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Kids pose for pictures at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. (All photos by Jasmin Thankachen)

Road trip! A day at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

You'll want to stay bunched together in this crowded but rewarding farm area.

It’s not too late to attend the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley. Put some spring into your step and get ready for a spectacular color explosion! Pack your hat, sunscreen and mask and head on over for some outdoor fun, pictures and special treats. My kids and I went with a small group and highly recommend this special day trip for a chance to see a gorgeous display of spring flowers.

So many colors of tulips. Some flowers have fully bloomed while others are just beginning to open.

Tickets to the tulips

There are two ways to celebrate the 2021 spring season. (Book timed tickets online for each.)

A tour of Tulip Town includes visiting 5 acres of tulips, a windmill and indoor gardens. Enjoy shopping, food, a beer garden and a trolley ride as well. Visitors pay extra for a workshop on how to pick and arrange a bouquet of tulips right from the garden.

We chose to see the gardens at RoozenGaarde, which has more than 20 acres of daffodils and tulips set against the Cascades. RoozenGaarde also has food, a tulip market and plenty of opportunities to take beautiful pictures.

Keep an eye out for these etchings as you get closer to the tulips.

You’ll see this piece of art right before you cross over a bridge.

Getting there and parking

From the Eastside, getting to the Tulip Festival took a little over an hour. Traffic was moderate along Interstate 5 until we reached Mount Vernon. Getting into town was slower than we expected on a Wednesday afternoon. Leave yourself plenty of time for stop-and-go traffic.

If you have squirmy kids like mine, bring entertainment for the car ride, like books or music. Skagit Valley is a beautiful place with lush green farmland set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

“Look, Mom! The mountains look like they have ice cream on top,” observes my younger son.

My kids put down their books to count cows, spot barns and stare out their windows yelling, “I see a tractor!” every so often. As we get closer to our destination, we also start noticing more flower-theme artwork, like tulip paintings and etchings on bridges.

Parking was very easy for us. We were directed by staff members — holding flags and wearing bright-colored vests — into a spot in a gravel-covered lot. We were surprised to see the area packed with cars.

Rules are posted in the gardens and in the fields.

The rules

All over the gardens and fields, signs are posted asking visitors to stay on the grass, on paths and out of the gardens. It’s hard to wrangle younger children who are curious to touch and smell the blooms. Pro tip: bring a carrier or stroller for a younger child. It will help to give a small child a break, a space to have a snack and a moment out of the sun.

The kids in our group have fun pointing out the different kinds of tulips and daffodils.

The gardens

We explore the smaller gardens first, winding through the gravel path, taking photos and observing the insane variety of tulips. “Stay together” and “stay on the path” were the most popular phrases of the day as we were dodging past groups of people. The paths were small and we didn’t feel as though we could stay in one area for too long. Although we were outside, we kept our masks on throughout the visit because of the crowds of people in the garden. We walked the gardens with them on, slipping them off only for socially distanced photo ops.

The fields

There’s a lot of green space between the gardens and the fields. The kids run and walk around before we head to the dirt path that leads us to the tulip fields. The fields are dry and it’s easy to kick up dirt and dust. Wear appropriate shoes and outerwear. Sunscreen is recommended and a hat or umbrella to shield the sun could be helpful, too.

(We’ve been to these fields on a rainy day, when the grounds were muddy. Kids were running through the fields, jumping in puddles and slipping and sliding around. Boots are definitely recommended on those wetter days.)

The walk around the rectangular field is short with many stops along the way. The paths are wide enough to stay distanced and there are many bottlenecks.

Watch your step, as there are huge tractor wheel marks in the ground. My kids have fun jumping over them and stepping through the tread marks.

As we walk row to row to see the rainbow of tulips, I sense boredom, so I make up a game. “Can you find the flower that doesn’t belong in the yellow row of flowers?” I ask. “Yes, yes! The red one!” the kids pipe in. Every so often, we spot another flower color that doesn’t belong and cheer.

What doesn’t belong here? We make it a game to keep the walk interesting.

Lunch

A large kiosk, located at the front of the gardens, serves hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, ice cream, drinks, coffee, baked goods and fudge. You can purchase your food and have a seat under the trees or in the open spaces nearby. We packed our own meals and sit on benches in the fields to eat lunch.

 

This little one makes her way into the rows. RoozenGaarde staff watch over the fields and immediately alert us that she needs to be walked out.

Flowers and gift shop

Heading back to the entrance, we stop to purchase fresh-cut tulips in the flower market, a large covered tent near the food kiosk. You can buy four bunches at $6 each and get one bunch free. The shop also sells artwork from the festival and potted plants for home gardens. The gift shop, located by the entrance, sells tulip bulbs, local artist gifts and farm foods.

A whole bunch of flowers from the tulip market at RoozenGaarde. Flower kiosks are in the parking lot too.

More things to do

Skagit Valley is a wonderful place to explore. You can download the Tulip Festival Map and find places to check out more tulips, other farms that host tours and farm experiences, and the local children’s museum. The Skagit Valley Food Co-op, which sells local food, artist items and flowers, has a wonderful salad bar and bakery.

We are in search of a place to have ice cream. Big Scoop Sundae Palace is where we end up — an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and restaurant with pink and white lights, and a candy cane-stripe-theme that gives this place a retro vibe.

My kids have large scoops of cookies and cream, peppermint and Death by Chocolate. We stand in the parking lot and chow down on the yummy treats.

Eyeing the Death by Chocolate flavor in his waffle cone. 

This year’s Tulip Festival was a treat for all our senses. We took many beautiful pictures, filled our bellies and got our wiggles out before making our way back home.

Before you go …

  • RoozenGaarde is located at 15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mount Vernon
  • Tulip Town is located at 15002 Bradshaw Road, Mount Vernon
  • Purchase tickets in advance
  • Dress for the weather and bring sunscreen, an umbrella and a hat
  • Portable toilets are available in the parking lot and at the gardens. Bring hand sanitizer.
  • RoozenGaarde asks everyone to wear a mask, with the exception of small children
  • Download or print a map of tulip fields and other attractions around Skagit Valley

More on the tulips

Family guide to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, 2021

Tips for taking great family photos at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

About the Author

Jasmin Thankachen

Jasmin is an Eastside mom of two boys and enjoys parenting with lots of love and laughter. Co-Founder of PopUp StoryWalk, she also loves children's picture books, essay writing, and community stories.