I’m a Washington local and it’s my pleasure to tell you about the best things to do in Leavenworth!
This Bavarian-inspired destination lies nestled in the Cascade Mountains, and is one of the most charming towns in Washington state.
This guide highlights Leavenworth’s unique attractions and seasonal festivals, as well as sites in the surrounding area. Learn about year-round outdoor adventures, the top places to enjoy German food and beer, and ideas what to do in Leavenworth for any occasion!
Table of Contents
- 20 Best Things to Do in Leavenworth
- Downtown Leavenworth
- Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
- Holiday Celebrations
- Leavenworth Sleigh Rides
- Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
- German Food
- Waterfront Park
- Wine Tasting
- Lake Wenatchee State Park
- The Enchantments
- Icicle Gorge Trail
- Horseback Riding
- Castle Rock Trail
- Whitewater Rafting
- Greater Leavenworth Museum
- Leavenworth Summer Theater
- FAQs About What to Do in Leavenworth
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20 Best Things to Do in Leavenworth
Bask in the Bavarian atmosphere of Leavenworth’s downtown.
Downtown is where much of the magic happens in Leavenworth! Bavarian-style buildings line every street. Businesses sport old-fashioned wooden signs. Flowers hang from balconies in summer and Christmas lights adorn them in winter. Front Street Park serves as a town square where live music plays throughout the year.
The ambiance, proximity to restaurants, and wide selection of hotels make downtown one of the best places to stay in Leavenworth. Many hotel rooms feel like lodges you’d find in the mountains outside Munich. This charming atmosphere makes Leavenworth one of the best weekend getaways from Seattle.
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
Crack open a treasure trove of over 9,000 unique nutcrackers at this museum.
The Nutcracker Museum is one of the highlights of downtown Leavenworth. It houses a vast collection of nutcrackers from around the world and every era of human history. Visitors of all ages will find something to like here. Classic wooden soldier nutcrackers stand alongside novelty models such as Mickey Mouse.
The museum also hosts a nutcracker hunt, a scavenger hunt for different models. The museum offers lists for all ages, tasking children with finding familiar cartoon and storybook characters. Adults will enjoy discovering models that celebrate historical figures, pop culture personalities, and more.
See Leavenworth at its best at this festive time of year.
Visiting Leavenworth during the holiday season is one of the best things to do in Washington state. Holiday lights go up after Thanksgiving and often don’t come down until around Valentine’s Day. A huge Christmas tree stands in the center of town at Front Street Park.
A local choir carols around the downtown area for the first three weekends of the holiday season. Several special events happen at the Leavenworth Festhalle and Civic Center, including photos with Santa and displays of traditional Santa Claus costumes from around the world.
👉 Pro Tip: Book a hotel well in advance if you plan to visit Leavenworth during its peak seasons (summer, October, and Christmas). You can also enjoy the holiday aesthetic without the crowds by visiting in January or late November outside of Thanksgiving weekend.
Leavenworth Sleigh Rides
Dash through the snow on one of the most memorable tours in town.
What could be more Christmassy than riding in a one-horse open sleigh? Leavenworth Sleigh Rides offers rides in three different sleighs, ranging in capacity from 6 to 16 people. Of course, two horses pull the large sleighs, but they all have the same charm evoked by the classic carol.
Rides last around 45 minutes, cruising through woods and meadows at a ranch right outside Leavenworth. The tours also include a stop for hot cider around a crackling fire!
Hit the slopes in Leavenworth and the surrounding area.
🕒 Hours: varies by location | Entrance: varies by location
Leavenworth is one of Washington’s top destinations for skiing. The Leavenworth Ski Hill right outside town offers a family-friendly ski area with slopes for all levels. Two other excellent ski hills stand 32 miles from Leavenworth in either direction. Mission Ridge (east) and Stevens Pass (west) have suitable slopes for those looking to up the ante.
A daily shuttle connects Leavenworth and Stevens Pass. Ski gear is available for rent at all three of these destinations. The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club provides a useful guide on where to find gear in town.
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
Hand-feed the most famous deer of all at this farm near town.
The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is set one mile northeast of the city center and offers an up-close look at Santa’s trusty steeds. The farm operates tours year-round but is at its best during the holidays. There’s also some Christmas cheer to be had in summer. The Christmas in July event offers a visit with Santa Claus and the newest baby reindeer.
