My family and I visited Leavenworth to attend one of their Lighting festival a couple weeks ago. I've always been intrigued by this area, mostly because my parents come here every year during Christmas time a few years after I got married. The drive was about three hours from where we lived, and of course it was snowing the closer we got to Leavenworth. It was such a beautiful drive up there, sightseeing the beautiful mountains and trees covered in snow. The trees even had icicles on them! We drove in our Suburban and of course it has four wheel drive, but if you do not have a four wheel drive... BRING CHAINS! There is a sheriff during the drive up to the mountains that will stop cars and require them to put chains up ahead. There were many areas where cars can stop and put chains on their wheels. I loved that the policeman were there to ensure safety for everyone. Even though the drive was far, it was so amazing to finally witness the Lighting Festival! They literally had Christmas lights EVERYWHERE! Trees, in front of the shops, bushes, gazebo, and anywhere else you can think of... they were all decorated with Christmas lights.
We arrived at around 1pm and of course it was still light out. There were many Christmas characters walking around so the visitors could take pictures with them. We went on a Sunday and even though I thought it was crowded... Some have told me that Friday's and Saturdays were even more crowded. I think Sunday is the best day to go if you want to take pictures with Santa! I love that Mrs. Claus was there along with him. Even though two of my kids showed no interest in this picture, they were pretty happy to see that Santa was there. I thought it was also super cute that they handed out mini Candy Canes also!
It was pretty amazing to be able to take pictures with mostly all the Christmas characters. We were missing the grinch in this one, but pretty awesome we got a group picture! The Nutcracker, Snowman, and Rudolph looks so warm in there which is good because it was SO COLD! I'm so glad that we were able to get the children's snow gear because if we didn't have everything, I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have had a good time. I mostly shopped most of the snow gear from Target. I love how Target always has discounts during the season rather than afterwards. They had 25% off all winter clothing and accessories. Each of the kids were wearing:
1. Thermal long sleeve
2. Thermal leggings
3. Snow jacket
4. Snow pants (snow overalls for Mimi)
6. Waterproof Gloves
7. Snow Boots
The last thing I didn't mention on the list which should be the most important... was the layering of socks. So i'll emphasize the importance here. You're most likely going to be outside 90% of the time, walking around, standing, and sliding down the hill with your sled! It is extremely, extremely cold and we didn't double up with our socks. We ended up going to the stores to find longer and thicker socks for the kids to go over the ones they were already wearing. My husband felt fine with his socks, but me on the other hand... My poor feet, haha. I was okay in the first half, but by the second half my feet were so cold! I was already wearing a thick sock, so I don't know why I still felt cold. I should have bought an extra pair like the kids, but thankfully our lunch time in the restaurant and coffee shops for snacks saved me!
My son had an amazing time sliding down the hill on the sled! If I had to count, I'm pretty sure he went at least twenty times. He went with his sister a couple of times, but mostly he slid down with my husband. This is another reason why a snow suit is necessary to avoid getting wet. Waterproof everything is a must here because if not, your gloves will be wet, pants will be wet, and you and your kids will just be uncomfortable. I didn't go down the slide because I wasn't wearing anything waterproof besides my gloves and boots. My husband didn't care though, but of course with the kids, they have to be prepared! All the kids that was here had such a fun time, and as you can see from the picture above, you will have to stand in line or fine a place where you can slide down. It wasn't that much of a wait, because Ez went so many times I lost the exact count.
If you plan to do this activity, I suggest buying your sled before you even arrive Leavenworth. Since this is our first time, we didn't even know you could do this. So go ahead and stop by Target or Walmart and get your sled for a decent price! We ended up having to buy our sled in one of the mom and pop shops there, of course. It was NOT budget friendly at all. Well, for a plastic sled that is. I think for one sled it was 20 dollars plus tax if I'm not mistaken. We bought ours from a shop called Lak's and ours didn't even come with a rope. I believe they did run out of ropes though, so the ropes might have been free. We had to look for another store that had ropes afterwards and we did find one, thankfully. When we walked in to that other store, they had sleds with ropes for cheaper price... Hahaha. We should have walked just a little BIT more. I forgot the name of the store but it had 'Hardware' in it and it was a couple stores down from Lak's.
Another must have for our Leavenworth Trip is the toddler carrier. I have this one by Lillebaby. It's called the Toddler Carryon Airflow in the print Spot on. I bought this one during their Black Friday sale for I believe 20% off? Can't remember for sure, but it made me jump on the deal. I've never worn my babies before because I never had one that I really liked. They were always SO uncomfortable, too small, hurts their thighs, hurts my back, neck, and shoulders, and whatever else you can think of. I pretty much gave up baby wearing because of my inexperience and lack of knowledge pretty much. Gladly though, my friend Sara from Pretty in Pink Mama helped me out a bit and since her toddler is much bigger than my toddler, this one had to definitely work. I'm so glad I took the plunge because this toddler carrier is A MUST FOR LEAVENWORTH.
The shops and restaurants are mom and pop shops, therefore each of the shops and restaurants are much smaller than the usual. Smaller shops with lots of items for sale. You know what that means? That means... NO ROOM FOR STROLLERS. I am so glad I opted for the toddler carry on instead of the stroller... We had the stroller in the back of the car just in case, but didn't use it. Smart move on my part because we either had to leave the stroller outside while we ate or shopped.... With our belongings on them. If you're anything like me, no thanks. There were also shops on the second floor... Definitely not stroller friendly either. Most importantly, if you're still not convinced... Some of the shops even had signs saying NO STROLLERS ALLOWED. You can guess my sigh of relief, for sure.
