Visiting Leavenworth, WA in the Winter

If you want to get into the holiday spirit, there is no place better to do so than a visit to Leavenworth, Washington.  This Bavarian themed city is located in the central part of Washington State and provides all the necessary ingredients for a fun-filled time during the winter months and holiday season.  You’re sure to find plenty of snow,  kids sledding in the heart of town, live holiday music, shops serving warm treats, and of course, plenty of Christmas lights.

Leavenworth, WA sits near the eastern part of the Cascade Mountains with the picturesque Wenatchee River running through it. The drive to Leavenworth is little more than a couple hours east of Seattle and provides for a scenic drive. The peak of the Cascades are at 8000 feet, and the decent to Leavenworth will leave you below 1500’.  There are many charming shops and restaurants to choose from, with a wide range of events throughout the year to entertain its two million visitors.

After floundering for decades, the 1960s was a time for change in Leavenworth.  City leaders made transformational changes that converted the city into what we know today… as a Bavarian-themed village. Leavenworth is Bavarian through-and-through…from the architecture to the merchant’s regalia, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported thousands of miles away to a mountainous German village.

Popular area activities include: downhill and cross country skiing, river rafting, rock climbing, sledding, golf, fishing and hiking. Outside of Germany, Oktoberfest in Leavenworth is considered one of the largest in the world.

There are a number of great places to stay in and around Leavenworth, including many outstanding B&B’s, some creek and river-side like Run of the River.  I stayed just outside of Leavenworth near Wenatchee Lake at the Pine River Ranch (click the link for my review).

Click the following link if you’d like to see more of my pictures of Leavenworth.  If you’d like to find out what “the ONE thing” is about Leavenworth, click the previous link.  If you live or have been to Leavenworth, please post a comment below on what you like best about the area.

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.


  1. I have always wanted to visit Washington but is was more so to go to Seattle to visit some friends. Never heard of Leaveworth until I read this post. Thanks for the information and things to do.

    1. Hi Kirk, thanks so much for stopping by. Glad I could be of service. 🙂 Leavenworth is certainly a place worth a stop. Whether summer or winter, all seasons offer something to do there.

  2. We love visiting Leavenworth so much that we created a website dedicated to this beautiful village in the Washington Cascades. We’re planning to spend Christmas there fr the first time ever. Tanks for posting all the great photos and video.

  3. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the posting! I just returned from Shiltach, Germany and Riguewihr, France and I was excited to hear about Leavenworth,WA, looks so much like the Alsace Region. We plan to visit in the winter. Danke!

  4. I am new to Seattle, Washington but plan on going to Leavenworth for Christmas. Can you drive to Leavenworth in the winter? Do you have to have chains on your tires?

    1. Hi Kimber…There are two ways to reach Leavenworth, one I believe is a bit more of a challenge during the winter than the other. While the roads are generally pretty well maintained/cleared of snow, the area is pron to significant snowfall. Chains and/or snow tires are often mandatory. Your best best is to check current conditions with WSDOT. You will have a blast in Leavenworth over the holidays…it’s a true winter wonderland! Thanks for stopping by. Cheers, Mike

      1. Hi Mike, how do you get snow tires or chains if it is a rental car? Flying in from TX to Seattle and then driving to Leavenworth. When you said often mandatory it concerned me. Thanks!

        1. Hi Tammie…that’s a good question. I would asked the car rental place, however I would not worry about it as the roads are generally pretty well maintained. You may want to opt for an all-wheel drive vehicle if you’re concerned. At the very least, make sure it is front-wheel drive. You will love leavenworth…such a fantastic place!

  5. I was first taken to Leavenworth in the spring of 2007. Since that time I have made several trips to this beautiful town. My wife and I have a trip planned for the day after Christmas this year (2013) with our children, their spouses, and 6 of our grandchildren. Can’t wait!
    Thanks for the info!

  6. Hey Mike,

    We are planning a visit to Leavenworth in December but during the week rather than on the weekend to avoid the higher crowds. Will they still have the Christmas lights up on weekdays? Is there still lots to see and do? We were stationed in Bavaria years ago, so we have high hopes!

    1. Hey Nicole! Oh yeah, the lights, horse drawn sleigh rides, etc. goes on each day. You could reach out to the CVB for specific details and events however. Here is a link: Do you have lodging yet? If not, here is a place I highly recommend…it’s just outside of town, but still very close. (Tell them I refereed you). About 20 min. outside of town, up in the mountains is a pretty cool place too, however they have changed owners since I last visited. Hope you have a wonderful time, I just love Leavenworth!

  7. Thanks! We do have lodging, we are staying at the Obertal Inn right in down town so that we don’t have to drive. Thanks so much for the quick response. I was a bit worried that all the fun stuff was reserved for the weekends so you’ve eased my mind.

    Merry Christmas!

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