When you want to get away from Seattle for the weekend, booking a trip to Leavenworth is a perfect choice. Since it’s only two hours away from the city, many people only make a day trip to Leavenworth. However, there are plenty of things to do in Leavenworth, so you need a weekend in Leavenworth to experience them all.
The town of Leavenworth has a fascinating history to it. When you see the pictures, you’ll notice it looks like a small town out of Germany. The village was formed in the early 1900s as a small timber community but struggled to stay afloat once the railroad moved away from it.
In the 1960s, the locals formed the idea to revitalize the town by making it a Bavarian-themed city to draw tourism. The rest is history, as you’ll see droves of people here year-round.
I’ve been to this Bavarian town in Washington every season at least a dozen times, with my last visit being in July 2022, so I compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do in Leavenworth, Washington. I was here in 2015 to run a half-marathon and participate in Oktoberfest, and I’ve been multiple times for the beautiful Christmas tree lighting in December.
Leavenworth is only a 2-hour drive from Seattle, making it perfect for a last-minute weekend getaway from Seattle. This is even an ideal long Vancouver weekend getaway if you have the time.
This guide will help you plan your Leavenworth trip by suggesting where to stay, finding the best things to do in Leavenworth this weekend, and providing a sample itinerary for a weekend in Leavenworth.
This post was first written in 2018 and last updated in 2023.
15 Best Things to Do in Leavenworth on the Weekend
Here are some fun activities to check out in Leavenworth on the weekend.
1. Take a Stroll Through Waterfront Park
Start your day in Waterfront Park, a tranquil haven only steps from the hustle and bustle of Leavenworth’s downtown. Enjoy the peace of the early morning as you stroll along one of the park’s many trails that winds gently around the river.
The park’s natural beauty can be found by taking a leisurely stroll down the gorgeous Commercial Street, down a mild hill, and across a picture-perfect bridge. Parking is limited at the park, so leave your car in town and enjoy the short stroll.
The river is one of the most popular places in Leavenworth, both during the day and at night. Visit the park in the wee hours of the morning or the evening to experience the tranquility without any other visitors on the beautiful trail.
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2. Pretend You’re in Bavaria
The German theme of the town is my favorite part of coming here, which is why it’s considered one of the best things to do in the PNW for many people. One of my favorite things to do in Leavenworth is pretend I’m in Bavaria by taking selfies throughout the city.
Not only are the decorations straight out of Germany, but you can get authentic German cuisine here in this adorable small town in Washington. There are multiple places to get German beer and food, including the following:
- Ludwig’s – live polka music plays here on Saturdays, and they have Spatzel and Schnitzel on their menu
- München Haus – good for sausage and beer
- Bären Haus – a variety of German food and imported beer such as Hofbräu
3. Visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is a must-see for every child (and adult!) visiting the area. This unique attraction in Leavenworth is home to a collection of more than 6,000 nutcrackers, making it one of the best things to do in Leavenworth.
You’ll learn the history of nutcrackers all across the world as you browse through the museum’s collection. Visit the shop next door to pick up a unique keepsake or discussion starter for your home.
The museum has a fun nutcracker scavenger hunt for families with kids who are visiting Leavenworth. Kids will enjoy the hunt for the hidden nutcrackers, each a work of art in its own right.
4. Go Wine Tasting
While wine tasting is one of the best things to do in Lake Chelan, you don’t have to drive north to experience that. You’ll be delighted to find there are plenty of Leavenworth wine-tasting shops as well.
You can step inside to try a selection of local wines or sit outside to have a glass with friends. While I love having German beer, it’s nice to take a break and try local wine instead sometimes.
Here are some of my favorite Leavenworth wineries to visit:
- Silvara Cellars has a chic tasting room and a patio to enjoy the weather while sampling the wine.
- Icicle Ridge Winery is in a picturesque log home in nearby Peshastin and features a relaxing ambiance and breathtaking mountain vistas. I recommend going to have some wine and listening to live music on the weekends.
- Ryan Patrick Wines is known for its variety of well-balanced wines and its chic, comfortable tasting room. I love that they’re conveniently in downtown Leavenworth.
- Eagle Creek Winery is the oldest winery in Leavenworth and one of my favorites. You can choose between their quaint tasting room in the heart of Leavenworth and their picturesque estate north of downtown.
5. Visit a Reindeer Farm
I’ve been to Leavenworth about a dozen times and never knew there was a reindeer farm just outside of town until my last trip there. According to TripAdvisor, this is rated as one of the top things to do in Leavenworth. You sign up for a tour in advance and then come at your set time to learn about the history of the animals.