Visitors can hand-feed reindeer, and then enjoy some refreshments themselves. The farm’s concession stand, Blitzen Brew, offers brats, Norwegian potato lefse, and an assortment of beverages. There’s also a great gift shop here, offering handicrafts made from naturally-shed antlers and more.
Sample some of the best brews in town at several cozy establishments.
🕒 Hours: varies by establishment | 👉 Suggested Leavenworth Tour on Viator
Could Leavenworth really pull off the Bavarian theme without great beer? Restaurants offer traditional German brews as well as local craft specialties. Icicle Brewing Company is one of the most popular spots in town. It distributes its beer throughout Washington, including some Seattle breweries. The Dirty-Faced Amber is quite tasty!
Blewett Brewing Company is another popular place, offering a menu of piping-hot pizzas and fresh salads. The brewery is an awesome place for a pint or two and has a cozy alpine tavern aesthetic.
👉 Pro Tip: People on gluten-free diets need not feel left out. The Leavenworth Cider House offers over two dozen ciders from throughout the Pacific Northwest.
See Leavenworth swing into party mode at one of the best Oktoberfests in the state.
🌐 Website | Hours: see website | Entrance: see website
It seems obvious that a Bavarian town would have an awesome Oktoberfest. This festival is one of the most popular Leavenworth attractions, drawing huge crowds to let the good times roll (much like the proverbial barrel). Entertainers perform traditional songs and dances, as well as more contemporary selections.
Festivities start on the last weekend of September and continue through the first two in Oktober. Most events and sites are kid-friendly until 9 pm, so you can bring the family along. October is Leavenworth’s peak season, so book your rooms well in advance.
Savor the flavors of Bavaria’s best cuisine at one of several excellent restaurants.
Oktoberfest is when Leavenworth pulls out all the stops, but the town has delicious German food available year-round. Restaurants range from cozy taverns with authentic recipes and decor to casual beer gardens offering outdoor seating and quick eats. All of them, though, have amazing food.
Andreas Keller is one of the most popular places in town, offering traditional Bavarian music and an incredible menu. München Haus is the most popular beer garden and features outdoor dining year-round, with patio heaters keeping the chill (mostly!) at bay in the winter months.
👉 Pro Tip: There are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans visiting Leavenworth! Plant-based brats, fish, potatoes, and more are available at many establishments across town.
Take a stroll beneath the trees in this tranquil city park.
Waterfront Park is one of the best places in Leavenworth, Washington for a quiet walk in the woods. It’s a good area to get away from the crowds that sometimes fill the downtown area.
The Wenatchee River flows alongside the park and is a popular spot for inner tubing on hot summer days. Several ideal picnicking areas dot the park, as do benches perfect for sitting a spell.
Sip local wines in one of Leavenworth’s many wineries and cellars.
🕒 Hours: varies by establishment | 👉 Book a Leavenworth wine tour on Viator
In addition to beer, Leavenworth also has some great wines. Icicle Ridge Winery sits a stone’s throw outside town, but also has a tasting room on Front Street. Visitors tend to favor the winery over the tasting room because it offers fantastic views of the Cascade Mountains.
Eagle Creek Winery is the oldest winery and also one of the most popular. It offers incredible wines, as well as more Italy-oriented aesthetics, transporting visitors to Tuscany instead of Tyrol’s northern neighbor.
Lake Wenatchee State Park
Camp under the stars along the shores of this sapphire lake.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (509) 763-3101 | Website | Hours: 6:30 am – dusk daily, winter may affect certain areas/activities | Entrance: Discover Pass required, further fees vary by activity (see website)
Lake Wenatchee State Park is 20 miles north of town and one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the area. Here, you can explore nature, taking in the tranquility of the woods surrounding Lake Wenatchee. Rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, or go for a swim in the warmer shallows.
Leavenworth’s hotels are charming, but it’s hard to beat a night of camping here. This is even more true on clear nights when the stars come out and there’s no urban light pollution to reduce visibility. You can’t roast marshmallows in a hotel room, either (the microwave just isn’t the same).
Be bewitched by the beauty of these fantastical mountains.
