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Icicle Lake in Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth Travel Guide: A 3-Day Itinerary

After being stuck at home for the past two years, practically everyone is itching to start traveling again. You might be tempted to go on a lavish European vacation, but there are plenty of great options much closer to home.

Leavenworth, Washington, is a quaint little city that looks like it’s straight out of Germany. This Bavarian-themed spot is only a two-hour drive from Seattle. Plus, you can choose from an array of activities, so it makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

If you’re ready to plan your vacay, check out our three-day Leavenworth itinerary to find all the best the city has to offer. 

[Related: Events in Washington State, Our Top 6]

Day 1: Hit the Town

Bavarian-style architecture at Leavenworth, Washington
Marvel at Bavarian-style architecture in Leavenworth, Washington (via Pexels)

Although it’s a small city with a population of about 2,000, there’s no shortage of activities in Leavenworth. Start off your trip by taking in the city’s scenery, shops and grub. You’ll find many of your best attractions on Front Street.

Explore the Shops

Downtown Leavenworth is full of charming shops, restaurants and cafes. Start your day by taking a stroll through downtown and stopping by whichever storefronts catch your eye. Here are a few of our recommendations:

Whether you’re looking for beautiful souvenirs or just browsing, you’ll have a great time exploring the city’s unique shops.

Check Out the Nutcracker Museum

One of the most singular attractions in Leavenworth is the Nutcracker Museum. George and Arlene Wagner founded the museum in 1995 and donated their extensive nutcracker collection. Between their collection and others’ donations over the years, the museum now houses more than 7,000 nutcrackers.

Visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm

Whether you’re traveling with children or not, visiting the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is a must. The farm is open year-round, but the most popular months to visit are November and December. If you plan to visit in winter, book your tickets early!

Farm tours change according to the season. At any time of year, you’ll need advanced reservations. Same-day tickets are rarely available, so make sure to plan ahead.

Nosh on Beer and Bratwursts

Once you’ve explored the city a bit, stock up on beer and bratwursts at one of Leavenworth’s many Bavarian-style restaurants. In the mood for classic German fare? Here’s a short list:

These restaurants have drool-worthy food and brew, and some feature live polka music! A flight to Bavaria? Unnötig — you’ll be close enough in Leavenworth.

Enjoy a Wine Tasting

Tired of beer? Try the wine! 

Leavenworth is in the heart of Washington Wine Country, so try out one of the city’s many tasting rooms. Here’s a list to get you started:

Order a glass of your favorite variety, or attend a wine tasting if you want to sample a bouquet of aromas.

[Related: Where to See Flower Fields in Washington State]

Day 2: Explore the Great Outdoors

Colchuck Lake at Leavenworth, Washington
Colchuck Lake is almost too beautiful for words (via Pexels)

This may come up again and again in our city guides, but Washington State is truly astounding in its natural beauty.

And Leavenworth is no exception. Situated at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, it has exhilarating outdoor activities as well as places to simply sit and marvel at nature. On day two of your Leavenworth itinerary, bask in the sights and sounds of the Washington outdoors.

Go Whitewater Rafting on the Wenatchee River

If you’re a thrill-seeker, you’ll definitely want to do some whitewater rafting on the Wenatchee River. The Leavenworth stretch of the river has class 3-4 whitewater rapids every spring, which makes it a spectacular rafting spot. The waves are great, and the scenery is unmatchable.

Several companies offer guided tours, so it’s worth your while even if you’re new to whitewater rafting. And if the rough rapids seem too tough, then visit from midsummer to late summer, when the waters are calmer.

Float on the Icicle River

Maybe rushing down a river isn’t your bag. That’s fine! 

Go for a leisurely float down the Icicle River for a tranquil change of pace. Soak in the sun and the jaw-dropping mountain views while you glide down the water.

Multiple businesses offer river-floating expeditions, and they’ll provide everything you need for a safe trip, including paddles and life jackets. Most businesses accept walk-ins, but book in advance to ensure you secure an ideal slot.

Hike at Colchuck Lake

Colchuck Lake is one of the top natural attractions in Washington — and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Leavenworth. Hiking at Colchuck Lake is popular, so get there early if you can.

The hike to Colchuck Lake is about eight miles round-trip, and you’ll reach 2,000 feet in elevation. If you’re an inexperienced hiker, you might skip this activity and opt for simply viewing the area. But if you’re up for the trek, you’ll never regret taking on the challenge.

Walk the Icicle Gorge Trail

If you’re looking for an easy hike (or to take another one!), check out the Icicle Gorge Trail. This hike is a 4.2-mile loop and gains only about 150 feet in elevation. Breathtaking river views and the chance to glimpse local wildlife are lovely rewards during the trip.

[Related: 7 Weekend Trips for Your Washington State Vacations]

Day 3: Take It Easy

Lights at the gazebo in Leavenworth, Washington
Winter lights at the Front Street Park Gazebo in Leavenworth (via Pixabay)

After two action-packed days, you’ll probably be ready for some rest. Enjoy laid-back activities and take time to relax. It’s the perfect way to round out your Leavenworth itinerary.

Head to the Spa

If you feel the need for some pampering, head to one of Leavenworth’s spas for a manicure or massage. Spas are often part of hotels and resorts in the area, so check whether they accept reservations from outside guests.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

What’s the perfect accompaniment to a spa visit? It’s chocolate, of course! Head to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, stock up on gourmet goodies and get those endorphins popping. 

If you’re staying away from sweets, snag a salad or delectable trail mix from Yodelin

Whichever piques your interest, Waterfront Park is ideal for a picnic and sunshine.

Enjoy Live Music

On weekend afternoons and evenings, the Front Street Park Gazebo hosts delightful live music. Musicians dress in traditional clothing and play Bavarian music. It’s a great way to get your toes tapping and cap off your Leavenworth excursion.

Attend Season-Specific Events

Leavenworth has multiple season-specific festivals and events, so you just might be able to catch one! Here’s a brief list:

Leavenworth’s renowned for its light shows in winter, so a chilly trip is worthwhile!

[Related: Picking Blackberries in Washington State]

Start Planning Your Leavenworth Itinerary Today

We hope this Leavenworth travel guide gives you a great overview of the city’s Old-World feel and awe-inspiring scenery. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or chill-seeker, you’ll find something that makes you smile. And this Leavenworth itinerary is just a sampler — explore, eat and shop to your heart’s content in this Little Bavaria.

If you’re planning your Leavenworth itinerary, Fun Stuff WA is here to help. We love Washington State and all it has to give, and we want to share that love with you! Contact us today, and we’ll reveal Washington’s best-kept secrets.

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Featured image via Pixabay