Leavenworth is a small town in Washington State, just East of Steven’s Pass. It’s a top destination for both locals and tourists alike due to its unique Bavarian theme. It’s hard to believe until you really visit and see the extent of the ‘Leavenworth experience.’
In the 1960’s, town leaders felt inspired by the surrounding alpine hills which closely resembled Germany, so they came up with the idea of creating their own little Bavaria. This was accompanied by festivals which are now held year-round, drawing in tourists and making Leavenworth one of the coolest towns in the United States.
If you follow my Insta Stories, you know we visited Leavenworth this past weekend. We gathered our friends and family for a little bavarian vacation.
Leavenworth was having their annual Bavarian Icefest, a family-style weekend event which included snow sculptures, games, activities, a snowmobile sled pull, live ice carving, ski/board lessons, and fireworks. The town was packed full of people enjoying the festivities and reveling in the gorgeous snowscape!
Thanks to a few locals, we had the inside scoop on the best things to do in the area, so I wanted to pass along to you! I’ve lived in the PNW all my life, visited Leavenworth dozens of times, and these were all new to me – so I hope it helps plan your next trip!
Icicle Village Resort is the exception that I knew of the resort, however, never actually stayed there until this weekend. It was perfect! Easily accommodated our large group and super kid-friendly, it won our vote for best hotel in town. Icicle Village offers a range of amenities that make it easy to stay and play!
- In-house restaurant – JJ Hills Fresh Grill
- Spa – Alpine Spa
- Pool – Covered and heated in the winter
- Several Room Options + Large Condos available
- Pet friendly
- Icicle Activity Junction – Arcade games, miniature golf, sports court, a 7.5′ x 10′ big screen (Seahawks games!) and bikes for loan so you can explore the trails or ride into town to taste wine.
- Only a ten minute walk to downtown (shops, restaurants, activities)
- Free private parking
Icicle Village is a fantastic year-round destination – it’s close enough to downtown Leavenworth that you can venture in, but also offers opportunities to just relax. It would have been easy to just stay at the resort the entire trip – there’s so much to do and the comfort level is on par with home. I highly recommend it!
Leavenworth Ski Hill came highly recommended by the locals. Just 2 miles from downtown, it offers downhill skiing & snowboarding, ski jumping, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking and tubing. With six kiddos in our group, we opted for a morning of tubing, followed by hot chocolate at their Historic Ski Hill Lodge (a major highlight of the trip!). If you’re looking to play in the snow – definitely head to Ski Hill! I would recommend for ages 6+ (unless you have a fearless 4 or 5 year old!). (fyi – they offer 1 ride free to make sure your kiddo likes it before purchasing a pass.)
Mountain Springs Lodge is just 30 minutes out of downtown Leavenworth and offers a range of activities year-round: snowmobiling, horseback riding, zip lining, fly fishing and our favorite – sleigh rides.
We visited Mountain Springs on Sunday morning – first with a gourmet breakfast in their gorgeous lodge, followed by a horse-drawn sleigh ride through their winter wonderland.
The driver was kind enough to let the kiddos man the reigns, as well! Something they will never forget!
A stop along the way to warm up with apple cider by the fire, then we returned to the lodge to cozy up by their indoor fireplace. It was one of those absolutely perfect days. The sleigh ride was one the most magical things we have ever done with our kids. You have to go – an activity not to be missed in the winter!
There’s just something about this place…you can tell from the dozens of photos…I kinda love it. ♥
Another recommendation that came straight from the locals – J5 Coffee (sorry Starbucks – but it was way better!). We stopped by the shop every day on our trip and had the perfect pours straight from the owner and his family! Besides delicious espresso and hot cocoa, they have a darling gift shop that keeps you in the store long after your coffee is gone. Make sure to grab a cup while you’re in town – and tell them Portia sent you!
The Leavenworth Latin restaurant, South, was actually suggested to us by a waitress at another restaurant (you know it’s good then!). I will admit, it can be tough to score a reservation on holiday weekends, but it’s well worth it! The atmosphere is darling with chandeliers, pink walls, and an art deco feel. They also have fantastic vegan and gluten-free options (I recommend the Sweet Potato Enchilada Plate!). Great for lunch, dinner or drinks (+ they have a kids menu). Make sure to add South to your itinerary when in town!
The Flavor Express
One afternoon while shopping, we came across a fudge shop that read ‘Guilt Free Fudge.’ We had to see it to believe it – and it’s true! The Flavor Express offers vegan fudge made with coconut oil and one pound is only 13 grams of fat (way less than your typical fudge variety!). I definitely recommend you stop in and grab coconut cashew or almond peanut butter!
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning shopping – one of Leavenworth’s strong suits! Front street has a line of gift shops that will keep you busy any afternoon of the week. My favorite is the Leavenworth Boutique, which includes four adjoining shops – Copper Creek, JT Blue, Pine Hill Mercantile & Paprika “Sophisticated Hippie.” Make sure you have plenty of time to browse both the apparel and gifts!
Well it’s been made clear…Leavenworth, you won my heart this winter. There are so many things to do, see and eat – we definitely need a return trip soon!
I’d also like to thank Lexus for loaning us a 2016 Lexus RX450 hybrid for the weekend. The luxury crossover fit our family of four perfectly (with room for our luggage!) and made the drive a breeze. My favorite features included heated seats, panoramic glass roof, leather interior and the Lexus Enform App Suite, where you can search local listings, stream music, listen to live radio nationwide, place restaurant reservations and buy movie tickets—all from the center-console display. #Genius
I hope this post inspires you to visit Leavenworth this winter – there’s still plenty of snow waiting for you!
Disclosure: We were guests of the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed here represent my own, which I take great pride in providing pure honesty…because I’m OBSESSED with sharing the Good!