Mark these beautiful flower blooms on your calendar and get ready to celebrate spring in Washington State. There are a variety of flower farms and gardens about to burst with colour this spring and many are just a day trip from Seattle.
Daffodils – March
Kick off your spring in Washington with fields of yellow! Hundreds of acres of daffodils are farmed at the foot of glorious Mt Baker in the Skagit Valley, an easy day trip north of Seattle. This fertile corridor produces more tulip, iris and daffodil bulbs than any other county in the US, so you know this is the place to be, flower lovers. The La Conner Daffodil Festival runs annually throughout March. Book early if you plan to make a weekend of it.
Tulips – April
Return to the Skagit Valley in April and you’ll find a fresh wash of colour rendered by fields of tulips. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs the entire month as the peak bloom is dependent on weather conditions leading up to the event.
There are four official show gardens: Garden Rosalyn, RoozenGaarde, Tulip Town and Tulip Valley Farms. These flower farms have ticketed entry and offer opportunities to pick your own bouquet—see individual farm websites for more information. If you just want to admire the spectacle, you can drive around the Valley and enjoy the vibrant fields for free. It’s best to avoid weekends as the narrow rural roads around the Valley are easily clogged with the influx of flower lovers.
Cherry Blossoms – March/April
The University of Washington’s campus is the place to be at the peak of cherry blossom season. The main quadrangle is planted with 29 Yoshino cherry blossom trees which are delightfully surrounded by Neo-Gothic campus buildings. There’s also an additional 18 trees framing Drumheller Fountain aka Rainier Vista, and more cherry trees dotted around campus as per this map.
Peak bloom is usually around the third week of March, but keep an eye on this dedicated Twitter account for updates throughout the season. You can also keep an eye on the Campus live stream on Youtube. Bring your camera and a picnic, although sometimes it gets quite slushy between the rain and the foot traffic. The busiest times for hanami, (flower viewing) is on weekends and sunny afternoon. Get my extended cherry blossom guide here.
Rhododendrons – April/May
The Pacific Rhododendron is Washington’s state flower, so it only makes sense that you would find some beautiful blooms here. In fact, you can find a multitude of rhododendron varieties across the state through late Spring. Washington Park Arboretum has a dedicated Rhododendron Glen that features a collection of species that has been cultivated since the late 1930s and is free.
Another great spot is the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden which claims to possess the largest collection of rhododendron species in the world. The 22-acre woodland garden also has a Himalayan blue poppy meadow, azalea collection, Victorian stumpery, conservatory and nursery. The living museum charges an $8 admission for those over 12 years.
If you’re planning a visit to Whidbey Island, and we think you should, Meerkerk Gardens is the place to see some gorgeous rhododendron blooms.
Azaleas – April/May
A close relation of the rhododendron, azaleas love the rainy PNW and bloom large in the west of Washington State. The Washington Park Arboretum has a stunning display in the eponymous Azalea Way, a 1.2-km (3/4-mi) mostly flat corridor framed Azaleas in every colour imaginable. This rainbow walk is a must for flower-lovers during spring in Washington state.
More flower-filled destinations in Washington State
If you’re on a roll and want to continue chasing the flowers in Washington State throughout summer and fall, here’s a few more places to visit:
- The town of Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula is lavender country. I’ve written a dedicated guide to this enclave of lavender farms that celebrate their bloom every July.
- Sunflower farms with you-pick opportunities, pumpkin patches and berry picking to boot, bloom around mid-August. Farms are located in Snohomish, North Bend, Olympia, Buckley and Redmond.
- There is one peony farm that open to the public—Pure Peonies in Everson (outside Bellingham).
Enjoy this spring in Washington state and let me know which flower farms near Seattle you love to visit in the comments below.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,