Best Things to do in Leavenworth: A Guide to Washington’s Bavarian Village

things to do in leavenworth wa

Looking for cool & unique things to do in Leavenworth, WA? Here you have our Leavenworth Travel Guide with the best travel tips for visiting Washington’s Bavarian Village.

If you haven’t taken a holiday at Leavenworth in Washington State, it’s probably time you put it high up on your places-to- go list!

“Why?” you ask.

What’s the big attraction at Leavenworth?

Leavenworth is a Bavarian style village located in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

You don’t need to fly all the way to Europe to experience the Bavarian way of life.

leavenworth german town

It’s right here in Washington State, about two and a half hours drive from Seattle, or a four-hour stunning train trip.

Don’t forget to check out my post on the Top 10 Cool Things to do in Seattle.

We loved the train trip that follows the coast from Seattle for an hour or two, and then heads inland, up into the very picturesque Cascade Mountains.

Definitely, the train to Leavenworth is the best idea!

Why there is a Bavarian village in the middle of Washington State?

In 1903 a large sawmill was built and Leavenworth became a thriving logging town. 

In the early 1900s it was also the headquarters of the Great Northern Railway, but when the railroad rerouted its track to Wenatchee in the 1920s the town’s economy suffered severely.

In the 1960s the townsfolk decided something had to be done if they wanted the town to survive and a committee was formed to research options to revive their town.

 
 
 
 
 
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Because of the location of the town in the mountains, it was decided they would reinvent the town with a Bavarian theme.

The entire town worked together and completely renovated the downtown area and created some Bavarian style festivals to attract the crowds. It has worked brilliantly well! 

Leavenworth attracts about two million visitors a year.

leavenworth wa christmas lighting

Do you know Leavenworth hosts one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Munich and it’s one of the best Christmas destinations in the US?

Leavenworth Christmas lights and the tree lighting are so popular!

Where to Stay in Leavenworth

There are plenty of options for places to stay in Leavenworth from luxurious five star Bavarian style hotels to cabins in the woods and riverside lodges.

 
 
 
 
 
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If you don’t have a car, one of the best downtown Leavenworth hotels option is the Howard Johnson by Wyndham.

The location was a few minutes walk to the township and we had a kitchen in our apartment so we could cook a meal if we had had a big day and didn’t feel like dining out. 

Click here for information and the latest prices.

Most of the lodges and hotels have a Bavarian theme and many are situated in, or very close to, the township. 

The Bavarian Lodge is a very popular choice as it’s right in the township. It has a heated pool, two hot tubs and a great pub on site.  

Click here for information and the latest prices.

For large and or family groups The Riverside Cabins is right on the river.

Don’t forget Travel Insurance

I always travel with insurance, even if I travel inside my own country. 

No matter how well you plan and research a trip, there are always things that happen beyond your control. I had to use it several times and it saved my trip! 

Don’t have insurance yet? You can get a free quote here:

 

When is the best time to visit Leavenworth?

Anytime is great to visit Leavenworth!

Keep reading and you will know what to do in Leavenworth in different seasons of the year, so you can choose when to go depending what suits you more.

Things to do in Leavenworth

leavenworth washington

Things to do in Leavenworth in Winter

If you are an enthusiastic winter sports fan, there are two major ski resorts – Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass-, and some local ones for skiing and snowboarding and plenty of trails for cross country skiing or snowshoeing. One of the best things to do in winter in Leavenworth.

There is a sledding hill on Front Street Park and a bigger sledding hill on Waterfront Park.

For the romantics amongst you, there are sleigh rides and horse drawn carriages to take you around town.

If you’re really fit and keen, do a one and a half to two-hour hike on your snowshoes up to the Scenic Hot Springs where there are three hot tubs in a wilderness setting that seat a maximum of 10 people, but it’s on private property and you need to make a reservation before you go.

There is the well known and very popular Christmas lighting ceremony and in January they have an Ice Festival. 

And, of course, plenty of gluhwein (mulled wine) and bratwurst sausages to keep you fuelled!

