I recently saw a GIF online that Christmas was less than 6 months away! This year is flying by! Many people visit family for the holidays. I’m lucky that my family lives in town so I don’t need to travel for the holidays, but what I love doing is traveling early in December to visit destinations that really showcase Christmas. (This is because Arizona really never feels very Christmas-y with how hot it is!). This is the first part of a three-part series about unique places to get you in the Christmas spirit.
First up, Leavenworth, Washington. You’ve probably seen this little gem featured on the Travel Channel’s best Christmas town. Does it live up to the hype? Yes. Leavenworth is a charming little town with an abundance of holiday activities. It doesn’t hurt that the town looks like a little Bavarian Village. Mix in some snow and you’ve got a perfect combination of Christmas spirit.
Leavenworth hosts what is called the Christmas Lighting Festival. Events feature live music at the Front Street Gazebo (which in the snow is so picturesque), the arrival of Santa and holiday characters like Rudolph and the Nutcracker, carolers, and other entertainment like hand bell choirs, dancers, and more. You’ll also find ample hot cider and Gluhwein (perfect for a chilly day). And, they even have chestnuts roasting on an open fire. That sounded so romantic to indulge in, but let me tell you, I did not like them!
But the Christmas festival was AMAZING! So many activities and events to overload any visitor with the Christmas spirit. I had so much fun!
But here are many other activities in town to enjoy besides the festival. You can visit all the shops, check out the Nutcracker Museum. The Museum was so cool, but I was bummed they didn’t allow pictures. Visitors can enjoy some hot chocolate and Christmas cookies as well as participate in more active pursuits like tubing, snowshoeing and going on a sleigh ride. We went on a sleigh ride through Icicle Outfitters, and let me tell you, this was magical. We glided through the woods with the beautiful snow, and I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect.
We flew Allegiant Airlines from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to Pasco County. From there, we rented a car and drove about 3 hours. The drive wasn’t too bad though coming back, we did have a fair amount of snow.
From Seattle, it’s a little more than a 2-hour drive.
Where to stay
Leavenworth has a variety of accommodation options. From motels to inns to vacation rentals. We stayed in a vacation rental outside of town. The rental was very nice, but they website said it was walking distance. It might be in the summer, but in the winter with a lot of snow and unlit roads, I don’t recommend staying too far out of town. Pay extra, stay in town, and be where the action is. You can park your car and not worry about driving around in the snow.
Where to eat
You’re in a Bavarian town, check out a German restaurant. While I’m not in love with German food in general, I love spätzle (and a good Germany beer. My favorite is radler – a beer lemonade mix.) I was delighted to have both at Andreas Keller. Good food and cool atmosphere. Leavenworth has many other German restaurants to enjoy too.
Those Christmas cookies I mentioned – check out the Gingerbread Factory. Yum.
Looking for pizza? We ordered Rudloof’s Pizza. Funny name, but they delivered and it was pretty good.
We also dined at Sulla Vita where we had a cozy dining experience waiting for the festival to start. The spiced wine was very nice too.
Other things to do
Washington is known for their wines, and Leavenworth has TONS of tasting rooms. We visited several and enjoyed tasting the local specialties. I really liked the cranberry wine, and of course because it’s cold, you’ll want to get some of that spiced warm wine. Check out a list of tasting rooms in Leavenworth here.
And, of course there are many shops to visit. My only complaint there was I was hoping for more locally-made goods.
Leavenworth has festivals throughout the year, and I bet it is beautiful in the autumn. It is a popular place to visit, and I recommend planning ahead if you are going to try and go in December.
Leavenworth.org provides great insight into what there is to see and do and how to plan your journey.
Stay tuned next time for a recommendation of a great place to get a sense of the holidays with a bit of a French flair north of the border.