Leavenworth is a small town in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State known for its Bavarian-themed architecture. There’s more to it than just a pretty face, though. There are plenty of things to do in Leavenworth that make it a hot spot for visitors any time of the year.
The town’s transformation to its present Bavarian look started in the ’60s and attracts tourists far and wide. While many people come to visit the small shops and restaurants, the main attraction of Leavenworth is its scenic beauty.
Several hiking trails wind through the mountains, and rafting on the nearby rivers is a popular outing. During the winter months, skiing and snowboarding are top-rated activities.
Leavenworth is a perfect weekend getaway from Seattle since it’s only a two-and-a-half-hour drive. If you’re visiting the Pacific Northwest and looking for things to do, put Leavenworth at the top of your list!
Things to do in Leavenworth Washington
Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or a taste of German culture, this charming town is the perfect destination. Here are some of the best things to do in Leavenworth.
1. Sightsee the Charming German Town and its Beautiful Surroundings
The town’s Bavarian-style architecture is the first thing you’ll notice when you arrive in Leavenworth. The buildings are colorful and adorned with gingerbread trim, and the streets are lined with flags and flowers. It’s the perfect place to stroll and soak up the German atmosphere.
Leavenworth is located in the Cascade Mountains, so there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in the summer, and there are trails of varying difficulty levels.
Some of the best hikes near Leavenworth include the Icicle Ridge Trail, Icicle Gorge Trail, and the Snow Lakes Trail.
In the winter, the town transforms into a winter wonderland. The snow-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop for skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. There are also a few ice skating rinks in town.
2. Tour the Nutcracker Museum
The Nutcracker Museum is one of Leavenworth’s most popular attractions. It houses the world’s largest collection of nutcrackers, with over 5,000 on display. The museum also has a shop where you can purchase nutcrackers.
If you’re visiting with kids, the nutcracker scavenger hunt is a great way to keep them entertained.
3. Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is another must-see attraction. This farm is home to a herd of reindeer you can feed and even take pictures with. The farm also offers sleigh rides and has a shop where you can buy reindeer-themed gifts.
Sign up for a tour and get close to the gentle creatures; you will love the experience. You also learn about the animal’s history, idiosyncracies, and lifestyle.
4. Indulge in Some Traditional German Cuisine at One of the Local Restaurants
No trip to Leavenworth would be complete without indulging in some traditional German cuisine. Several town restaurants serve hearty dishes like schnitzel, sauerkraut, and strudel.
You can also grab a fresh Pretzel at the Danish Bakery or Rhein Haus, and don’t forget to wash it all down with a stein of beer at one of the local breweries.
One of the hot spots for German food is Andreas Keller. The restaurant was inspired by David Forchemer’s love for Bavarian food and culture. Eat here to enjoy the scenic environment, live German music, and of course, the food!
Another favorite eatery is München Haus, a Bavarian grill serving up grilled sausages and your choice of gourmet mustard to add as you like.
5. Experience the Festivals and Events that Leavenworth is Known For
Throughout the year, Leavenworth hosts various festivals and events celebrating German culture. Oktoberfest is the most popular, but there’s also Maifest and Christkindlmarkt Christmas market. These events are a great way to experience German culture and tradition.
There’s also the massively popular Christmas Lighting Festival which happens every year in December. This festival is a must-see, with over half a million lights decorating the town daily. It’s an amazing experience that people come from all of the country to be a part of.
The Christmas Festival also features music and entertainment, carolers, photo ops with Santa, and much more. It’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
Leavenworth does not kid around with the Christmas Fest, so much that there’s a Leavenworth Christmas song. It’s such a beautiful song—take a listen!
6. Attend a Show at the Leavenworth Summer Theater
The Leavenworth Summer Theater is a local institution. This open-air theater has been producing shows since 1994 and offers a variety of plays and musicals throughout the summer. Attend a show and enjoy some live entertainment under the stars.
There are at least three shows each year, with the classic Sound of Music being a longtime staple in the theater. The production has aired over 25 times, and each keeps improving. If you’ve seen it before, it’s still worth seeing again.
You might want to bring a jacket in case of a drizzle but note that umbrellas are not allowed. After all, it’s unlikely to rain during the summer months in Leavenworth.
7. Shop for German Souvenirs and Gifts
If you’re looking for German souvenirs and gifts, several shops in Leavenworth sell traditional items like cuckoo clocks, nutcrackers, and steins. Enter a local shop that sells hand-carved wooden items for a truly unique souvenir.
The fun part is you’ve probably never seen most of the items before. You can make a game out of guessing what each item is used for, because you probably won’t know!
But that’s part of the charm.
Consider visiting the hat shop to pick out traditional Bavarian-style hats. You can also find several shops that sell German clothing, like lederhosen and dirndls.
Also, visit the wooden shop next door for wooden games and puzzles for the kids. These make great Christmas gifts!
8. Experience Outdoor Activities like Hiking, Skiing, and Fishing
Leavenworth is surrounded by beautiful scenery and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Hiking is a popular activity in the summer, and there are several trails to explore in the area.
Hit the slopes during winter at one of the nearby ski resorts. Leavenworth Ski Hill is an excellent destination for beginner skiers and snowboarders. If you’ve never skied before or want to improve your skills, this is the place to go!
Fishing is also a popular activity in Leavenworth. Several lakes in the area stock trout, and the Icicle River is also an excellent spot for fly fishing.
If you don’t have your own gear, no worries—there are several shops in town that rent equipment.
9. Learn About Leavenworth History at the Museum
The Greater Leavenworth Museum is ideal for learning about the town’s history. The museum is in an old jailhouse and features exhibits of the town’s early days, the timber industry, and the railroad.
The museum is small but very informative. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to learn about the history of Leavenworth. It’s great for all ages, and admission is only $5 for adults.
Is Leavenworth, Washington Worth Visiting?
Yes! These are just a few of the best things to do in Leavenworth. This charming German town has something for everyone, so be sure to add it to your list of places to visit!
Whether you’re visiting alone or with a group, any time of the year you plan to come, you’ll have a great time.
Things to do in Leavenworth, Washington
- Sightsee the Charming German Town and its Beautiful Surroundings
- Tour the Nutcracker Museum
- Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
- Indulge in Traditional German Cuisine at one of the Local Restaurants
- Experience the Festivals and Events that Leavenworth is Known For
- Attend a Show at the Leavenworth Summer Theater
- Shop for German Souvenirs and Gifts
- Experience Outdoor Activities like Hiking, Skiing, and Fishing
- Learn About Leavenworth History at the Museum