There are so many things to do in Leavenworth, Washington year-round. If you are looking for a great winter getaway, Leavenworth is a wonderful “snowcation” destination.
I’m sharing more about the fun things to do in Leavenworth during the winter that we experienced with our teenage sons during an extended weekend.
These winter activities would also be great for younger families, a weekend with friends, a girlfriend getaway, or romantic couples’ escape.
- Tour the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
- Go Snow Tubing at the Leavenworth Ski Hill
- Take a Guided Tour with Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours
- Ski or Snowboard at Stevens Pass
- Discover Downtown Leavenworth During the Day
- Enjoy the Christmas Lights in Downtown Leavenworth From Early December – Mid February
- Where to Stay in Leavenworth, Washington
- How to Save Money on Hotels in Leavenworth
- How to Get to Leavenworth From Seattle
- 3 Travel Options from Seattle to Leavenworth
This article is brought to you in partnership with the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce and contains affiliate links.
As parents, we know how important it is to create memories as a family through shared experiences and adventures. Our adventures from our visit to Leavenworth have been teenager-tested and approved.
We even saw non-forced smiles and laughs during so many moments of FUN! If you are a parent of teenagers, you can probably relate to that small victory that we live for as parents.
Many of these adventures aren’t limited to older families and can be enjoyed by families of all ages.
Tour the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
10395 Chumstick Hwy, Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is the only reindeer farm in the lower 48 with year-round encounters with reindeer.
Reindeer tours are made by appointment. You can check the reindeer farm tour calendar online for availability. I would recommend purchasing your tickets in advance online to secure your desired date and timeslot.
The family-run farm is a USDA-certified farm and members of ROBA (Reindeer Owners & Breeders Association of America).
Guests typically stay about 1 hour at the farm. The tours start on time and it’s recommended that you arrive 10 minutes early.
If you are late for your tour, your tickets will be forfeited and you will be moved to a later tour time if it’s available. So don’t be late!
Another perk of getting there early is that you have plenty of time to enjoy the complimentary hot chocolate and cookies.
Help Protect the Reindeer
To help protect the reindeer from a deadly airborne spore, it’s important that you avoid sheep and goats before your visit to the farm.
When we arrived we were asked if we had been in contact with sheep or goats. We were then asked to walk across a special mat that helps protect the reindeer from anything that could have been carried in by our shoes.
Learn Facts About Reindeer
Before you meet the reindeer, you’ll learn lots of interesting facts about them first. You’ll learn the difference between reindeer and caribou and get to hold different sizes of antlers and horns.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Reindeer are the only mammal that can see in ultraviolet?
More fun facts: The life span of a reindeer is typically 10-15 years and they can smell between 2-3 feet of snow.
An Encounter With Reindeer
After the presentation, the best part, of course, was feeding the reindeer!
If you have infants or toddlers with you under 2, you will be asked to hold them during the hands-on reindeer portion of the tour. This is for the safety of your children and the animals.
Strollers are permitted everywhere EXCEPT in the reindeer enclosure.
The reindeer farm is accessible to guests of all abilities in case you visit with someone in a wheelchair.
During your reindeer encounter, it’s important to remember that people are not allowed to touch antlers. You also do not want to “pet” the reindeer near the front. You are allowed to touch the reindeer toward the top of their hind end.
Photo Areas at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
During your tour, you will have plenty of opportunities for photos with the reindeer during your encounter.
One of the staff members even took pictures with the guest’s phones so that families and groups can be together in the picture.
There are several other areas around the reindeer farm that are set up for photo ops.
If you visit around the holidays in November & December, Santa Claus will be on every tour. You can even get a photo with Santa in his sleigh.
Other Things to Do at Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
After you visit with the reindeer, you can feed the turkeys and chickens.
Animal lovers will also enjoy visiting the horses and barn cats.
Younger guests will definitely want to play on the playground before or after their reindeer encounter.
