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Trip List by PensiveFrog

Blooms in the Valley

May 1, 2006  Recent 3-day weekend to the Skagit Valley
3.0 of 5 stars based on 5 votes

Washington's Skagit Valley comes alive each spring with the annual Tulip Festival. This list describes how to make the most of your valley visit, including non-flower related attractions!

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: La Conner, Washington, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Langley
  • Category: Perfect weekend
  • Traveler type: Active/Outdoors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Singles, Families with teenagers, Seniors, Students, Budget travelers, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. The Heron Inn
    The Heron Inn & Day Spa, La Conner, Washington

    This Bed and Breakfast really goes the extra mile with their amenities. They have binders full of menus from local restaurants, and the staff are ready with honest opinions about nearby eateries and attractions. We borrowed recent-release DVDs from their collection, and even borrowed a corkscrew and wineglasses! The Inn has coffee brewing all day, and a communal mini-fridge to stow any snacks you may have brought along. The Heron is within easy walking distance of all the attractions in La Conner, so you can fill up on house-brewed beers at the La Conner Brewing Company and toddle home without fear. Breakfasts are ample and tasty, but a little repetitive if you stay multiple nights.

  • 2. La Conner Brewing Company
    La Conner Brewing Co, La Conner, Washington

    Try to stop by this brewpub in time for happy hour, which features $2 pints of house-made microbrews. They serve up tasty pub food and pizzas in their large dining room, which feels like a modern, airy cabin. Large windows overlook the street and passers-by with longing looks on their faces.

  • 3. Seeds Bistro

    Seeds Bistro, located at 623 Morris St. in La Conner is a great stop for dinner after tromping around the tulip fields. The cuisine is modern American, with tasty gourmet burgers in an upscale bar environment. The focus is on fresh food with local ingredients, so you can be sure of finding something new on every visit. Lunch and Dinner, 360-466-3280.

  • 4. Skagit Valley Flower Fields

    Every spring, dozens of tulip and daffodil fields burst into rapturous bloom, speading massive swaths of color over the Skagit Valley floor. Because the flowers bloom according to Mother Nature's capricious schedule, it's best to check the festival website before going. I'd recommend heading to the fields early, before the Tulip Festival officially begins. Daffodils bloom 1-2 weeks before the tulips, but for some reason, no one flocks to see the cheery yellow daffodils! And when the daffies are at their peak, the tulips are just starting to unfurl. You'll get great views of yellow fields, and a hint of what's to come in the following weeks. But you'll be sharing the fields with just a few dozen other earlybirds, rather than the thousands that descend when the tulips are at their peak. Stop by Roozengaarde (just follow the signs!) for an inexpensive visit to their tulip gardens. They grow dozens of varieties on their lovely grounds, and sell cut tulips and bulbs. The only restrooms are porta potties, so keep that in mind if you're a delicate creature.

  • 5. Chuckanut Drive
    Chuckanut Drive, Washington, United States

    If you've been to Maui, you may have survived the Road to Hana. In the Pacific Northwest, Chuckanut Drive is as close as you can get to this sort of extreme driving! Chuckanut Drive is windy, littered with fallen rocks, and offers some gorgeous views over Samish bay. The highway connects Bellingham to the Skagit Valley, but you can get a taste of the roadway's beauty just a few miles after leaving the tulip fields. Pull over at one of the turnouts and watch the ferries silently navigate the steel grey water. Then, back to La Conner for some serious pub food!

  • 6. Deception Pass State Park
    Deception Pass State Park, Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island

    This park is a very popular destination in northwest Washington, and is named for the narrow strip of water splitting Whidbey Island from the mainland. From a distance, the land looks contiguous - that's the "deception"! You can park for free on the Whidbey side of the bridge - the $5 daily parking fee was recently repealed, so save your pocket money for ice cream! Walk out on the bridge if you dare, but hold on to young children. I think traffic may be a bigger concern than falling over the side.

  • 7. Rosario Beach

    On the La Conner side of Deception Pass Bridge, Rosario Beach offers great picnicing, beach combing, and a short hike to stunning views of Puget Sound. There is ample parking and porta potties, and clean picnic benches near the parking lot. Walk towards the water, and you'll find a short pier to stroll on, and a rock beach strewn with driftwood. Walla Walla College has a marine research station here, and you'll often hear the loud roar of planes circling over Whidbey Naval Air Station. The beach is also popular with divers. But climb up the short, steep path to the top of a bluff, and you'll be treated to unforgettable views (and a lot of wind!). Just follow the signs warning of a "Hazardous Area". The bluff is hazardous - just stay back from the edges and you'll be fine. There is a large, safe grassy area to enjoy, but don't let children or pets run around freely. There are no guard rails, but cautious travelers will have no problem.

  • 8. Coupeville
    Coupeville, Whidbey Island

    Beware - Coupeville is closed on Tuesdays! That's a bit of an overstatement, but many of the shops and restaurants cater to the 3-day weekend crowd, and tend to close shop on Tuesdays. Be sure to walk out to the end of the pier to see the blue whale skeleton, and don't forget to peer into the water under the pier. On a calm day, you can see hundreds of colorful starfish camped out just below the surface! It's easy to find street parking - especially on Tuesdays.

  • 9. Fort Casey State Park

    Fort Casey State Park offers a glimpse into World War II - era Washington, when the now peaceful Puget Sound was guarded against enemy invasion with some seriously heavy artillery. There are lots of big guns to see here, including some that were salvaged from throughout the Pacific theater. Poke around the concrete installations, and let your imagination discover what a soldier's life must have been like at Fort Casey. Then wander down to the shore, strewn with logs, and drink in expansive views of the Puget Sound. It gets very windy here, so hold on to your hats. Also, the Park Service hasn't installed many guard rails at Fort Casey, so there are many opportunities to fall off walkways and injure yourself. Keep a tight leash on dogs and children - some of the drop-offs are well hidden and perilous. Walk over to the lighthouse, and take a walking tour dedicated to compost. It's nothing special, but you can bet none of your co-workers took a compost tour over the weekend!

  • 10. Langley
    Langley, Whidbey Island

    To avoid retracing your steps, you may wish to start your Skagit Valley adventure by driving north from Seattle on Interstate 5 to La Conner. Then, cross the Deception Pass bridge and make your way down Whidbey Island to Langley, where the ferry can take your car back across the water to Mukilteo for a modest fee. Langley has more than its fair share of antique shops and boutiques aimed at weekenders fleeing Seattle. There is plenty of parking, and several cafes for a snack or cup of coffee. Unless you're a hardcore trinket shopper, Langley won't hold your attention for more than an hour or two, but it's worth a stop to sit by the water with an ice cream cone and contemplate your weekend before boarding the ferry.