Now that we live in an area with a winter wonderland, there are so many winter activities right in our backyard. One such activity that has been on my bucket list since the beginning is a sleigh ride.
About two hours from our house is one of our favorite little towns of Leavenworth, WA. We've enjoyed hiking in the nearby mountains in the summer (HERE) and visiting the cute little Bavarian city for a fun day. With my Mother-in-law visiting for her birthday in December, we knew just the perfect birthday gift, a sleigh ride and trip to Leavenworth for the day. We arrived for our afternoon sleigh ride at the Mountain Springs Lodge early enough to have some lunch at their cozy lodge. The setting is so beautiful and peaceful that I would love to come back and stay over a long weekend. Not to mention, check out the snowmobile tours.
After lunch, Landon got to play in the snow for a few minutes while we waited for our ride to begin. There's always time for snow angels and catching a little snow while you do so.
When making the reservations they asked if there were any special occasions and we made a note it was my Mother-in-law's birthday. They must have written it down because when they loaded us up on the sleighs, they had her sit in the front with Landon.
They had warm fleece blankets to cover ourselves while we rode which was great because it snowed for most of our 45 minute ride. Despite the snow and obviously cold temperatures, the sun was out a good portion of the time which is so rare in the mountains in the winter.
We started off by heading into a huge open field. There were two sleighs and we were part of the second group with the first sled always a little in front of us. Although the snowfall was relatively light this early in the season it was enough to put a pretty white blanket over everything.
We made a large loop around the field then came back around the lodge where we picked up a good bit of speed. It was amazing that these two draft horses could pull us around with such ease. We probably had about 12 people on our sleigh and the guide said if left to their own devices, the horses would run with us. That might have been fun, but a bit intimidating as well. Instead, he kept us at a good, steady paced with allowed us to enjoy the ride, our beautiful surroundings and one another.
Eventually, we made our way into the woods where the path got more narrow. About the same time, the snow started to really come down and the light was perfect. It was the most magical scene.
It was such an amazing experience that Adam took a short little video. The best part of the video is that you can hear the sleigh bells on the horses too. Be sure to turn up your volume for a real experience!
After our jaunt through the woods, we pulled up to the barn where they had a warm fire and some hot apple cider for us to enjoy.
The horses got to take a break although I don't think they needed it. Landon and another little girl really enjoyed getting to pet the horses. They were so gentle and sweet. They were a breed of draft horse called Percherons, which aren't quite as big as Clydesdales, but they were close.
The horses, the snow, the barn, and the mountains made for the most picture perfect scene. With all the beauty and excitement around us, we didn't even mind the cold.
After our break, we loaded back onto the sleigh and were back at our starting point within a few minutes. The only complaint I have about the sleigh ride is that it didn't last longer. Had we been given the opportunity to go for another ride right there, I think everyone would have taken it. It was a fun and unique experience and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. We said goodbye to the beautiful countryside and headed toward Leavenworth.
Since it was the middle of December, Leavenworth was all lit up with lights. We arrived just as sun was going down and after coming out of the Christmas store, the entire city was all lit up.
Although the town stays lit up until February, they do have special events on the weekends leading up to Christmas. Carolers fill the pavilion and sing songs all night while the main street is closed to cars and lots of people fill the streets.
We stopped by our favorite eatery, the Munchen Haus. This is the beer garden of the city, but even us non-beer drinkers can appreciate their yummy pretzels and hot dogs.
At one point two people came out with traditional Alphorns and started to play. Despite having visited Switzerland, this was a first for us.
The amazing sleigh ride, the gorgeous white snow, the beautiful day in a beautiful mountain setting, the infectious Christmas spirit of Leavenworth, and great people to share it with made for a wonderful and unforgettable day.