Go Snow Tubing at the Leavenworth Ski Hill
10701 Ski Hill Dr, Leavenworth, WA
The Leavenworth Skill Hill is located less than 2 miles from downtown Leavenworth. We visited Leavenworth Ski Hill toward the end of their season and were fortunate to still be able to snow tube after a warm-up the previous week.
January and February are typically the snowiest months in Leavenworth, WA.
With a snow tubing ticket, you typically ride down the hill around 6 times.
My favorite part of the snow tubing experience in Leavenworth was that you didn’t have to leave the tube until your ride was over at the bottom of the hill. That saves you from the awkward spill out the tube at the top of the hill.
You just sit in your snow tube, the attendant attaches you to the tow rope, and you enjoy the fun ride down to the bottom.
Tickets can only be purchased at the ticket booth and can not be purchased online. If you have a snow tuber under 8 years old they must be supervised by an adult.
NORDIC, SKI, AND SNOWBOARD LESSONS
If you want to try out a winter activity for the first time, there are group and private lessons available onsite for nordic, skiing, and snowboarding.
The ski areas use a tow rope to bring you back up the hill.
TAKE IT TO THE EXTREME ON THE SKI HILL JUMP
If you want a more extreme adventure, make an appointment with a coach for The Ski Hill Jump that’s the only ski jump on the West Coast of the U.S.! Thrillseekers work their way up to a 15 and 27-meter jump.
“PLAY ALL DAY” TICKET – TUBING & SKIING
If you want to try multiple activities during your visit to the Leavenworth Ski Hill, the “Play All Day” ticket is the best value.
One 6 run tubing session “The Play All Day” ticket includes:
- A full day of alpine skiing or snowboarding
- A full day of Nordic skiing at all venues
- Snowshoeing at all venues
- Fat biking at designated locations (Ski Hill and Icicle River Trails)
- Sledding at the Golf Course (Rentals are not provided in this price, must bring your own sled)
*Rentals are not provided in the “Play All Day” ticket price. Ski, snowboard, cross-country skis, and snowshoes rentals need to be purchased offsite with a local shop.
Warm Up Inside the Leavenworth Ski Hill Lodge
If you need a break from the cold, you’ll find concessions and games inside the lodge.
There is a nice fireplace and several picnic tables that are perfect for groups with lots of windows to view skiers and tubers from above.
Take a Guided Tour with Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours
Mountain Springs Lodge
9115 Chiwawa Loop Road, Leavenworth, WA
(Appx. 30 minutes from Leavenworth- weather permitting)
Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours provides riders with both experience and no previous experience, the opportunity to explore the area on a guided snowmobile tour.
The snowmobile trails have access to 300 miles of state groomed trails with incredible views of the Cascades.
Guided Leavenworth Snowmobile Tour Options 1-4 hours
- Suzy’s Slip and Slide – Appx. 1 hour – Great for first-timers and families
- Grandpa’s Rockers- Appx. 2 hrs- Great tour for intermediate riders and families with older kids
- Sno Cone- Appx. Appx. 3 hrs – Great for intermediate and advanced riders
- Mile High Extravaganza -Appx 4 hrs. – Great for intermediate to advanced riders.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Ride or Drive a Snowmobile?
- Snowmobile drivers need to be at least 16 years old.
- Drivers with a passenger need to be at least 18 years old.
- Child passengers must be at least 5 years old to ride along.
What should you wear for your snowmobile tour?
All gear is provided if you need it. They have full body snowsuits, boots, gloves, and a helmet included with your tour at no extra charge. They do recommend bringing a neck warmer and sunglasses depending on the weather on the day of your tour.
If you want to bring your equipment to capture footage during your ride, many of their helmets can attach a GoPro.
My boys opted to wear the colorful snowmobile suits and my husband and I chose to wear our own snow gear.
It really comes down to personal preference and if you are comfortable in your own gear. They have loaner gear to fit all shapes and styles but their colorful vintage style loaner snowsuits are definitely Instagram-worthy!
