Skagit Valley, northwest Washington
Of course, The Netherlands has amazing tulips but one of the world’s other great displays lies in the Pacific Northwest. Drive an hour north of Seattle on I-5 and you’ll reach Mt. Vernon, the county seat and largest town in Skagit County. Here, agricultural fields stretch shore to mountains, from the Salish Sea in the west to the Cascades in the east. As in Holland, it’s the perfect climate for tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Every April, thousands of bloom-seekers drive and cycle the Tulip Route, a series of country roads and highways meandering around Skagit Valley. There are really three must-sees. Most of the fields are off-limits to visitors except for Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde. Both have impressive displays. RoozenGaarde is bigger and according to its website, “The Roozen family business of growing tulips, daffodils and irises is the largest in the world, covering Skagit Valley with more than 1000 acres of field blooms and 16 acres of greenhouses.” La Conner is another fun stop. This historic, quaint seaside town features numerous restaurants and shops, with plenty of tulip-themed must-haves. Oh, and don’t forget the Kiwanis Salmon Barbecue at Mt. Vernon’s Hillcrest Park Lodge. For most of April, the local Kiwanis club grills wild, locally-caught salmon—a tradition spanning three decades as part of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
April is When to Visit
The daffodils start blooming first, usually in mid- to late March. The entire month of April is dedicated to flowers which is why the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs for 30 days. The festival, RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town each maintain websites and social media with the most up-to-date info so check frequently.
Keep in Mind
Weather is the biggest factor. It determines when blooming starts, when flowers are at full peak, how much water and mud you might have to slop through and crowd size. RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town open at 9 am. Weekdays are less busy. Sunny days and weekends are the most crowded. And if it’s rainy, rubber boots are a good idea. You can’t bring pets or drones and you must stay on the walking paths. No tiptoeing through the tulips, please! While parking is free, the admission price is $7 per adult on weekdays and $10 on weekends. Children under 5 don't pay.
Routes & Maps
From Seattle, head north on I-5 for 60 miles. It will take about an hour to reach the Mt. Vernon area where there are several exits that will put you onto the Tulip Route.
From Vancouver, it’s 135 km south to Mt. Vernon. Plan on 2 to 2.5 hours to allow for reasonable border crossing time.
The Tulip Route meanders around Skagit Valley but the highlights are RoozenGaarde, Tulip Town and La Conner.
Plan on a good half day. Once you reach Mt. Vernon, everything is nearby but it still takes awhile to park, walk the fields and snap photos.