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Pink and orange tulips in a field of yellow tulips in Mount Vernon Washington as part of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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If those sweeping fields of tulips in the Netherlands are on your travel bucket list, I have some great news for you! You can experience the beauty of tulip fields domestically in the state of Washington. Tulips in Washington are often synonymous with the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which spearheads the tourism to this area for tulip viewing!

In this guide to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, I’m sharing everything you need to know about seeing the tulips in Washington. Grab your rainboots and camera and let’s go.

In this travel guide to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, I'm sharing everything you need to know about tulips in Washington including where to stay in Skagit Valley, how to get to Skagit valley Tulip Festival, tulip field essentials, tulip photography tips, and more!

Why are there tulips in Washington?

It might seem a bit random that there are so many tulips blossoming in Washington. Why? Like all good things, it was stumbled upon by accident. A man named George Gibbs planted some bulbs to add some variety to his farm and to his surprise, they had multiplied stupendously in 2 years.

He caught the attention of Dutch growers and eventually a Tulip Festival was born in the 1920s. However, the Great Depression caused turmoil and Gibbs moved his bulbs to Skagit County where the love of tulips has blossomed and expanded to the festival it is today!

Species of tulips in Washington farms
The variations in tulips get quite impressive!

Where exactly are the tulips in Washington?

You’ll find the tulips in Skagit Valley…but where is that exactly? Skagit Valley is the region north of Seattle and includes Mount Vernon, Burlington, La Conner, Anacortes, and more!

Specifically, you’ll want to seek out tulip farms because while tulips grow across this whole area, you can’t just walk up to someone’s house asking to see their tulips. The tulip farms are largely congregated in the city of Mount Vernon. There are four main farms – Roozengaarde, Tulip Town, Tulip Valley Farms, and Garden Rosalyn.

When is the best time to see tulips in WA?

The festival runs April 1-30 each year, so you’ll need to visit during April. However, the actual peak bloom time varies so it’s best to consult the map from Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and updates from the individual farms.

Additionally, the tulips may be around into early-May, so again, check with the individual farms to see what’s in bloom. I personally visited the last weekend of April and they were STUNNING at that time. Not a dead patch in the house.

This area of Washington truly is one of the best spring vacations you can take in the US, so even if you can’t be there during April, I’d still plan ahead to be there in spring.

Tulip variety in Washington with frizzy ends
These were a fun variety of tulip!

How do you get to Skagit Valley?

The easiest way is by car, of course. If you can drive and are based in Seattle, I recommend renting a car, even just for the day. I rented a local car with Turo, which is kind of like Airbnb for cars. It was easy and I didn’t need to go to and from the airport an extra couple times just to get a car.

Each tulip farm has parking on site so no need to worry about that!

Sunny day at Washington tulip farm
Enjoying the early morning sunshine!

If you are looking for a way to not drive yourself, you can take the Amtrak train (Amtrak Cascades) from Seattle to Mount Vernon Amtrak Station, then Uber or take a taxi to the farm you’re interested in visiting. Trains leave daily around 7am and 7pm, so you’ll really need to fill the entire day with activities in Skagit Valley if using this transportation method.

Can you drive by the tulips in Skagit Valley?

Yes and no. You will absolutely see tulips just driving around Skagit Valley. However, to really get up close and personal, you’ll need to stop at the farms, get out of the car, and walk around.

And trust me, you’ll want to! The variation in tulip species are incredible and you have to see it outside of the car to really appreciate it!

Lone yellow tulip in a field or red ones.
It’s all in the details.

Where to stay in Skagit Valley

I would personally stay in La Conner, which is only 30-45 minutes from the tulip farms. This small coastal town has some beautiful boutique hotels and inns so you can escape the tulip crowds and enjoy the laid-back vibe of the Pacific Northwest.

I recommend Wild Iris Inn ($160+ per night), La Conner Channel Lodge ($170+ per night), or The Heron Inn and Day Spa ($180+ per night). Of course, you can always stay in Seattle and make your visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival a day trip.