Things to do in Leavenworth in Summer

In summer you can enjoy paddle boarding on Icicle Creek or rent a tube and just lay back and float down the river. 

For the more daring, there’s adrenalin pumping white water rafting on the Wenatchee River.

Stretch your legs on the Icicle Creek Nature Trail or the Icicle Loop Trail which is a good two and a half hour family trail. One of the best things to do in summer in Leavenworth.

Leavenworth things to do

We were amazed to come across a couple of deer on the trail who weren’t the slightest bit afraid of us. They just carried on grazing and completely ignored us.

However, when we got to the bear and bobcat warning signs we decided to turn back. We are kiwis from New Zealand and had no idea what to do if we came across the animals!

There’s great mountain biking at Stevens Pass and plenty of hiking or walking trails.

Blackbird Island, just over a small walking bridge from town, has a pleasant mile or so of tracks for strolling or jogging. One of the fun things to do in Leavenworth!

Seattle to leavenworth wa

Take a visit to the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery which has walking and biking trails, horseback and sleigh rides, and in September, the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival.

There are plenty of great picnic locations all around Leavenworth.

The annual Leavenworth Summer Theatre program is an absolute must-do if you enjoy live theatre outdoors, under the sky, on a warm summer’s night. One of the most romantic things to do in Leavenworth.

What to do in Leavenworth in Spring

What to do in leavenworth wa

In spring you will enjoy the wildflowers and in the fall the very colorful fall leaves. 

Leavenworth is a huge organic pear growing area and April is pear month in Leavenworth.  The wineries, breweries, and restaurants all feature pears in their menus or drinks.

Don’t forget to visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. This is a family run enterprise and you need to book ahead. You can feed the reindeer and in spring or early summer see the very cute baby reindeer.

Here’s a unique experience! Visit the family friendly, largest nutcracker museum in the USA.

There are over 7,000 nutcrackers on display with some that date back 500 years and a little shop where you can collect a souvenir or two.

Where to eat in Leavenworth

places to eat in Leavenworth

Our favorite café was Munchen-Haus Bavarian Grill and beer garden in the center of town. This is an authentic Bavarian grill and beer garden with a great selection of delicious Bratwurst sausages, exotic mustards, sauerkraut and beers.

Other local favorites are the upmarket Watershed Cafe Leavenworth with its locally sourced food and wines, Mozart’s Leavenworth Steakhouse if you’re a steak fan, El Chavo for Mexican food, and Rudloofs for their Bavarian pizzas to go complete with sauerkraut, sweet bell peppers, and bratwurst. Yummy!

A big family attraction is the Gingerbread Factory. “The little bakery with the big heart” is its slogan.

This is a bakery and café set in a Bavarian style house selling gingerbread houses and cookies and an assortment of wraps and salads and expresso coffee. One of the best restaurants in Leavenworth.

There are wineries in abundance with 20 tasting rooms in Front Street alone. The Eagle Creek and Icicle Ridge wineries are worth a visit.

Icicle Brewing Company is a rustic pub serving locally sourced share plates & snacks, with weekend brewery tours available.

 
 
 
 
 
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Getting around Leavenworth

We spent most of our time walking around Leavenworth looking at cuckoo clocks and lederhosen.

We took the public bus to Wenatchee to have a look around there also. There is the major car hire companies in town, and a taxi and shuttle service.

Click here for rental car information and the latest prices.

As you can see, there’s so much to see and do in and around Leavenworth that we strongly recommend it as a great holiday destination.

Hope you liked this Leavenworth travel guide and the best things to do in Leavenworth. It’s a great day trip from Seattle!

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Authored by Maureen Spencer
Maureen Spencer and her husband, a couple of  kiwi nomad New Zealanders, from “So Many Places! So Little Time!”- Online travel magazine and blog. Are you passionate about travel? So are we! Check out our online travel magazine and blog. Find out more about our favorite winter destination in Switzerland and the adrenalin pumping ‘Thrill Walk.”

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