It’s also not a bad idea to bring your own snow gear if you have younger children in case you don’t find a loaner snowsuit that fits.
Should You Ride a Snowmobile Single or Double?
That answer depends on your comfort level.
If the idea of trying to drive a 900 lb. machine stresses you out or if you want to just relax and enjoy the ride, riding as a passenger double is a way to go.
On the flip side, driving single can help you feel more in control or challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone.
Kids under 16 cannot drive a snowmobile and need to ride with an adult.
My younger son was not 16 at the time and our guide offered to have him ride with her instead of me. That was a big relief because there were many times during the ride that we would need to distribute our weight to the correct side.
What Can You Expect During Your Tour With Leavenworth Snowmobile Tours?
Our guide Erin, first started by making sure that everyone’s gear fit properly including our helmets.
Next, came the safety instructions where she demoed what buttons and gears we would be using during our snowmobile ride. The two most important controls being the throttle and the kill switch to cut power to the engine.
We also learned how to adjust our hand warmer temperatures. I learned very quickly that they can get really HOT!
My hands felt like lava at one point during the tour because the hand warmers were accidentally turned up too high.
Before our tour started, our guide taught us different hand signals that she would be using during the course of our tour. She also showed us how to lean into the curves using our bodyweight.
She stressed the importance of staying as close together as possible during the tour which felt a bit counterintuitive in the beginning.
The reason that you stay close together on a snowmobile tour is so that the guide can see all of the riders in case they have any issues. It’s also important that the riders are able to see the signals when there are sharp turns or areas when they will need to slow down and pull over.
Grandpa’s Rocker Tour
My family went on the “Grandpa’s Rocker” 2 hours tour where we traveled up the side of Entiat Ridge and experienced scenic views of the Cascades.
Our snowmobile tour traveled around 20 miles with a peak elevation of 2700 ft. It was overcast during most of our tour which made it harder to see Lake Wenatchee when we stopped for photos. The experience was still beautiful and unforgettable!
During Your Snowmobile Tour, You Can Stop to Admire the Views
I loved that we were able to stop and take pictures during our snowmobile tour at two scenic spots.
It was also a nice relief for my hands that were a little numb because I pretty much had a death grip on my snowmobile the whole time that I was driving.
If you have an incredible time snowmobiling, which of course you will, don’t forget to tip your guide!
Our guide Erin was extremely patient and encouraging as I faced my fears during the more challenging parts of the trail.
I’ve jumped off of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas but ironically found snowmobiling to be more outside of my comfort zone.
She made me feel a lot better about my snowmobile wimpiness and it felt great to overcome a challenge that really intimidated me. I realize the irony of the name “Adventure Mom” but many of my adventures force me to face my fears and try things looking stupid or scared.
For families that prefer to move at a slower pace or have younger kids, Leavenworth Sleigh Rides located onsite is another great option.
Ski or Snowboard at Stevens Pass
US-2, Skykomish, WA
A 40-minute scenic drive from downtown Leavenworth, Stevens Pass is a wonderful ski resort to visit during your stay.
Ski, Snowboard, and Locker Rentals at Stevens Pass
If you don’t have your own gear, you’ll find that the ski and snowboard rental process at Stevens Pass is very efficient. Equipment rentals are moved through a process of stations that starts with making sure that your boots fit properly by the staff.
Locker Rentals at Sevens Pass
I would recommend renting a locker so that you have access to any extra items that you need while you ski. I always like to pack more “just in case” and a locker provides the freedom to have extra layers and water bottles close by.
More About the Mountain at Stevens Pass
Snowfall & Terrain
Stevens Pass averages 460″ of snowfall each year with 105″ of annual average snowpack. There is 1,125 acres of skiable terrain with 52 major runs, numerous bowls, glades and faces.
