Did you know Washington State is the largest producer of tulips in the United States? Mother Nature puts on quite a colorful show, and each year, over a million people visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival to see it for themselves.
A Local’s Guide to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Before you plan your trip, there are some things you should know about the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and since this is home base for us, I’m going to give you the scoop from a local’s perspective.
My guess is if you’re planning a trip to see the tulips, you want to know more than just how to find them. You probably want to know things like what to expect when you get here, where to stay for Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, where to eat, and is there anything else to do in the area.
Read on, my friend. I’ve got you covered.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs April 1-30. However, the best time to come totally depends on the weather that month and when most of the tulips start blooming. It varies from year to year, so you’ll want to check the bloom status before coming.
Keep in mind that if it’s been cold and rainy, you’ll want to wait until later in April to come. If it’s been sunnier than usual, don’t wait too long or the tulips may already be topped by the end of the month.
Tulips bloom for about two weeks and different varieties bloom at different times, so they are staggered throughout the month. With over a million tulip bulbs planted in Skagit County, you’ll have plenty to see no matter when you come!
In addition to tulips, the Washington Bulb Company is also the leading grower of daffodil and iris bulbs in North America and daffodils are in full bloom just before the tulips open. Although there’s not a daffodil festival, come in March and you’ll be treated to gorgeous fields of yellow, too.
Tip: If I were you, I would avoid coming on the weekend as if my life depended on it. Traffic is insane on the weekends, especially if it’s sunny out. I’m talking, traffic starts backing up just to get off the freeway, and the fields are still 20 minutes away on a good day!
Try to come on a weekday, come early, and don’t be afraid of a little drizzle. Those are the least crowded days to visit the tulip fields, and you won’t spend half your day just getting there and back.
Where’s the Best Place to See the Tulip Fields?
Skagit valley tulip festival bloom map: Here’s a map of the tulip fields, but there are two main display gardens you’ll want to know about.
RoozenGaarde Display Garden
Address: 15867 Beaver Marsh Rd. Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Hours: 8 am – 7 pm every day throughout the Festival.
Cost: $15 admission. ($1 dollar off discount with Military ID) Children 2 and under are free.
Parking: Parking is free at the display garden.
Important to note: Pets are not permitted in the garden.
Tip: RoozenGaarde’s display garden is actually open year-round and includes 90+ varieties of brightly colored tulips and over 150 flower bulb varieties in total. In addition to tulips, they showcase daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, peonies, and other specialty flowers, and there is no admission fee outside of the Skagit Tulip Festival dates.
You can purchase RoozenGaarde tickets and read more about what they have to offer here. One of the annual events they participate in is the Festival of Family Farms.
Address: 15002 Bradshaw Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Hours: Monday – Thursday 10 am – 6 pm; Friday – Sunday 9 am – 7 pm throughout the Festival.
Cost: $15.00 12+, $7 ages 6-11, $13 Senior and Military, children 5 and under are free
You can purchase tickets and read more about what Tulip Town has to offer here.
Can You See the Tulip Fields Without Getting Out of the Car?
Yes! That’s a great way to tour the tulips, especially if it’s more than drizzling, but you still want to see them. There’s no cost to simply drive by the acres of tulip fields, but there are some things you should know.
*Don’t block traffic! If you want to stop to take pictures, find a designated place to pull off. Just like your shopping cart at Costco, when you stop to get a sample, get yourself all the way out of the way before stopping.
*Obey the traffic signs. I know it’s tempting to pull over for “just a sec”, but if the signs say no parking or stopping on the shoulder, then please don’t do it.
*Be respectful of private driveways. If they’ve coned it off, don’t try parking or turning around there.
*Many people do bike tours of the fields, so stay alert for bikers along the road.
What’s the Best Way to Get to the Skagit Tulip Fields?
Most people coming from Seattle will take exit 226 in Mt. Vernon. However, exit 221 in Conway will also get you to the fields and is usually less congested. Plus, you can stop by Snow Goose Produce and treat yourself to an ice cream cone the size of your head. (Fyi, they only take cash for the cones, but they do take cards for most of the other things they sell there.)
If you’re coming from the north, you skipped exit 221, or the Mt. Vernon exit was already backed up, you can also take exit 230 in Burlington. That usually has less congestion anyway because Hwy 20 is a two-lane road while the other exits are one-lane roads getting to the fields. Remember, this is small-town America, and other than Springtime festivities, we don’t usually have this kind of traffic to deal with.
