Spring is early! And you don’t see anyone in the evergreen state complaining.
April 1st marks the beginning of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. A month-long event in northern Washington’s Skagit Valley, where agriculture is the #1 industry and the “Tulip Route” is permanently posted along the highways. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, if only once every few years due to the crowds.
Sk-aa (as in apple)-jit. Let’s just get that out of the way, because it took me months to say it right. Now you know!
“More tulip, iris, and daffodil bulbs are produced here than in any other county in the U.S., and local farmers produce about $261 million worth of 90 different crops, livestock, and dairy products on 93,000 acres of land.” boasts Visit Skagit Valley. If you’re into local food and flowers, this is the place to visit in Washington state. Plenty of small farms, homestead stands, and flower fields to explore by day.
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, now in it’s 32nd season, is a driving tour of a handful of fields within the region. My advice, straight up, is to go on a weekday. Leave work early, come into work late, or take the day off. Whatever you choose, you’ll be happy you only had to sit in traffic for 30 mins and wait in line for 10. The alternative for the popular viewing spots (Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde) can be much worse on the weekends, especially when Spring is in full, sunny force.
For my first festival experience, I decided to visit Tulip Town on Thursday. As mentioned, lines were present, but totally doable. The $6 admission includes entrance to the fields and a tent with gift shop, children’s face painting, and a few food stands. There’s also a place to buy tulips and bulbs of course! Worth the admission just to see the fields for the brief 45mins to an hour that it will take to walk the perimeter. Then you can enjoy one of the great, local dining establishments in the area. I highly recommend #11: The Oyster and Thistle for some great, local, thoughtfully-prepared food. Or a short drive into Anacortes for one of my favorites: A-Town Bistro for a similar vibe and equally delicious food.
Next year, I think I’ll bike the festival and see the other fields that are lesser-known and not as popular tourist destinations. A free option, where you can get some exercise and have a handy little map to guide you.