Skagit Valley Tulip Fest and the Best Sandwich Ever

Go for the tulips; return for the best sandwich you'll ever have

Credit: khanklatt

Thousands of tulips colour the fields of the Skagit Valley in April

There’s something decidedly adventurous about crossing the border for an afternoon drive and a sandwich. Especially when you try to explain that to a border guard.

But when the drive is from Vancouver to Mount Vernon in April, it’s worth the border lineup and customs inquisition. That’s because April is Tulip Festival time in Washington’s Skagit Valley.

Annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The border guard told me I wasn’t the only one there for a flower fix. It’s clearly not uncommon for British Columbians to make the trek to see the blooming beds, and last year I was among the hoards that invade the small town annually for the sheer joy of witnessing multi-coloured rows of tulips that stretch as far as the eye can see, scenting the air with the unmistakable perfume of spring.

Tulip beds are scattered throughout the region, and you can plot your course on a map and make your way to the various nurseries and gardens that participate in the festival. And if you’re looking for something a little more strenuous than a stroll, consider participating in the tulip run or the pedal, among myriad other activities.

Calico Cupboard Cafe

Of course if petal power isn’t quite your thing, there’s a sandwich place in Mount Vernon that is reason enough to head south for an afternoon. The Calico Cupboard Café serves the kind of homemade baked goods you might have experienced in your childhood if, like my family, you spent your summer holidays lazying around in small lakeside towns, hitting up the local bakeries for freshly baked rolls and fudge.

Calico’s rustic charm is reminiscent of days gone by, and the food will make you long for a time when pies cooled peacefully on neighborhood windowsills (or maybe that only happened in storybooks?)

Anyway, skip the salads and turn straight to the hearty sandwiches section of the menu. You can’t make a wrong choice here. Or, if you’re a breakfast-any-time-of-the-day person like I am, you’ll want to take advantage of the breakfast-for-lunch offerings. I’d highly recommend the Popeye’s Delight Scramble. It’s gooey and cheesy and super flavourful. And it’s full of spinach, so you won’t feel guilty when, on your way out, you stop to drool over the homemade desserts case and pick out a little something for the drive home.

Whether it’s the flowers or the food, the memories of this little journey will surely bring you back another day when you’ve got a free afternoon and the spirit of adventure takes you straight to the border.