Top Things to See and Do at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, one of Western Washington’s most anticipated spring rites, returns in a new format this April. Designed as a driving tour, visitors can explore the many fields between La Conner and Mount Vernon, with stops at scheduled events (running at limited capacity) and favorite gardens.
Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde will offer displays of tulips in their respective gardens where you can see the blooms and take photographs, but remember because of COVID-19 restrictions, there are limitations on the number of farm visitors. So, buy tickets online if you’re planning to visit one or both of these farms.
Despite these restrictions, the festival brings a full month of cool events, including a photo contest, a barbeque and a street fair at Mount Vernon. Check out the full schedule and learn about potential limitations before you go.
Although the tulip fields are the main attraction, a big part of the fun lies in exploring the region’s charming towns, fun eateries and spectacular natural settings. Don’t miss the top things to see and do on your visit to this year’s festival.
Because of COVID-19, please take recommended health precautions if you choose to explore outdoors.
Skagit Valley Tulips. Photo by Lowe Stock/Getty Images.
9 Tips to enjoy the Tulip Festival
Tip No. 1: Learn about the new normal. The festival promises to adhere to COVID-19 health recommendations. So expect limitations that allow for physical distancing and safety. Book tickets online before you go. Remember to mask up, wash your hands and practice social distancing.
Tip No. 2: Both Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde have free parking, but they charge admission. Book your ticket in advance.
Tip No. 3: In addition to displays at RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town, there are several fields of “free range” tulips. Their location varies year to year based on crop rotations. Look for highway signs pointing to the “Tulip Route.” You can enjoy the fields and take photos from the side of the road, but never walk into an open tulip field. If you can’t find a place to pull over, there will be pay parking adjacent to some fields.
Tip No. 4: Try to hit the festival on a weekday, when there are fewer crowds. Don’t forget your boots. April is often rainy, which means muddy fields.
Tip No. 5: Because the main Mount Vernon exit (Exit 226) often backs up in April, consider using Highway 20 at Exit 230 instead.
Tip No. 6: Although the festival officially takes place during the entire month of April, nature calls the shots in terms of peak bloom time, so check the official bloom status to keep up with conditions.
Tip No. 7: Local organizations host everything from wine tastings to art shows in Mount Vernon, Burlington, La Conner, Conway, Anacortes, Sedro-Woolley and other surrounding communities. These activities will be at limited capacity this year, so be prepared to wait outside or in your car in case you arrive at a popular time. Find the event schedule.
Tip No. 8: Safety First. In the interest of safety and as a courtesy to fellow festival-goers, do not pull over or park in unauthorized areas—and because these are working farms, do not walk into the fields.
Tip No. 9: Want to experience the festival in a new way? Check out the many available ways to tour the festival, including tours that focus on photography; helicopter, winery and ice-cream tours; and much more.
Geese at Mount Vernon.
Not-to-Miss Nearby Attractions and Events
Turn your visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival into a fun day of exploration. Here are our recommendations to make the most out of your trip, enjoy excellent family-friendly activities, and explore restaurants, nearby towns, trails and more.
On April 10, Mount Vernon hosts a distanced (and virtual) take on the annual Tulip Parade. Local businesses will be decorating in tulip themes—and visitors are encouraged to send the festival their favorites. It’s a great way to explore what the town has to offer.
The scenic Kukutali Preserve, on two connected islands, is an extraordinary setting with two miles of trails through Douglas fir and madrone forest, driftwood-strewn beaches and gorgeous water views—including a view of the Deception Pass Bridge. Because it is owned jointly by Washington State Parks and the Swinomish tribe, it is considered sacred ground and increased respect is expected. No pets or alcohol are allowed, and you need a Discover Pass to park.
Out-of-this-world morning treats from local bakery C-SQUARE include caramelized Bee Sting, a croissant baked in a muffin tin with honey and almonds. Visit the Skagit Valley Co-op for their beloved baked goods; award-winning, house-made charcuterie; and delicious organic ice cream.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival coincides with another remarkable display of nature: Around 35,000 snow geese overwinter in the area, typically through mid-April or early May. The best place to see these elegant beauties is in the Skagit Wildlife Area’s Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit off Fir Island Road.
Swinomish Channel, La Conner. Photo by Getty Images.
Explore La Conner
With historic buildings filled with local shops and cafés along the Swinomish Channel, La Conner is one of the Northwest’s most appealing small towns.
Sustainable seafood shines at The Oyster & Thistle, whose French-inspired dishes are served with great attention to detail, in a quaint hillside building.
The free Museum of Northwest Art regularly carries exhibits of remarkably high-quality contemporary art that reflects the cultural diversity across the Northwest, including British Columbia and Alaska.
Maintained by the Civic Garden Club, the Butterfly Gardens is a tranquil spot and you can enjoy the view of town and part of the channel. You may not be able to enter, however, if it is rented for an event.
Set in the historic Gaches Mansion, the Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum showcases textile art from throughout the Pacific Rim and beyond. Exhibitions include traditional works, as well as those with contemporary flair. Plan ahead: Reservations are required for entry.
–Written by Leslie Forsberg. Updated by Sarah Ann Lloyd in March 2021.
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