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Winter in Leavenworth

Play, dine and shop in a beautiful Bavarian village

Colorful lights illuminate the downtown square at Leavenworth, central Washington’s Bavarian village. Photo credit: Kristi Berry

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Leavenworth is magical in the winter. Over half a million lights decorate the town and snow covers the surrounding peaks. A three-hour drive from Tacoma transports you to an alpine-style village with all the charm of Bavaria.

Situated at the foothills of the eastern Cascade Mountains along the Wenatchee River, this picturesque town is a perfect mountain getaway. Once a logging and lumber town on the Great Northern Railway, it was saved by residents in the 1960s who transformed it into a Bavarian village to attract tourists. It is a bit touristy, but not in a bad way. It feels authentic and warm -- definitely worth a visit.  

Getting there

The shortest route from the South Sound is on Interstate 90, which takes you over Snoqualmie Pass. You can also take Highway 2 over Stevens Pass. In winter months, traction tires or chains are often required. Visit for road conditions and requirements before hitting the road.


For a prime village-center location, check into the Bavarian Lodge ( You'll feel like you're staying at a European ski chalet. Its 90 guest rooms are decorated in a cozy, lodge style, and many feature fireplaces, balconies and turrets. Book a room with a village view to see the town square and the lights from your balcony. Amenities include a heated outdoor pool, two hot tubs and a pub. It is a smoke-free, pet-free hotel.

Icicle Village Resort ( is a family-friendly option less than a mile from downtown. It offers a variety of accommodations from standard hotel rooms to three-bedroom condos, and is pet-friendly. Guests enjoy a spa, restaurant, two swimming pools, whirlpool and game room. Both hotels offer complimentary hot breakfast, parking and WiFi.


Bring your appetite and leave the calorie counter at home. With more than 40 eateries, pubs, and wine tasting rooms, Leavenworth takes its food and drink seriously.

At Munchen Haus (, a Bavarian grill and beer garden, treat yourself to a pretzel with cheese sauce, a grilled sausage and a local brew or hot Gluehwein. They're also known for their large variety of mustards and yummy apple cider kraut. Order your food at the counter and head to the family-friendly, outdoor courtyard for drinks and seating.

For traditional German fare, make a reservation at Andreas Keller Restaurant ( This family-owned restaurant serves authentic Bavarian recipes and imported beer. The downstairs location replicates a Bavarian-style barn. Diners sit in cozy "stalls" adorned with hand-painted murals and enjoy live music.

Satisfy your sweet tooth at The Gingerbread Factory ( This adorable bakery specializes in cookies but also serves wraps, salads and soups. If a picnic is more your style, stock up on gourmet cheese at The Cheesemonger's Shop ( and specialty meats at Cured ( You can also sample local wine at several tasting rooms.


Stroll down Front Street to take in the sights and sounds of this cute village. Listen to strolling musicians and watch Bavarian folk performers at the Front Street Park gazebo. Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage or browse the many shops and boutiques.

Stop by the Nutcracker Museum ( to see over 6,000 nutcrackers from more than 40 countries. Kids have fun searching for nutcrackers on their "Nutcracker Hunts." Active-duty military, spouses and children get in free. For a quiet break, head down Commercial St. to the Waterfront Park Trail. Walk along the Wenatchee River and cross the bridge to explore Blackbird Island.


Leavenworth is a great home base for a variety of winter sports and activities. In town, kids like to sled down the small hill at Front Street Park. Less than two miles away, Leavenworth Ski Hill ( offers two groomed ski runs, Nordic ski trails and a 100-foot tubing hill with a rope tow.

Two larger ski and snowboard areas are just a 35-mile drive in each direction. Known for its great powder, Stevens Pass ( has over 35 downhill runs, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails, and a sledding and snow play area. Mission Ridge ( features 36 runs spread over 2,000 acres with 2,250 feet of vertical drop.

You can also mush through the snow with a team of huskies. Experience the rush of dogsledding with Northwest Dogsled Adventures ( For a more traditional experience, take an old-fashioned sleigh ride at Mountain Springs Lodge ( Snuggle under a blanket as you glide through scenic woods and stop for a warm cup of cider by an open fire. Or speed through the wintery terrain on a snowmobile. You can rent snowmobiles from Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals ( or take a guided tour at Mountain Springs Lodge.

To learn more about all there is to see and do in Leavenworth, visit  

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The Nordic Museum

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