Toddler Palooza at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival


You would think a preschool group had just invaded the parking lot. Kids were pouring out of cars all in a row. They gathered together, laughing and throwing rocks. Adults were herding the stragglers from behind. A rope was brought out and the kids lined up…sort of. In a strange square line they headed through the parking lot to the entrance.

Well this was not a preschool group. This was 3 of my girlfriends and our seven kids. Yes, seven. The oldest was almost 5, most were under 3 and there was even a 10 month old in the bunch. Plus, yours truly, the 9 month pregnant lady; it would turn out to be quite an adventure.

We were all out for one purpose, to see the tulips in bloom before this baby came out. It was the last thing on my spring outings list. I couldn’t miss it. Every other year we were either out of town, too busy or just not brave enough to tackle the crowds. This year I would head up on a weekday, in the morning, before the hundreds of families descended over the weekend. It was the first truly glorious week of tulip viewing. I was not going to miss this.

My friend Nic picked me up so I wouldn’t have to drive by myself, a smart idea since I was less than 3 weeks from my due date. After much wrangling we got 2 toddler car seats and a booster seat in her back seat. Dek was his usual terrible self in the car, while Nic’s kids, El and Lee, were angels for the hour drive up. Everyone enjoyed a snack and we were gazing across brilliant yellow fields of daffodils in no time.

Fields of daffodils take over Skagit Valley

We met up with our friend Jen and her kids Lily and Will at RoozenGaarde, one of the many tulip growers in the area that boasted a spectacular display garden. My friend Dena, who had driven up earlier that morning, was headed over with her two boys, Si and Ez, after checking out Tulip Town. As soon as Dena walked into RoozenGaarde she declared it was so much better than Tulip Town. Besides a small tractor ride through the fields, Tulip Town didn’t have much else to offer. I’ll have to take her word on this since we never made it over.

Dena and I snag a few pictures with our kids in between all the fun

The kids dropped the rope we had been towing them on through the parking lot as soon as we got in the gardens. They spotted a tulip maze and ran straight for it.  Toddler games ensued while the moms said hi and caught up with each other. Grandparents and other families with small children milled about, some joining in our kids fun, while others herded their children through the displays. We were in no hurry. We were busy enjoying the heavenly scent of fresh flowers and just basking in the colors lit up by the brilliant sun that had finally graced the Pacific Northwest with its presence.

After a game of tag with Nic, a tractor sighting and averting a few trampled flower disasters, we made our way around the display garden. The kids yelled out colors as they saw them and we talked about which was the prettiest. Heck, maybe we were our very own preschool group after all.

We made it through most of the display garden before the kids started to get rammy and anxious for food. Nic and Jen headed to the food stands to grab hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids. The prices were steep ($7.50 for a plain hamburger?) but Nic declared the food much better than she anticipated. I was grateful I had packed peanut butter sandwiches for me and Dek. I didn’t feel guilty at all splurging on a little homemade fudge. I tried to make my two chunks of Island Style and Mint Chocolate last, but it didn’t make it more than 24 hours in my house. I choose to believe Mike snuck a large bite at some point that evening.

Food and port-a-potties- what more could a toddler adventure need

With bellies full we headed into the tulip fields. Mud was everywhere. The ground was like clay, slightly springy and definitely squishy. Everyone had their rain boots on, parents included. We didn’t care if the kids ran through the puddles. We figured the boots would take most of the beating. We didn’t anticipate El and Lily taking a spill. El was soaked almost immediately after entering the fields. Lily at least waited to take a fall when we were heading back to the cars.

Such an innocent puddle can turn on you in a second

The growers request that you not walk between the rows of flowers but we were able to walk around the larger paths checking out what was in bloom. Not much had popped open yet, but the daffodils were in full bloom farther out in the field. One huge section of red tulips was in bloom creating a dazzling display of color across the landscape. Throw in the bright blue sky, a few puffy white clouds and some lingering snow on the mountains in the distance and I’m not sure we could have come across a more picturesque setting.

