This Bavarian Town Might Be Our Favorite PNW Family Vacation Spot!

Leavenworth, WA is a Bavarian-themed town located just 2.5 hours from Seattle, nestled in the Cascades. And while that might sound cheesy, its actually one of my family’s favorite PNW vacation spots! With majestic mountains towering above, clear-blue streams and rivers flowing all around, and an charming streets lined with alpine architecture and the most unique and fun restaurants and shops, there is a lot to love in this little town! We’re sharing some of favorite things to do during a family visit to Leavenworth in the summer – we know it’ll keep you and you kids entertained during your next trip!

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Looking to visit Leavenworth in the winter instead? Check out our post here.

Where to Stay

First, things first- where to stay. Leavenworth has a TON of great options.

We love Icicle Village Resort because it has condos with kitchens lots of extra space for families. It also has breakfast included, multiple pools onsite, a playground, a small game room, and mini golf (though the cost is not included). One caveat- the walk into the main part of Leavenworth is about 1/2 mile, which might feel pretty long for some people .

Mountain views in the background. In the foreground are trees and bushes surrounding a small playground, and a fenced pool area with buildings all around. The photo is taken in the summer and there are lots of green trees all around.
The playground and pool area at Icicle Village Resort

Another great option is the Enzian Inn. Its right downtown with all the action, has beautiful rooms, a lots of amenities including a great breakfast buffet, indoor and outdoor pools, game room, putting course (included), and sport courts!

What to do in Leavenworth

Once you’ve settled into your hotel in Leavenworth, what will you do? SO much! This town is has a million really great kid-friendly things to do and we are excited to share some of our favorites!

Float the River

The Wenatchee River runs right along the tiny town of Leavenworth. When the temperatures get high, there is no better way to cool than a relaxing float down the river.

The Wenatchee River is calm and peaceful in this section, gentle enough for families with kids to enjoy. And the views along the way are incredible-big mountain views, fish and rocks under crystal clear water, and green trees and plants everywhere. There are stretches of deep water for swimming, some shallows, but no rapids whatsoever.

Floating the river is easy! You’ll just need tubes, which you can rent from Leavenworth Outdoor Center or purchase at Moe’s, Der Sportsman, or even the Safeway, and lifejackets at least for the kids. Prices for purchasing gear are inflated, so if you are able to bring your own, you won’t regret it. Because the river is calm, you won’t need anything special, but we do recommend tubes with ropes like these on them so you can tie your tube to the rest of your group.

If you rent equipment, transportation is included. This can really simply things for you and your family, and is probably the easiest option for most.

If you have your own tubes, you’ll have to figure out transportation on your own. This works great for larger groups with access to multiple cars. You’ll need to stage a car at the parking lot near the end of the float, and make sure you remember to bring your keys with you on the float in a dry bag somewhere secure. Or, if there is a member of your group not floating, then can drop you off at the beginning, and meet you at the end once you are finished.

Most people start the float here. There is a small parking lot, and a small sandy area where you can blow up tubes and get everything set up before taking off.

You’ll float down the river for about an hour, depending on conditions, crowds, and how many stops you make along the way. Then you’ll want to get out around this spot. You’ll see signs telling you where the last takeout spot is, just a little downstream from the spot we marked, but you can really just get out anywhere in that area. There are several nice beachy area that are perfect. Be aware that you may have to walk a few minutes back to the car, so make sure you bring shoes for everyone.

Floating along the Wenatchee is one of our favorite things- its a great way to spend an afternoon. We love that this float is short enough for most kids to enjoy without getting bored, but long enough to feel worthwhile.

Looking for PNW destinations? Check out this post!

Leavenworth Adventure Park

The Leavenworth Adventure Park is still pretty new to Leavenworth, having just opened up June 2023. The main attraction is the Tumwater Twister Mountain Coaster, which is a coaster on the side of the mountain overlooking Leavenworth with some pretty amazing views. The coaster is for ages 3 and 38″ and up when riding with an adult, or 54″ if riding alone. The coaster also has a hand brake, allowing the rider to go faster or slower depending on preference. And while we fun this ride to be pretty fun and exciting, I would not say its a roller coaster.