After, you get to take a branch full of leaves into the pen to feed the reindeer, so this is an amazing experience to put on your Washington bucket list. The staff gives you a few safety tips, but they’re overall very gentle creatures used to people. I had a blast and recommend putting this on your list of things to do near Leavenworth.
Want to extend your trip? Head up north to go on a North Cascades day trip and check out hikes around the North Cascades.
6. Have a Sausage and a Pint at a Beer Garden
One of my favorite things to do in Leavenworth is to go to one of several sausage gardens in town (most do have veggie dogs as well!). These really make you feel like you’re in Germany when you can get bratwurst and a variety of toppings. Don’t forget to order a giant pretzel!
Most of these also have a beer garden with them, so take a long leisurely lunch enjoying your sausage and pint of German beer. Every time I visit Leavenworth, I stop here because it’s such a fun atmosphere. There are many kid-friendly breweries if you’re with your family.
7. Visit Leavenworth at Christmastime
While I love going on a vacation to Leavenworth in the summer, winter in Leavenworth is unreal. The town comes to life with holiday decorations and events of all kinds, such as carolers that roam the streets. They have a tree-lighting ceremony on the weekends in December, so try to plan your trip around that.
Winter is such a cozy time to take a trip here, as the streets are often covered in snow to make it feel even more festive. You’ll want to add a stop to the local bakeries on your Leavenworth itinerary, as they tend to have seasonal goodies to enjoy.
You can also take a Leavenworth Christmas Tour from Seattle if you don’t want to deal with driving. You’ll get to see the lights all around the town, buy some holiday gifts, and even have the option to take a sleigh ride!
8. Take a Hike in the Mountains
There are so many hikes near Leavenworth that you’ll want to make sure you save enough time for one. Depending on your expertise level and how long you feel like hiking, there are several to choose from during your three days in Leavenworth. Bring hiking essentials such as a water bottle and hiking backpack on one of the most active things to do near Leavenworth.
This is one of the more popular hikes near Leavenworth, so start early. You’ll be competing with people staying for a weekend in Leavenworth and those doing a day trip to Leavenworth from Seattle for this hike. You’ll need an NW Forest Pass to park here, or you can pay a daily fee of $5.
The hike is about eight miles roundtrip and takes you to the glacier-filled Colchuck Lake. It’s a beautiful area, but make sure you bring plenty of water and bug spray. Parts of it are easy, but you gain 2,280 feet, so make sure you have some hiking experience.
Icicle Gorge Trail
If that hike sounds a bit too challenging for you, Icicle Gorge Nature Loop is another great hike near Leavenworth, an easier Washington hike. The loop is only 4.2 miles round trip with a 150 feet elevation. This is one of the most scenic things to do around Leavenworth if you don’t mind getting exercise while doing it.
While it’s still a good workout, it’s much easier for hikers of any level to do. You’ll have beautiful river views, and many bird watchers also frequent this area.
Scenic Hot Springs
As the name suggests, this is a beautiful hike to go on. However, you’ll need to make a reservation if you want to visit Scenic Hot Springs, so plan this in advance.
If making this a winter hike or going when there’s still snow in the mountains, you’ll need to bring snowshoes and appropriate winter clothing.
I recommend going on one of the most fun activities in Leavenworth early in the morning, enjoying the hike and hot springs, and then heading back to town to dry off and for a late lunch.
9. Enjoy an Adults-Only Spa and Hotel
The Posthotel in Leavenworth is one of the most romantic things to do in Leavenworth, as it’s a wonderful, high-end, adult-only getaway where you can unwind. Just picture yourself relaxing in the hotel’s European-style elegance as the majestic Cascade Mountains surround you.
Your hotel will be a peaceful haven with its soft bedding, fireplace, and balcony overlooking the beautiful scenery outside – talk about a romantic activity!
Let’s get on to the Posthotel’s best feature – a fantastic spa there where you can unwind in the steam rooms, saunas, and relaxation spaces. You can relax with a massage or body treatment after a plunge in the heated outdoor saltwater pool.
During the hotel’s breakfast buffet, you can choose from a wide variety of freshly prepared items made using products from the area. Make sure you visit their afternoon tea service for some tasty snacks and hot tea.
Ready for a luxurious weekend? Book your stay at the Posthotel in advance.
10. Listen to Live Music
During the warmer months, you can often find people dressed up in traditional German clothing playing accordions and other instruments. They tend to be at Front Street Park Gazebo, so grab a bench and watch the show when looking for what to do in Leavenworth.
