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Where to Tiptoe Through Tulips in the United States

by Barbara Rogers

Apr 23, 2024

Skagit Valley, Washington © Lijuan Guo | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

First brought to the United States by Dutch immigrants in the late 1600s, tulips have become a colorful symbol of spring throughout the country and a popular spring and summer spot for family travelers. You don’t need to travel far to find them blooming in front yards and, in spring, displays of tulips paint parks and botanic gardens from Maine to Texas. A few places go all out with annual tulip festivals that are perfect spring trips for families.

 

As you might expect, the towns with the biggest tulip festivals are those with a strong Dutch heritage. When Holland, Michigan, began its festival in 1929 by planting the first 100,000 tulip bulbs, 85 percent of the population was of Dutch origin. Today, millions of tulips line the streets and fill parks and yards during the Tulip Time Festival, this year May 4–12. Live music, open-air markets, rides and games give the event a family-friendly carnival atmosphere.

 

Authentic Dutch foods and crafts are featured at a Dutch Craft Market during Tulip Time in Pella, Iowa, when more than 300,000 tulips bloom throughout the city. During the festival, May 2–4, kids can climb inside a replica windmill and try on wooden shoes as the town celebrates its Dutch heritage.

 

A dozen replica windmills decorate another Iowa town during the Orange City Tulip Festival, May 16–18. Adults and children in authentic costumes dance and play traditional music and join in two daily parades; kids will enjoy carnival rides and the nightly musical theater. Kiosks offer traditional Dutch foods.

 

Not all Dutch immigrants settled in the Midwest, of course. In the 1930s and ‘40s, a wave of Dutch immigrants arrived in Washington’s Skagit Valley, bringing tulip bulbs with them. Now, more than 300 acres of tulip fields cover the landscape in color during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. During the entire month of April, you can drive through the valley to see them or walk the paths through the 5-acre RoozenGaarde, where a million tulips are hand-planted in bright patterns.

 

The Dutch settled in Albany, New York, a century before the English arrived, making it unique among American cities, and this strong Dutch heritage is celebrated at the annual Albany Tulip Festival. On May 11 and 12, the 81-acre Washington Park is filled with foods, a fine arts show, a crafts market of more than 100 sellers, entertainment on two stages, food, an entire zone for kids and 150 different varieties of tulips.

 

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