Originally published October 5, 2017 | Updated October 5, 2018

The Christmas season is coming! Snow-filled landscapes and mountain goodness! Holiday decorations and seasonal drinks! Lights! Lights! And more lights!!

Sorry, we tend to get a wee bit excited when the holiday season rolls around. While Seattle may tend towards being a bit…ahem…drab during this time of year, there happens to be a winter wonderland chock-full of snow, fun and festivities waiting to be explored in your own backyard.

Book our Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival day trip from Seattle to join in the festivities December 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th!

Only a short and scenic deluxe motorcoach ride away, the snowy mountain village of Leavenworth brims with plenty of holiday magic and cheer during the town’s old-fashioned Christmas Lighting Festival (book early, we sell this tour out each year!). The event culminates each weekend night in December (the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th & 16th), when the whole town comes alive with lights. One of our favorite (and yours!) tours, here are five reasons you don’t want to miss out on this perfect holiday experience.

1. Jaw-Dropping Scenic Mountain Views

For journey junkies, the three-hour ride northeast over the Cascades offers a sense of escape few other forms of travel can offer. It is the rare kind of trip that affords the opportunity to sit back and take in the region’s spectacular geography while someone else does the driving. This allows you to arrive relaxed and ready for adventure.

Incomparable views begin right away. Admire Jack Frost’s handiwork as you wind your way through the frozen mountain passes and watch as snowflakes gently fall on quiet forests. When hunger strikes, tuck into your Clipper-provided breakfast box and nosh on a Blazing Bagels cranberry orange muffin and Zoi honey Greek yogurt. Just don’t forget to keep gazing out at the natural beauty that surrounds you.

There is nothing more magical than watching the snow fall on the surrounding forests. Photo: Spencer Thomas
There is nothing more magical than watching the snow fall on the surrounding forests. Photo: Spencer Thomas

When you start seeing the snow-covered banks of the Wenatchee River, it means you are mere moments away from Leavenworth’s postcard-perfect scene. Rows of classic Bavarian-styled buildings decked out in their holiday finest stand against frosted peaks. Scramble off the bus and soak in the sights, sounds and smells of this festive-themed town.

Soak in scenic views of the icy blue Wenatchee River on your way into town. Photo: Scott Meis
Soak in scenic views of the icy blue Wenatchee River on your way into town. Photo: Scott Meis

2. A Bounty of Boutique Holiday Shopping

Of course, when visiting a quaint town filled with a treasure trove of unique boutiques and galleries, a little retail therapy is an essential part of your trip. Meandering down Front Street, it’s hard to resist the chance to snag some last-minute Christmas décor. Duck into Kris Kringl, the town’s year-round Christmas store for a huge assortment of holiday items or the nearby Nussknacker Haus for an amazing selection of wooden nutcrackers.

Blanketed in snow and lights, Leavenworth is a veritable winter wonderland. Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce
Blanketed in snow and lights, Leavenworth is a veritable winter wonderland. Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

If you need something to warm your noggin, head to the renowned Hat Shop. Try on everything from Viking helmets complete with blonde Brunhilda braids to fascinators like the ones worn at the royal wedding.

Thousands of lights cover the town, from street poles to the Bavarian-style storefronts.
Thousands of lights cover the town, from street poles to the Bavarian-style storefronts.

Fashionistas should be sure to check out the open and sunny, Posy Handpicked Goods. The shop has an artfully curated collection of small-batch goods that includes luxurious body oils and scrubs, delicate handmade jewelry and stylish home décor. You are sure to bring more than a few “special finds” home for Christmas.

3. Holiday Magic Delivered Through Fantastic Seasonal Sips

At Icicle Brewery you can sample over seven different tasty brews. We'll cheers to that!
At Icicle Brewery you can sample over seven different tasty brews. We’ll cheers to that!

Cozy up in Leavenworth’s unofficial town living room at Icicle Brewing and sip on a lineup of frothy brews made with local ingredients (Seriously, even the water is sourced down the street at Icicle Creek). We recommend pairing their exceptional bar bites with a pint of the Bootjack IPA, Colchuck Raspberry Wheat or Crosscut Pilsner.

Cuddle up by the fireplace at the Icicle Ride Winery Tasting room and sip one of their amazing wines.
Cuddle up by the fireplace at the Icicle Ride Winery Tasting room and sip one of their amazing wines.

