If you want to immerse yourself in German culture and visit one of the world’s largest nutcracker collections, visit Leavenworth, WA. Regardless of how you want to spend your vacation — whether it’s relaxing inside your accommodation or seeking outdoor activities — Leavenworth will always have something to offer!
The best time to visit Leavenworth depends on many factors, such as your budget, interest, and weather preferences. Summer is the most popular time for tourists while traveling here during the winter weather ensures cheaper, better deals.
Leavenworth is a charming town filled with all sorts of bars, restaurants, cafes, fun shops, and many more. It’s located in Washington’s Cascade Mountain range, but deciding when to visit Leavenworth isn’t as easy as it sounds. The snowy weather and high travel fees can prevent you from truly enjoying the place, which is why it’s crucial to plan your trip with your preferences in mind.
The Best Times of Year to Visit Leavenworth
As mentioned, the best time to visit Leavenworth will depend on different factors. If you’re looking forward to getting the full experience and enjoying everything the town has to offer, book your trip during summer. This is the busiest season of the year when the town has the most number of activities for tourists. If you want to experience Leavenworth without breaking the bank, plan your trip during the winter months. Prices are usually cheaper during this time of the year.
In this section, I’ll talk about the best times of the year to visit Leavenworth and what you can expect during these periods. Let the information here help you decide when you should book your trip to this little town!
Peak Season: June Through August
The perks: Summer events, fairly dry months, and warm weather
The downsides: Bigger tourist crowds, most expensive time to visit
The weather: Mostly sunny, around mid-60s to high 80s
The most popular month to visit Leavenworth is July because, aside from being the least humid month, this is also when the biggest summer events happen. Leavenworth holds Kinderfest every July, a family-friendly celebration where you can enjoy delicious foods and local attractions.
You’ll be keeping yourself busy when you visit the town during summer. The Leavenworth Summer Theater is the largest theater in Spokane and Seattle and has shows all month long. The warm weather also allows you to enjoy outdoor hiking trails and parks. You can also join the town’s Rockfest if you’re into rock climbing!
To help you complete your itinerary, here’s an in-depth guide on the activities you can do when you visit Leavenworth during the summer:
- Take A Hike
Regardless if you have an entire day or a couple of hours to spare, Leavenworth has a wealth of hiking opportunities in town and also its surrounding valleys and peaks.
You can end your day exploring the trio of Waterfront parks located south of downtown Leavenworth. Blackbird Island is breathtaking, with pine trees and cottonwood and views of the Wenatchee River.
One of the most popular hiking trails in Leavenworth is the Icicle Ridge trail. It’s a scenic switchback trail that ascends to a lookout over the town. Don’t forget to bring a hat and sunscreen to avoid sunburn as you’re hiking this trail.
- Experience the Town’s Backpacking Trails
The Enchantment Trail has become a favorite backpacking route among locals and tourists — and it’s easy to see why. It has alpine meadows, soaring peaks, pretty lakes, and breathtaking views of the town’s natural wonders.
The first thing you need to know about this backpacking trail is that it only allows 24 people to camp overnight during the main hiking season. If you can’t get a permit to stay overnight in the camping areas, you can complete the trail as a thru-hike. This hike will require at least 11 hours and the use of the Enchantments shuttle service.
Other Leavenworth backpacking destinations are Lake Stuart, Snow Lakes, Lake Caroline, Lake August, Minotaur Lake, and Eightmile Lake. Unlike getting permits for Enchantment Trails, the competition is lower for these destinations.
- Challenge Yourself to Bouldering
The bouldering scene in Leavenworth is huge. In case you didn’t know, bouldering is basically rock climbing stripped down to its raw essentials, leaving behind harnesses and ropes. You’ll have to climb on small rock formations using your bare hands.
When it comes to bouldering, Icicle Creek has become the hotspot as it has dozens of bouldering areas that are accessible from the main road. The location also offers several routes, meaning there are more than enough boulders to go around, even when going there on weekends.
- Go Rafting
Aside from offering picturesque views, the Wenatchee River is also a popular rafting destination in Leavenworth. I suggest you start your trip with Osprey Rafting, as it has scenic views of the caves, mountains, orchards, pinnacles, eagles, and more.
- Try Ziplining
If you want your trip to Leavenworth to be full of adventures, include ziplining in your itinerary. Fly through the air at Leavenworth Ziplines, located in the north portion of the town. You can choose between five to nine lines, with longer trips requiring you to cross a suspension bridge.
Ziplining in Leavenworth happens regardless of the weather, so you don’t have to worry about canceling if the weather changes!
- Have Fun Tasting Wines
Even though Leavenworth is a small town, you’ll be surprised by the amount of wine tasting rooms it has. You can find a dozen clustered around Front Street. You can visit one of these wine tasting rooms and then head out to one of the local wineries located amongst the vineyards.
- Go Cider and Beer Tasting
If wine isn’t your thing, you can try local beers and hard ciders around the town. My top pick is definitely the Bushel & Bee Taproom located in the quaint Mottler Building on Front Street. Besides being a cider-centric taproom, it also offers a wide variety of beers plus a sunny patio, live music, and game nights.
- Break Out Your Binoculars for Some World-Class Birding
Birding is popular in Leavenworth. This tiny town is a high point of Audubon’s Great Washington State Birding Trail, which is known to be a favorite spot of pelicans, herons, and falcons. You can also see sanderling shorebirds and dunlin here.
