Visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival from Seattle

Visiting the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival north of Seattle is an experience unlike any other in Washington. Fields of endless varieties of tulips and daffodils create a stunning rainbow across the valley floor. It makes for a remarkable contrast to the blue and green earth tones of the Cascade Mountain backdrop — and the perfect setting for sightseeing visitors and amateur photographers alike. No trip to Holland necessary!

Agriculture is big business in this valley, with local farmers producing dozens of crops and animal products here. The area’s maritime climate — cool but not freezing winters that gradually evolve into warm summers — is remarkably similar to that of the Netherlands and is ideal for bulb growth. The slow, cool transition to summer weather provides the plants with months to form large blooms and develop their signature vibrant colors. It’s no surprise that Skagit County is the number one producer of iris, daffodil, and tulip bulbs in the United States.

When to visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The valley is beautiful throughout the spring, with daffodils blooming first in mid to late March. Prime tulip season is typically mid-April, while lillies and irises are the last to bloom in late April or May.

Nature rarely sticks to the calendar, and peak blooms vary year to year based on the weather. In general, the last three weeks of April tend to be the most popular with visitors. In 2018, daffodil fields were in full bloom by March 16, but cold weather delayed full tulip bloom until around April 11. “Topping” of tulips – the removal of the flowers to redirect the plants’ energy toward bulb growth – began May 1.

Peak tulip bloom at RoozenGaarde, the largest flower bulb grower in North America
Peak tulip bloom at RoozenGaarde, the largest flower bulb grower in North America

How to get to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Many travelers enjoy taking a guided tour of the valley from Seattle. We offer a small group Skagit Valley Tulip Festival tour each April.

If you choose to visit on your own, try to leave early and visit on a weekday if possible. It’s a 65 mile (105 km) drive from the downtown Seattle hotel district to the tulip fields. In normal traffic conditions, the trip takes anywhere from an hour and ten minutes to an hour and a half. Because of the short peak season, though, traffic can get downright insane near the tulip fields. Plan accordingly and leave plenty of spare time, especially on the weekend. Unfortunately, there are no viable public transportation options from Seattle.

Yonder Sky guide Daniel enjoying the blooms with a guest
Yonder Sky guide Daniel enjoying the blooms with a guest

What to do at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The Festival centers around two large farms just a short drive apart: RoozenGaarde and Tulip Town. Both businesses have been operating in this region for decades and have served as fixtures of the festival since its establishment by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce in 1984. As of 2019, admission to each farm is $7 per person on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Some visitors choose to visit both farms on their trips, though we think RoozenGaarde offers the best variety of colors, varieties, and arrangements.

Don’t forget your camera! The fields of colorful blooms set against the stunning backdrop of the Cascade Mountains make for incredible photo opportunities.

If you’d like to take something home, cut flowers are available for sale during the festival. You can also pick up a catalog to order bulbs after they’ve been harvested at the end of the viewing season.

Other things to do near the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

There are several great stops you might consider making while you’re in the area. Our guided tour includes an afternoon in La Conner and Deception Pass, two of our favorite places in the region.

Historic La Conner, about 10 minutes to the southwest of the tulip fields, is the perfect place to stop for lunch after visiting the gardens, with a long and vibrant main street full of shops and a scenic waterside boardwalk lined with restaurants. Many of the buildings in La Conner date back to the mid- to late 1800s.

Shops line 1st St in downtown La Conner, Washington
Shops line 1st St in downtown La Conner, Washington

Just 20 minutes from the valley is Deception Pass, Washington’s most-visited state park. Take one glimpse at the rugged cliffs, rocky beaches, and stunning water views, and you’ll understand why! Deception Pass is also the gateway to Whidbey Island, a charming destination popular as a weekend getaway with locals.

The best way to see the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Our guided day tour to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is the perfect way to enjoy your day without having to fight traffic or plan out an itinerary, and it includes an afternoon at stunning Deception Pass State Park. We also offer tours to beautiful Whidbey Island and Deception Pass throughout the year.

Whatever you choose, we hope you have a wonderful time at the Festival!

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About the Author

Yonder Sky
Yonder Sky offers small group day tours and private customized trips in the Seattle area. Come join us as we explore nature, history, and local cuisine at Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park, Washington wineries, and more!