Explore the Pacific Northwest

Tulip Festival Tips

Explore the Pacific Northwest

8 Key Things to Know Before You Go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival barn

With millions of colorful blooms painting the Skagit Valley’s landscapes in brilliant hues of red, yellow, orange, purple, white and pink, tulip season brings a color show like no other to Mount Vernon and its surrounding communities. No wonder the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, now in its 35th year, has grown into a month-long celebration, combining street fairs, art shows and other public events with opportunities to soak in a truly amazing natural spectacle. As this year’s festival approaches, here are key things to know before you go, courtesy of event organizers and AAA’s travel pros.

1. Follow the bloom

Event organizers predict that the tulips will begin to bloom during the week of March 26, and you can visit the event’s official Bloom Status page for regular updates.

2. Best Viewing

The area’s major tulip farms, RoozenGaarde (open year-round) and Tulip Town (opening March 30) each charge a small entrance fee ($7) to view gardens, shop for bulbs and garden accessories, and soak in a festive vibe. You can also view tulip fields as you drive on adjacent roads, but avoid the temptation to pull over in no-parking zones or on any road where you can’t safely park your vehicle entirely beyond the fog line. Pulling over in unauthorized areas creates safety hazards, impedes traffic flow and could result in a ticket. You don’t want to be that person.

3. Consider a midweek visit

Up to 10,000 people can show up to view the tulips on a single weekend day (Mount Vernon’s year-round population is about 35,000). A midweek visit offers a quieter experience with significantly less traffic.

4. Traffic Tips

Tulip festival road sign illustration

Speaking of traffic, the main Mount Vernon Exit (Exit 226) backs up on weekends. Consider using the Conway Exit (221) from the south or the Burlington Exit (230) from the north. The quickest exit route from the tulip fields back to I-5 is east along Young Road (Hwy. 20). Download an interactive or printable map.

5. Save room for salmon

The Kiwanis Salmon BBQ, featuring alder-grilled salmon served with sides, is a community favorite. The Kiwanis Club of Mount Vernon donates every dollar raised from admission ($15 for adults; $12 for seniors/children) to charities serving local youth and families. The barbecue takes place daily, March 31–April 22, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Hillcrest Cabin, in Mount Vernon’s Hillcrest Park.

6. Dine locally

Mount Vernon is home to a variety restaurants, but the staff at AAA's Mount Vernon office is partial to Pacioni’s, which offers thin-crust pizzas, pastas, paninis and more, for lunch and dinner. In La Conner, Calico Cupboard Café & Bakery showcases locally sourced ingredients and homemade bread on its all-day breakfast and lunch menus. Nearby, La Conner Brewing Company and Nell Thorn Waterfront Bistro & Bar satisfy with tasty food and, when the weather allows, outdoor dining. Save room for ice cream at Snow Goose Produce, along Fir Island Road. The market's offerings include selections from Lopez Island Creamery, served on handmade waffle cones. (The ice cream counter is cash only, though the market accepts plastic for the other items it carries, including produce and a wide range of gourmet foods.)

7. Check out the snow geese

Snow geese in Skagit Valley

Depending on when you go, you might be able to see the snow geese that winter in the area. Some can be seen in the portion of the Skagit Wildlife Area off Fir Island Road. The entire flock, about 35,000 birds, departs for summering grounds on Russia’s Wrangle Island within a 24-hour period that always falls between April 17 and May 5.

8. Enjoy the celebrations

The official event lineup includes art shows, a youth basketball tournament, a fun run, wine tasting, quilt show and more in Mount Vernon, Burlington, La Conner, Conway, Anacortes, Sedro-Woolley and other neighboring communities. The 3-day Tulip Festival Street Fair in downtown Mount Vernon, April 20–22, is the largest single event, filling seven city blocks with juried arts and crafts, artisan foods, live music and more. Whether you're heading over for a day trip or plan to overnight in area hotels or inns, plan to have fun.

Tulip Tours

AAA's travel partner Viator makes it a breeze to get to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, offering full-day motorcoach tours, with pickup/dropoff locations in downtown Seattle. The itineraries include visits to Tulip Town and Roozengaarde, as well as free time to explore La Conner, allowing you relax and enjoy the ride as you soak in the area's scenic splendors. Call or visit your nearest AAA store to learn more about the tours, or for assistance planning your own visit to the festival.