One of the most lively times to visit Leavenworth on the weekend is during Oktoberfest in the fall. The town holds one of the best Oktoberfests in Washington, so you’ll want to check it out if you have the chance. Come here for the beer, dancing, and other festive things to do in Leavenworth at night.
11. Learn How to Ski
When looking for what to do near Leavenworth, consider going skiing for a day. Leavenworth Ski Hill is an ideal place to take kids skiing or go if you’re a beginner like me. They have a moving carpet you can go on until you feel more confident. Sledding and tubing are also available if you need more things to do in Leavenworth.
If you’re more advanced, you can head over to Stevens Pass for a much larger mountain with multiple runs and chair lifts. This area is only about 40 minutes west of Leavenworth, so you could also head over there on your last day after you check out of your hotel.
12. Go River Rafting on the Wenatchee River
Looing for an adventurous thing to do in Leavenworth? Try river rafting! I did this years ago and absolutely loved it. Leavenworth is conveniently close to the magnificent Wenatchee River, which will host you for the afternoon.
May until September is prime rafting season, while water levels and conditions change throughout the season. Early in the season, the water is higher, and the rapids are more powerful, making it ideal for adventure seekers seeking a rush. The river calms down as the season goes on, making it a better option for those looking for a laid-back adventure.
In Leavenworth, you can book a guided river rafting excursion with one of several local outfitters that offer tours for a variety of experiences and preference levels. Osprey Rafting Company, Orion River Rafting, and Blue Sky Outfitters are some of the local companies to check out. All of these guides and outfitters are experts who will see to it that you have a safe and memorable experience.
On a typical rafting trip, you’ll spend two hours navigating thrilling rapids, gazing over the stunning landscape, and keeping an eye out for riverside species. You’ll likely get wet, so bring extra clothes to change into.
13. See a Show at the Leavenworth Summer Theater
The Leavenworth Summer Theater is a perfect thing to do in Leavenworth with kids that not many people know about. They have family-friendly musical plays staged beneath the night sky in this outdoor theater from late June through August.
There is a wide variety of shows, from revivals of old favorites to brand-new works, presented at the theater throughout each season. Talented actors, singers, and dancers bring the performances to life with the help of live orchestras and elaborate settings. The mission of the Leavenworth Summer Theater is to produce works that will appeal to a wide range of ages and levels of theatergoer interest.
Both the Ski Hill Amphitheater and the Hatchery Park Stage are beautiful outdoor locations for the shows. The stunning Cascade Mountain scenery is a common denominator between the two destinations.
A blanket or low-backed chair for seating and a light jacket or sweater for the evenings’ colder temperatures will make your time at the Leavenworth Summer Theater all the more enjoyable. In addition to the many concessions sold there, you can bring your own picnic to enjoy before the concert.
14. Try Out the Local Food
For a small town, I’m always impressed that there’s such a selection of restaurants in Leavenworth. From pizza to Mexican cuisine, you’ll find something for everyone here.
I’ve been to a majority of the restaurants in Leavenworth at this point, but here are some of my favorite ones:
- Leavenworth Pizza Company: Now that I have kids, this is always a go-to for us on trips to the town. They have a variety of appetizers, salads, and calzones in addition to the restaurant’s famous pizza on the menu. I also love getting the samplers of local beer. Save room for the Alpine Apple dessert pizza.
- Watershed Cafe: The menu of Watershed Cafe is inspired by the Pacific Northwest, and the restaurant takes pride in using only locally sourced, organic, and sustainable ingredients. The cafe’s location on the Wenatchee River gives it an air of rustic warmth and friendliness. Watershed Cafe is the best place to get a tasty, locally-inspired lunch, with dishes ranging from farm-to-table salads and substantial sandwiches to great mains like steelhead fish and pork tenderloin.
- SOUTH: This surprisingly became one of my favorite Leavenworth restaurants, as their dishes draw upon the rich culinary history of the American South. Some of the dishes I recommend include stuffed jalapenos, sweet potato tacos, and black bean enchiladas.
15. Play at Lake Wenatchee State Park
It takes around 30 minutes to drive from Leavenworth to Lake Wenatchee State Park, which is located about 20 miles away. Anybody looking for some fresh air and beautiful sights should definitely check out the park.
Almost 500 acres make up Lake Wenatchee State Park, with the north shore and south shore both hosting their own set of attractions. The park is named after the beautiful Lake Wenatchee, whose pure waters are framed by the towering Cascade Mountains.
