Tiptoeing Through the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Washington

Photo by Joe Mabel

Every spring, the Skagit Valley in northern Washington explodes with color. On farmlands that specialize in tulip-bulb production, among other crops, thousands of people from all over the world converge for one thing: the colorful spectacle of millions of tulips in bloom. The Skagit Valley is sandwiched between the North Cascades and the Salish Sea, a scenic backdrop that just adds to the beauty.

Dozens of family-friendly events mark the Festival’s month-long run in April. The tulip fields are situated between the cities of Mount Vernon and La Conner and are concentrated on two massive farms: Tulip Town and Roozengaarde. Besides experiencing the tulip fields, a stroll through the farms’ display gardens is a must. During the Festival, both farms offer plenty of activities, attractions, food and retail shopping (including tulip bulbs, so you can cultivate some amazing spring color at home).

In the Skagit Valley, a handful of charming towns tend to festivalgoers’ needs for lodging, dining and other entertainment. The county seat, Mount Vernon (mountvernonchamber.com), has a vibrant riverfront downtown with shopping, dining and the historic Lincoln Theatre. Sip a craft brew and savor some hearty pub grub at Skagit River Brewery, fuel up on an espresso at Ristretto Coffee Lounge & Wine Bar and indulge your sweet tooth at Forte Artisan Chocolates.

About 20 minutes away, the waterfront town of La Conner (lovelaconner.com) sits along the east bank of the Swinomish Channel. This is the place for browsing the many boutique shops and galleries lining 1st Street and grabbing a meal at one of the many restaurants along the two-block main drag. Behind the shops, a boardwalk traces the channel, a perfect place for a stroll before leaving town.

Farther up the Valley, the tiny communities of Bow and Edison have built reputations as culinary destinations with an unusually high density of eateries per capita. It’s well worth the drive when you’re feeling peckish.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a seminal event in the Northwest, and it can get crowded. The hosting farms offer ample parking. Be sure to wearfootwearthat can handle mud―you’ll be tempted to venture into the fields to be surrounded by the blooms.

To plan your visit to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, go to tulipfestival.org. To find lodging, points of interest and dining in the beautiful Skagit Valley, go to visitskagitvalley.com.