For those of us who live in the Seattle area, visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is on the list of must-do local attractions during the month of April. I was so amazed the first time we went when we first moved here from Austin. It was so impressive to see the endless fields of colorful tulips. We used to go more frequently when the kids were smaller. Family photos with tulips in the background are as common here as photos with the bluebonnets in Austin.
However, in the recent years, as the kids have grown older – and therefore less enthusiastic about taking photos with pretty flowers, we haven’t gone as often. So, this Spring Break we decided – ok, I decided – that we should go. The kids barely remembered it, and my youngest (8) Marc was so impressed, he started taking photos with his Ipod and when it ran out of battery, he borrowed my extra camera. It was so fun to see him enjoy the experience of discovering all the different varieties of flowers and capturing it on camera. My oldest son (11) and the husband were bored after walking around for a few minutes. Marc and I didn’t care, it was their loss, and we took our time taking photos and enjoying the perfect beautiful tulips.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place in the Mt. Vernon area, which is about a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive from Seattle (more or less depending on traffic). You can drive there directly on I-5, or take the scenic route and make it a fun day trip. For us, the scenic route means taking a ferry at Mukilteo to Clinton on Whidbey Island. We then drive through the island, stopping at the small towns for lunch & ice cream, plus a visit to one of the state parks for some beach photos and a short hike/walk.
We drive off the island through Deception Pass. The views from Deception Pass bridge are breathtaking. If you have time, you can actually plan a hike at Deception Pass State Park. If you’re limited on time, you can park right before one of the bridges and take some amazing photos. If you are not afraid of heights, you can walk on the bridge. For the record, I am mildly afraid of heights, but the views and photo opportunities are so great, that I force myself to overcome it. After crossing Deception Pass you arrive in Anacortes, you will take a right and follow the direction of I-5. Then there will a road that goes to Mt Vernon/La Conner and you will also see plenty of signs for the tulip routes.
There are several farms that you can visit to see the tulips, we don’t have a specific favorite. This year we went to RoozenGaarde they have large fields on one side, and then a smaller garden area with a huge variety of different tulips and flowers on the other side. The admission tickets cover both areas. In previous years, we also wend to Tulip Town, which seemed to have more entertainment options for smaller kids. Make sure to take cash, as some of the farms only take cash – though they do have ATMs. The fields usually have slightly muddy areas, so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty and have some paper towels or extra shoes in the car to wipe off the kids shoes.
More information on the tulip festival: