For the 50+ Traveler

Tulips are some of the most beautiful harbingers of spring. When they start to bud -- and then bloom -- you know that warmer temperatures are right around the corner. Back in the 1600s, these flowers were so prized that in Holland, a single bulb could fetch the equivalent of thousands of dollars.

Today, tulips are celebrated across the country at festivals dedicated entirely to them. Usually held in cities or towns with a distinct Dutch heritage, these festivals are the perfect way to celebrate the end of winter.

Here are a few of our favorite tulip festivals -- and the reasons why you should check them out.

Tulips in Holland, Michigan.

1. Tulip Time, Holland, Michigan

It doesn’t get more Dutch than Holland, Michigan. The city, about a 3-hour drive from Detroit, is located on Lake Michigan and hosts one of the nation’s largest and best-known tulip festivals each year. Tulip Time is a nine-day celebration that features parades, traditional Dutch dance demonstrations, art installations, concerts, and five million blooming tulips planted by the Parks and Recreation Department across the city.

Where To Stay

To be in the center of the action, consider staying downtown at one of several hotels there.

What To Eat

Nosh on Dutch favorites like buttery krakelingen, treats filled with almond paste, and saucijzenbroodjes, or Dutch pigs in a blanket. Locally owned DeBoer Bakery has both.

Pro Tip

Weekends are typically the most crowded times. If you plan to visit then, be sure to book your accommodations far in advance. For more information and tips, see this piece.

Tulip fields in Mount Vernon, Washington.

2. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Mount Vernon, Washington

The fields near Mount Vernon, Washington -- about 50 miles north of Seattle -- have always been packed with tulips; the Dutch have planted bulbs in the area for more than 100 years. In 1984, after thousands began flocking to the town during bloom season, Mount Vernon leaders decided to add a series of events to the month, and the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was born. It’s since grown to include art shows, concerts, farm tours, a fun run, bike rides, and the Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair. In 2021, tickets must be purchased online. For ticketing information, head here.

Where To Stay

For a charming bed and breakfast stay just a few minutes from the tulip fields, consider the Nantucket Inn in Anacortes, Washington. You’ll love the waterfront view from the front porch.

What To Eat

Make plans to visit Kiwanis Salmon BBQ in Mount Vernon for locally caught salmon and terrific sides. It’s open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. almost every day of the festival.

Note that in 2021, however, the Kiwanis Salmon BBQ will be held at off-site locations. Catch them Fridays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Rexville Grocery and the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

Pro Tip

The weather along Washington’s coast during the month of April can be rainy and windy. Make sure you pack a waterproof layer!

The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Oregon.

3. Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest, Woodburn, Oregon

Sometimes, growers host huge parties to celebrate their blooms, and that’s the case in Woodburn, Oregon, about halfway between Portland and Salem. Since 1983, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm has raised and sold bulbs of all varieties. In 1985, the farm opened its fields on Easter weekend, and the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest was born.

These days, the farm welcomes guests from the end of March until the first week of May. During the week, they sell cut flowers and bulbs. On the weekends, there’s plenty of family fun on the farm grounds, including a tulip field tour by train, a children’s play area, and wooden shoe-making demonstrations.

In 2021, tickets must be purchased online.

Where To Stay

The Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest makes a terrific road trip from Portland; one of our favorite spots to stay there is the historic and funky Hi-Lo Hotel.

What To Eat

If available, try the fresh berry jam, jelly, or pie. Marionberries are the most famous -- they are a cross between two native blackberries, and they were created in Oregon.

Pro Tip

Plan to stop in at the wine-tasting room to sample some of the farm’s vintages.

Tulips in Pella, Iowa.

4. Tulip Time Festival, Pella, Iowa

The tiny town of Pella, Iowa, is about 40 miles from Des Moines; it was founded by immigrants from the Netherlands. Pella’s Tulip Time Festival began in 1935 as a small party to celebrate the town’s Dutch heritage. Since then, it’s become an entire long weekend featuring parades, performances, museum tours, a craft market, concerts, auto and tractor shows, and of course, several large tulip displays.

Most events are free; tickets for others can be purchased on-site.

Where To Stay

While Pella has several charming bed and breakfasts, the Amsterdam Hotel is well worth your consideration with its luxe rooms and complimentary breakfast.

What To Eat

Street vendors sell traditional Dutch foods during the event, including delicious stroopwafels, or waffle cookies with caramel-molasses filling.

Pro Tip

Most of Pella’s Tulip Time sights are within walking distance, but paid golf cart rides are available at the festival.

Tulips at Holland Ridge Farms Tulip Festival.

5. Holland Ridge Farms U-Pick Tulips, Cream Ridge, New Jersey

One of the youngest tulip festivals on this list is Holland Ridge Farms’ U-Pick Tulips Season in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, located between New York City and Philadelphia. In 2017, the Jansen family planted a million tulip bulbs on their farm in preparation for a festival to celebrate the flower. Thousands came out to enjoy the colors and, for a small price, pick some flowers to bring home. The festival has since become a popular place for families to take photos and have down-home farm fun. In 2021, tickets must be purchased in advance.

Where To Stay

There are a number of hotel chains and other accommodation options in nearby Hamilton, New Jersey.

What To Eat

The farm features a bakery barn for sweet treats; there are also food trucks on-site.

Pro Tip

Grab a bucket and clippers so you can snip your perfect bouquet.

Tulips at Thanksgiving Point in Utah.

6. Tulip Festival At Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, Utah

Thanksgiving Point is a nonprofit learning and recreation center that seeks to connect visitors of all ages with the natural world. And when it’s springtime, it’s Tulip Festival time at the destination, located just a short drive south of Salt Lake City. The park’s Ashton Gardens are awash with color from April through early May, with more than a quarter of a million bulbs blooming. Attractions include concerts, a children’s play area, and plenty of fresh-cut tulips to purchase and take home.

Where To Stay

If you don’t want to make the trek back to Salt Lake after tiptoeing through the tulips, there’s a SpringHill Suites by Marriott property conveniently located near Thanksgiving Point.

What To Eat

Try the pork osso bucco or prime rib at Thanksgiving Point’s Harvest Restaurant. Don’t just take it from us; here’s more on Thanksgiving Point’s dining options from the town itself.

Pro Tip

When you buy your ticket, keep in mind that you can also reserve a preferred time slot for your entry.

Tulips in Albany, New York.

7. Albany Tulip Festival, Albany, New York

On Mother’s Day weekend, New York’s capital city of Albany comes alive with spring blooms, including more than 150 different varieties of tulips. For more than 70 years, the city has celebrated its Dutch roots at the Albany Tulip Festival that’s held at Washington Park. The fun includes fine arts exhibits, tulip tours, live music, and a street-scrubbing parade featuring participants in authentic Dutch costumes. More than 100 artisans sell their crafts in the park as well.

The best part? Admission to the event is free.

Note: Though the City of Albany looks to resume in-person festivities next year, the Albany Tulip Festival will be held virtually again in 2021. The virtual festival will feature musical performances, tours through the over 100,000 tulips in bloom, and more. Find more information here.

Where To Stay

The Washington Park Inn is a turreted Victorian mansion located right on the park. Its five guest rooms are well appointed and charming, but this spot books quickly for the Tulip Festival!

What To Eat

You can’t go wrong with Dutch street food, but if you’re in the mood for something different, El Loco Mexican Cafe on Washington Park’s southeastern corner is convenient and delicious.

Pro Tip

When you’ve taken in your share of tulips, walk over to Center Square, a charming neighborhood chock-full of historic brownstones and boutiques.

Tulipmania in San Francisco.

8. Tulipmania, San Francisco, California

San Francisco’s famous Pier 39 is known for its stunning views of the bay and its many food stalls and shops. But each February, the area around the landmark is awash with color for Tulipmania, featuring tens of thousands of the blooms planted around the iconic site. It’s a great place for a San Francisco selfie!

Where To Stay

The Hyatt Centric Fisherman’s Wharf puts you in the middle of everything San Francisco has to offer, including Lombard Street and the Golden Gate.

What To Eat

Our favorite grab-and-go snack is a hunk of sourdough and a wedge of locally produced cheese from Cowgirl Creamery on Pier 39.

Pro Tip

Free guided tours of the tulips are offered each morning by Pier 39’s landscape crew.