I don’t know how to describe Leavenworth in December in actual words. Except…Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be shrunken down and placed in one of those little Christmas village snow globes? Because to me, that’s exactly what Leavenworth in December feels like. A visit to the town’s annual Christmas Lighting Festival is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list of to-do’s.
Leavenworth has been around since the 1890’s and was initially known as a great logging town. In the 1960’s the town was stripped and rebuilt to model after German Bavaria in order to bring tourists to the area. People still flock by the thousands each year to their Oktoberfest celebration and of course, their Christmas Lighting Festival. It’s only two and a half hours from Seattle and three hours from Spokane, which makes it the perfect day trip for a lot of Washingtonians.
We got to Leavenworth just before noon so our first mission was food, preferably something nice and hot. I forgot to mention it was like 20 degrees the day we decided to go so while it was beautiful out, it was also really cold. This wasn’t our first rodeo so we headed straight to the München Haus Bavarian Grill for some of their famous sausages. There is always a long line but don’t let that discourage you. It is so worth the wait! Cotey settled on the Big Bob Bratwurst, an all pork wurst, and I decided to try Helga’s Giant Kelbassi, which is a beef and pork combo Polish sausage. I bet your mouths are watering but we haven’t even gotten to the good part yet. München Haus has the best condiment bar I’ve seen. You can top your sausages with their famous apple cider kraut and choose from their extensive list of specialty mustards. They had a Champagne honey mustard that did not disappoint. Cotey really loved their house German curry sauce as well. München Haus has an outdoor beer garden vibe but is still family friendly.
We decided to walk off our lunch by stopping in and out of some of the shops along the main square. A trip to Kris Kringl was a must. It’s a year-round Christmas store that carries everything Christmas- from Nativity scenes, lights, Christmas village and train sets and of course, thousands of ornaments. We picked out the cutest little gingerbread man to take home for our tree while we were there.
If you have the time, Leavenworth’s Waterfront Park is just a couple of blocks behind the main strip and a fun stop to squeeze in. The park is closed to road traffic but you can still access the park’s trails. Be sure to bundle up and wear shoes or boots suitable for snow.
After our walk in the park we both felt it was beer time. Leavenworth is home to Icicle Brewing Company so we had to make their tasting room our first stop. We were already fans of Icicle brews as you can find them in restaurants around Washington. I love their Colchuck raspberry wheat and their Crosscut Pilsner. We also made time for some wine tasting with the folks at Bergdorf Cellars. If you only buy one of their wines, it needs to be their Glühwein. They call it Christmas in a glass and they are spot on. It’s a spiced mulled wine that is served warm. We have it Christmas morning and it’s become a tradition in our house.
Settling on a place for dinner was a bit of a problem. Not because nothing sounded good. The problem was everything sounded good! The year before we had gone to Mozart’s for dinner, which had a nice steakhouse vibe. This time around we wanted to get a little more homey. We had heard great things about King Ludwig’s and their family style platters so we decided to give it a shot. We ordered the platter for two and crossed our fingers. The platter came with Leberkäse, which is a German meatloaf; two sausages; Schweine Schnitzel or fried pork cutlet and German potato salad and red cabbage. It was more than enough food for us and we went in pretty hungry from traipsing around the festivities. Kudos to King Ludwig’s for supplying live dinner music in the form of the sweetest old man and his accordion.
We topped the evening off with another stroll through the Front Street Park, this time to appreciate the lights now that the sun had gone down. I’ll just let these pictures do the talking now.