Top 11 Leavenworth Winter Activities with kids
Leavenworth is such a fun little town to visit for so many reasons. And winter is the PERFECT time to visit with your kids. This tiny town nestled in the mountains is everything you dream it’ll be.
The entire area is stunningly beautiful with vast peaks, glistening snow, and frosty evergreen trees that make you feel as if you are driving into a true winter wonderland. The Enchantments, world-famous for their magnificent peaks and glacier-carved valleys, thundering creek, and blue lakes, are just outside of Leavenworth. As you make your way down Highway 2, you’ll have views of the beautiful blue water of the Wenatchee River, with sections of smooth, calm water, and beautiful waterfalls and white water bubbling over jagged granite. Closer to town, you’ll see Icicle Ridge and Tumwater Mountain, both of which overlook Leavenworth and provide a perfect backdrop for this little Bavarian town.
As you enter the town, you’ll see just how seriously Leavenworth takes the whole Bavarian theme. Even gas stations have cute Bavarian names and Bavarian-themed signs. Though it SOUNDS a little over-the-top, the effect is really fun. Downtown is filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels with similar design themes, with lots of ornate details, murals, and bright colors. December through January, the entire town will be brightly lit up with holiday lights. Parking can be pretty chaotic, but you can likely just park and be done for the weekend. The town is designed for walking, at only about 1 mile from end to end (and only a half-mile for the main portion of town).
Leavenworth is right on the border of Washington’s up and coming, excellent wine region. As such, Leavenworth is becoming a foodie and wine lovers paradise with tons of great wine bars and wine tastings. Foodie and wine scene maybe aren’t a great match when you are traveling with kids, but so many restaurants in town are kid-friendly, and many of the wineries and tasting rooms are as well. If you are lucky, you might be able to sneak in a quick tasting at WooHoo Winery or Icicle Ridge Winery with the kiddos.
Where to stay
Leavenworth has TONS of great hotels and vacation rentals. Sleeping Lady Resort is a GREAT resort for families with fun cabin-style rooms, some with bunk beds, lofts, or just extra beds. Most rooms are 2 per stand-alone cabin with trails running all over the resort. You can even bring your furry family members! The resort has lots of outside space for playing in the snow, ice skating and snowshoeing, onsite restaurants, and a play barn with billiards, board games, and more. However, Sleeping Lady is not on the main portion of town, so you’ll have to deal with parking if you want to go walk around downtown.
Icicle Village Resort is another excellent option, just a pleasant half mile walk from Front Street. The resort has standard hotel rooms, or great little 1, 2 or 3 bedroom condos featuring a full kitchen, ample living space for families, and even a large soaking tub perfect kids who love baths. You’ll get a free breakfast, plus access to their DVD library and activity room.
Also, check out one of the many wonderful vacation rentals in Leavenworth. We stayed in this perfectly located, and extremely comfortable condo and loved it.
Visiting Leavenworth in the winter is a great way to make some long-lasting memories with your family and just have a lot of fun. These are some of our favorite Leavenworth winter activities with kids.
1. Christmas Lighting Festival
The Pacific Northwest has SO MANY amazing Christmas Events, but none of them are quite like the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival. Every weekend in December until Christmas, the city holds a huge, festive celebration perfect for families of all ages. You’ll see Santa and Mrs. Claus and Father Christmas. Plus, there is live music of all types- handbell choirs, dixie bands, and talented solo and choir performances. You’ll find treats such as hot cocoa, spiced wine, fudge, and roasted chestnuts. Kids can even have a Cookie Crawl Map for free cookies around town!
Though the festival only takes place the first 3 weekends in December, you can see the lights anytime in December all the way through mid-late January.
When you are visiting a mountainous region this beautiful, you’ll want to get out and explore it. The snow may slow you down a little bit, but don’t let it stop you. There are so many hikes in this area, of all difficulty levels and lengths.
Enchantment Park is right in Leavenworth and has some great walking trails, beautiful views of the Wenatchee River, and even some sledding hills perfect for younger children. There are about 2 miles of trails, but you can easily just take a short walk and enjoy the snow with the kids.
Icicle Ridge trail is pretty long for kids, at about 6 miles. But if your kids can handle it, or can go in a backpack, it’s totally worth the hike. The trail takes you up to the ridge which overlooks the city of Leavenworth and gives you a great view of the surrounding area. Views are outstanding all the way up, but most impressive at the top. The trail can be steep, so you’ll want to bring something like Trekkers or snowshoes, and some good snow gear.
Hidden Lake Trail is a perfect trail for you and your family, at about 1.5 miles long. It’s a great short hike with lots of big mountain views, plus endless views of the calm and relaxing Hidden Lake, which often freezes over.
Icicle Gorge is another great hike for families. It’s a well-established, fairly flat loop with some fabulous views of Icicle Creek and Icicle Gorge, and lots of fun bridges to cross.
