Paradise on Earth: Spring Blooms in the Skagit Valley

The sun is shining and Spring is in the air. Are you feeling the call of the road, a tug to slip away and head out for some drive time? When beauty calls, here are a few drives that include flowering vistas and more.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival   Originally bred by the Turks (not the Dutch), tulips were considered to be symbolic of paradise on earth. Discover paradise right here in Western Washington. The festival runs April 1-30 with acres of fields bursting in color, art exhibits, tastings and lots to explore. An extensive listing of activities and directions are available at The country roads will be busier on the weekends, so if you can visit on a weekday you’ll find it’s a more relaxed pace.

La Conner is an ideal destination for lunch, exploring shops and galleries, and strolling along the waterfront. There is plenty of parking, and access for all levels of mobility. Directions and attractions are at

Before or after the tulips, there are a number of scenic drives and more blooms to enjoy. Extend your day by taking in one of these gems:

Chuckanut Drive 
Just north of Burlington, on Route 11, Chuckanut Drive is a 21 mile “drive on a dramatic cliff side route that hugs the base of Chuckanut Mountain, weaving its way through evergreen forests along the rocky shoreline of Chuckanut Bay. From the oyster beds and tidal flats of the Samish lowlands, to the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham, this byway is known for its exquisite sunsets, secluded pocket beaches, migratory birds, and communities reminiscent of early Northwest settlement.” (WSDOT website) There are beaches, parks and extensive trails to explore, and wonderful local markets and restaurants to discover along the way.

Whidbey Island  
Whidbey Island is the first island to be designated a scenic byway and is part of the Cascade Loop. Take Route 20 west to cross onto Whidbey Island using the Deception Pass Bridge. There are stunning vistas with pull-off parking to enjoy the view. Continue south on this 54-mile drive “comfortable in scale, with beaches, pastoral landscapes, watchable wildlife, historic sites and quaint pockets of civilization on and off road—a combination that entices and delights. Add connections to the mainland by ferry and bridge and you have the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way—the shortest distance to far away.” (WSDOT website)

Meerkerk Gardens  
If you love rhododendrons, make sure Meerkerk Gardens, in Greenbank on south Whidbey Island, is part of your day. Pause and explore 10 acres of display gardens with 4 miles of nature trails. It’s dog friendly, too. Bring the grandkids for Fairy Making Magic on April 23rd, noon-4:00. More info at