Have you visited Leavenworth, WA yet? If not, you simply must add it to your travel list! Known for it’s European flair and year round outdoor adventure activities, this Bavarian village nestled in the Cascade Mountains is an especially beautiful spot to visit in the winter. During the month of December, it is transformed into an idyllic Christmas Village, where the entire town is filled with Christmas lights and holiday cheer, attracting visitors from near and far to its unique collection of boutique shops, restaurants, breweries, wineries and Holiday markets.
For the past 3 years, our family has had the opportunity to experience Leavenworth to it’s fullest by staying in a cabin for a weeklong getaway to bake cookies, play in the snow, eat and drink great food, and watch Christmas movies together. You know, all the holiday traditions rolled into one week!
If you love playing in the snow as much as we do, these are the Best Winter Activities in Leavenworth With Kids we recommend (also great for those of you who are young at heart)!
Go on a Sleigh Ride!
Nothing says Christmas cheer more than dashing through the snow with a cup of cocoa or cider in hand. Our favorite ride has been with Leavenworth Sleigh Rides out of Mountain Springs Lodge. We did the “Santa Sleigh ride,” which goes through beautiful Narnia-like forests and open fields with mountain and farmland views. The scenes were so stunning that we had to force ourselves to put our phones away and simply soak up the experience. Our kids loved the mid-way stop at the barn for spiced cider, a bonfire and to meet and greet with the horses.
One note – winter temperatures in Leavenworth often dip below freezing and even a slight breeze on the sleigh ride can send a chill through your bones! So plan to bring. blanket or buy one in the gift shop when you arrive.
Try Cross-Country Skiing
There is truly no better way to experience winter in the mountains than by cross-country skiing. Our entire family went for the first time last year and we immediately fell in love. There are several spots to ski, but our favorites are Lake Wenatchee State Park and the Plain Valley Ski Trail system, which literally goes through the property of the cabin we stay at. You can rent skis right at Plain Valley Hardware or at Der Sportsman in downtown Leavenworth and they have both classic and skate style skis. We rented our skis for 3 days so that we could explore the trails by our cabin at Leavenworth Thousand Trails. They were some of the prettiest trails in the system and all we had to do was ski out from our front porch!
Take a Snowmobile Tour!
Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours (also at Mountain Springs Lodge) was an incredible first-time experience for our family! They provide snow gear, which is nice since it can get cold when you’re flying over the snow. Our tour guide Erin provided great instruction while also keeping it a fun experience. Our boys loved seeing the ice wall, doing the figure S’s and going fast through the field. The only thing I’d do differently is double up on gloves for the kids. The driver’s handlebars are heated, but the kids are not and both of our boys had cold fingers after our hour long tour. Other than that, it was an exhilarating and memorable experience!
Depending on the weather and time of year, there are tons of opportunities to go sledding. If it’s recently snowed, the hill on Main street in Leavenworth is always a blast for the kids and allows parents to sip a coffee or mulled wine while they watch the kids play. However, if it’s warmed up a bit or the hill has iced over, total mayhem and out of control sledders abound, so you may want to head elsewhere.
Another great spot to sled is at the Sno-Park at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Your Discover Pass will not work here in the winter, instead you’ll need a special Sno-Park permit which you can buy from a kiosk at the park or online in advance. This park also offers over 12 miles of marked snowshoeing trails and 30 miles of groomed cross-country ski tracks, and they allow you to bring your dogs, so it’s truly a park for everyone.
Visit the Reindeer Farm
And finally, no winter visit to Leavenworth is complete without a visit to the iconic REINDEER FARM. Not only do you get up and close with the reindeer (you must hold young children), but you have the opportunity to hand feed them and the staff is so gracious to take photos of you with them. Our boys also really enjoyed the educational talk beforehand and having the chance to hold some of the HUGE antlers that have been shed.
In addition to all these incredible activities, the town of Leavenworth is a worthy day trip by itself. We love so many of the restaurants (like Munchen Haus and the Gingerbread shop), and stores (like the hat shop, Christmas shoppe and Nutcracker museum), as well as simply walking the waterfront park, looking at lights and enjoying the town’s live entertainment. As you can tell it’s one of our favorite PNW wintertime destinations and we can’t wait for you to get out and explore it with your family!
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