Great Escapes: Our guide to Leavenworth, WA

Planning a getaway? Check out Leavenworth, WA, a Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascade Mountains.

PDX Leavenworth Washington Great Escapes

Front Street offers stunning views of frosted mountains all winter long.

Photo by @cambrieee_

Table of Contents

Yo-deh-lay-hee-hoo. Do you hear that? The mountains are calling you to the sweetest little alpine village that’s like something from a fairy tale: Leavenworth, Washington.

City Editor Cambrie here. The first time I visited the Bavarian-style town in the Cascade Mountains was to backpack The Enchantments — an experience I will never forget and highly recommend (but definitely go prepared). I later returned for winter visits after hearing how it transforms into a storybook winter wonderland and fell in love with it all over again.

A horse pulling a carriage waits near a sidewalk.

Clippity cloppity, who’s up for a carriage ride?

Photo by @cambrieee_

Why go?

  • As far as themed winter destinations go, Leavenworth wears the ice crown. It offers fun activities for every age, like Nordic and downhill skiing, unique holiday shopping, German dining, sleigh rides, and spa time.
  • Did we mention the incredible natural landscape? Towering mountain peaks surround the town, lending the feeling of being inside a snow globe. One could spend days just learning the history of the surrounding land, which was prized by Indigenous populations and, later, white settlers.
  • Leavenworth shines bright every holiday season, turning into the Village of Lights: Christmastown and showing off with hundreds of thousands of festive lights, meandering carolers, live entertainment, and more. In January, the town kicks off the new year with a month of Winter Karneval events (think: fire dancers, ice carving, and fireworks).
  • Explore more things to do by browsing the City of Leavenworth’s website, or check out what other visitors have to say on Tripadvisor.
  • Oh, and by the way — Leavenworth was recently named one of the best places in the world to spend Christmas by Conde Nast Traveler. So there’s that.
Bavarian-style storefronts glow at night with holiday lights.

When there’s enough snow on the ground, kids turn a small hill into an impromptu sledding course.

Photo by @cambrieee_

Act like a local

  • Food: Treat yourself to a special, truly unique, multi-course meal showcasing organic, local, and wild-foraged ingredients at Mana Restaurant at the corner of Commercial and Division streets, near the river. Don’t forget to make a reservation.
  • Drink: If you like beer, you’ve come to the right town. Warm up at Bushel & Bee Taproom, where you can choose from two dozen beers and ciders on tap. Dogs are welcome, too.
  • Outdoors: See if reindeer really know how to fly (and also pet and feed them) at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, located a mere mile outside of town.
  • Listen: Enjoy a concert, play, dance, opera, or film at Icicle Creek Center for the Arts, which hosts 100+ performances each year, as well as year-round educational programs for all ages.
  • Explore: Leavenworth is the perfect basecamp for dozens of world-class outdoor activities, though the range of options changes depending on the season. In winter, check out Leavenworth Ski Hill — a historic spot for snow enthusiasts of all levels where Olympians once trained. Not into that? Perhaps we can tempt you with a sleigh ride or birding adventure.
A caribou eats from the palm of a person's hand.

Wild reindeer are known as caribou.

Photo by @jaedawebster

Where to stay

  • Vrbo: Alpine View Haus on Main, a Bavarian-themed condo for up to four people (~$240/night)*
  • Airbnb: Dawn Cabin, a modern A-frame cabin with an open-air stargazing loft (~$397/night)
  • Splurge hotel: Abendblume, a romantic Bavarian-style bed and breakfast (~$300/night)
  • Save hotel: LOGE Leavenworth Downtown, a centrally located hotel perfect for outdoorsy types (~$150/night)
An A-frame cabin painted black with tall windows, surrounded by forest.

Dawn Cabin features a spiral staircase and stunning views of the valley, rock formations, wildlife, and mountains.

Photo via Airbnb

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