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How to Spend a Magical Christmas in Leavenworth

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Everything You Need to Know about Spending Christmas in Leavenworth

Have you always wanted a white Christmas in a European town surrounded by beautiful architecture and twinkling Christmas lights everywhere you look? If you live on the Pacific North West, then you are in luck because Christmas in Leavenworth, WA is absolutely magical!

Leavenworth is located in Washington State not too far away from Seattle and is one of the best places to go for Christmas in the USA. It is a great place to visit for couples and also for families with kids as there are so many fun kid friendly activities to do! I actually feel like Leavenworth brought out my inner child a little bit more than usual.

Leavenworth has it all, from sleigh rides and reindeer, to beer and bratwurst, tobogganing, Christmas markets and more! If you are looking for somewhere extra magical to spend Christmas this year, then this guide will help you plan your Leavenworth Christmas getaway!

Girl standing in middle of Leavenworth at Christmas

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Leavenworth at Christmas

Leavenworth is a beautiful Bavarian style town and a great place to visit all year around. It is a great place to spend the weekend with friends and family if you want to enjoy the yummy Bavarian food and beer and do some shopping. At Christmas time, Leavenworth becomes an extra special town because of the Christmas activities that are put on throughout the month of December and the way the town is decorated. Leavenworth really gives you the feeling of being in a hallmark movie during Christmas time.

FUN FACT: There have been quite a few movies filmed in Leavenworth such as All I Want Is Christmas (2012) and Cloudy with a Chance of Christmas (2022)!

Where is Leavenworth

Leavenworth is located in Washington State, a 2.5 hour drive inland from Seattle. It is not too far from the popular ski town, Steven’s Pass, so you could go skiing whilst you are in the area.

Alternatively, I recommend this day tour which will take from Seattle to Leavenworth with some incredible extra stops along the way such as Deception Falls and Gold Bar which is where you should keep an eye out for Big Foot.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

How to get to Leavenworth

The nearest large city to Leavenworth is Seattle. You can either fly into Seattle and rent a car or get a shuttle to Leavenworth. Alternatively you could stay in Seattle and join a day tour to go check out Leavenworth.

How to get to Leavenworth from Seattle

There are two different ways to drive from Seattle to Leavenworth. You can either take US Highway 2 / US Route 2 or you can go by the 90 E / 97 N. Both of these routes take a similar amount of time, but just make sure you check the road conditions before you leave for any construction or road closures. The best way to check the roads is through the Washington State Department of Transportation website.

If you prefer not to drive, you can also get a shuttle or the bus.

Shuttle Services to Leavenworth

Buses to Leavenworth

Can you fly to Leavenworth?

The nearest airport to Leavenworth is Pangborn Memorial Airport in East Wenatchee which is 30 miles / 48km away. You can fly domestically only from Seattle to Pangborn Memorial Airport.

The nearest international airport to Leavenworth is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac).

Best Places to Stay in Leavenworth during Christmas

If you are planning to stay in Leavenworth in December, make sure you book your accommodation nice and far in advance so that you don’t miss out!

Bavarian Lodge – The Bavarian Lodge is only a 1 minute walk from the famous Nutcracker Museum and the centre of town. The lodge has an outdoor pool and hot tub and offers amazing breakfast!

Leavenworth Village InnThe Leavenworth Village Inn is located right in the middle of town across from the Icicle Brewery. 

Enzian Inn – The Enzian Inn is located 5 minutes from town and has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool and indoor hot tub which is perfect for those cold winter days.

For a larger list of accomodation, click here!

Can you visit Leavenworth as a day trip?

Leavenworth at Christmas time

Leavenworth can definitely be done as a day trip! However, depending on where you are coming from, it might turn into a pretty big day. If you don’t want to stay in Leavenworth itself, I recommend staying in one of the nearby towns such as Steven’s Pass or Skykomish, which is where we stayed when we visited Leavenworth this year.

TIP: If you plan on visiting Leavenworth for the day, I recommend leaving early. There is not a lot of parking and the traffic can be absolutely awful, especially during Winter when the roads are snowy.

Alternatively, you could stay in Seattle and join a day tour. This tour is 9 hours long and takes you all the way from Seattle to Leavenworth and back again. A tour is a great way to take the stress out of the planning and driving, plus they usually take you to the best restaurants! Book your tour ahead of time here!

Leavenworth Christmas Train

This is a perfect way to see Leavenworth without having to drive. The Leavenworth Christmas Train, or Snow Train leaves from Seattle to Leavenworth at King Street Station, Edmonds Station, and Everett Station. While you are on the train, you will be served breakfast and enjoy the entertainment of strolling musicians, magicians, and Santa!

