
Leavenworth boasts one of the best Nordic skiing opportunities in Washington. The town provides four trail areas with various levels of difficulty. We’ve listed the most popular of them below!
The Icicle River Trails are great for beginners. Hidden at the base of Icicle Canyon, it offers magnificent views. Nordic lessons are also available.
Located along the scenic Wenatchee River, the Golf Course trail network has intermediate terrain and stretches through the groves of huge pines.
Skill Hill boasts more advanced Nordic trails. The paths are winding in the forests and will take you to the historic Ski Hill Lodge. In addition, over 3 miles of lit skiing is available at Skill Hill.
Not far from downtown, you’ll find Waterfront Park, consisting of around 2 miles of free Nordic skiing, with groomed trails and a dog-friendly area.
Stop by the Nutcracker Museum
You’ll be amazed at the extensive collection of German Nutcrackers housed at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum! Seven thousand nutcrackers of various shapes and sizes are on display there!
The museum boasts professional tools and amateur designs. You’ll find wooden toy soldiers, Victorian silver tableware, metal crackers, and more. Explore the many ways of nut-cracking, from direct pressure to percussion.
Discover thousand-year-old nutting bowls, the Asian Betel cutters, precious ivory, and porcelain. The museum aims to provide information on the origins of nutcrackers, as well as the nutritional value of nuts.
You’ll also learn about the ballet instructor, the founder of the museum Arlene Wagner and her famous collection. Children are welcome here.
Drink Craft Beer in Leavenworth
Celebrate some of the most delicious beer in the west in the Bavarian-style village, Leavenworth. Below are a few of the best craft breweries in Leavenworth that you should head to!
Icicle Brewing Company produces creates some award-winning beers with a supply of local ingredients. Their beer is crafted with excellent malt, yeast, and hops.
The necessary water comes directly from Icicle Creek and it truly does create a superior flavor to that of beer in many other places! Enjoy the beer-tasting experience in the tasting room with snacks like warm Bavarian pretzels and cheese plates.
At the tiny local Doghaus Brewery, you’ll find a dog-friendly tasting room and will have a chance to choose among many beers created right at the spot.
The mission of the company is to provide a good beer, entertainment, and a friendly atmosphere to its visitors. If anything, go for the dogs! Okay… and the delicious beer!
Check Out the Reindeer Farm
Located in the mountains of Leavenworth, the local reindeer farm aims at preserving these unique animals. Take an hour-long tour of the farm and get acquainted with these beautiful creatures of the north!
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is the only place where you can feed, pet, and learn more about reindeer. Once you arrive, you’ll get some refreshments and have an educational presentation. Important safety information will also be provided.
Now, you’re ready to meet the reindeer in person! The reindeer aren’t shy- they’ll come up and eat right out of your hand. You will have the chance to pet them and interact with them in person.
The animal farm also has horses, chickens, bunnies, and a little play area with a beautiful barn.
Take a Day Trip to Lake Chelan Winterfest
Lake Chelan boasts year-round events, but one of the most popular is the iconic Lake Chelan Winterfest. This is the largest winter festival organized in the area.
The Winterfest will take place from January 14-23 in 2022 (be sure to verify as things are changing at the drop of a hat)! Visit downtown Chelan and Manson to enjoy weekends full of fun and entertainment.
You’ll find live music, wine tastings, incredible ice sculptures, firework shows, activities for kids, and a huge beach bonfire. Children will love the ice slides, hot chocolate, scavenger hunts, horse carriage rides, and apple bin train rides.
If you’re brave enough, take the icy plunge into Lake Chelan at the Polar Bear Splash. And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out the numerous winter activities like skiing, tubing, and snowboarding.
What to Wear
To fully enjoy winter in Leavenworth, Washington, you will need to dress appropriately. The temperatures hover around freezing during the day and dip well below at night, and thick heavy-duty winter clothing is a necessity.
