Imagine this. You find in yourself in Seattle, Washington, the Emerald City that’s forever green. It’s a crisp, fall, Saturday morning. You have a free day to yourself and your mind is just screaming “adventure.”

No matter if you’re a local or visiting Seattle for the first time, a trip to the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival is a must. This Bavarian themed village is magical in every season, but even more so during the last month of the year. With breathtaking mountain views and holiday lights galore, Leavenworth will fill your hearts with holiday cheer before you know it.

I’ve planned the perfect day trip just for you. So fill up the gas tank, dress in layers (don’t forget the gloves) and put on your winter boots. Oh, and remember to bring your camera because I promise you, you’re going to need it.

Breakfast. You’re going to need the energy for that 3-hour drive. Duk Li Dim Sum in the International District never fails to satisfy my dim sum cravings. Another excellent and quick option is Fuji Bakery. Their curry bun and Matcha Green Tea Danish are to die for. Grab a few of these with a hot latte, and you’ll be good for the road.

The Drive. Yes. You’re going to need to tackle a 3-hour drive but it will be one of the most enchanting 3-hour drives you’ll experience. As you transition from the city to scenic farm lands, then straight into the Pacific Northwest wilderness, you’ll need to put an effort in keeping your eyes on the road. As the scenic Skykomish River guides your way, there are tons of photo ops for nature lovers (and selfie lovers). And yes, the photo taking starts here!

The Arrival. You’re getting close to your destination when you start seeing mom-and-pop shops looking more and more like Bavaria. Before entering the village, you must stop by the unique QFC grocery store on the main road. This is one of my favorite pit stops for gas and quick snacks. It will give you a chance to soak in the sudden scenic change. You’ll forget you were in Seattle 3 hours ago!

Parking. Time your drive to arrive before 11 a.m. You will be able to find free parking in the village itself. Let me tell you, having the ability to be close by so you can stay warm more easily is very convenient.

Tour the Town. There are tons of little shops in this Bavarian village. From candy factories to art galleries to hat shops, the options are endless. Make sure to visit my favorites: the Rocky Mountain Chocolate FactoryThe Gingerbread Factory and the Wood Shop. If you have time, Studio 1890 offers a good opportunity to capture the moment with an Old Time Photo. Tip: make sure you explore every nook and cranny if you can. There are many hidden treasures!

Eat. You’re never going to have a hard time finding a spot to eat here – ever. There are restaurants on every block and also hidden gems “underground”. Make sure you check out their menus, usually posted on the front wall, before entering. Munchen Haus is one of my favorites. They have mouthwatering bratwursts, sausages, and a cozy beer garden with fire pits at almost every table.

Drink. With so many wineries, wine tasting events and beer gardens throughout the village, forget water today. But of course, remember to drink responsibly!

Explore. Aside from the plethora of shops and eateries, the hidden views are hands down my favorite thing about this town. Behind the shops and hotels, you’ll find a hidden lake and park with beautiful trails covered in white snow. Must. Go.

A Special Treat. From snowshoeing to dog sledding, Leavenworth has all the winter recreational activities that will make your winter wonderland dreams come true. One of the most popular activities would have to be the sleigh rides. Make sure you plan ahead for this one!

The Christmas Lighting Festival. When you’re done cruising the village with your bag of freshly roasted chestnuts and sipping on your hot cider, it’ll be about 4 p.m. and the sun will start to go down. With more than half a million of lights, live musical performances and costumed holiday characters marching all over, make sure you’re ready for the festival right when it starts. The earlier you are, the better of a spot you’ll get to see Santa!

I hope you enjoy the journey out of town and relish the uniqueness of the destination.

This article was originally published by Hilton Suggests.

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