The Leavenworth Adventure Park also has a climbing wall and a mining sluice, great for the kids.

The mountain coaster was a huge hit for my whole family, from grandparents to kids. We did the 3 pack, which was the perfect amount.

A child wearing a harness climbs up a rock climbing wall
I didn’t take a picture of the mountain coaster. But we loved all the parts of Leavenworth Adventure Park, including the climbing wall!

Play in the water

Summers in Leavenworth get hot, so water can be KIND OF a necessity. Lucky there are some great options to cool off and have some fun in the Leavenworth area.

Wenatchee River

There are tons of Wenatchee River access points right near town. The Waterfront Park has a great sandy beach area perfect to play and relax. But it does get crowded quickly. We also love the many smaller sandy beaches in the Enchantment Park area. You may end up walking 10+ minutes to find a great spot, so consider bringing a wagon, if you have more than you can comfortably carry.

Blue green river water, with tree covered mountains in the background. In the foreground, two children are playing on a sandy beach and in the shallow water.
Playing at the beach on the Wenatchee River

The water is calm, with shallow areas for younger kids, and some deeper areas for swimmers to really explore. We have so much fun looking for interesting rocks and sticks, and watching the tubers floating down the river .

Lake Wenatchee

Lake Wenatchee State Park is located just about 20 minutes north of Leavenworth. It is a beautiful, perfectly clear, glacier fed lake with a nice beach. There a great swimming area, picnic tables, a playground and more. It can be a really great spot for paddling, but check conditions first because winds do pick up in the afternoons.

Clear lake water with pebbles visible underneath. The area is marked off with yellow bouys and two children are playing in the water in the distance. The background is mountains and blue skys
Swimming area at Lake Wenatchee State Park

Wenatchee Confluence State Park

The Wenatchee Confluence State Park is located about 25 minutes to the south, where the Wenatchee River meets the Columbia River. The Columbia, in this section is extremely wide and slow moving, so it feels more like a lake than a river. The State Park has a beach, tons of grassy areas to relax, picnic tables, and lots of great trails (especially for birders.

Hotel Swimming Pool

Because you are in such a beautiful location, even a hotel swimming pool can feel pretty special. The mountain views are visible from nearly everywhere in town.

Go Shopping

Even shopping isn’t really your thing, shopping in Leavenworth is super fun! There are tons of strange and unique shops that you won’t find just anywhere. My kids typically hate shopping, but they LOVE spending an afternoon wondering around Leavenworth and checking out all the neat shops. A few of our favorites:

  • A Book for All Seasons – a small, independent book shop that is adorable inside that definitely has something you want!
  • Kris Kringl – a multi – floor, Christmas-all-year-round shop with every Christmas item you can think of and more.
  • Wurlygigz – we love a good toy store and this one delivers with TONS of fun stuff for kids
  • The Cheesemongers Shop – a basement cheese shop that will inspire you to have charcuterie board for dinner ASAP.
  • Krampus Kave – comic books, movie collectables, and basically all things geek. And even for non geeks, its a super fun shop to check out.
  • Mountain Modern Supply Co – for tees, outdoor gear, souvenirs, and just anything you might want

Eat great food

Leavenworth has a ton of great restaurants, both quick serve restaurants and sit-down dining. And the vast majority are totally kid friendly!

Even better- lots are snack-friendly- meaning you can stop in for an appetizer or a quick bite without being committed to a full mean or being there long, which works so well for my kids!

A few of our favorites:

  • Munchen Haus: This little outdoor quick serve serves brats and sides, and its an absolute must-do when visiting Leavenworth.
  • Ludwigs: This casual restaurant has ALL the Bavarian favorites you will want after spending time in Leavenworth. We love the family-style platters!
  • Larch Handcrafted Pasta & cocktails: Everything I’ve had at this restaurant is unbelievably delicious. And if your kid is a picky eater and only wants butter noodles- they’ve got you covered- the BEST butter noodles I’ve ever tasted.
  • Icicle Brewing Company: Super casual spot with indoor and outdoor dining, games at the table, great snacks, and, of course, great beer.
  • Gustav’s : We love that this place is just easy and fun. It has a big menu with lots of tasty kid-friendly or picky eater options, , and its a larger restaurant so even when other restaurants get busy, you can usually get a table at Gustav’s. Plus they have a great, rooftop patio.
  • Argonaut: Unique and super delicious coffee and breakfast sandwiches. But beware- this place gets crowded!