- Base area elevation 4,061′
- Top elevation Cowboy Mountain 5,845′
- Top elevation Big Chief Mountain 5,600′
- Mill Valley base elevation 3,821′
- 1,800 vertical feet on three sides of two different mountains
Trail Difficulty at Stevens Pass
- Beginner 11%
- Intermediate 54%
- Advanced 35%
Ski Lessons at Stevens Pass
If you are an inexperienced skier, there are lessons available for both skiing and snowboarding at Stevens Pass.
Lessons are also a great option for all levels that want to advance and accelerate quickly to the next level under the guidance of a pro.
Which Chairlift Should You Start On at Stevens Pass?
If you are newer to skiing or want to warm up, be on the lookout for the Daisy Chairlift. The bottom elevation is 4091, top elevation 4384, with a vertical rise of 293 ft. This is the beginner
Our family spent the majority of our time on the green beginner runs. My boys’ previous skiing experiences have been in the Midwest, which is VERY DIFFERENT from skiing out West.
Make Sure that You Have A Map of the Mountain at Stevens Pass
If it’s your first time visiting Stevens Pass, you will definitely want to keep a map of the mountain in your pocket. I asked a staff member to circle the runs that were easier after we progressed from the beginner runs.
Not all blue runs are created equal! When in doubt ask someone or refer to the map.
We did venture over to two other chairlifts; Hogsback and Brooks Express. There are a few blue/intermediate trails off of Brooks Express that I would recommend after you are comfortable with the green runs off of the Daisy Chairlift.
Even though there were maps posted near the chairlifts, I found the trail markers/signs for the individual trails to be hard to find at the top. That resulted in us going down more challenging runs on accident.
This is REALLY important to note if you are unfamiliar with the mountain.
The good news is that we survived.
We gained more confidence when we made it down the more challenging runs… that we probably wouldn’t have tackled otherwise. We also discovered a few runs that we did not want to return to, we’ll save those for the more advanced skiers.
One of us had a pretty comical wipe out in deep snow that involved being rescued by their mom. I’m not sharing those pics but they will be fun to look back at for years to come.
Another bonus of exploring other runs on the mountain was finding this wooden Sasquatch.
Where to Eat at Stevens Pass Ski Resort
There are multiple restaurants on-site at Stevens Pass.
Granite Peak Lodge
- Bulls Tooth Pub & Eatery – Table Service
- Cascadian Kitchen -Grab n’ go
- T-Bar Cafe – Coffee, pastries, and snacks
Pacific Crest Lodge (Dining options on the 2nd Floor)
- Iron Goat Pizza Station- Pizza by the slice or made to order
- Outer Limits Grill – Barbecue
Tye Creek Lodge (Dining options on the 2nd Floor)
- The Foggy Goggle Lounge- table service
- Tye Creek Deli – made to order sandwiches and Asian cuisine
For lunch, we decided to ask a few employees their favorite place to eat. Guests with rentals can drop their equipment off at the complimentary ski check before going in to eat.
The overall consensus was that The Foggy Goggle (inside Tye Creek Lodge) was a great sit down option with table service and great food.
We started with the PNW Poke Nachos that were AMAZING!
We were very happy with our lunch. It was nice to relax and warm up for a bit with great food. The Foggy Goggle has a family-friendly seating area and a 21+ section.
You Can Also Ski at Night at Stevens Pass
Many ski resorts out West vary on whether they offer night skiing but Stevens Pass has night skiing from 4-10 PM, Wednesday through Sunday. Up to 6 of their lifts are open during their night skiing operations.
Stevens Pass recommends checking their weather report prior to coming up, for updated information on operations.
ADDITIONAL WINTER ACTIVITIES AT STEVENS PASS
Snow Play Area
Stevens Pass has a snow play area near Stevens Pass Mountain Resort.
Sled & Tubing Area – Bring Your Own
There is a FREE sled/tube area at the Nordic Center and Snow Play Area located six miles east of Stevens Pass summit on US Highway 2.
At the northwest of Stevens Pass Nordic Center, there is a dedicated area for snow play at no charge. This area is recommended for children 10 and under.
If you need food, beverages, or restrooms the Cascade Depot Lodge is nearby.
