Planning to visit the cute little town of Leavenworth WA in winter? Keep reading to find all you need to know.
Few areas of the United States are as gorgeous as the Pacific Northwest for verdant forests, moody beaches and charming towns. Washington State lies at the true heart of this beauty and Leavenworth might just be the poster child of that very image.
Famous for looking more like a Bavarian village than an American one, this little enchanting town is the perfect escape for anyone seeking a weekend getaway from Seattle or a little Leavenworth WA winter sparkle during the holidays.
There are so many things to do in Leavenworth WA throughout the seasons. I however visited Leavenworth in winter just a little before Thanksgiving and the festive lights were already on.
Leavenworth at Christmas time is also a magical place. During this time you’ll be able to see the Christmas lights, have encounters with reindeer and Santa himself as well as do a range of winter sports.
As Leavenworth sits in the Cascades Range weather here can be pretty unpredictable in the fall and winter and the days are short. Make sure that you check the road conditions before setting out and carry snow chains or socks if necessary.
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Leavenworth WA Winter Weather
Winter in Leavenworth generally runs from mid-November until the end of February. During this time you can expect snow and low temperatures when visiting the area. Occasionally you might also find snow outside of these times such as in early November or in March.
Winter Temperatures in Leavenworth
During the winter months, you can expect pretty cold temperatures in Leavenworth so you’ll need to wrap up warm and pack lots of layers, especially for outdoor activities.
Leavenworth Temperatures in December – Leavenworth in December sees highs of 33ºF/0ºC and lows of 20ºF/-6ºC
Leavenworth Temperatures in January – Leavenworth in January sees highs of 35ºF/2ºC and lows of 20ºF/-6ºC
Leavenworth Temperatures in February – Leavenworth in February sees highs of 43ºF/6ºC and lows of 22ºF/-5ºC
Snowfall in Leavenworth
Leavenworth gets to a fair share of snowfall during the winter months which allows for a range of Leavenworth winter activities such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skiing.
Below are some statistics for the average amounts of snow you can expect in each winter month.
Average Leavenworth Snowfall in December– 33 inches
Average Leavenworth Snowfall in January– 22 inches
Average Leavenworth Snowfall in February– 11 inches
Occasionally you can also get snow in November and March. Generally, November sees about 10 inches of snow, while in March, the average is 3 inches.
December and January see the most snowfall, so if you are heading to Leavenworth to enjoy some snowsports and outdoor winter activities, these are the best months in which to plan your trip.
Things to Do in Leavenworth in Winter
Walk down Front Street and Explore the Town
No matter what time of year it is, walking around and exploring the town is an absolute must.
Leavenworth is small and completely walkable and you’ll be able to get your bearings in no time.
The focal point of Leavenworth and its Bavarian heart is Front Street and you just can’t miss walking along this quaint little street admiring all the boutiques, bars and restaurants housed in typical Southern German architecture.
Once you’ve explored all the wonderful offerings on Front Street at your own pace make sure to also check out the blocks around it as they are also filled with cute cafes and chalet-style architecture.
Check out the lights and Festive Decorations in Front Street Park
When wandering down Front Street, you’ll spot Front Street Park in no time at all.
During the holiday season, the entire park is lit up by thousands of colorful lights- the trees, lamp posts and Christmasy ornaments. Admiring them is one of the best things to do in Leavenworth in December, just before Christmas.
The best time to come to the park is after dark when you can fully appreciate the lights and the Holiday charm they give off.
There’s also a beautiful gazebo in the center of the park, which, in the evenings plays classical music or during the holiday season- Christmas music.
During the fall and winter, it can be a little too chilly to sit outside for too long, but that’s a great excuse to run into The Danish Bakery just opposite to grab a hot chocolate or just about anything with pumpkin spice mix in.
Visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
While you’re at Front Street Park you can also wander into the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, a one of a kind showcase museum.
This unique, Bavarian style museum houses thousands of both modern and antique nutcrackers. The nutcrackers on show today are actually the former collection of couple George and Arlene Wagner who had been collecting nutcrackers their whole lives.
Visiting the museum is a lovely way to learn about the town’s history, get in the Christmas mood and it’s also a great place for kids.
Take a Sleigh Ride
There’s little that gets the Christmas spirit on faster than a sleigh ride through the snow. Unfortunately, you’ll have to settle for a horse-pulled sleigh rather than a reindeer one but this is a fabulous activity for the whole family.
Leavenworth Sleigh Rides can offer one-horse open sleighs for up to 6 people as well as Santa sleighs for up to 16 people. Each sleigh ride takes about 45 minutes and includes a cup of warm apple cider on return.
Another place to experience sleigh rides or a horseback ride is Eagle Creek Ranch. You can check out rates and book here. It’s one of the best places for Leavenworth winter activities.
Note that horseback riding here is only available in the summer months from April.
Go for a Walk on Blackbird Island
Cross the cute little bridge across from the PostHotel and you’ll find yourself on Blackbird Island in the middle of the Wenatchee River.
