The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: A Local’s Guide
*This post updated March 19, 2019.
As a Skagit County local, I’ve attended many Skagit Valley Tulip Festivals. I’ve put together this guide with all the information you need on where to go and what to bring to see the tulips. Plus, I’ve added a few insider’s picks for great places to grab lunch, fun and engaging kids’ activities in the area, and a calendar of interesting April events.
During the month of April, tulip fields create a colorful patchwork quilt across the fertile Skagit Valley farmland as the flowers begin to bloom. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a celebration of this part of the flowers’ growth cycle.
As the month draws to a close, farmers top the flower heads off the stem so that all of the plant’s energy goes to the bulb underground. Later on, these bulbs get harvested and are either sold to consumers or replanted by the farmers.
The festival runs from April 1-30 every year, but when the tulips bloom depends on Mother Nature. You can check out RoozenGaarde’s bloom map or the Tulip Festival’s Bloom Status page to see the status of the tulips.
Last year, the tulips were in full bloom April 11th, and April 13th-15th was the busiest weekend. It is still too early to tell when the tulips will bloom this year, as the freeze in February may have affected them. RoozenGaarde says visiting in mid-April is usually a safe bet if you are making travel plans in advance.
- Price: $7 per person; $6 Military with ID; Children 5 and under FREE
- Open daily 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
- Parking: Free at the garden and overflow lots; also available are official pay parking lots – the ticket stub is good for one admission
- What to Do
- Walk through the gorgeous 5-acre display garden, which includes an authentic Dutch windmill perfect for a photo opportunity
- Walk out into the 25-acre tulip field and 22-acre daffodil field and take the requisite standing in the tulip field pictures
- Mark off the flowers you see and/or would like to purchase in RoozenGarde’s bulb catalog. Parenting tip: This is an excellent activity for keeping little hands busy.
- Visit the food vendors for refreshments.
- Price: $7 per person; 5 and under FREE
- Open April 1-30 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
- Parking: Free at the garden and overflow lots
- What to Do:
- Visit the indoor flower show with a background mural by Jennifer Bowman, perfect for escaping April’s showers
- Walk around the variety of gardens on display, including a windmill display garden and a veterans’ garden
- Ride the trolley into the fields between 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Prices are $2 for adults and $1 for children
- Kids can get their face painted
- Children can participate in activities at the art table weekdays from 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m
- Bring a kite or buy one there to fly in the fields. On the weekends, watch professionals fly their kites
- Indulge in espresso, treats, and meals
One field you can safely pull off on the shoulder of the road for photos is on Calhoun Road between Beaver Marsh Road and Bradshaw Road.
- Rain jacket
- Rain boots
- Colorful layers for pictures
- Carrier/backpack for babies for walking in the fields
- Change of clothes, especially for little kids
While out in the fields, you are likely to work up quite an appetite. Here are some area restaurants for you to check out.
La Conner is a charming town on the Swinomish Channel that boasts delicious restaurants and lovely shops. These are my top picks for a cozy lunch.
- Calico Cupboard: They’re known for their breakfast dishes, which are served all day, but Calico Cupboard also has wonderful soups, sandwiches, and salads. 720 1st Street, La Conner, WA 98257 | (360) 466-4451
- Seeds Bistro and Bar: Located in the old Tillinghast Seed Company building, Seeds locally sources many of its ingredients. They offer a wide variety of dishes, from soup and salad to classic comfort food. 623 Morris Street, La Conner, WA 98257 | (360) 466-3280
- La Conner Brewing Company: Offering wood-fired pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and other pub fare, as well as beer, wine, and cider, this family-friendly restaurant has got something for everyone. 117 South 1st Street, La Conner, Washington 98257 | (360) 466-1415
Located between La Conner and Conway is the area known as Fir Island. Rural and picturesque, it’s off the beaten path and is a place you wouldn’t necessarily know about unless you lived in Skagit County. Take the opportunity on your trip to or from the tulips to drive through, catch a field of snow geese, and enjoy the pastoral beauty.
