Some trips are for the soul. We’re lucky to able to experience dramatic changes in scenery without traveling for hours on end. Leavenworth, one of the most scenic towns in the PNW, is just two hours east away from Seattle and one of the best places for a weekend trip. We found ourselves here last month, completely smitten by the snow-capped mountains and the enchanted woods.
This Bavarian-themed village is a year-round destination but especially magical during winters. Who can resist sipping hot chocolate by a campfire while everything around you is blanketed in white?
If you have a not-so-curious case of wanderlust, you’re not alone. A gorgeous mountain getaway might just be the salve to soothe our travel-starved souls. The best part? No tourists thronging the place, and you can have your own private, slice of winter wonderland when you hit the slopes. It’s just a few hours from Seattle, but feels like a different part of the world altogether.
Our getaway was serene and felt super safe as well, with Leavenworth businesses following Covid-19 safety guidelines very strictly. Do check WSDOT for weather conditions when you drive over. Here are some recommendations to make the most of your trip…
Got Cabin fever from one too many months of quarantine? The rustic, chic cabins at The Sleeping Lady will take care of that for you! The sleeping lady offers picturesque views and comfortable cabin-style lodging. The way The Sleeping Lady is set up – in clusters of cute little cottages in the open, is incidentally, just perfect for social distancing. What we loved most about this place was its relaxed, happy vibe. It also has three farm-to-table restaurants for when you want to fuel up in between ski sessions.There is plenty to do in here, on or off the slopes – outdoor heated restaurants, bonfires, a world-class spa, an organic garden, a self-guided art walk through the property, organic garden tours, outdoor adventures, ski lessons, and so much more. With so many amenities in the resort itself – there is hardly any need to venture out. The property is kid-approved and pet-friendly!
The cabins themselves are intimate, cushy, and cozy – all warm wood and soft, pillowy blankets. It is delightful to sit inside curled up on the couch with a dark hot chocolate and watch the snowfall outside. There is no TV here (by design) so be prepared to plug away your devices, step away from the idiot box and enjoy the cool, bracing air. While staying here, you must get a map of their incredible, self-guided art walk and allow yourself to get lost in the beautiful artwork in such a serene setting. It is a fun activity for the whole family.
Savor & Sip
O’Grady’s at The Sleeping Lady is the perfect spot to hit for a hearty, delicious breakfast before you head for the slopes. It is equally nice to lounge around their outdoor firepits and enjoy an indulgent brunch as you take in stellar views around you. Don’t be surprised if a family of deer decides to join your brunch party!
The Grotto at The Sleeping Lady is well outfitted for the cold (and Covid!) with ample outdoor seating with heaters and firepits. With blazing firepits, hot toddies, and twinkling fairy lights – it makes for an enchanting scene in the evening. Gorge on hummus platters with fat stuffed greek dolmas, or feast on hawaiian pizzas – and wash it down with one of their hot cocktails while it is still chilly outside.
At La Javelina, dig into an elevated Tex-mex menu with some Bavarian flourishes. Think scratchmade tortillas, fresh local produce and robustly seasoned meat. Owner Phil Page and his wife, Gabrielle run the show here. Phil grew up on a dairy farm in Brenham, Texas. The restaurant concept “Texas Kitchen” is a nod to nostalgia and their memories of food, family and friends in Texas. While tacos are the obvious (and very delicious) choice here, their loaded meaty sandwiches are a speciality.We tried the Liberty Valance ( A smoked chicken thigh Sammy with tomato vinaigrette, arugula, pickled red onion & cilantro crema) and it was both yummy and filling. We paired it with fresh Jalapeño cornbread just out of the oven. The veggie tacos with delicata squash are so delicious and hold up well against the meat-laden counterparts. Do bring a dozen (or two!) of their homemade tortillas back to take your at-home taco night to the next level. Do keep room for dessert – they have scrumptious cinnamon rolls and whoopie pies!
For a taste of Germany in downtown Leavenworth – head to Munchenhaus. Munchenhaus proves that you can never ever go wrong with classics. The food is hearty, meaty (they do have vegan options though!) and so satisfying. While some Bratwurst and beer are must-haves in this traditional German eatery, another delicious treat is their soft German pretzel served with spicy wholegrain mustard.
Beer lovers – run, don’t walk to this to Icicle Brewing. From fruity, bright IPA’s to classic German Lagers; there’s no dearth of absolutely delicious beer choices here. A truly outstanding gem here, though is their Dark Persuasion – a rich stout brewed with coconut and cacao nibs. Delish!
From Orange Creamsicle to Thai Black Rice, you’d be spoilt for choice at Whistlepunk Icecream Co. The number one thing you must get here? A hot chocolate float. It’s basically two scoops of your favorite ice cream dunked into creamy, rich hot chocolate. We tried peppermint icecream and the resultant minty-mocha goodness was out of this world.
