April is a great time to take a day trip to the Skagit Valley in Washington State, to see millions of tulips in bloom in the fields between Mount Vernon and La Conner. With La Conner being only two hours away from Vancouver by car (not counting time spent at the border), this is a great day trip for spring. If you go in mid-April, you will be almost guaranteed to see tulips in bloom. Check out this map to see if they are blooming now.
The best way to truly appreciate the expanse and beauty of these colorful fields is to leisurely drive around them on farm roads, taking in the scenery. The roads are paved and have wide shoulders, but unfortunately all of the shoulders have “No Stopping” signs. Some farmers allow parking on their property for a small fee, and you can leave your vehicle there while taking pictures. You can also do a cycling tour of the fields if you have a bike. The terrain is completely flat so cycling is easy, but be aware that the roads are often congested due to an influx of tourists, especially on weekends.
Another way to see the tulips up close is to visit the tulip gardens, Roozengaarde or Tulip Town. Both showcase interesting varieties of tulips planted out in beautiful gardens and also provide access to tulip fields. As of 2017, the admission is $7 USD in both gardens.
This year, we visited Roozengaarde with a big group of friends and my 6-year-old son. The garden was beautiful and would’ve been really peaceful and enjoyable if not for the hordes of people. Everywhere, even out in the fields, you couldn’t take a picture without someone else being in it. That said, we picked one of the busiest days and times (it was Easter Sunday around midday) and I’m sure it is much less crowded on weekdays or in the late afternoon.
After seeing the tulips, we drove west on Highway 20 about 30 km to our next destination, Deception Pass. This is another popular attraction in the area that features a historic steel bridge high above the turbulent waters of Deception Pass between Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. It’s possible to actually walk on the bridge’s narrow shoulders to a small island in the middle of the pass. While you are walking, try not to think of the dizzying height and the proximity to cars, and enjoy the incredible view. The island is a popular place to explore the cliffs or to just sit and relax, admiring the view. Extra bonus if you thought to bring a picnic lunch.
If you want to do something more active, I recommend Goose Rock trail, a short, steep hike (only 1 km or 0.7 mi) to the highest point on Whidbey Island. The trail starts right at the south end of the bridge and leads to amazing views of the pass and the nearby islands. The nearby Deception State Park has many more trails to explore, as well as wonderful beaches and wildlife.
We didn’t do Goose Rock that day, but instead went to the Oyster Dome hike, which I described in the 6 Spring Hikes post. If you have enough time and energy, it’s definitely worth it as the views are awesome.