A wide variety of recreational opportunities are available to park and lake visitors, including swimming in specified parts of the lake during warm summer days, boating with the use of boat ramps provided at the park, and fishing for species such as salmon and trout.
The park also has a number of hiking paths that visitors of all experience levels may use to explore the area’s beautiful woodland and take in the scenery. This is one of the best things to do in Leavenworth in the summer when you want to be near the water.
A Weekend in Leavenworth Itinerary
Here’s a suggested itinerary for a weekend in Leavenworth, including what to see and what to do in Leavenworth. You’ll want to save this Leavenworth itinerary.
Day 1 – Explore the Shops
I recommend leaving early on Friday to get the most out of your weekend in Leavenworth. The main area of Leavenworth can get crowded, especially during summer in Seattle and the holidays, so it’s best to get there before everyone.
If you can get an early check-in at your hotel, head into town to have lunch at Leavenworth Sausage Garten. Those who have been to Germany before will love how much this resembles a German beer garden.
They have a variety of German sausages, hot dogs, veggie dogs, and several dozen different kinds of ketchup. Make sure to order a pint of German beer to go with it.
You’ll love how many fun things to do in Leavenworth there are. After lunch, head over to the Nutcracker Museum to see more nutcrackers than you’ve ever seen in your life.
If you’re looking for a snack, head over for a scoop of ice cream at Whistlepunk. They have delicious flavors, which are often based on the season, such as huckleberry ice cream.
There are also many places to go wine tasting in Leavenworth, and you don’t even need to drive anywhere during your 3 days in Leavenworth. Icicle Ridge Winery is a good place to taste local wine, and you can enjoy the weather by sitting outside.
Baroness Cellars Leavenworth is another great place for Leavenworth wine tasting that has a European-style tasting room.
For dinner, head to Watershed Cafe. This is a farm-to-table restaurant that changes its menu daily. I recommend the daily seafood options, as they always have a creative flair to them. Make sure to check out their cocktail menu while you’re there as well.
After dinner, watch Alphorns play at the Front Street Park Gazebo, one of the more popular Leavenworth attractions. I love live music, and hearing Bavarian music with musicians dressed up in traditional clothing is a treat. You might even see people start dancing around when they get really into it.
Day 2 – Get Outdoors
Before starting your morning activities in Leavenworth, head to Good Mood Food for breakfast. They have plenty of healthy choices to choose from, including fresh juice.
There are many Leavenworth activities to do when you wake up, but I recommend you take advantage of the hiking near Leavenworth. Many people just take a day trip from Seattle to go hiking here, but you’ll appreciate not having such an early morning start.
No matter how short or long your hike is, add at least one hike to your list of what to do in Leavenworth in the summer. The weather is absolutely gorgeous during this time of the year.
After all that activity, you’ll be ready for lunch. Head to Munchen Haus for another German meal of pretzels and sausage. For your afternoon activities in Leavenworth, check out all the shops in town.
There are many boutique shops, souvenir stores, and specialty chocolate stores. Be sure to stop by The Taffy Shop to have your pick of dozens of different taffies and a variety of candy from your childhood.
For dinner, you’ll have a taste of Latin food at SOUTH. Grab a seat outside on the back patio and order the basil ginger margarita, one of their specials. It’s a good place for dinner or just happy hour.
If you’re looking for a fun thing to do in Leavenworth after dinner, check out The Sound of Music at the Leavenworth Summer Theater. It’s the perfect way to end a relaxing summer night.
You can also check out Art in the Park, where local artists bring their paintings, jewelry, and more from May until October.
Day 3 – Spend the Morning Relaxing
On your last day, start with breakfast at The Gingerbread Factory. It’s a charming cafe with coffee and pastries, and of course, gingerbread. It makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale, which will make it hard to go back home. You could also get a day pass to Posthotel’s spa for the morning.
A great way to spend your Sunday morning is by walking around Waterfront Park when you’re looking for what to do in Leavenworth. There’s a trail that follows the river through town to walk on. During the warmer months, dozens of people take their intertubes here for a lazy day floating on the river.
For lunch on your way out of town, stop by Icicle Brewing Company. They have various items for lunch, such as salads, sandwiches, and soup. There is also plenty of German-style beer to try, and they’re a kid-friendly brewery.
When you leave Leavenworth, carve some time into your schedule to explore fun things to do in Wenatchee. You’ll jump east on Highway 2 and then go south on Highway 97 for a 30-minute ride. There are many things to do in Wenatchee, including a river walk, hikes, and many local breweries.