How long are the Christmas Lights on for?

The town of Leavenworth gets decorated with twinkling Christmas lights for the jolly season. Leavenworth’s Christmas lights are up from just after Thanksgiving until February.

Does it snow in Leavenworth in December?

Snow in Leavenworth in December

If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, then Leavenworth is a great choice! December is the month with the most snow in Leavenworth which means lots of fun snow activities such as tobogganing and Sleigh Rides!

Is it Safe to Drive in Leavenworth in December?

Leavenworth is a very popular town and the snow definitely does not keep the crowds away. It can’t be guaranteed that you won’t run into any trouble on the roads. While we were in the town, we saw quite a lot of people getting their cars stuck in the snow trying to drive out of parking lots.

We have an AWD with Winter tyres and luckily didn’t have any issues. The best thing you can do when driving in the snow is to be as prepared as possible and make sure you check road closures ahead of time. Also make sure you have snow chains with you in case.

Christmas in Leavenworth

Things to do in Leavenworth at Christmas

There are so many fun activities to do in Leavenworth during Christmas! During the month of December, the town puts on its “Village of Lights Christmas Town” celebration. Every day in December there is Christmas entertainment and different activities. You can see the Christmas Town schedule here.

Usually Leavenworth has a Christmas market to explore, however for the 2022 season, Leavenworth’s Christmas Market has been cancelled.

Couple standing in the middle of Leavenworth in December at Christmas

Visit Santa’s Reindeer

Yes! Rudolph is real! And he is right here in Leavenworth where you can meet him along with the rest of the reindeer. This is a popular activity, especially on the weekends during December, so I recommend you book your time slot ahead of time.

Go Tobogganing

Tobogganing in Leavenworth

There is a small toboggan hill in the middle of Leavenworth that you can slide down for free! Bring along your own toboggan. There are no rentals, however there are a few shops that sell them if you don’t already have your own. This is a popular activity for the kids, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy it as an adult too. Dave and I had a lot of fun!

Enjoy Christmastown at the Gazebo

Christmas at the Gazebo in Leavenworth

There are choirs, carollers, and bands that perform daily at the Gazebo in the middle of town. You can either stand and watch or enjoy the music ring out through the street as you wander around the town.

Check out the Nutcracker Museum

This is a true Christmas activity! The Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth has over 6,000 nutcrackers, with some as old as 500 years!

Book a Sleigh Ride

This is a fun activity for the whole family, especially if you are visiting Leavenworth with kids! The Sleigh Ride takes you through the magical snowy forests around Leavenworth. Book ahead here.

Visit Refuge River Ranch in Leavenworth – Temporarily Closed

If you are visiting Leavenworth with kids, book a visit to Refuge River Ranch! At the ranch you will meet a variety of different animals and feed them treats and pet them. This is also a great opportunity to get some fun Christmas family photos with the animals!

Visit the Gingerbread Factory

When we think of Christmas treats, we always think of gingerbread. At the Gingerbread Factory in Leavenworth, you buy all sorts of gingerbread treats which make great gifts for friends and family. You can also purchase gingerbread houses here.

Leavenworth at Christmas in the snow

Go Skiing

I couldn’t leave skiing off this list! Leavenworth is surrounded by mountains and so of course there are a few different places where you can go skiing near Leavenworth. There is the Leavenworth Ski Hill which also has tubing and tobogganing available. The hill is located right outside the town so nice and easy to get to if you are staying in Leavenworth. There is also Mission Ridge (1hr drive from Leavenworth) and Stevens Pass Mountain Resort (40 minutes drive from Leavenworth).

If you are keen on skiing whilst in Leavenworth, you may be wondering which ski resort is best for you. I’m here to help with that and have outlined the differences in the resorts below.

Leavenworth Ski Hill – The Leavenworth Ski Hill is catered more towards families.

Stevens Pass Stevens Pass has ski runs for all abilities, 52 in total spread over 1,125 acres of skiable terrain.

Mission Ridge Mission Ridge has 36 designated runs spread over 2,000 acres of skiable terrain.

Our Thoughts

Leavenworth is absolutely worth visiting! Both Dave and I think that it would be a great getaway for a family with young kids but we also had fun spending the day there as a couple. Sometimes us adults need to let out our inner child too!

Looking for more outdoor activities to do near Leavenworth? Check out Scenic Hot Springs which are about a 1 hour drive from Leavenworth.