Thinking about visiting Leavenworth, Washington this winter?
You’re not the only one. Leavenworth is a charming Bavarian-styled village nestled in the Cascade Mountains of Washington that is visited by over a million tourists every year. From Thanksgiving into February, Leavenworth looks like it belongs in a Hallmark Christmas movie. The tourist volume peaks in December, thanks to the combined charm of snow, holiday lights, and festive events. We highly recommend experiencing it at least once—but first, read our guide so that you’re fully prepared.
Read on for all the info you need!
Best time to visit
If you’re visiting Leavenworth to see it all lit up for the holidays, you have a pretty wide window. Leavenworth’s holiday lights are on daily starting on Thanksgiving and continuing through February! There is no longer an official “flipping of the switch” lighting ceremony, due to concerns about overcrowding.
In addition to the holiday lights, Leavenworth transforms into Christmastown with events and activities between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Christmastown at Leavenworth includes carolers and more live entertainment, photos with Santa, gingerbread houses on display, a free gift wrapping station, activities for kids, and more. See more info including a Christmastown schedule here.
Note that if you choose to visit Leavenworth in December, it will probably be the busiest that it gets all year. Parking will be especially limited on weekends. Use public transportation if you can!
Also keep in mind that if you plan to visit with small children around December 5, there is a chance that you will come across a Krampus! Although the holiday of Krampusnacht isn’t officially celebrated by the town of Leavenworth, some visitors do like to dress up for it and the horned Krampus could be a scary sight for kids.
There are several options for getting to Leavenworth from Seattle, the best of which is by train. You can take a scenic Amtrak train between Seattle and Leavenworth, which allows you to sit back and enjoy the beautiful views of the snowy Cascade mountains as part of the overall experience. When you get off the train, there is a shuttle that can get you to downtown Leavenworth.
You could also take a bus or drive there. If you choose to drive to Leavenworth, it takes about two hours from Sea-Tac Airport. Be sure to check road reports before attempting to make this scenic but wintery drive.
See more detailed info about getting to Leavenworth.
Where to stay
Leavenworth, Washington has a wide variety of lodging available. You can choose from bed and breakfasts, cabin rentals, boutique hotels, and rustic lodges. There is also RV parking available. Explore all the lodging options in Leavenworth here.
What to do
Downtown Leavenworth is full of restaurants (many of which feature traditional German food and beer) as well as charming boutique shops. If you visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, you can participate in the many free daily activities and events of Christmastown. Other popular activities in the winter months include having a spa day, taking a carriage ride, visiting the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, and taking a reindeer farm tour. See the full list of tours and attractions.
Also, be sure to check out Leavenworth’s newest attraction. Leavenworth Adventure Park opened in 2023 and is open year-round, rain or shine. The park includes a thrilling alpine roller coaster that you can ride while bundled up this winter. Read more about Leavenworth Adventure Park.
Finally, if you’re the outdoorsy type then you’ll be well-situated in Leavenworth for all the winter recreation your heart desires. You can go skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing, and more. Get more info about winter recreation at Leavenworth here.