What to Bring When You Visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Cash: You’ll need it to get into Tuliptown, and although RoozenGaarde takes cards, the cash line is usually shorter. Not all the food vendors inside take cards, either.
Shoes that can get muddy: If you’re only planning to walk through the display gardens, you won’t need mud boots. If you’re planning to walk out to the fields (and I hope you do!), just expect that your shoes may get muddy, and don’t wear your favorite white sneakers.
Umbrella: While I’m not suggesting you get out and brave a downpour, I hope you won’t let a little drizzle derail your plans for the day. Here in Washington, we rarely break out our umbrellas, but what better time to use one than to walk around seeing the beautiful tulip fields?
Camera and accessories: Whether you’ll be using your phone or an actual camera, come prepared to take lots and lots of pictures of the Washington Tulip Festival! The flowers are just so irresistible, and you’re going to find yourself wanting to take photos of just about every flower you see.
I’m telling ya now, you’ll be like a moth drawn to a light bulb. It just can’t be helped. Before you get there, be sure your batteries are charged, you have plenty of storage capacity, and consider bringing a portable charger, just in case.
Other Things to Consider Bringing:
Dress up clothes! There will be photo opportunities galore, and the tulip fields are a great place to take family photos, so plan your wardrobe ahead of time. My very favorite picture of Madeline and Olivia was taken by a professional photographer at the RoozenGaarde tulips display garden. She even brought a darling little bistro table and chairs to set up!
Extra clothing: If it’s raining or you dressed up for the occasion, it’s nice to have a change of clothes for afterward, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you.
Snacks: There are vendors on site to buy snacks from, but you may want to bring your own. Don’t forget to bring water bottles, too.
Babycarrier or backpack: Strollers are allowed in the display gardens, but if you’re planning to walk the fields, the paths are often muddy and bumpy, not to mention crowded.
More Helpful Info
Before we move on to some insider scoop on what else there is to do to make your visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival perfect, here’s some extra info you might want to know.
*Oprah Magazine named the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival #4 out of the top 10 flower festivals in the U.S. (Total bragging rights for the Valley!)
*There are tulip souvenirs in every shape and size, but one of the most popular is the annual tulip poster. Each new year is unique and portrays the fields in a different way.
*You can buy a bouquet of tulips or other cut flowers to take home, both in the display gardens, in the parking lots, and along the route. (I know it’s tempting, but don’t pick the tulips in the field!)
*There’s a street fair in downtown Mt. Vernon, usually the 3rd weekend in April. You’ll find 150+ booths featuring arts & crafts, jewelry, clothing, and lots of food and entertainment. Keep in mind this is a weekend and weekends mean high traffic in the Valley! If you’re ok with crowds, the street festival is a great place for some family fun.
What About Dining Options in the Valley?
Skagit Valley is teaming with restaurants, so you won’t have any trouble finding a place to eat. Here’s a list of restaurants to help you decide.
One of the favorites for locals and tourists alike is the Kiwanis Salmon Dinner:
*April 1- May 1, (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) 11 am – 7 pm
*Wild Salmon barbecued over Alder, with baked potato, slaw, garlic bread, & ice cream.
*Two serving sizes ($14 or $17)
*1717 S 13th St, Mount Vernon, WA 98274
Funny story…one time Rodney and I went to dinner there and Rodney, being the jokester he is, asked the older gentleman at the register if he would give him a discount because his wife is so beautiful. Without missing a beat the man said he could, but then he’d have to charge Rodney extra because he’s so ugly. I laughed all the way through dinner!
Where Should I Stay For the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
If you’re coming for more than a day trip, you’ll want to book early as most hotels will be sold out by April. You can stay in La Conner, Anacortes, Mt. Vernon, or Burlington and be within 20 minutes of the fields (not counting extra time for traffic.) For Skagit Valley Tulip Festival lodging, you can find hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, and Vrbo-type rentals, but book early!
What Else Is There to Do in Skagit Valley?
Now that you’re here, you may be looking for other things to do in the area. Skagit Valley is very scenic, so if you have some extra time, plan to stick around a bit longer!
Anacortes is known for it’s antique shops and you can easily spend a half day or more walking up and down Commercial Ave. shopping the stores. Stop in and have lunch at Rock Fish Cafe or if you’re there early enough, pick up some donuts at The Donut Shop. These are arguably the best donuts in the Valley. (My kids act like they’ve died and gone to heaven when they get these.)
