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6 reasons to visit Leavenworth this winter

SPONSORED — The weather outside might be getting frightful, but you won’t find Leavenworth, Washington, hibernating through the winter. Despite a lack of sunny days, this little Bavarian jewel really shines this time of year. Known for its rustic, old-world charm, the town also happens to be a haven for outdoor enthusiasts — even during the year’s coldest, snowiest days. If you’re in search of outdoor fun — or a little festive charm — Leavenworth has you covered.

Ski — then stay awhile

Sitting just 32 miles from two first-class ski resorts, Leavenworth is the perfect spot to make home base if you’re hoping to spend a few days on the slopes. With Stephens Pass and Mission Ridge just a short drive from town, you’re free to choose the resort of your liking — or take in both on different days. Leavenworth even offers a daily shuttle to and from Stevens Pass, if winter driving isn’t your cup of tea.

Speaking of tea, a warm drink will be a welcome respite when you curl up in your Leavenworth hotel or bed-and-breakfast. The town has “stay and play” deals for the 2015-2016 season, offering discounted lift tickets and lodging rates.

Explore the backcountry

If you’re not the alpine type, strap on some skis and go Nordic. The Leavenworth area offers cross-country aficionados a unique winter play land. Leavenworth Winter Sports Club maintains 26 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails, including 5 kilometers that are lit until 10 p.m. every day, according the group’s website. With an average season of more than 90 days, there’s plenty of opportunity to take the path less skied.

Dash through the snow

Riding in a one-horse open sleigh might seem only possible in beloved holiday carols, but in Leavenworth, it’s just called “transportation.” Several businesses in and outside town offer nostalgic horse-drawn sleigh rides, complete with blankets and hot beverages. Check out Mountain Springs Lodge, Icicle Outfitters, Eagle Creek Ranch or Red-Tail Canyon Farm for schedules and availability.

Take the tube

No subways here; in Leavenworth, tubing is all about the snow. The Leavenworth Ski Hill, located just outside of town in the Wenatchee National Forrest, offers skiers, snowboarders, sledders and tubers two groomed hills perfect for some downhill fun. Less than $20 will give you access to the hills’ two rope tows. Cozying up with hot chocolate at the nearby Ski Hill Lodge is optional but highly encouraged.

Strap on your shoes

If the tranquillity of a snow-blanketed forest sounds like the perfect way to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, Leavenworth invites you to don a pair of snowshoes and enjoy its serene backcountry. Since no experience is necessary, snowshoeing is an outing the entire family will enjoy. Many Leavenworth businesses offer snowshoeing tours, which include hot beverages, snacks and even wine along the way.

Light it up

With its beautiful mountain backdrop, Leavenworth is a spectacular spot any time of year. But the town is best known for its festive Christmas decor and holiday-related activities, which culminate in its annual tree-lighting ceremony. A beloved local holiday tradition, this event has earned Leavenworth national fame; the town was formerly part of “Good Morning America’s” “GMA Lights up the Holidays” program and was named by A&E as the “Ultimate Holiday Town, USA.” It’s easy to see why; the town uses more than 250,000 lights each year to decorate its shops and restaurants.

If walking (or skiing or sledding) in a winter wonderland is in your plans this season, the answer is right in the Pacific Northwest’s favorite backyard.


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