Every spring, Skagit Valley fields are transformed into quilts of color as tulips take over the outskirts of Mount Vernon and La Conner. People come by the thousands to visit the state’s largest expanse of spring flowers for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
It was officially inaugurated in 1984 when Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce directors saw the huge number of visitors the tulips attracted.
The festival runs throughout April but since the tulips bloom according to the weather and vary each season, you can track the bloom status online.
The Daffodil fields are currently in full bloom, and the tulips are expected to reach full bloom until mid-April.
When to go
The tulip festival runs April 1-30. For fewer crowds, go during the weekday. If you plan to take a weekend trip, arrive early and visit the display gardens.
Congestion is often at the highest on county roads and on southbound Interstate 5 during weekend afternoons, just after the gardens close at 5 p.m.
What to visit
Be sure to stop at the festival office at 311 West Kincaid Street, Mount Vernon for information on the events and offerings the time you visit.
For photos and flowers, visit the Tulip Town Windmill, inspired from the farm’s owner who visited family in Holland. They also have indoor display gardens for when the tulip fields get slippery on rainy spring days. However, they do not allow pets. Parking is free with an admission.
Roozengaarde is the second of the tulip growers and is also open to visitors for the festival. They have been serving their community for six generations and provide a Bloom map for the events where you can find the prime locations.
What to do
The month’s festivities range from bicycle tours, art walks, and shows to markets, concerts, and wine tastings.
The festivities also include 30 Days of April. Every day, a visitor can win an item from the office by choosing a lucky number.
North Coast Credit Union is also running the annual photo contest. The winners will be featured in the 2019 brochure.
For a family friendly run, you can join the 2.5k and 5k run at Edgewater Park on April 28 starting at 9 a.m.
Drones are not allowed in the gardens or tulip fields. But there are great photo opportunities on the trolley rides, display gardens, and fields.
To make sure your day is spent enjoying the views of the beautiful Skagit Valley and not stuck on the road, you might want to consider some WSDOT recommendations.
First, plan your route.
Most travelers take I-5 to exit 226 (State Route 536/ Kincaid Street) to Mount Vernon, which gets you to the heart of shops and restaurants.
Traveling from anywhere North of Skagit County? Exit 230 to SR 20 might be the best option to avoid congestion in town. Head west on SR 20 to SR 536 or take a left on a few of the Skagit County roads to reach the flower fields.
Alternatively, travelers from the South can take exit 221 and head west toward Conway.
WSDOT is asking drivers to obey no parking signs, never stop in the middle of the road, and avoid blocking driveways. To stop for photos, visit the tulip farms. Parking is free with admission.
Want to avoid cars altogether? There are Skagit Transit Park and Ride lots if you want to cycle or take a bus to the festivities. But plan early because they are on a first come, first serve basis.
The tulip festival is a great way to take bicycle tour of the Skagit Valley. But make sure you know the rules of the road before you go. Cyclists share all responsibilities of drivers when they are on the road or on the shoulder.
Some highways might be closed to cyclists for safety reasons, so check before you go. In general, roadsides by the freeway are not safe for bicyclists.
Some cities and counties require riders to wear helmets so it would be a good idea to bring one along.
Be sure to check the event's calendar for information on bike tours for the days you plan to travel.
Dining and drinks
While you’re enjoying the views, you can also enjoy a glass of wine or tasting at Tulip Valley Winery, Glacier Peak Winery Pasek Cellars or enjoy a beer at Skagit River Brewery or the Porterhouse Pub closer to Mount Vernon.
The festival website also recommends local restaurants in Mount Vernon, La Conner, and Anacortes.
Where to go when you go
There are no public restrooms in the tulip fields. As a customer at some restaurants or shops, you may be able to use the facilities.
For more information you can download the brochure online for special event schedules, tips, directions, maps, and information on farms, restaurants, and where to find drinks.
Editor's note: RoozenGaarde Farms in Mount Vernon gave KING 5 News special permission to fly above the Skagit Valley tulips. Drones are normally not allowed over the tulip fields for safety reasons.