My favorite place in the world is The Netherlands during tulip time. Tulips are my favorite flower and looking at fields of tulips just makes me happy. I love looking at pictures of tulips, I subscribe to flicker accounts that have tulips and follow people on instagram. Then, one day, I realized that some of the photos were not in Holland but were in the state of Washington. I decided that I had to go there and began to plan my trip to Washington to see the tulips.
Skagit Valley Washington
The Skagit Valley in Washington is in the perfect location in Washington. Between Seattle and Vancouver BC, to the south and north and San Juan Islands, and the North Cascade National Park to the west and east. The largest town is Mount Vernon which has a quant downtown, La Conner which is a small town with an arts scene and a nice waterfront area and Anacortes which used to be a fishing village but now is a popular place to retire. But what makes Skagit Valley special is its fertile land. In the Skagit Valley over 80 different crops are grown there. They are the state’s leading producer of strawberries and red potatoes. But most importantly, more tulips, daffodil and iris bulbs are grown there than any other place in all of America.
Usually taking place April 1-30th, but can change due to when the tulips are ready. The tulip festival in many ways is a driving tour of all the fields in farms spread out in Skagit Valley. So you will definitely need a car when visiting the tulips. However, you can bike and there are several tours that you can take. Before going to the Tulip Festival, I printing a map and also checking the blooming pages.
There are two growers that open up there gardens for the festival. Roozen Gaarde which is a division of Washington Bulb Co. which is the largest bulb producer in the United States and Tulip Town which is a part of Skagit Valley Bulb Farming. Both charge five dollars to get into their gardens. Roozen Gaarde has a 3 acre show garden that is planted with around three hundred thousand spring-flowering bulbs. It is beautiful and while it is no Keukenhof by no means, it still a wonderful place to see spring bulbs. Around the gardens is fields of tulips and you can walk around. It can be muddy so make sure you wear appropriate shoes.
Tulip Town is more festival oriented and probably where you want to go if you have kids. They have indoor and outdoor gardens, kite flying and trolleys that take you out to the fields. The fields are not like any of the other fields around because the are more like display fields where there are strips of colors where as the fields that are more grown for agricultural reasons, are more uniform in color. But it makes a beautiful visit and is a must see during the festival.
After you have been to both of the gardens, then you want to drive out to the other fields that the tulips are blooming. This is why you want to have a map and have checked who is blooming on the internet before going. A couple of things to know before going, this is a rural farm area, not public gardens. They let you come to their farm and you should be respectful of it. You can’t pull over and take pictures, you have to pay to park at the fields, again, they are letting you come and are risking their products. It will rain and will be muddy, it is Washington so be prepared.
Where to Stay
Skagit Valley makes an excellent day trip from Seattle or Vancouver BC, but if you want to stay the festival offers a good list of places to stay. I would recommend either staying in Anacortes which is on the water or Bellingham which is north and is a fun college town. But you really can’t go wrong with anywhere town in the area.
Hope you enjoy your time, while no substitution for Holland, Skagit Valley is beautiful and easy to get to.