Each Spring, the Skagit Valley erupts in the colorful displays of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The front of the brochure advertises “Bloom dates according to Mother Nature” (well, that and April 1-30, 2016). It appears that Mother Nature won out this year as it’s barely the second week in April and the tulips are in full bloom (along side many dying/dead daffodils). If the daffodil fields are your thing, you might have missed your chance. Luckily, there’s still time to catch the tulips!
So, head out to Skagit Valley to check out the colorful fields. With two main viewing sites (Roozengaarde and Tulip Town), many more fields along the roads in-between, wineries, markets, salmon bakes, and breweries galore—there’s no shortage of activities to fill the day and make the drive worth it.
Printed Brochures are available at most participating locations (there are over 60!). You can view the PDF, or visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival website. Page 2-3 of the brochure has a handy guide that lets you know what activities are happening each day throughout April, and page 13 has a map of the entire festival—including tulip/daffodil/iris fields, bike parking, and locations of all other activities.
While many signs along the freeway advertise exiting at Exit 226 for the Tulip Festival, if you’re first stop is indeed the Tulip fields, we were advised to stay on the road until Exit 230 in order to skip downtown Mount Vernon traffic.
We figured that going on a weekday (Thursday afternoon) would minimize crowds—and maybe it did—but there were still a ton of people there! For a brief moment we thought that maybe we should have made a morning trip, until we heard that the morning traffic was even worse! Maybe this is one case where the early bird doesn’t get the worm (or the parking spot as the case may be).
This is a great outing for people of all ages; and while I’m not a flower fanatic I still really enjoyed: getting out of the city (even the drive up to Skagit Valley is gorgeous); wandering through colorful tulip fields surrounded by low mountain vistas; visiting some local wineries, and enjoying a delicious Salmon BBQ dinner (provided by Kiwanis).
We visited RoozenGaarde (they own tulips.com—which seems pretty legit). RoozenGaarde boasts a 4 acre Display Garden, another 25 acres of tulip fields, 15 acres of (mostly now dead) daffodil fields, a small food stand including espresso and ice cream, as well as lots of grass to sit on if you want to take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Parking near the field is free and entrance is $5 per person ($4 with military ID, Children 5 and under free). The state of the walking paths outside of the Display Garden (through the fields) is dependent on weather and can vary from quite solid (though bumpy) to quite muddy—making navigation with a stroller, wheel-chair, or walker tricky.
If you want to try to miss the crowds, there are also quite a few fields in the area that have road-side parking—and of course, much of the colorful display can be admired from the window of your car (but they really are worth getting out and seeing up-close and personal).
Location: 60 miles north of Seattle, 60 miles south of Vancouver, BC. Directly of I-5, use exits 221-231.
Have you been? Have any recommendations/warnings? Share your wisdom, comment below! 😀