Stevens Pass recommends that snowshoers utilize the better terrain located at the Nordic Center and Snow Play Area.
The Nordic Center has snowshoe terrain for beginner, intermediate and advanced users that requires a trail pass.
The trail pass for snowshoeing can be purchased in the Cascade Depot at Nordic Center.
Discover Downtown Leavenworth During the Day
There is a lot to see and do in downtown Leavenworth. You’ll find a great assortment of restaurants, shops, wineries, cideries, breweries, and even a Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.
As you walk the streets that resemble a Bavarian Village, you might feel like you are in a scene from the Sound of Music with gorgeous views of the mountains in the distance.
One of the hardest decisions you have is deciding where to eat.
During our visit, we found the food options in Leavenworth to be exceptional, with each meal raising the bar on the last.
Enjoy the Christmas Lights in Downtown Leavenworth From Early December – Mid February
Each year Leavenworth makes winter more magical with colorful Christmas lights on trees and buildings throughout their downtown.
The Christmas lights in Leavenworth are up in early December and stay up until at least Valentine’s Day/ Mid February.
We were fortunate to visit the last official weekend of the Christmas lights during Valentine’s Day weekend.
Sometimes the Christmas lights do stay up longer if the snow lasts later into the season.
As you can imagine, Leavenworth is already a VERY popular destination around Christmas.
One advantage of visiting Leavenworth after the holidays is that you can enjoy the Christmas lights without the large holiday crowds.
Where to Stay in Leavenworth, Washington
You’ll find that you have plenty of options when it comes to places to stay in Leavenworth.
During our visit, we stayed at the Enzian Inn. I can’t say enough great things about this hotel!
Seriously, we LOVED it!
590 US-2, Leavenworth, WA
The Enzian Inn is located 1/2 block from shops and restaurants in downtown Leavenworth and offers an INCREDIBLE hot breakfast with your stay!
We enjoyed made to order omelets and fresh pastries from the oven each day with an incredible view.
Bonus: Breakfast guests can watch the alphorn being played twice each morning.
There is also an indoor and outdoor hot tub and pool which feels great after a long day of play outside.
The Enzian Inn is a very popular hotel in Leavenworth and I recommend making your reservations as soon as you can in advance.
How to Save Money on Hotels in Leavenworth
You can save on your stay in Leavenworth by using
How to Get to Leavenworth From Seattle
via I-90 E and US-97 N (Snoqualmie Pass)
via US-2 (Stevens Pass)
3 Travel Options from Seattle to Leavenworth
You have more than one option when it comes to traveling from Seattle to Leavenworth, WA.
We flew from Cincinnati (CVG) to the Seattle Airport (Sea-Tac Airport (SEA) and then rented a vehicle at the airport.
Drive from Seattle to Leavenworth
From Seattle Airport (Sea-Tac Airport (SEA) to Leavenworth it’s about 2.5 hours by car, more or less depending on the weather and road conditions.
The drive is really scenic which makes the time go by a lot faster. If you are renting a car at the airport, make sure that you have a vehicle with all-wheel drive.
I would recommend stopping along the way at the scenic overlooks when given the opportunity.
Check the Mountain Pass Reports for Updates on the Road Conditions
Winter weather can often be unpredictable. It’s important to stay updated on the road conditions before you chose which mountain pass you will drive through.
Take the Amtrak Train from Seattle to Leavenworth, WA
Each Saturday in December Amtrak offers day trip winter train tours from Seattle to Leavenworth for the annual Tree Lighting Festival.
Amtrak Daily Service
- Amtrak Train No. 7: Departs 6:08 AM – Westbound (from Chicago) to Seattle and all intermediate stations
- Amtrak Train No. 8: Departs 4:40 PM – Eastbound (from Seattle) to Chicago and all intermediate stations
Take a Bus from Seattle to Leavenworth
I personally enjoyed the freedom that we had to explore by renting a vehicle.
No matter what you choose, Leavenworth, Washington is definitely worth the visit!
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