- Snow Goose Produce: The Snow Goose is on Fir Island Road. A country market, it sells produce, flowers, wine, bread, cheese, and gift items, but what you really need to buy is an ice cream cone. The Snow Goose is known for placing ginormous scoops of Lopez Island Creamery ice cream on their own handmade waffle cones. To get to the market from the tulip fields, take Best Road to Fir Island Road. Don’t forget cash, because they don’t take debit, credit, or checks for ice cream. 15170 Fir Island Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 | (360) 445-6908
Mt. Vernon has a wonderful downtown filled with diverse dining and shopping options. The following are my choices for lunch in this riverside town.
- Kiwanis Salmon BBQ at Hillcrest Park Lodge: Every year, the Kiwanis puts on a salmon BBQ to benefit youth and community programs in the Skagit Valley. Included in the meal are wild King Salmon, baked potato, coleslaw, garlic bread, beverages, and dessert. Bonus: Kids can burn off steam at the park when they’re finished. The Kiwanis also has some tulip cut-outs kids can stick their heads through for pictures. Open daily April 6th-April 28nd from 11 a.m.-7:00 p.m. $15 for adults and $12 for children and seniors. Visa and Mastercard are accepted. 1717 South 13th St, Mt Vernon, WA 98273
- Skagit Valley Food Co-op Deli: Everything is made from scratch at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op Deli. They offer soup, salad, sandwiches, and entrees, including lasagna, zucchini feta casserole, and gluten-free smoked mac & cheese. 202 South 1st Street, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273 | (360) 336-3886
- Taste of India: One of my family’s favorite restaurants in Skagit County, Taste of India serves superb northern Indian cuisine. We love the butter chicken and lamb saag entrees, and we always get a side of garlic naan and mango lassis (yogurt beverages) to drink. 420 W Gates Street, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 | (360) 428-2866
There are plenty of options beyond the tulip fields for kids to explore and play in the Skagit Valley. Here are five of my picks.
Visit and pet rabbits, chicks, goats, ponies, ducks, and baby pigs every Saturday and Sunday in April beginning April 7. They are suggesting a $5 per person donation. 13391 Avon Allen Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 | (360) 202-5023
Padilla Bay is an estuary, which is a type of body of water where fresh water meets the ocean. At the Breazeale Interpretive Center, kids can visit interactive exhibits and saltwater aquariums that teach them about life in the estuary. You can also visit the observation deck (including beach access), shore trail and upland trail while you are here. Trails and the parking lot are always open. The Breazeale Interpretive Center is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Admission is free! 10441 Bayview-Edison Road, Mt. Vernon, WA 98273 | (360) 428-1558
The Children’s Museum of Skagit County is located in the Outlet Shoppes in Burlington. They recently relocated from the Cascade Mall. While they are not fully moved in, they do have several exhibits for children to play in. In the Cascade Mall location, these exhibits included a child-size working crane, an art studio, music room, and toddler farmyard. Admission is $6.25 per person. 12 months and younger are free. 432 Fashion Way, Burlington, WA 98233 | (360) 757-8888
Located next to the public parking pay lot on Moore Street, this is a small playground that will help kids get their wiggles out. Moore Street, La Conner, WA 98257
Hillcrest Park has multiple playgrounds and picnic shelters for you and the kids to play and eat lunch. Also at the park is the annual Kiwanis Salmon BBQ (see Mt. Vernon dining picks above). 1717 South 13th Street, Mount Vernon, WA 98274 | (360) 336-6215
Get up close and personal with big rig trucks and how they are tested at the PACCAR Technical Center Annual Open House. April 13th from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. 12479 Farm to Market Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
March 22-31: Skagit Beer Week
April 5-27: Tea Time at Willowbrook Manor
April 6: Tulip Run
April 13: Anacortes Spring Wine Festival
April 7-29: Beaks, Noses, and Bills 4H Club Petting Farm (see Fun for Kids above)
April 10: Locals Night at Tulip Town
April 13: Anacortes Yacht Club Tulip Regatta
April 19-21: Downtown Mount Vernon Tulip Festival Street Fair
April 20: Tulip Pedal
April 27: Have a Heart Family Fun Run
April 27-28: Sedro-Woolley Woodfest
Are coming to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival? What activities do you plan on doing?
*Special thanks to my wonderful aunt, Lee Anne McDermott, for letting me use her pictures from past Tulip Festivals.