The island has two short and easy loop trails through the forested park and is a great way to immerse yourself in the local nature as well as getting you moving after all those pretzels. Blackbird Island is just a short walk from downtown Leavenworth.
If you keep going you’ll get to Enchantment Park to the south and Waterfront Park to the north. As it’s flat it’s also a great place for a quick morning run.
Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
Just outside Leavenworth town, you’ll find the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, a fun place for all the family. When visiting in winter, or before Christmas make sure to get your tickets well in advance as this is an especially busy time.
You’ll be able to meet Santa from the second week of November until the Holidays and get your photos with him as well as meet and pet the reindeer.
Your entry to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm also includes hot chocolate and other seasonal drinks around a cosy fire.
The Reindeer Farm is open all year round, just note that you’ll need to make reservations in advance. You can do that through their website here.
I don’t normally visit and support farms and zoos unless it’s for rehabilitation and rescue but the animals here genuinely seemed healthy and happy. It’s a great place to go if you’ve never come close to a reindeer before.
All visits cost $25 per person.
November- February – prime holiday season, make sure to book ahead, well in advance. Chance to meet Santa in November & December.
March– Closed for improvements
April– The best time to come and meet baby reindeer. Tickets are limited at this time to avoid crowds.
May- October– Come to see the reindeer with their summer coats and their growing antlers covered in soft velvet.
Ski on Leavenworth Ski Hill
One of the best ways to make the most of Leavenworth’s snow is to head to Leavenworth Ski Hill.
It’s a pretty easy run, and if you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder you’ll get bored quickly but it’s perfect for beginners or those looking for a bit of fun.
Tickets can be purchased for the day and they are available for Nordic, Alpine or tubing. Seasons passes are also available if you plan to come a few times during the winter. To find out about tickets click here.
While the ski center doesn’t rent out gear, there are plenty of stores in Leavenworth that rent gear including Arlberg Sports Haus, Der Sportsmann and Plain Hardware.
Lessons are available at the ski center just make sure to book them in advance.
If you haven’t skied before and are tempted to give it a try, this is one of the best places for it as the slopes are really mellow.
There’s also an area for tubing which is great for non-skiers and children.
Nordic Ski at Plain Hardware & Plain Valley
Leavenworth is packed full of amazing snowy, winter wonderland activities for everyone. If you’re visiting in the winter and you’re a fan of Nordic skiing or cross-country skiing, Plain Valley is the perfect place for it.
Just 15 miles from Leavenworth, Plain Valley has over 14 miles of cross-country ski trails for both beginners and advanced skiers.
A day pass will cost you $20 and you’ll be able to rent gear at Plain Valley. Apart from cross-country skis Plain Valley Ski Trails also rent out snowshoes so you can go snowshoeing rather than skiing if you prefer.
Lessons are also available just make sure to book online here at least 24 hours in advance.
Take a Walk through Waterfront Park
For some of the best views of Wenatchee River, head to Waterfront Park for a lovely stroll in nature.
From here you can see the river and beautiful native forests all around you. The park has a wild, national forest feel to it rather than a well-groomed city park and you’ll be able to encounter many types of flora and fauna here.
Fall is the best time of year for a wander around Leavenworth’s parks for some amazing fall foliage colours that light up the landscape on both sides of the Wenatchee River.
Sample the Local Washington Wines
It’s not just California that has great wines- Washington and Oregon produce their fine share too.
We sampled quite a few after being in Washington for a whole month and if you’re a wine fan, I highly encourage you to take some time and go on a wine tasting here in Leavenworth.
Yakima and Walla Walla are Washington’s main wine-growing areas with many of the best Leavenworth, WA wineries but you’ll be surprised to discover a few very close to Leavenworth.
Luckily, to sample the best of Washington’s wines you won’t need to drive all the way out to the wineries. Instead, head to a tasting room in Leavenworth to find your favourite.
The Wine Cellar is a great starting point where you can find six tasting rooms under one roof. The wines come from Washington’s finest wineries like Basel Cellars and Obelisco Estate Winery to name a couple.
If you’re not a fan of wine, they also make great cocktails and have some local cider to try too.
Another winery and tasting room worth visiting is Icicle Ridge Winery.
Sampling the wineries is one of the best things to do in Leavenworth in November or even March when little snow limits the amount of outdoor activities you can do.
Go Snowmobiling through the Backcountry
Washington and Leavenworth in particular are one of the best places in the United States for snowmobiling.
It’s the perfect way to get into the backcountry, get some wind in your hair and enjoy the outdoors.
There are three main places to rent a snowmobile. These outfitters also offer the services of a guide that will help you find the best trails and exactly the terrain you’re looking for.
Head to either Leavenworth Snowmobile Rentals, CJ Rentals or Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours who all offer similar rental equipment and service.
If you’re in Leavenworth for more than just a day ( which I highly recommend) there are so many Leavenworth things to do in winter in the Cascade Mountains just outside town. Most of them are just a short drive, or drive and hike away.