Before your trip, visit the Chamber office or the Barn Beach Reserve to get a free copy of the map that indicates the best birding locations around the state.
Off Season: November Through February
The perks: Smaller crowds, the cheapest time to visit
The downsides: Colder weather, which means lesser outdoor activities
The weather: Low 30s to high 40s
Braving the winter weather will be worth it as you’ll score cheaper deals and avoid rubbing elbows with tourists when you visit the town from November through February. And even if it’s the off-season, you can still enjoy Leavenworth, as this tiny town knows how to make the holiday season more fun and exciting!
One of the fun things you can do here during the off-season is to visit the German Festival at Christkindlmarkt. Don’t forget to swing by the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum to witness and take pictures of over 70,000 nutcrackers. There’s also a Christmas lighting festival happening at the main square during December.
You can enjoy plenty of activities in Leavenworth when you visit the town during the winter weather. Some of these activities include:
- Pretend You’re in Bavaria During Christmas
One of the best things about Leavenworth is its adorable buildings. Strolling around town during winter will make you feel as if you’re in Bavaria, Germany. You can find everything here: from German decorations to German sausages and beer. You’ll even meet locals who dress up in traditional Bavarian outfits when you visit this town during this time of the year!
- Try Sledding
It snows a lot in Leavenworth during the months of November through February, so take advantage of the season and try sledding. There’s a small hill in town where kids love to go and sled, but adults are free to try out the activity too. You can bring your own sled or buy one from the stores around the town.
Because it gets pretty chilly in Leavenworth, I suggest bundling up a warm coat, scarves, gloves, and a hat when you go sledding. These will keep you warm and comfortable, especially if you plan on sledding during the night and enjoying the town’s holiday lights.
- Enjoy Nearby Ski Hills
If you’re looking for adrenaline-seeking activities on your visit to Leavenworth, good news — this small town houses several ski hills. You can easily find one that matches your skills and budget!
You can visit the Leavenworth Ski Hill if you want to work on your ski skills without being surrounded by too many people. It’s 10 minutes away from town, so you can enjoy the place for half a day and then proceed with other activities. This ski hill isn’t the most challenging, but it’s surely worth visiting.
A more popular ski hill in Leavenworth is the Stevens Pass. It’s half an hour west of Leavenworth and is usually filled with locals and tourists. Make sure to visit this ski hill early, as the parking lot gets full fast.
- Take a Winter River Walk
You can get one of the most scenic views of the town when you head to the Waterfront Park to see the Wenatchee River. This is a beautiful place to walk around alone or with your friends and family, regardless of what the weather is. Visit the area early in the morning to make your walks more peaceful.
- Have Danish Pastries
Your first agenda of the day when you’re in Leavenworth is to walk into a Danish bakery and try out special-themed pastries. Don’t forget to order some giant pretzels for breakfast or for your snack. These pastries smell so good, you can’t resist buying just one!
- Enjoy Holiday Lights
You don’t have to search hard or far to know what you’re going to do in Leavenworth during the winter. Simply head outside, and you’ll see countless lighting ceremonies held throughout the month of December.
The lights displayed make the town more whimsical and magical. If you’re traveling from an area that doesn’t get as much snow during the winter, coming to Leavenworth to witness snow-covered trees and colorful holiday lights will make you feel like you’re far away from home.
- Explore a Gingerbread Factory
You’ll feel like you’re in a fairytale when you visit a gingerbread factory in Leavenworth. This town has several gingerbread houses and cookies galore! You can even buy a gingerbread house and bring it home.
If you want to make your gingerbread house more unique and aesthetically pleasing, contact stores in advance and have yours customized. Just make sure that you’re not visiting these stores with an empty stomach — doing so will tempt you to buy all things gingerbread!
- Learn More About Nutcrackers
Your itinerary to Leavenworth should always include a trip to the Nutcracker Museum. They feature everything about nutcrackers: from antique nutcrackers to clown nutcrackers. This is the perfect spot if you want to expand your knowledge (about nutcrackers) and stay warm at the same time.
If the museum visit inspires you to start your own nutcracker collection, visit next door and buy your own nutcracker. The store also makes excellent nutcracker-themed decors for the holidays or gifts for people who love nutcrackers.
- Munch on Unlimited Candies
Do you have a sweet tooth? Then you should stop at the Alps Candy Store. They offer some of the freshest taffy and fudge, so make sure to stock some for your trip back home. They’ll even have holiday-themed treats when you visit their store during the winter.
- Go Holiday Shopping
You can visit several places to buy holiday gifts when you’re in Leavenworth. You should definitely add these shops to your itinerary, especially if you want to bring some goodies to your friends and family back home.
Here are some of the best stores where you can go holiday shopping when you’re in Leavenworth:
- Kris Kringl: If you have a friend or family member who loves everything Christmas, stop at this store, as it sells Christmas ornaments and decorations 365 days a year. They will even personalize gifts for free.
- Nussknacker Haus: Do you know someone who’s a fan of nutcrackers? Buy them something from the Nussknacker Haus. This store houses the biggest collection of nutcrackers and smokers in the country.
- The Cheesemonger’s Shop: This shop is a haven for foodies. Here, you can choose from a wide variety of cheeses, sausages, wines, international beers, and more.
Visit Leavenworth ASAP
Regardless of when you’re going to visit Leavenworth, you’ll never run out of things to do. Start making your itinerary, and book your tickets and accommodations, so you can finally enjoy this town. The sooner you accomplish these tasks, the sooner you can have fun visiting Leavenworth!