For 28 years, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival has been drawing crowds from all over the United States. You would almost think you were in Holland, with all the hub bub about the flowers. But they truly are impressive, and worth the drive to see them. The weather, of course, dictates when the flowers will bloom. And although the festival runs from April 1-30, this year it seems, the flowers will start their best show this weekend through Easter.
How to Get There:
Driving north on I-5 is the best way to get to Skagit County, about 60 miles north of Seattle. There are Tulip Festival maps and brochures at the Festival office in Mt. Vernon, at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, and the Conway Deli in Conway. The tulip fields run about 15-miles long, and are bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish River Channel.
If you want to take the train, Amtrak runs between Seattle and Mount Vernon, but you’ll need to rent a car or taxi once you arrive to get to the tulip fields. There’s no public transportation out to the site of the festival.
Things to do:
Once you’re there, you can walk through the fields of tulips and take photos. Or you might choose to see the fields by helicopter. Sky Flyn’ Helicopters are there to give you an eagle eye view. No reservations are needed. You can call 360.377.4115 before you arrive for rates and details.
There’s plenty of art to look at. The Art Bash and Art at the Schoolhouse in Mount Vernon have presentations from local artists, as well as Art in a Pickle Barn in Burlington and the Garden Art Fair in Anacortes are just some of the places where you can find pieces to enjoy, or take home.
If you’d like to cycle your way through the tulips, the 30th annual Tulip Pedal is Saturday, April 16th. You can choose a 20, 40, or 60 mile ride. Go to http://www.active.com to register.
Your kids might enjoy getting their wiggles out at the Children’s Museum of Skagit County in Burlington. Open till 5p daily, it’s a hands-on stop before or after the tulips. http://www.skagitchildrensmuseum.net
For a little fun and education, you can stop at Country Time Alpaca Farm, where the kids can see over 40 alpacas, take a self-guided educational tour, and see alpaca wool and yarn in the country store. http://www.countrytimealpacas.com
For breakfast any time, or just some home-cooked comfort food, head to The Farmhouse Restaurant in Mount Vernon. http://www.thefarmhouserestaurant.net Or for a water view and a NW Seafood meal, or just a good burger, try The Waterfront Cafe in nearby La Conner. http://www.laconnerwaterfrontcafe.com Of course, the festival itself has food vendors, and there’s lots of choices from pizza to ice cream and farmer’s markets for lots of fresh produce.
If you are thinking of making a weekend of it, there are lots of options. The Best Western Cotton Tree Inn is fairly centrally located to all the festivities http://www.cottontreeinns.com/washington. There are B&B options, like Whispering Firs http://www.whisperingfirs.com/, and if camping is more your style, there’s Pioneer Trails RV Resort with full service hook-ups http://www.pioneertrails.com/.
Be sure to check out all the details about this year’s Skagit Valley Tulip Festival at their website: http://www.tulipfestival.org