Sure, your kids know Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen. But after a trip to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where they’ll have reindeer eating right out of their hands, they’ll be all about Elsa, Sugar Plum and Forrest. Add in a photo opp with Santa and you’ve got a truly magical holiday experience. Read on to make your plan!
Gather ‘Round the Campfire
The reindeer farm experience starts like all good ones do, around a cozy campfire. Relax at a picnic table or pull up a comfy chair, because this part of the day is all about cool reindeer facts, fun trivia and some silly puns that’ll make your kids chuckle. It’s also a chance for families to touch antlers, feel real antler velvet and ask the owners questions about their farm. And don’t worry, there’s plenty of hand sanitizer and ways to socially distance while you and the kids learn fascinating facts.
Make a New Friend
After the campfire, it’s time to meet the stars of the show. Before entering the reindeer enclosure, there’s a brief safety orientation, and then it’s go time. Although visitors only interact with the animals for about 15 minutes, it’s plenty of time for your kiddos to feed, pet and gaze in awe (or aww, take your pick) at these amazing creatures. They definitely know the routine and aren’t shy about approaching anyone with a cup of food, so if you have cautious kiddos, be sure to let them know. This is also the perfect time to take all the pictures. Staff is available to take them for you if you want to join the kids, standing alongside experienced reindeer models like Elsa and Sven. Smile!
Delight in Farm Activities
While visiting the farm, be sure to take advantage of all the bells and whistles that are part of the experience. Families can find bowls of food near the barn to feed the chickens, who will eagerly eat whatever you offer. There’s a sweet swingset that will keep your kiddos busy for quite a while on a sunny winter day, and the vintage tractor with the barn and oversized wreath in the background make for festive photos. Don’t forget to introduce your kids to Tom the turkey who likes to show off for visitors.
Sit Down with Santa
While the reindeer will get your kids in the door, we know that meeting the Big Guy is the moment they’ve been waiting for. This year, Santa will be wearing a face shield and families can choose their comfort level when interacting with him. Stand to one side, give an elbow bump or simply a wave, he’ll still be taking orders for special toys and posing for your annual Christmas photos. When you book your experience, keep in mind that the Winter Farm Tours plus Santa Claus Meet kick off on Nov. 14 and run through Dec. 29 (with the exception of Nov. 16, 20 & 27; Santa has other plans). Photos are included with pricing. Be sure you’ve got room on your phone!
An added bonus of this excursion is that it’s just a few minutes from the holiday hustle and bustle of downtown Leavenworth. When hunger strikes warm up with a bowl of hot bone broth soup and spectacular mountain views at Yodelin. All seating is outdoors and tented to keep you safe during COVID, and the metal plates, cups and paper-free menu is par for the course at this restaurant committed to sustainability. After a meal, take time to dash in and out of shops on Front Street—the Nutcracker Museum and Gingerbread Factory are timely faves your kids will love. The street is closed to traffic so you can wander with plenty of space and enjoy the holiday lights too. Waterfront Park is another great spot to find space and fresh air, even on cooler days. Its flat, stroller-friendly walking trails, hidden ponds and bridges are naturally intriguing spots to for kids to explore. And if you still have time left in your day, many of Leavenworth’s sleigh ride providers are booking reservations for the season. After a busy day your kids will crash on the way home. And to all a good night!
Good to know:
1. Starting Nov. 14, families can check in at the cozy kiosk in the parking lot where they can also grab a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie before heading down to the farm. This will help with social distancing too.
2. Make sure to arrive at least 10 minutes before your ticketed time slot. Earlier is better, as families can use this time to play on the farm playground and maybe even meet the horses.
3. The tour lasts about one hour from start to finish, and new tour groups start every 30 minutes, so things move quickly.
4. Closed-toed shoes or boots will keep feet warm, dry and safe in the muddy corral, and dressing for the weather will keep your kids happy. Psst…they have umbrellas out to use in case in rains, but bringing your own is easy too.
5. When it comes to COVID, masks are required, and families will find hand sanitizer in a few key spots around the farm (although packing a pocket stash never hurts). Temp checks before entry are planned to start Nov. 14.
Cost: $20/person; free for kids 3 & under
10395 Chumstick Hwy.
—Allison Sutcliffe (all photos courtesy of the writer)