5 tips for tulip trips with kids
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival fields are ripe for the viewing.
Photo: Isabel Sanden
I’ve always loved the tulip fields in bloom at the Festival, the romantic image of heading up on a misty morning, and my children running through rows of blooming color that span the rainbow.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, now in its 33rd year, hosts hundreds of thousands of people each April who come to enjoy the beauty of the fields. However, droves of visitors and fields of flowers stretching over a big valley can easily turn into a family outing gone bad.
Here are five survival tips to help make sure your tulip trip goes well:
Timing is everything: The timing of your trip can be the difference between a fun outing with the kids, or a long day in the car. Skagit Valley is an hour’s drive north of Seattle. There are two ways to help avoid the crowds: go midweek or arrive early. The earlier you arrive, the fewer crowds you will have to maneuver through. I suggest arriving at your first destination around 9 a.m. That means having snacks prepared, kids fed and clothed, and bodies out the door fairly early. And don’t forget to bring your camera!
A survival game for the fields: I recommend stopping by one of the tulip nurseries first. They provide instant gratification to excited kids who want to see flowers, and you can pick up some catalogs for a game of “Name that Tulip” while you are in the fields. Get one for each person, including yourself or your partner, to avoid any squabbling. The catalogs provide the names and photos for many of the tulips you will see throughout your day. Send the kids out to hunt for a certain tulip, or just walk through the gardens and flip through the pages to find the names of the flowers on display. The game is simple, educational and fun, and the catalogs are a pretty keepsake of your outing.
Photo: Isabel Sanden
Kids can feed goats and chickens at Schuh Farms.
Dress and re-dress for the occasion: On any given day at the festival, there is bound to be mud. Kids and mud — need I say more? A tulip festival veteran suggests packing two large garbage bags for dirty clothes; a box or laundry basket to keep muddy boots contained and off the carpet in the car; an extra set of clean clothes for each child; and pajamas, if you plan to stay late (for transferring sleepy kids directly to bed after the car ride home).
Check the map! Check the map! Check the map! Tulips are a rotating crop, and blooming fields vary depending on the climate conditions. Be sure to check the current field bloom map so that you don’t waste your time looking at green fields. As well, download the festival map ahead of time to plan your itinerary.
Get the best bang for your buck: Be sure to visit one of the tulip growers, RoozenGaarde or Tulip Town. If your main goal is to see tulips in a garden setting, RoozenGaarde is the cream of the crop. Tulip Town offers lots of kid-centered activities, including face painting, kite flying and trolley rides through the tulip fields. If you can fit it in, visit Christianson’s Nursery for a huge selection of roses, perennials and trees, and an opportunity to indulge in delicious strawberry and whipped cream crepes; or Schuh Farms for fresh organic fruits and veggies, great milkshakes and a chance to feed goats and chickens.
Check out our Tulip Festival Itinerary for even more great ideas.