Our mini-preschool excursion had been a great success. Sure there was some chaos with that many kids, but everyone left happy. What was more exciting was that the moms had a great time too. I am always looking for activities we can do that both adults and toddlers can get something out of and this definitely proved to be a winner. Most important, I had a great spring adventure with Dek before we add another little one to our family. Now we will just sit tight and wait for our next adventure, but this time with 2 kids in tow.

Know Before You Go

  • RoozenGaarde, 15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mt. Vernon, Washington
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am to 6pm, Sundays 11am to 4pm
  • $5 entrance fee for adults, kids 10 and under are free
  • Free parking across the street
  • Check out the Bloom map to see which fields are in bloom before your arrival
  • Tulips and bulbs are available to purchase on sight
  • Food is available on sight, but prices are high. You can bring a picnic into the garden with you. Bring a little money so you can splurge on a treat. The Island Style fudge and funnel cake should not be missed.
  • Pack sunscreen. Even though it is spring the sun can still get you.
  • Portable restrooms are available throughout the garden and in the parking lot. They are surprisingly nice.


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Showing 19 comments
  • Jen

    Beautiful pictures! Tulips are my favorite flower and I would love to see them growing in the field. And I had a child that was always terrible in the car as well. It got to the point where I dreaded even getting in the car to go to the grocery store. She is five now and I can happily say she has outgrown it!

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      You are giving me hope lady! I’m just praying this next kid is better in the car. Might make it a point to travel a little more in the car when he is little. We didn’t do it that much with Dek. He was a plane traveler mainly.

  • Nancie

    I love tulips! It looks like you all had a wonderful day.

  • Average Traveller

    I keep hearing about this festival from friends who love it but I’ve never made it there myself. It’s now on the list…

  • Easy Hiker

    Ah, finally, spring is upon us, harbinger of summer!

  • Jackie Smith @travelnwrite

    Nice photos. Although we are in Kirkland we’ve never ventured north during ‘tulip season’ because of crowd avoidance; your photos make me want to rethink that.

  • Lisa

    Love tulips – the photos of them are amazing! My favourite pics are drinking from the fountain and falling in the mud puddle though! 🙂

  • Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista

    I love tulips and enjoyed all your pictures. I also enjoyed the chuckle seeing the picture of El lying in the mud. How do kids find mud and/or water so fast! It is a priceless memory of many wet adventures.

  • Leigh

    Always meant to visit when I lived in Vancouver. Your daffodil shot is stunning with the mountains in the background.
    Good luck with the birth and getting through the next few weeks.

  • Andi at The Particular Traveler

    Those rows of red tulips are so beautiful, and I love all the fun photos of the kids. It looks like you had a wonderful time. Best of luck on your upcoming new arrival! 🙂

  • Jessica

    These are fantastic pictures. You should enlarge the one with the red flowers and tractor. The colors and the composition are unbelievable.

  • Sabrina

    The colors of the tulips are so intense. Really beautiful! Would love to go for a walk there. The orance ones are my favroites.

  • Dick Jordan


    I grew up in Seattle and on a trip back to my hometown in the 1980’s bought a large framed aerial photo of the Skagit Valley tulip fields in bloom from the Space Needle gift shop (which was run by my best friend’s mother for many years, beginning with the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair). It hung in my California law office for nearly 20 years.

  • Mary @ The World Is A Book

    What a fun set of pictures of a great day! Love the title post! You are a glowing pregnant lady =) Those flowers and all the colors are so pretty. I’ve always loved looking at the Tulip Festival pictures my Seattle friends post around this time on FB. One of these days…

  • InsideJourneys

    Wow, spectacular colors! Tulips and daffodils, especially tulips always make me feel happy.

  • Jenna

    Looks so fun! I have two kids–a 4 and 1 year old. The older one is crazy about anything plant-related. The rows of flowers in your photos are so pretty.

  • Laurel

    Beautiful, I love spring flowers especially tulips and daffodils.

  • Linda

    Lovely photos. I had to laugh at the antics of the toddlers though…I remember those days well!

  • Stacy Uncorked

    Absolutely beautiful shots! I miss being there – I can’t wait to move back next year so we can enjoy all that beauty again! 🙂