Other than dressing in layers, there are a few essential clothing items that you will need to bring with you to this WA town. Below are three of the most essential clothing items to pack, from my experience.
One of the most important things to wear is a high-quality parka jacket. A decent parka will last a lifetime, and it is worth investing in a top-quality jacket from a brand that specializes in making clothes for colder climates.
I have an amazing parka jacket from the Norwegian company Helly Hansen, which specializes in making coats for the Arctic.
I own the Helly Hansen Svalbard Parka, which has kept me comfortable and warm during several trips to the Arctic.
Sorel Snow Boots
After a decent parka jacket, the next most crucial clothing item is a pair of snow boots. There is nothing worse than getting cold feet, as once the cold gets into your boots, there is no warming them back up until you get out of the snow.
Sorel makes some of the best snow boots going, and I have trusted their boots to keep my feet warm for years. The boots are specifically designed for the Arctic and include thick warm woolen insoles and removable lining that will keep your feet warm in the coldest of temperatures.
While I have owned several pairs over the years, these are my favorite ones.
The boots are great on their own but I do recommend purchasing a size larger than you normally would, so you can also wear a pair of thick woolen socks for extra warmth.
If you are anything like me, you will need all the extra grip you can get on the icy pathways of Leavenworth (especially if you’re hiking in winter). Crampons conveniently clip onto the bottom of your boots and help keep you upright as you walk around.
One of the best benefits of crampons is protecting your back from severe pain caused by constantly trying to keep you upright on the ice. I have used several brands over the years but have now settled for a pair of Yaktraks, which have recently saved me from many falls.
Additionally, I highly recommend bringing a good pair of mittens with you, as they are far more effective at keeping your hands warmer than regular gloves. Along with thermal underwear and hats. I tend to purchase hats from some of my favorite Scandinavian designers, as they are always stylish and practical.
What to Pack (Gear & Miscellaneous)
While packing the correct clothing is often a challenge, there are also several non-clothing items that I personally don’t leave the house without, especially if I travel to colder climates.
In cooler temperatures, smartphones have to use up more power to keep their internal temperatures at the optimum level. This additional workload means they often run out of battery quickly when it’s cold.
Bringing a power bank on your trip is the perfect way to ensure you don’t find yourself with a dead phone while you’re out exploring Leavenworth.
I recommend purchasing a power bank with at least 25,000 mah as you will be able to charge your phone multiple times throughout the day. Click here to buy my recommended power bank on Amazon.
Spare Camera Batteries
If like me, you are a keen photographer, I suggest taking spare batteries for your camera. The cold weather impacts camera batteries far more than is often considered.
I have found that while my camera’s battery lasts for days on end in warm destinations, the battery can deplete within hours in cold settings. Along with spare batteries, I also bring along a USB battery charger, which can be plugged into a power bank.
The weather in Leavenworth in winter can often turn quickly, and you will want to make sure your equipment stays dry and safe. This is also important when you’re around snow!
I always use dry bags when I travel; they are brilliant at keeping things dry and safe while looking stylish. I use these bags from The Friendly Swede.
Where to Stay in Leavenworth
If you’re seeking the best place to stay in Leavenworth, you can check out our Airbnb guide here. Alternatively, here are some awesome places to call home for your trip!
More Washington Travel Guides
- Where to stay in Leavenworth
- Two days in Seattle
- Walla Walla Wineries
- Where to stay in Walla Walla
- Best Seattle winter day trips
- Best hikes in Olympic National Park
- Where to stay near Olympic National Park
- Cabins near Mt. Rainier
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One thought on “Leavenworth in Winter: 15 Cozy (and Festive!) Things to Do”
One of the things I love doing while planning a holiday is to read blogs that can provide a lot of info and make me feel the experience. I loved your blog. Lot of useful information especially given I am a first timer when it comes to being in the snow and all snow related activities. Thankyou for sharing such a fun and informative post. GOt me excited to plan my trip already :)