Tips for Planning Your Leavenworth Weekend
Here are a few tips to help with your Leavenworth weekend itinerary.
- Groceries and gas are available – While Leavenworth is a small town, they have almost everything you need. If you go towards the east end of town, you’ll find a Safeway to buy snacks and groceries. They also sell outdoor gear such as floaties and sunscreen. Safeway also sells gas, or you can get gas at one of the 76 stations.
- Parking is all around – While Leavenworth does get crowded during Christmas and the summer, there are several places to park. Street parking lines all the shops, and there are also several paid parking lots around town.
- Make hotel and dinner reservations in advance – I recommend making an advanced reservation if there’s a place you really want to go to for dinner. This will ensure you’ll get in at the time you want and don’t have to wait around for too long.
How to Get to Leavenworth
There are several different ways to get to Leavenworth, including driving your car, taking the train, and taking the bus. If you plan to stay in the town, it’s easy to get around without a car.
However, if you plan on going on hikes or doing other Leavenworth activities that aren’t right in town, it’d be best to have a car for your Leavenworth trip. Here are the different ways to get from Seattle to Leavenworth.
- Drive – The drive from Seattle to Leavenworth is pretty simple and a short road trip from Seattle, as you can hop on Highway 2, go over the mountains, and be there in about two hours. If you’re coming from the south or east part of Washington, you can take I-90 to Route 97 to get on Highway 2. There are many places to rent a car around Seattle, and I recommend Alamo or Hertz.
- Train – If you don’t have a car, you can still easily get to Leavenworth. Many people love taking the train to Leavenworth, as it’s relaxing and provides beautiful views along the way. You can book your ticket through Amtrak before you come on your trip. Many tourists in Seattle use this method when doing a day trip to Leavenworth.
- Bus – There are also several bus tours you can take, whether you’re spending the weekend in Leavenworth or just doing a day trip to Leavenworth. This Leavenworth tour from Seattle will pick you up, do all the driving, and give you a full day to explore the town.
Where to Stay in Leavenworth
While you can take a Leavenworth day trip, I recommend spending several days there to enjoy it fully. There are a variety of hotels in and near Leavenworth to choose from, and here are a few I recommend.
- Icicle Village Resort – I stayed here during my last trip to Leavenworth and liked that it’s on the edge of town and has parking. There’s also a pool, restaurant, mini-golf, and massage on-site. (rates start at $159 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
- Bavarian Lodge – This hotel is central to downtown Leavenworth, has a restaurant and bar, and has parking for guests. (rates start at $161 per night; book your room on Booking.com or Hotels.com)
- Posthotel – When you’re looking for a romantic weekend in Leavenworth, book a stay at this adults-only hotel. Make sure to visit the spa one of the mornings you’re there. (rates start at $395 per night; book your room on Booking.com or read reviews on TripAdvisor)
Prefer to stay in a vacation rental during your trip to Leavenworth? I have a complete post on places to stay in Leavenworth, but here are a few to check out:
- Condo in the heart of the village – You’ll be right in the middle of the action during your Leavenworth trip as you relax on your balcony overlooking the village and seconds away from restaurants and shops in this condo. (rates start at $195 per night)
- Mountainview house – You’ll be downtown and have views of the mountains from this condo that sleeps up to four guests. (rates start at $234 per night)
- Three-bedroom home – This house is on the outskirts of town, so you’ll have some privacy along with scenic views. (rates start at $147 per night)
Best Time to Visit Leavenworth
The thing I love about this town is there is no bad time to visit because each season has its own reason to visit. For example, fall is a beautiful time to visit, as you’ll have stunning foilage on the drive over and enjoy similar scenery as you walk around the tree-lined river.
Summer is by far the most popular time to visit due to the warm weather, and it is an ideal stopping point on people’s road trips. You’ll be able to do activities such as floating on the river and eating at outdoor patios.
Winter is the second most popular time to visit, with the majority of those visits being in December. The town turns into all things Christmas, so you’ll enjoy Christmas caroling, the town lit up in thousands of lights, and plenty of other holiday activities.
Spring is also a great time to visit, as you’ll start to enjoy warmer weather while not yet seeing the increase in tourists and hotel prices.
You should now have plenty of ideas for spending a weekend in Leavenworth. With so many things to do in Leavenworth, you can make your vacation your own with a mix of relaxation and adventure. You’ll find it hard to leave this Bavarian-themed village!