You can almost hear the locals yodeling across the peaks and valleys of Leavenworth, Washington, a lovely Bavarian-style village in the Cascade Mountains. The village welcomes you with German warmth and Northwestern hospitality. Before the town’s European-influenced transformation, it was home to Native Americans who hunted for deer and elk, and fished for salmon in this plentiful land. In the 1890s, the area became a dream destination for settlers who longed for gold, timber, and furs, but it was abandoned when the railroad moved out of town. From the gorgeous waterfront park just steps from the door of your Leavenworth vacation rental to the charming Nutcracker Museum, there are countless points of interest and entertainment for the entire family. Here are the most popular kid-friendly activities to check out in Leavenworth.
1. Icicle Junction Activity Center
Let the kids burn off some excess energy at this popular activity center. Challenge them to a round of 18-hole mini-golf with challenging waterfalls and waterwheels set among miniature Bavarian buildings. There’s a ton of arcade games like Jumpin’ Jackpot, Terminator Salvation, and a milk jug toss. Cool off in the pool, grab a bite at the cafe, and take a leisurely walk or bike ride through Blackbird Island along the Wenatchee River.
2. Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village
This charming village pays homage to the Wenatchee River and its importance to the Native Americans and pioneers who inhabited this area. You can wander through more than 20 original buildings that include a school house, saddle shop with leather goods from the 1800s, a 1900s printing press, a blacksmith shop, and a hotel. There’s a fine collection of old-time equipment from apple polishers and cherry pickers to buggies, sleighs, and a 1921 dump truck.
3. Rocky Reach Dam
Get a water-level view of salmon jumping the fish ladder from May through September at the Rocky Reach Dam. You can see Chinook salmon spawn in May and August, Sockeye during July, and steelhead in September, so there’s always lots of action. Kids enjoy a great playground next to the picnic area. Prepare for enchantment while launching as little rabbits hop around your feet.
4. Pybus Public Market
Give the kids a basket and let them wander the wonderful selection of produce, fruits, and nuts as the locals share their tales of this historical area. Housed in a building as long as a football field, you can rest and snack at some of the best sit-down restaurants in Washington while listening to wide variety of live music from mixed genres. Plan to take a hike or bike ride along the Columbia River on the 10-mile paved Apple Capital Loop Trail adjacent to the market.
5. Liberty Orchards Factory Tour
Take the kids on an amazing tour of Liberty Orchard’s candy factory, world-famous for its fruit and nut confections known as applets and cotlets. This may not end up as a favorite candy, but it’s a ton of fun watching the chefs slow-cook and prepare small batches of candies made fresh from local orchard ingredients. Pick up a few gift sets for the folks back home while you are there.
6. Nutcracker Museum
There are several ways to crack a nutshell, and this fascinating museum knows most of them. Enjoy browsing artifacts from the southwest United States and Europe, many of them thousands of years old. The museum artfully portrays man’s nut-cracking creativity with styles that range from the familiar hand-carved and painted wooden toy soldier to exquisite hand-held metal nutcrackers.
7. Gingerbread Factory
Inhale the wonderful smell of warm gingerbread as you sit down for fresh-baked treats right out of the oven. Keep up your energy at the full espresso bar, grab some milk for the kids, and head to the outside patio to breathe in the fresh mountain air and take in the stunning Cascade mountain views.
8. Smallwood’s Harvest
Get up-close-and-personal with adorable animals at the petting farm and duck pond. The sandbox and swing set, horseshoe pits, and live music keep everyone moving and grooving while you pick your way through a selection of locally made jellies, baked goods, wines, and produce. Challenge the kids to beat you through the maze constructed from the props used to hold up the heavy tree branches as the fruit ripens.
9. Trout Fishing Pond
Kids under 15 can catch an unlimited number of trout in the deep, freshwater pond in Enchantment Park. Walk or bike along several trails that take you through several water-front habitats, spend some time playing catch at the ball fields, or swing and slide on the playground.
10. Icicle Gorge
This loop trail, with its gentle terrain and gorgeous scenery, tells the area’s story through a series of interpretive signs that describe flora and fauna. A well-defined path leads you past waterfalls and rivers, through forests filled with birds and wildlife, in the path of scampering chipmunks and squirrels, and past swathes of wildflowers. Listen carefully, and you can hear the tap-tap of the indigenous pileated woodpeckers busy at work.
11. Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
Just one-half mile from downtown, you and the kids can easily walk to the magical Leavenworth reindeer farm. You can capture photos of the kids feeding the friendly reindeer on this 30-minute learning tour, then stay on for a bite to eat.
12. Waterfront Park
Nestled along the banks of the Wenatchee River, Waterfront Park makes an ideal get-away-from-it all respite just blocks from downtown. Keep your eyes peeled for ospreys and eagles in their natural habitat. You can spy many warblers and other spring migrants as they flit through the thickets, and be on the lookout for salmon making their upstream journey in the fall. Dip your toes in the water or take off on a tube from one of the small beach outlets.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Leavenworth vacation rentals on Tripping.com.