Lastly, I loved carrying my little girl. She is tiny for her age, so that means smaller legs and takes a bit more time walking with us. She is three years old and she is under the fifth percentile. With the crowd, it wasn't ideal for her to walk around without either slowing down people behind us and potentially slipping and falling. It felt so nice just having her be on my back and I was literally stressed free. She was always with me, LITERALLY so close. Even better, we kept each other extremely warm and I loved the bonding it created for us. We talked while we walked about everything that we saw, and it was a priceless moment for sure.
When my son and husband were busy with their snow sledding fun, Mimi wanted to just play in the snow after sliding down with the sled one time. It was a little too steep and fast for her and she cried... Aw! At least she tried it once, though. I ended up just playing in the snow for her. Keilani ended up sliding with Ezekiel a few more times, and Mimi just loved playing in the snow, climbing on the rocks, and creating a little snow challenge just for herself. I love how she was so warm in her little gear so that she could enjoy the snow.
Even though she wouldn't go down the snow hill again after the first time, she loved just sitting on the sled and having my hubby pull her around the sidewalk next to where the kids were sliding down. Most of the sidewalks and the ground are covered in the snow, so it was so easy to pull her around. My husband said that she loved this so much and it was so cute to watch them.
Our lunch time was perfect, mostly because my feet were able to recover from the cold. We were so lucky because the heater was RIGHT next to us. We sat in a booth next to a beautiful Christmas art decorated on the frosted window and it was just the perfect restaurant that we ended up in. So warm, so cozy, and the servers were so kind and helpful. My husband and I had Reuben sandwiches and soup, while the two older kids had grilled cheese, and my little one had a cup of soup and fries. My kids are pretty patient kids in general, not to throw tantrums like CRAZY, but kids can get restless when they have to wait for a certain amount of time especially when they're hungry. Keilani and Ezekiel are older though, so it's not that hard to just tell them to stop, but with Mimi... I still got to have some mom tactics to keep her from crying or getting restless. I don't really like to give kids the phone with game apps while waiting for food as it kind of distracts them way too much from their environment. Sometimes I also feel like they would throw the tantrum WHEN I take it away because it's time to eat.
I started carrying around this educational disposable placemat in my diaper bag for this purpose. It's made out of this eco friendly biodegradable plastic that can EASILY be folded and stored in of your jujube organizers. I was using a Jujube Be Right Back and I just stored it in the mesh part of the bag inside. Easy access everything for this mama! This kept her busy before and after eating, and it's so cute how her big sister helped her learn more than just colors. Letters, the animals, and which part of the animals were the actual color that's stated. The owners and creators of this placemats are the sweetest couple ever and I just love how moms and dads just like us create so many useful things for all parents to enjoy. This is a KEEPER in my family because it's more than just entertainment for kids. I know for a fact, that tables are not sanitized after every use... I know they are wiped with a wet cloth, but it's not sanitized ALL the time. Younger kids are most likely to be touching the tables, eating food that fell off unto the table, or even licking the table if you have a young baby... This helps with that problem because it's wide enough to catch all the food that falls off the plate and will protect germs from your exploring baby! This is definitely a must for travel, comes in three packs of 20 placemats that can be stored in your bag and car.
ITEM CHECK LIST
1. Thermal long sleeve
2. Thermal leggings
3. Snow jacket
4. Snow pants
5. Snow Overalls for younger kids
6. Beanies or Earmuffs
7. Waterproof Gloves
8. Snow Boots
9. Two pairs of long socks
10. Scarves to cover neck and face when you get too cold
Where to purchase: Target or Target.com (affiliate link) Don't forget to use discounts!
BABY AND TODDLER GEAR:
1. Jujube BRB Diaper Bag (Amazon aff)
2. Toddler Carryon Airflow by LilleBaby (Aff link in support of Pretty in Pink Mama)
3. Let's Learn Educational Disposable Placemats (Amazon aff)
1. Camera for pictures, I use Sony A7RII and Sony A5100 (Amazon aff)
2. ZoLi Straw Water Bottles and Sumo Snack Stacks for EASY snacking & no spills (video coming soon)
3. Chains for your car if you do not have 4 wheel drive
4. Sled with rope
At exactly 4:30 PM, the lighting ceremony started with a beautiful introduction and prayer. I really, really loved this part and how they included the prayer because that's what Christmas is about. It's about our savior Jesus Christ and what he's done for all of us. It was a heart moment for me and I loved seeing my children pray along with everyone. They asked us to respect the Choir while they sang the beautiful SIlent Night with such angelic voices and when the song ended, ALL the lights turned on. It was so beautiful, so magical, and I've never seen anything like it. Looking at the picture, that is just 20% of what was decorated and by how amazing the lights look, you can just tell the LOVE and the dedication the people of Leavenworth for their yearly festivals for all of us to enjoy. Our family had an amazing time here, and we will definitely go back again next year. I hope you have enjoyed my travel tips and what to bring to Leavenworth. Let me know if you have ever visited Leavenworth during their lighting festival in the comments below. Stay tuned on the next blog post on the HISTORY of Leavenworth. You won't want to miss out!