A trip to Leavenworth is incomplete without a stop at The Gingerbread Factory, a 20-year-old landmark. You’ll feel like a kid in a candy store, literally and figuratively. They have the sweetest treats here. Choose from options like Snickerdoodle Cookies, Gingersnaps, Espresso Soft Iced Cookies, Mini Decorated Gingerbread Cookies – need we say more?
Silvara Cellars offers a variety of handcrafted, small-production, Bordeaux-style wines. Come their for the wine, and stay for the majestic views of the Cascades. With lots of firepits and outdoor seating, the gorgeous lawn here is perfect for sipping wine with your quarantine crew. Their Chardonnay is especially delicious – crisp, lean with a decadent marzipan finish. It is very food-friendly in general, but is great with fatty cheeses and charcuterie. If it’s snowing while you’re there, we highly recommend their Cabernet Sauvignon – this burgundy beauty is full bodied, lush and bursting with earthy flavor. Along with wine, they also have a selection of cheeses and yummy fig-jam to go if you’re rather sip in your ski resort or airBnB. Order their award-winning wines here if you want to enjoy them at home.
“Reindeer are the single most stylishly accessorized living creatures on this planet,” our wonderful guide told us as we nuzzled one of the beautiful Caribou reindeer at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. It was easy to see why he was a hundred percent right. We fed Caribou reindeer right out of our hands, cuddled furry baby reindeer, and even took a selfie with these gorgeous creatures at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. This was a big tick off our bucket list. This up, close, and very personal experience at this family-run farm is one in a lifetime. The experience is entirely outdoors. It starts with a fascinating educational presentation around a crackling campfire (replaced by picnic tables in the summer) and is followed by safe interactions with the reindeer.
You can walk amongst the herd, take photos with them,n feed these cuties by hand, and even nuzzle their fuzzy noses! The reindeers with their glistening coats and impressive antlers have very sweet names too. We met Moonshine, Elsa, and Snowflake! While the reindeer steal the show here, they are plenty of other attractions too like draft horses, mini ponies, bunnies, and even a turkey. Your ticket even includes a steaming mug of cocoa or hot apple cider. Pro tip: Spring is reindeer calving season, and a visit at this time means you get to steal kisses with baby reindeer. Priceless!
Jingle bell time might be officially over, but it is always a swell time at Red Tail Canyon Farm. Just two miles away from Leavenworth, the sleigh rides here offer 45 minutes of pure, unadulterated magic. This ride is a treat for all ages – adults and children alike. Dash through the snow in a two-horse open sleigh. The best part? The rides are only ‘private’ right now, so you’ll have the sleigh entirely to yourselves for a joyous, stress-free ride. The ride will take you over meadows, farmland, fields and through the woods, and you can stop to greet many farm animals on the way. Once the ride is over, you can take some pictures with the gorgeous, gentle horses. P.s. they also host wedding at this magical property, so if you’re looking to tie the knot with your sweetheart soon, you might want to check them out. It’s easy to take the wrong turn so do make sure to follow driving directions, thoughtfully provided by them.
There is often snow till March or even April. The hill in the Downtown Park on Front Street is absolutely free and is a popular choice for sledding when there is snow. The Ski Hill and the Leavenworth Golf Club – just a stone’s throw away from The Sleeping Lady offer great opportunities for sledding, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. You can go tubing at Ski Leavenworth (they provide the tube) and sip hot chocolate in their lodge. From spring through fall, you can enjoy white water rafting, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing trails that surround the resort on all sides.
Come spring and you can go on whimsical wildflower hikes, riverfront walks and try your hand at spring skiing. Irrespective of snow or sunshine, you can always check out really cool museums or go on a wine tasting spree.
Another quirky activity that’s sure to be a hit with all ages is the Nutcracker Museum.
With a year into the pandemic, we could all do we some self-care this season. The Bubblery is a delightful little artisanal skincare shop that provides the most gorgeous and nourishing self-care products. Every product here is a carefully-crafted labor of love. They have a wide product range – hydrating soaps crusted with divine smelling dried rose petals, indulgent milk bath salts with lavender and honey, and high-quality facial oils. If you love washington as much as we do, you’ll crush over this cute little WA state set. You have soaps or perfumes customised to your preference too. If you missed doing something special for your better half for Valentine’s day, this is your second chance to earn some brownie points.
Schocolat, a small-batch chocolatier belongs in a European dream. Choose from delicious flavors like Belgian Truffles, Bavarian Milk, Brandied Pear, Passionfruit, and many more delicious options. Besides handcrafted chocolates, they also have other sweet treats like cocoa dusted almonds and english toffee. These make excellent gifts for folks back home but we won’t judge if you choose not to share. FYI, these chocolates get along famously with some fine wine.
Last but not the least, pick up souvenirs (or a shirt!) from Leavenworth Shirt Company. They offer a variety of items from t-shirts, hoodies and kids clothing to fun jewelry, mugs, shot glasses and magnets to winter wear like gloves and knit hats.