Signs of spring are popping up all over Seattle, but the surest one of all is the return of the popular Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This month-long celebration has miles of tulip farms to explore, and with events running throughout the season, it’s not only fun, it’s totally kid-friendly. So load up the car, get your tickets and make your way to Skagit Valley’s fields of dreams. Read on to make your plans.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
When to Go
The festival officially kicks off on April 1 and runs through April 30, when the flower fields in the Skagit Valley will be in full bloom. You should see color in the fields by the first week of April, and fields fully blooming by the second week, give or take. Tulip Town and Garden Rosalyn will open on April 1, and RoozenGaarde, open year-round, will start charging for admission March 25. Since blooms can change in a short amount of time, check the bloom status or bloom map so you know what to expect, or call the bloom hotline at 360-428-5959.
Just like last year, families will need timed tickets to visit the tulip fields in 2022. All three growers are encouraging folks to purchase them in advance, but Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde have confirmed they will be selling tickets at the gate, if space is available. Bottom line, it’s best to plan ahead, especially if a weekend visit is part of your flower gazing plan.
Good to know: Saturdays are the busiest days to visit the gardens, followed by Sundays, Fridays and Mondays. If you’re looking to avoid crowds and traffic, and you’ve got flexibility for your visit, a mid-week plan is best.
photo: courtesy Tulip Town
Where to Find the Flowers
Tulip Town will be open everyday from April 1 to May 1, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and offers a few different ticketed experiences. For families with young kids, the General Admission tickets should do the trick. It includes parking, entry to the fields and indoor exhibits and a ride on the tulip trolley, weather permitting. It’s all you need to get the kids in the field for those Insta-worthy photos on a beautiful spring day. General admission tickets are $15 for anyone over the age of 12, $6 for kids ages 6-11 and free for kiddos 5 and under. If spontaneity is your family jam, consider purchasing the Anytime ticket for $25 (ages 6 & up). You get the same perks as the General Admission without being tied to a specific time frame. To get your tickets, simply choose your date and a three-hour window (arrive anytime in between). Sorry, no pets.
Good to know: Due to last year’s regional flooding, there may not be as much color in the fields this year, but Tulip Town will strive to provide an amazing experience for visitors.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
RoozenGaarde has a colorful five-acre display garden (including a 25-acre tulip field and a 22-acre daffodil field) with over one million bulbs and an authentic Dutch windmill. Stroll the garden and see your favorite flowers, including over 150 varieties of tulips. Each year, RoozenGaarde redesigns and replants its garden with a new layout featuring brilliant color combinations, spectacular floral designs and flowering rivers of deep blue muscari. This year they’ll be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.on the weekends. Advance tickets are highly encouraged. It’s $15 per person and kids two and under are free. Sorry, no pets permitted in the garden.
photo: Allison Sutcliffe
Garden Rosalyn is Skagit Valley’s newest tulip farm, and it’s the only one that welcomes well-behaved, leashed dogs. Playful designs are part of what makes visiting this field fun for kids, but so are the geese and ducks that call the little lake on the property home. They plan to host food trucks on site this year and have picnic benches out to enjoy your meal. The farm will be welcoming visitors daily, from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. starting April 1. Tickets are $12 per person and kids 5 and under are free.
Good to know: If driving isn’t in your plan, Shutter Tours offers a motor coach tour that departs from the Downtown Seattle Sheraton with stops at the big tulip farms and downtown La Conner. The tours run April 2-24, 2022 and have limited availability.
photo: Kylie Kirkland
Possible Lunch Spots
The waterfront town of La Conner is a charming small town that’s bustling with activity during tulip season. It’s also a great spot to stop and eat once you’ve had your fill of flowers. There are lots of restaurants to check out, including the very popular Calico Cupboard Cafe & Bakery, a from-scratch cafe that serves all-day breakfast, hearty lunches and some of the largest cinnamon rolls this side of the Cascades. La Conner Brewing Company is another family-friendly spot, as is Waterfront Cafe, where you can watch the boats go by when you dine dockside.
You’ll also find plenty of options in Mt. Vernon, no matter what you’re in the mood for. Check out the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce site for some ideas. Calico Cupboard Cafe & Bakery also has a Mt. Vernon location, and a local favorite, Whidbey Island Bagel Factory, serves New York style bagels that are some of the best in the state. For an extra special treat, stop by Snow Goose Produce for a scoop of specialty ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery. Served in a homemade waffle cone, these generous scoops will fill the kids up for the car ride home. Note: Remember to bring cash if you plan to stop at Snow Goose Produce; they do not accept debit, credit or checks for ice cream.
We’re glad to report the popular Kiwanis Salmon BBQ at Hillcrest Park Lodge is back this year. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays it’s the spot to get a plate of delicious grilled salmon ($20-$23/plate) and support local and global Kiwanis projects. Note: Online tickets are not available this year.
photo: Eric Riddle
How to Dress
It’s best to dress in layers, and wear waterproof clothing in case there are April showers. Bring a change of shoes, socks and pants (especially if it’s a muddy weekend), and sun hats and sunscreen if it’s sunny. Depending on the rainfall, the fields may be mucky and uneven making even experienced toddlers a little wobbly on their feet.
What to Bring
You will definitely want to pack some snacks and items to keep the Littles busy in the car. Since the photo ops are endless, you’ll also want to bring along your fully charged smartphone (and maybe a backup). If traveling with babies or just-walkers, we recommend bringing a backpack rather than a stroller, and if a stroller is how you roll, make sure it’s got rubber tires. Older kids can walk the paths around some of the fields and put those cute rain boots to use!
The fields are generally not for “picking,” just admiring and taking pictures. Often there are paths around the fields, but generally they don’t want you walking in the rows of flowers, as the bulbs are fragile. Tulips are usually for sale at the entrances, so you can take some home.
photo: Tanya Hayes
There are all kinds of special events in honor of the festival happening throughout April. On April 9, the 35th Annual Kiwanis Club of La Conner Not So Impromptu Tulip Parade will begin at 2 p.m., starting at the Port of Skagit complex in LaConer. Grab a curbside seat and expect to see lots of wacky, impromptu participants—from farm animals and mascots to your favorite pets.
The 37th Annual Street Fair in Downtown Mt. Vernon is scheduled for April 15-17. Arts, gourmet foods, kid’s toys—you’ll find lots of goodies at this masked, outdoor event that’s fun for everyone.
If your kids are older or they just love being fancy, consider attending the English Tea at Willowbrook Manor. Reservations are available every Friday and Saturday in April, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. for $40 per person.
Because children’s museums are always a hit with kids, plan to check out the Children’s Museum of Skagit County. It’s located inside the Cascade Mall in Burlington and has lots of fun exhibits to explore. The Museum is open with limited hours Tuesday through Saturday, with ticked, two-hour long sessions starting at 10 a.m. (although this may change come April.) Reservations are recommended. Admission is only $8 for kids and adults and $7 for military and seniors; babes under 12 months are free.
photo: Anika Blake
Travel Time & Getting There
Depending on traffic, it should take you 60 minutes from Seattle. If possible, try to go during the week. The traffic can be a bit of a zoo on the weekends, although that may not be the case because visiting the fields is now a ticketed experience. Whenever you travel, bring along some car activities and a dose of patience for the adventure.
It’s easy to get to the Skagit Valley. Travel north on I-5 for approximately 60 miles. The tulips are generally grown in a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River and the Swinomish River Channel. Note: The festival is designed as a driving tour as many events and attractions are miles apart, scattered throughout the lower Skagit Valley.
—Allison Sutcliffe & Kristina Moy