I stayed at the Belltown Inn and loved it, especially the location for exploring Seattle!

Tips for avoiding tulip crowds

I don’t know about you, but crowds can really detract from the experience when traveleing for me (looking at you Louvre). Luckily, I have a couple tips on how to avoid the crowds for a more peaceful tulip viewing trip.

First, wake up early. It’s just a fact that the early bird gets the worm in this case. I planned to get there right when my farm of choice opened at 8am, so I left Seattle around 7 am. I got to the freeway’s exit for Mount Vernon at 8 am and got stuck in traffic getting off. I ended up parking and arriving at the farm I chose (more on that in a bit) at 8:20 am.

Three rows of red tulips centered with a white row to the far left and an orange row to the far right
Tulip farms are much more enjoyable when the crowds are minimal.

Luckily, the crowds were still thin at this point. However, when I left the tulip farm at 11 am, I swear I have never seen such traffic in my life. There were legitimately miles of cars in a standstill waiting to get into the parking lot.

Do not get stuck in that! Get up early!

Another tip for avoiding the crowds is to go the distance. Most people naturally stop immediately when entering the tulip fields to take photos. If you walk all the way to the back, there will be fewer crowds so you can snap some photos and take it all in in peace.

Tulip photography of a woman in a tulip field
Pose with the tulips in the back for fewer crowds.

Finally, purchase your tickets ahead of time. Each farm has separate admission and often they’ll have separate ticketed lines for those who have purchased tickets ahead of time. If you can skip a queue, obviously that’s a win!

line to purchase and enter tulip farm in Skagit Valley
The lines get crazy, so save time by purchasing tickets ahead of time.

What do you need to bring to the tulip farms?

The weather in the Pacific Northwest is often rainy and even on sunny days, you’ll find lots of muddy puddles in the tulip farms.

The number one essential is rain boots! When I went, it was the 4th or 5th sunny day in a row, but there was still mud. I’m so grateful, I wasn’t tromping around in white sneakers or heels.

Some other things to pack include:

  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Rain jacket
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Patience
Legs walking looking down at rain boots on a dirt path
You never know what the weather will bring or what puddles you’ll come across.

A note on photography at the tulip fields

I don’t normally write about photography because as much as I love the craft and getting a great shot, I don’t ever think it’s worth it to miss what’s going on right in front of you. So, I don’t talk about it often.

However, I do think that most people come to the tulip fields with photos in mind. Afterall, the tulip farms set up a number of Instagram-worthy shots like swings, windmills, and murals…because apparently gorgeous flowers isn’t enough haha.

woman posing with an arch sign that says Roozengaarde at a tulip farm in Washington state
For the ‘gram or something!

The other reason I feel like I need to discuss photography is because there’s pretty much only one rule when visiting the tulip fields, and people break that rule constantly for the shot. This is NOT okay.

The rule is that you are not allowed to walk between the rows of tulips. There are designated walkways, roads, and alcoves where you can stand and get the shot. When you walk between the rows, even if you aren’t stepping on the flowers, you’re actually compressing the soil and ruining the roots. I’m not a farmer, but that can’t be good.

In fact, this becomes a problem with the California superbloom and poppies that they’ve had to close the area to the public multiple times, because the flowers get destroyed and won’t be able to grow in future years. Yikes! All this to say, when you’re ready to take photos, I recommend finding an alcove or walkway between fields. Position your camera at the level of the tulips and capture your photos. That way, it appears that you are standing in the fields without actually going in the rows.

@periodicadventures

Replying to @dawastebinx0 Its really not that hard 😭 dont tromp on the flowers, dont walk between rows, not even for your photo. The end. #tulipfestival #tulipfarms #tulipfarm🌷 #tulipseason #skagitvalleytulipfestival #phototipsandtricks #flowerphotoshoot #tulipfield #tulipfields🌷 #tuliptips #tuliptravel

♬ Bed Peace – Jhené Aiko

TLDR: Be respectful, follow rules on posted signs.

Which tulip garden is best?

