Visit Gorgeous Tulip Fields Without Flying to Holland
Washington’s Skagit Valley is the next best thing.
Can’t afford a flight to Europe this spring? Waltz through acres of red, pink, yellow, purple and orange tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in upstate Washington. The valley, about an hour north of downtown Seattle, has the largest tulip fields in North America and the festival is massive with more than 350 acres of tulips.
See the Tulips
There’s no one set place to see the tulips and no one pin to drop into your phone GPS. The festival takes over the entire valley with big growers like Washington Bulb Co., the company behind famous Roozen Garden and Tulips.com, and small growers like Tulip Town. The field locations change each year. “We can’t control our star attraction,” says Cindy Verge, the festival’s Executive Director. “Make sure if you’re coming to get a current map because the fields rotate with crop rotations. So if you go back to fields from 2016, you’ll see lovely brown dirt.”
There’s also no set date for the festival as weather affects when the flowers bloom each year so the valley celebrates the flower the entire month of April and updates their website with bloom status reports for travelers making plans to visit. This week is a great time to go because you can see both the tail end of the daffodil fields and the famous tulips.
Download the festival map online or pick one up at the tulip office in Mount Vernon to see official tulip routes through the valley. Most the of the fields don’t have parking but you can park for free at the festival’s two main gardens: Tulip Town and Roozen Garden. Tour more than 80 varieties of tulips in a wide range of colors. Verge notes that the tulip colors change from year to year depending on color trends from consumers. “You’ll see reds and pinks a lot because that’s what’s popular right now.”
You can also shop different bulbs and fresh cuts to take home. “The cut flowers for sale are taken right out of the fields,” says Verge. “You really are getting them about as fresh as they come.”
But Canadians coming down to visit or road trippers taking advantage of the festival’s close proximity to Vancouver should note that bulbs cannot be taken across the US border. “We always say flowers are fine. Dirt is not,” Verge says. But if you just want a bouquet, fresh cuts are fine to take.
There’s so much to do beyond the gardens, you could round out an entire weekend here. Get a bird’s eye view of the festival with helicopter tours. Or take in the scenery on a 5K timed run or two-mile fun run. Bikers will love the festival’s tours through tulip country including a centennial ride.
“There really is something for everybody,” adds Verge. The big draw this weekend is the festival’s juried art show that takes place in downtown Mount Vernon. Shop more than 150 vendors from Pacific Northwest makers and artisans while listening to live music.
If there’s one thing Skagit Valley has just as much as tulips, it’s booze. Make time for some of the region’s breweries, distilleries and wineries. Downtown Mount Vernon and waterfront La Conner are great stops for an afternoon of sips. Try a local pint at La Conner Brewing Company or Skagit River Brewing Company. Visit Valley Shine Distillery for a Skagit Side Car. Or head to the big red barn at Tulip Valley Winery for award-winning wine or cider (this is apple-centric Washington after all). If you’re hungry, visit the Hillcrest Park Lodge. The local Kiwanis chapter opens up a restaurant just for the festival to serve delicious wild caught salmon BBQ. All proceeds go back to the community.
If you do visit the festival this month, be sure to tag your photos #LiveTravelChannel on Instagram and we might feature your shot!