If you are trying to decide where to go for your next Christmas vacation, Leavenworth, Washington may be the way to go. Now I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Leavenworth? I’ve never even heard of Leavenworth.” Well, that might be the case, but believe me when I say, this town does Christmas right.
Leavenworth is a Bavarian style village located in the Cascade Mountains in the state of Central Washington. It is known for its Alpine style buildings and the many Front St. bars and restaurants that serve German beer and food. It is also home to the Nutcracker Museum which features nutcrackers that date back centuries. It is the gateway to nearby ski areas and wineries.
Now that you know more about Leavenworth, you’re probably starting to see why this is a great Christmas town. Here are some things you can do when you visit.
Just walking around Leavenworth at Christmastime is a wonderful experience. Stroll through the snow while checking out the half million or so holiday lights that illuminate the streets and buildings. For an unforgettable experience, check out one of the lighting ceremonies that takes place on the first three Saturdays and Sundays in December. You can sip hot gulwein while listening to the Village Voices choir as they sing carols under the stars.
Take a Tour at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
Schedule a tour at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. It includes an educational presentation on reindeer. You will also get a chance to meet and feed the friendly herd. Cocoa, cider and cookies are included in the cost of admission. Santa will also be on the farm starting the second week of November. Bring your own camera to get a shot of your child on the big man’s lap.
Ride in a Sleigh
Mountain Springs Lodge offers plenty of exciting activities including horseback rides, fly fishing, snowmobile tours, skiing and ziplining. But the most holiday friendly activity may be their sleigh rides.
Sleigh rides are 40 -50 minutes long, and they are available for groups of 6, 12 and 16 guests. The ride will take you through scenic open meadow areas to a barn where you can warm up by the fire with a hot cup of cider. If you choose a dinner sleigh ride, you can enjoy a hot meal at the barn as well.
Their Snowmobile rides also make for a terrific holiday experience. They offer six different rides that take you through different areas of the surrounding meadows and mountains. You can opt for the Dinner Ride that ends with a fireside meal at Beaver Creek.
The Ski area offers 25 km of classic and skate tracks and 7 km of snowshoe trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available.
Visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is a sight to see and it’s the perfect Christmas treat. There are over 7,000 nutcrackers of every size, shape and material sourced from more than 50 countries all over the world.
Take a Trip to the Gingerbread Factory
The Gingerbread Factory is located on Leavenworth’s booming Front St., and it is one of the city’s main tourist destination. The exterior is designed to look like a real-life gingerbread house. They make their treats on site and offer a menu that includes espresso, ice cream, shakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and scones. Outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi are available.
Taste German Brews
Leavenworth is known for its many breweries that serve beers with an authentic German taste. Munchen Haus beer garden and its sister company Icicle Brewing Company are two you won’t want to miss. During the holiday season they will be serving winter inspired porters and ambers as well as their German Chocolate Cake Ale.
Shop at the Christkindlmarkt
The Christkindlemarkt provides an authentic European Christmas market experience. It takes place on Thanksgiving weekend and is located on Front St. inside the Festhalle.
In addition to being a terrific place to shop for Bavarian foods, arts and crafts and gifts, they also host a lantern workshop where children get to decorate their own lantern. Then children can participate in the Lantern Parade where they follow Mr. and Mrs. Claus as they carry their lanterns through the streets to the gazebo.
Last but not least is the welcome ceremony where the Christkind welcomes everyone to the market and shares kind wishes for the holiday season. The Christkind or Golden Angel is a local girl chosen from the community and a symbol of Christmas in German speaking countries. She is joined by city dignitaries and Mrs. and Mr. Claus for the event. There are also musical performances.
Shop for Christmas Décor
Kris Kringle is a Leavenworth Christmas store that offers the optimal holiday shopping experience. You will find every type of decoration you ever dreamed of. Enjoy getting lost in this 6000 square foot, two story store that’s full of toys, ornaments, Christmas village pieces and more.
See A Christmas Show
Leavenworth’s Icicle Creek Center for the Performing Arts is sure to be hosting a Christmas show that will put you in the holiday spirit. Past performances have included a handbell concert, a Celtic yuletide and a ski documentary. Screenings take place at the state-of-the-art Snowy Old Barn performance hall.
Leavenworth, Washington may not be the most well-known Christmas decoration, but it’s sure to get you in the spirit. Which of these holiday activities will you be enjoying when you’re in town?
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