Okay okay, you’re ready to visit, which tulip field should you go to?

I personally only visited Roozengaarde and here’s why. Once I saw it, I was pretty tulip-ed and peopled out (reminder I visited on the last Saturday of the festival). It was magnificent, impressive, and so fun, but I didn’t feel the need to visit more. That doesn’t mean you can’t, of course.

Whtie tulips in a field of tulips
White tulips are stunning!

I’ll share some info about each one so you can decide, which sounds best to you! It is a pretty personal choice after all.

Roozengaarde is one of the largest and opened earliest in the day on weekends at 8 am. Since I was all about beating the crowds, that’s why I chose it. They have 5 acres of fields with 50 species of tulips with natural tulip fields and an extra 5-acres of curated gardens. On site, there is a flower shop, food and drinks, and portable restrooms. Tickets cost $15 per person.

Address: 15867 Beaver Marsh Rd., Mount Vernon, WA

colorful tulips in a circle maze
The curated gardens are fun to walk through.

Tulip Town is another popular choice and has been around since 1984! They are dog-friendly and also have 5 acres of farms with over 50 species of tulips. They also have a trolley that goes around the farm (it’s weather dependent) and a beer and wine garden. Admission is $15 online and $17 at the gate.

Address: 15002 Bradshaw Rd., Mount Vernon, WA

Garden Rosalyn is the newest farm to join and they are Latina woman owned! They are smaller and have curated gardens with ducks on site. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, this is the one for you! It’s also dog-friendly. Tickets are $17.

Address: 16648 Jungquist Rd., Mount Vernon, WA

Tulip Valley Farms is a special place that feels less commercialized. You can visit them beyond April, where in summer they have Dig Days where you can dig for tulip bulbs and take them home. They are a 30-acre farm and have intentionally planted their tulips across grass rows so you can go in between the rows for better photos. If you’re looking for the most flexible photo spot, this is your pick. They also have special experiences like Tea Time the Tulips and Night Bloom. Tickets vary so check with them come April!

Address: 15245 Bradshaw Rd., Mount Vernon, WA

Tulips outside of Seattle
Tulip gardens in these Washington farms are stunning.

How much does it cost to see the tulips in Washington

Admission to each tulip farm is manageable at under $20 and parking is free on site. Transportation to and from Skagit Valley may cost around $100 if renting a car and paying for gas. Luckily, there are no tolls from Seattle to Mount Vernon, Washington as you can take the 5 all the way there.

Snacks and drinks cost around $10 on average. I sprung for kettle corn and it was $10, just to give you an idea.

woman walking on a road next to tulip field
Snap some photos to remember this fun activity in Washington in spring!

What will you see if you’re too early for tulips?

Unfortunately, we can’t always get the timing perfect when it comes to natural attractions like fall foliage or tulip blooms.

Luckily, before tulip season is daffodil season! Some tulip farms also plant and display daffodils, like Roozengaarde. I recommend looking at their maps to see if there are daffodils to see when you’re there!

field of yellow daffodil flowers
Daffodils are also a sight to see in spring in Washington.

What if you’re too late for tulips?

I highly recommend checking the maps of each farm to be sure you’re really too late for all of them, since they all operate individually. You never know. In fact, Garden Rosalyn was open through May 10th this year.

Aside from the tulips, there’s plenty to do in the area…

view of a small island among forested land along the edges of the coast of Washington on a clear sunny day
Explore the rest of northern and coastal Washington if you’ve missed the tulips.

What else is there to do in Skagit Valley?

The small coastal towns in Skagit Valley are some of the most beautiful and tranquil, so I highly recommend carving out some time in your tulip day trip to see one of them.

I chose to have lunch in La Conner and explore their adorable shops and whacky ice cream tower!

Ice cream shop in a tall white wooden tower
Stop by the ice cream tower in the spring and summer for a cool treat!

Also consider Anacortes to explore!