Spectacular scenery awaits visitors to the Enchantments, an area southwest of town. Jagged peaks bear supernatural namesakes like Aasgard, Leprechaun, and Sprite. Tranquil alpine lakes reflect these lofty summits. Everywhere you look seems like something from a fairy tale or an epic fantasy novel.
The Enchantments are a hidden gem of the Cascade Mountains. Add it to your Leavenworth itinerary if you love the outdoors. There are, of course, no dragons or goblins here, but there are bears, cougars, and other wildlife. Be sure to follow best practices for wild animal safety when visiting this spell-binding spot.
Icicle Gorge Trail
Wander the woods, stop for a spell, and enjoy this easy hike near Leavenworth.
Icicle Gorge Trail offers something a little easier than the epic Enchantments. The 4.1-mile trail loops through the evergreen forests, crossing brooks and streams. There are plenty of great camping spots and fishing holes here, perfect if you’d prefer a more leisurely outing. Dogs are welcome also, provided they are kept on a leash.
Add an equine excursion to your Leavenworth itinerary.
🕒 Hours: varies by operator | Entrance: varies by tour
Riding horseback through the forests around Leavenworth is an enchanting experience. Several venues offer horseback rides ranging from a short trot to excursions into the Cascades.
Eagle Creek Ranch provides horseback tours on its property near the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Icicle Outfitters & Guides goes further afield with alpine expeditions. These two companies also offer sleigh rides in the winter. Wild At Heart Horse Rides offers bit and horse-shoe-free rides through privately-owned woods.
Castle Rock Trail
Scale the ramparts of this short but sweet hike.
Castle Rock Trail starts a short distance outside town along US Route 2. The hike is on the shorter side but has some steep parts and places that require a little clambering up and down. Rock climbers may choose to scale the face of Castle Rock instead of taking the longer, winding path.
There’s a pull-out at the trailhead with room for several cars. It may get filled up in the summer, the most popular time to hike or climb Castle Rock.
Have a splash of adventure on the Wenatchee River.
🕒 Hours: varies by operator | Entrance: varies by operator | 👉 Book a Wenatchee River Rafting Tour
Whitewater rafting is another of the many fun things to do in Leavenworth. Several companies offer excursions down the Wenatchee River at various intervals. There’s everything from easier Class II rapids to heart-pounding Class IV sections.
The mellower areas are suitable for family trips, so you can bring the kids along. The views all along the river are remarkable, but you may not have time to take them in when you get to the faster stretches!
Greater Leavenworth Museum
Delve into the history of this unique town at this cozy museum.
The Greater Leavenworth Museum has a wealth of information on Leavenworth and the surrounding area. It tells the story of the Native American and European peoples who settled here and preserves many items from their lives. Where else can you find Native artifacts and antique accordions under the same roof?
The museum is within walking distance of most downtown hotels. It’s worth setting aside some time to explore this small, but fascinating place.
Leavenworth Summer Theater
Get a little taste of Broadway amid the Cascades with Leavenworth’s theater scene.
Seeing a play in an outdoor theater is yet another of the fun things to do in Leavenworth. Leavenworth’s theater company puts on several shows in the summer months at two different stages. One is located on the Leavenworth Ski Hill, and the other is near the local fish hatchery.
Sound of Music, of course, is a stand-by, performed every year. Other Broadway musicals are also performed, and all of them make for an enchanting evening in Leavenworth.
Unwind after a day of adventure at one of Leavenworth’s luxurious spas.
🕒 Hours: varies by location | Entrance: varies by location
Leavenworth, Washington has its luxurious side, too. Two hotels in town offer spa services, which are perfect after a day full of adventure. The prestigious Posthotel Leavenworth books up rapidly, but if you stay there, you’ll soon understand why! It’s an adults-only resort, but there is a family-friendly option in town, too.
Alpine Spa at Icicle Village Resort is another awesome choice for a relaxing spa session. Icicle Village Resort is open to all ages and is one of the best options for families planning a trip to Leavenworth.
FAQs About What to Do in Leavenworth
How many days should I spend in Leavenworth?
Can Leavenworth be a day trip?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guide on the best things to do in Leavenworth, Washington! Check out my article on things to do in Yakima to learn more about hidden gems in the Evergreen State.
(Featured Image Credit: Kirk Fisher / Shutterstock)
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