Do some hiking

The picturesque landscapes around Leavenworth offer a canvas of vibrant greenery, towering pines, tall, majestic mountains, and crystal-clear streams. And to fully explore it, you’re going to need to lace up those hiking boots!

View from a mountain of the valley below. Mountains off in the distance, lots of trees and houses below.
Views from Icicle Gorge Trail

There are a ton of great hikes in the area, with options to satisfy every kind of hiker. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Icicle Ridge Trail: This is my favorite- its a fun, challenging hike with epic views the whole way up. The view at the top makes every step worthwhile. BUT I have to admit, at 6 miles long and 1,800 feet of elevation gain, its probably not for everyone, including families with young children. Make sure you get an early start and pick a day that’s not TOO hot because you’ll be in direct sunlight for a good portion of the hike.
  • Icicle Gorge Trail: similar name, but very different trail than the Icicle Ridge. This long but easy hike is a wonderful way to explore the forest, and see the clear-blue water of Icicle Creek.
  • Waterfront Park Trails: Don’t miss the really great trails right in Leavenworth! The Waterfront Park trails, which connect in with Blackbird Island trail and Enchantment Park trails, is a must-do for your Leavenworth trip. The trails as easy, no-commitment trails- you can just wander as long as you like checking out the river, mountain views, wildlife, and forest, then head back when you’ve had enough.
  • Hidden Lake Trail: This is a great kid-friendly hike with tons to see along the way, and a beautiful lake as a destination! Beware- mosquitos can get pretty thick in this area, so be sure to bring repellant.

Summer Theater

The Leavenworth Summer Theater program does top notch performances throughout the summer. This year, they’ll be doing the Sound of Music and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The performances are done at the Leavenworth ski hill, which is a beautiful area, and the group does a great job of taking advantage of their stunning surrounds. The performers are quite talented, and the shows are really quite a treat! They are totally family-friendly, but at about 3 hours long, they may be too long for families with younger children (especially right at bedtime).

Play mini golf

I have to admit, I love the kitsch and nostalgia of mini golfing on vacation, and I LOVE sharing it with my kids. Leavenworth has a couple of fun mini golf courses you and your family will love.

Icicle Village has a great, classic mini golf course. It’s a nicely manicured course with lots of fun challenges throughout, and tons of fun for the whole family.

Another great option is the Enzian Falls Putting Course. I’d say this kind of in between mini golf and regular golf, but the location is beautiful and the course is lots of fun for all ages!

Get Dessert

View of the front of the Whistlepunk Ice cream Co shop. The window is linked with garland and has a sign that reads "hot cocoa". The outside of the building is grey stone bricks with a railing from an balcony above.

Who doesn’t love an ice cream on a hot day? Leavenworth has a tons of great spots for an ice cream or a special treat that’ll totally make your kids’ day!

  • Whistlepunk Ice Cream : high quality ice cream in a ton of interesting and delicious flavors! We love this spot!
  • Das Sweet Shop: an old school shop with a huge variety of sweets including ice cream, pastries, and candies of all kinds!
  • Gingerbread Factory: the sweetest shop with coffee and beautifully decorated cakes and cookies!
  • Schocolat: DELICIOUS handmade chocolates
colorful rock candy in pink, green, blue and purple inside a white paper bag
Candy from Das Sweet Shop

Leavenworth Ziplines

Leavenworth Ziplines has 9 lines giving phenomenal views of the Beaver Creek Valley. It looks like a pretty epic experience for adventurous families looking for a new way to explore the area! But unfortunately, this experience is only for children over 70 lbs and at least 7 years old.

Leavenworth has SO much to do in the summer. But, what we love best of all is that Leavenworth is a great place to just hang out. Relax and see where the day takes you. The small town is super walkable, with incredible views, and easy access to the river and the mountains, making it a perfect spot for a family vacation or weekend getaway!

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