There are tons of great sledding hills in and around Leavenworth, including a great little spot at Front Street Park, right in the middle of town. For a little extra fun, take your sled out in the evening, and sled under the Christmas lights while listening to some of the Christmas performances.
Another great option is to just take a short walk into Enchantment Park where you’ll find a number of small to medium-sized hills along with beautiful forest and river views.
For tubing on a bit more extreme hill, check out Lt Michael Adams Tubing Park. You can rent tubes onsite, and you won’t even have to haul them up the hill thanks to the park’s tow rope! However, tubers need to be able to sit in their own tube, so smaller kids won’t be able to participate.
There are a few little outdoor recreation shops in town that’ll have sleds to pick up. However, prices are elevated, so if you have sleds at home, be sure to bring them with you.
4. Ice skating
As a winter wonderland, Leavenworth has always been missing one important thing. But this year, the city is fixing that! A new outdoor area will be made for the 2019/20 winter season! It’ll be in the Lions Club Park, just at the southwest edge of Front Street. You can even rent skates! What a fun activity to do with your family!
5. Eat some Great Food
Leavenworth is becoming somewhat of a foodie’s paradise, with tons of restaurants varying from super casual to upscale. And most importantly, many of them are kid-friendly and super delicious! Check out Munchen Haus, with heated outdoor seating, and every kind of German sausage, hot dog, and bratwurst that you can imagine, plus tons of yummy sides and beers. We also like the Bavarian Bistro & Bar for its ultra-casual ambiance and delicious schnitzels. And if you’ve had enough German food, check out South for some delicious Latin food in a fun, kid-friendly environment.
6. Don’t Forget Dessert!
In Leavenworth, you’ll find no shortage of options for dessert, so plan carefully, or else you’ll end up stopping 19 times for dessert!
The Gingerbread Factory is a SUPER cute shop with beautiful cookies and COFFEE for those that are as coffee addicted as I am. Viadolce is a great gelato shop that will renew your love for gelato, and, it’s another great coffee break opportunity. And don’t forget to get some fudge at the Fudge Hut, for fudge of every type you can imagine.
7. Window shopping
Wandering around this cute little town really is a treat, even with littles. There are tons of fun and quirky little shops, with colorful displays. Plus, nearly every shop downtown has a beautiful facade. Though there are quite a few shops you won’t enter with wandering toddler’s fingers, there are also many that are safe. We love The Wood Shop, Wurlygigz, and A Book for All Seasons.
8. Sleigh Ride
What is better than riding in a horse-drawn sleigh, taking in beautiful views with a light fog really showcasing the mountains, and a light snow putting you in a festive mood. Mountain Springs Lodge sleigh rides are excellent, and you can choose the standard sleigh ride, or a ride featuring breakfast or dinner. The standard sleigh ride features a beautiful ride through the forest, and a stop at the barn to warm up by the fire with some hot cider. The breakfast and dinner rides feature a set menu with delicious, yet traditional food. Blankets are provided but you’ll certainly want to dress your kids and yourself for the weather because it can get pretty chilly. The staff are great about keeping even smaller guests entertained on the ride, making this a perfect, family-friendly activity.
9. Build a snowman
We live on the west coast, where snow is rare. So having snow on the ground is a bit of a novelty to my family. Even if it’s not for your family, why not take your vacation time to do something fun together. Building a snowman is always fun, and Leavenworth snow is usually the perfect consistency- slightly sticky and rolls perfectly.
On snowy weekends, you’ll be able to build right in the middle of town, at the Front Street Park. Or, head into the Waterfront Park, for even MORE snow. Honestly, the entire area is full of wonderful opportunities to play in the snow. Anywhere you happen to find yourself is going to be a great spot for making a snowman.
10. Visit the goats
The Enzian Inn is home to a beautiful 18 hole putting course. The course is complete with a stunning waterfall, and even mountain goats! You don’t have to play golf to be able to visit the goats. Walk along the sidewalk on Highway 2, just across the street from the Enzian Inn, and the goats are often right at the fence line, happy to greet you. They are super friendly, and kids will love this fun little animal encounter.
11. Nutcracker Museum
When you first enter this museum, I’ll admit, it’s a little bit odd. A whole museum full of all kinds of unique nutcrackers. Some were even a bit creepy to me. But the little museum does a great job catering to kids (and adults honestly). They have a little video that explains how nutcrackers are made, scavenger hunts for all ages, and coloring. Kids can even win a prize for completing their scavenger hunt! It’s definitely an experience worth having and one you won’t have anywhere else.
So Get Packing…
My family loves Leavenworth, PARTICULARLY in the winter. It’s a great weekend getaway that makes you feel like you’ve traveled MUCH farther than you have. When coming from the northern Washington coast, it’s a dramatic change in scenery and weather. And the whole Bavarian theme is such a fun little perk. I definitely recommend checking out Leavenworth if you have the chance!