Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Imagine driving around a small farming town and coming across fields flowing with vibrant shades of pinks, purples, reds, and yellows. It’s lovely to receive a bouquet of tulips, but to see a whole field of tulips lined up in rows is stunning. Welcome to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, an annual event in Northern Washington that greets tourists from around the world for the month that the tulips are in bloom.
Although my dad’s side of the family is from Northern Washington, I have only been to the tulip festival in Mt. Vernon once before. There are many Dutch-Americans living in this area (including my family), so the tulips are a popular way to celebrate the strong Dutch heritage centered around here. I decided I needed to go see it again as a little daytrip date with Jace. Tulips are my favorite flowers, and Jace – being the good boyfriend that he is – surprises me with bouquets of tulips every once in a while. Going up to Mt. Vernon was just a clever idea of mine to get him to buy me another bouquet!
From Seattle, it takes about an hour and a half to drive to Mt. Vernon in good traffic, but longer if you run into heavy traffic around Everett. There was a long line of cars waiting to get off the freeway ramp and following down the tulip route. The tulip festival is especially busy on the weekends. You won’t be able to get lost trying to find the tulip fields as long as you follow the crowds and the signs that mention the tulip route.
I made the mistake of trying to find tulip fields with free parking first. I found two, but I wasted time driving around to search for them. Most of the tulip fields are owned by Roozen Gaarde and cost a one-time, multiple field pass of $5 per person. I would recommend going to the main Roozen Gaarde tulip center and gardens first, and then driving around to the other tulip fields. That way you won’t have to worry about entrance and parking fees. By the time we got around to finally paying for the entrance, we didn’t have much time to stay and enjoy the area. The main garden also beautifully showcases multiple varieties of tulips, not just in the fields.
Jace and I also visited Christianson’s Nursery and Greenhouse to see if they would have any tulips for sale. We weren’t impressed with the options, although their planted flowers selection was nice. It turns out that the tulips there were the same quality as the bouquets at Roozen Gaarde, although they were $2 cheaper. So if you must buy tulips while you’re there, buy them at Christianson’s. But if you want a big and vibrant bouquet of tulips, go to Pike Place Market instead. Their options are more varied and healthier looking.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs from April 1st to the 30th. You can find out the tulip locations on Roozen Gaarde’s website. Some of the tulips bloom early at the start, and some bloom later. Most visitors play it safe by going in the middle of the month. Catch it before it’s too late!