La Conner is another super cute little town that’s perfect for wandering in and out of the shops and boutiques. Have lunch at Seeds or Calico Cupboard, and if the weather is good, get takeout so you can eat on the boardwalk overlooking the water.
Drive another 25 minutes west on Hwy 20, and you’ll get to Deception Pass, another tourist destination in itself. You can park on either side and walk across the bridge as well as hike down to the water. Take a picnic to Rosario Beach and watch the sunset. (We’ve watched many a sunset sitting on the driftwood there.)
More Things to do Near the Tulip Fields
Little Mountain, just east of Mt. Vernon, has a spectacular lookout point, and there’s no hiking involved. (Although if you want to hike, there are over 10 miles of trails available!) You can literally just drive up to the top and see the view, so if you’re tuckered out or traveling with people who can’t walk far, this is another great option to add to your agenda. Open from 10 am until dusk.
If you’re heading north after visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, there’s still more to see. The half-hour drive up I-5 to Bellingham is one of the most beautiful drives in the country. If you want an even more scenic route, take Chuckanut Drive. If you’re celebrating something special, Chuckanut Manor and the Oyster Bar are a bit pricey but quite popular places to eat, and both are on Chuckanut Drive.
Whatcom Falls is definitely worth stopping by if you have the time. It’s also in Bellingham and is an easy hike with beautiful, shady views. We lived here way too long before we discovered this little gem, but now it’s one of my favorite places to take visitors!
If you’re into casino action, there are two in the Valley. The Swinomish Casino & Lodge is on Hwy 20, heading toward Anacortes, and Skagit Casino Resort is in Bow right off exit 236 on I-5.
What Do I Think Is the Perfect Itinerary For Visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
I’m so glad you asked! If I were coming from out of town, here is what I would do.
First, I’d make it an overnight trip simply because there’s so much to do here.
I would get to the tulip fields early on a weekday and spend all morning sightseeing and taking pictures of every single bulb that caught my fancy. It’s tulip mania around here.
Then, to avoid the crowds, I’d head north to Bellingham via Chuckanut Drive and visit Whatcom Falls. By that time, it would be getting on in the day and I’d head straight to The Chrysalis Inn, where I’d have reservations for a room with a view of the water. (This is my favorite hotel to stay in locally!)
Hopefully, we would have timed it right to get checked in before sunset. We’d then head to the boardwalk and take a sunset stroll, stopping at Woods Coffee at the end of the trail before heading back.
We’d then drive to the Fairhaven district for dinner, but we’d definitely save room for something yummy at Pure Bliss Desserts. Don’t skip this step. It’ll make your whole trip worthwhile. In fact, if you’re not hungry for both, skip dinner and head straight to Pure Bliss!
In the morning, I’d take another stroll down the boardwalk for coffee before heading out again. We’d then make our way south, stopping for breakfast at Calico Cupboard in Mt. Vernon and then continuing on with our sightseeing adventures with one of the other ideas mentioned above.
The Perfect Way to See the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
That would be my ideal agenda for the tulip festival so that I could enjoy the beauty of the Valley but also get away from the crowds and traffic for the evening. Hopefully, this has given you all the info you need to plan your trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festivals events.
Quick Answers About the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
When is Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
The festival of tulips is officially open April 1-30. Check the event calendar for a full schedule of activities.
Is Skagit Valley Tulip Festival open?
Although the tulips may bloom earlier than the festival starts, the official dates are April 1-30, 20. Visitors can also come earlier to drive by the daffodil fields and see any tulips that may bloom early.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Skagit Valley Tulip Garden in Seattle?
Although the tulip festival lasts for the month of April, the best time to visit depends on the weather during the month. If March is sunnier than usual, the tulips may bloom in early April. Also, weekdays are less crowded than weekends and cloudy days are also less crowded and better for photos than sunny days.
Where is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
The tulip fields, as well as Tulip Town and Roozengaarde display gardens, are located in La Conner, Washington, about an hour north of Seattle.
What is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a celebration of over a million flowers in bloom at once. The festival continues throughout the month of April and is located in La Conner, Washington, about an hour north of Seattle.
How Colorful is Skagit Valley in Northwest Washington?
Very! The t u l i p fields are full of row upon row of colorful flowers in almost every color of the rainbow. From pastels to bold colors, you’ll see so many colors in the display gardens as well.
Let us know if this was helpful!
PS. Sharing pictures of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival featuring my kids was a great trip down memory lane for me, but if you’re wondering who they are, hop on over and let us introduce ourselves to you!
This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.