Another beautiful destination to check out while you’re on the north coast is Deception Pass State Park. There is a massive bridge connecting the mainland to a series of islands including Whidbey Island. You can park and walk the bridge and cross it by walking under it. You may even see sea lions!

bridge that passes over turquoise water on the coast of Washington
Cross under the bridge to get to the other side.

Are there other events that happen for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival?

Yes! Here are some ideas, but as always, check their calendar for the most updated events and happenings.

Don’t miss the Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair that brings artists, vendors, food trucks, and more for their annual event in April.

You can also enjoy the Kiwanis Salmon Barbeque on the weekends in April, which has been around for 68 years! You can try a small (3 oz) or regular (5 oz) plate of barbeque where the proceeds go toward Kiwanis projects.

You can enjoy English tea from Willowbrook Manor, which overlooks gardens.

And not limited to April, they have a Farm to Pint Ale Trail, which includes 13 Skagit Valley breweries. If you visit them all, you get a prize! Don’t forget to pick up the passport to get stamped.

coast of Washington with turquoise and green waters
Skagit Valley encompasses a large area so there’s lots going on!

Example itinerary to see the tulips in Washington

6:30 am – Leave Seattle for Skagit valley or leave La Conner at 7:15 am

8:00 am – Arrive at Roozengaarde Tulip Farm

11:00 am – Depart for La Conner

11:45 am – Enjoy brunch by the water at Calico Cupboard

1:00 pm – Explore La Conner (shops, Ice Cream Tower, art museum)

3:00 pm – Depart for 2nd tulip farm*

4:00 pm – Enjoy another farm and light closer to golden hour

6:00 pm – Depart for Seattle 7:30 pm – Recommended dinner at The Pink Door (reservation recommended)

*If you’d rather see more of the coast instead of another tulip farm, I recommend swapping out the 2nd tulip farm on the above itinerary for Deception Pass State Park.

cinnamon roll french toast with a side of bacon on a plate with a cup of syrup and pink lemonade in a Mason jar behind
I had the cinnamon roll french toast from Calico Cupboard and YUM!

My Travel Essentials

  • Travel Insurance – Going on an international trip? Don’t forget travel and medical insurance with SafetyWing.
  • Travel Card – If you’re new to travel hacking, fear not! My favorite card for beginners gives you $750 in rewards when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, plus lounge access, 10x points on hotel bookings, and free TSA pre-check!
  • Get Your Guide – Check out Get Your Guide for a one-stop-shop for booking travel activities.
  • Booking.com – This is my favorite hotel search aggregator, specifically for reading reviews. On Booking.com, the reviews can be searched for keywords like WiFi, breakfast, pool, amenities, etc.! So helpful!
  • Anti-pickpocket bag – Worried about having your valuables swiped? PacSafe makes the best travel bags with zippers and straps that lock and with mesh steel enforced fabric.
  • Give the Gift of Travel – This is the perfect gift for travelers in your life! Tinggly allows you to gift experiences around the world, perfect for birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries.
  • Staycation Idea – Check out Resort Pass, which gives you day passes to resorts so you can use their pool, spa, and fitness center, a great staycation idea!

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Your guide to tulips in Washington has everything you need to know including where to stay, what to do at the tulip fields, how much it costs, how to get there, and how to avoid the crowds.
In this travel guide to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, I'm sharing everything you need to know about tulips in Washington including where to stay in Skagit Valley, how to get to Skagit valley Tulip Festival, tulip field essentials, tulip photography tips, and more!
This is the ultimate guide to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival including the top tips for seeing tulips in Washington in April.
These are the top tips for seeing tulips in Washington and how to navigate the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

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Recent PhD graduate and hyper-planner of Periodic Adventures, my goal is to share travel inspiration, budget tips, detailed guides, and fun travel stories!

Comments:

  • Hi Alanna,
    Thank you for such detailed enlightening information, good to know that there are tulip farms here in the state. That also means I can skip traveling back to the Netherlands. I’m traveling solo and will not be driving, will take Am Track. What form of travel is available for me to visit some of the other delightful places?
    Thanks, and keep traveling,
    Rebecca

    reply...

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