Want to pair your beer (or should we say bier?) with an amazing house-made, giant pretzel? It comes complete with a side of spicy honey mustard, beer fondue, obatzda or horseradish cream cheese. Look no further than the newly opened Rhein Haus. Not only does the German-inspired beer hall have phenomenal local beers and eats, but the rustic, pinewood-filled space also boasts three bars, a massive outdoor patio and Front Street’s largest biergarten.

From there, continue down Front Street and check out the Chelan-based Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards. Sample the tasting room favorite, “Seduction” or their unique, crisp Pinot Noir rose. A few doors down, pop into the log-sided Icicle Ridge Winery tasting room to savor the vineyard’s award-winning white Riesling or their highly-acclaimed “Romanze” red blend. Looking for something different? Indulge in the sweeter side of life and sip on the Huckleberry or Raspberry Riesling. Deliciously fruity, they pair excellently with dessert and are absolute perfection.

4. Holiday Hunger? Leavenworth to the Rescue

Everything from wood-fired pizzas to chorizo and sharp white cheddar stuffed mushrooms await you at Sulla Vita. Photo: Dzhan Wiley
Everything from wood-fired pizzas to chorizo and sharp white cheddar stuffed mushrooms await you at Sulla Vita. Photo: Dzhan Wiley

After an hour or two of walking around town and taking in the nutty aroma of roasting chestnuts and the smell of brats sizzling on the grill, a case of the “hungries” is sure to develop. Follow your nose to the popular sausage house, Sausage Garten and feast on a selection of house-made bratwurst, currywurst, kielbasa, chorizo and Copenhagen street dogs.

For a larger lunch or early dinner, head inside Sulla Vita’s beautifully crafted, reclaimed wood dining room. A local foodie favorite, the restaurant serves up handcrafted small plates cooked in a wood-fired oven. To get a taste of all the deliciousness, order up as many of these treats as your heart desires (we recommend the gorgonzola stuffed dates, caprese salad or the sulla vita platter). Pair them with one of the vintages from what may be one of most impressive wine lists in town and you have the perfect meal.

Chocolaty, smooth and pilled with whipped cream, this is one dessert you don't want to miss. Photo: Dzhan Wiley
Chocolaty, smooth and pilled with whipped cream, this is one dessert you don’t want to miss. Photo: Dzhan Wiley

Down the road, the brick-lined Watershed Café is the epitome of culinary goodness in the Pacific Northwest. With a farm-to-table menu that changes daily, expect a new experience every time you visit. Keep an eye out for a few of our favorites, such as the teriyaki roasted wild king salmon or the SRF slow roasted kurobuta pork chop.

Be sure to save room for the restaurant’s decadent desserts such as the warm flourless chocolate cake. Served with house-made caramel sauce, San Juan sea salt and local vanilla ice cream, it is a little piece of chocolate heaven.

5. Festive Outdoor Fun for the Kids and Kids at Heart

Listen to songs performed by breakout solo artists and some of the best high school and professional choirs in the Pacific Northwest as you sled by the Front Street Gazebo. Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce
Listen to songs performed by breakout solo artists and some of the best high school and professional choirs in the Pacific Northwest as you sled by the Front Street Gazebo. Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

From snowflakes on your nose, to the sound of carols in the air, to what seems like a million trillion lights, this festive Bavarian town has endless ways to spark your holiday spirit. When the snow flies, whiz down the town’s sledding hill on Front Street Park under a rainbow of blinking Christmas lights or gliding over fresh power on a sleigh ride past rivers and woods.

When the last rays of sunlight fade from the horizon, follow the harmonic sounds of alphorns to the town Square for the highlight of the day – The Lighting Ceremony. In one magical moment, the entire town comes to life with a synchronized display of more than half a million sparkling lights and live music.

Dazzling, brightly hued trees light up the night sky. Photo: Scott Meis
Dazzling, brightly hued trees light up the night sky. Photo: Scott Meis

Simply put, Leavenworth rocks during the holidays. The Christmas card scenery, fantastic food and drink, outstanding shopping opportunities to get those last minute gifts and plenty of outdoor activities make for an enchanting Christmas experience.

Book Your Clipper Getaway

Clipper Recommends:

  • Make your trip to Leavenworth an overnight with a relaxing stay at the Red Lion Bellevue the night before. Get a jump start on the holiday festivities by doing some last minute holiday shopping at the Bellevue Collection or checking the parade on Snowflake Lane, where “snow” falls every evening.
  • Need to warm up while you’re in Leavenworth? Stop inside the small, modern J5 Coffee tasting room and espresso bar and sip on steaming hot cortados, macchiatos, lattes, pour over and AeroPress coffee brewed from the shop’s own locally roasted beans.

 

Feature Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce