While we aim to expose our kids to all the fun festivals and family happenings around Portland, the reality is that most weekends are chock full of family get togethers, play dates, and errands. Luckily, the Woodburn Tulip Fest is about to bloom again. We love this annual fest because not only is there a ton to see and do, but it also goes on for an entire month, which means a trip to experience all the festival fun one weekend (or weekday) is totally do-able. So go ahead, pack your rain boots and celebrate springtime Portland-style. What to wear: Wear sneakers and change into rain boots when you get there. You can wear hiking boots or other all-terrain shoes for the whole visit, but it’s really nice to have lightweight shoes for the playground, picnic area, and the car ride back. The tulip fields tend to remain muddy even when it’s not raining, so pull on rain boots when you’re headed to look at the flowers. It’s a bonus to be able to throw all the muddy shoes in a bag on the way home rather than dragging them across car seats and car floors.

What to bring: Things will get muddy, so bring a change of clothes (or two) for the kids. Tromping through tulip fields, splashing in puddles, and racing rubber duckies in the play area’s water trough will make for a fantastic afternoon, but they will also leave outfits wet and dirty. Throw in a few extra shirts, pants, and socks and you’ll be ready for anything.

Should you bring the camera? Yes! Take a family photo that you can send out to say “Wish you were here!” It’s worth it to pack your nice camera instead of relying on your phone because photo-ops abound. Pictures from the Tulip Fest really show off our verdant Willamette Valley paradise, and you’ll want to capture the kids in those beautiful fields and print pictures for grandparents. If you’re trying to get a good family shot, take it right away because nice outfits will get muddy or dusty. Also make sure to snap pics of the kids in the adorable Holland-inspired wooden cut-outs.

Should you bring the stroller? Bring it. The walk to the tulip fields is not far, but the walk back will seem very long for little legs. Strollers with big utility wheels do well over the terrain; strollers with small wheels might have a harder time. The stroller can also carry your extra gear, snacks, and the camera bag: things you won’t want to have to run back to the car to grab.

What to buy: Buy a bouquet of flowers. Bulbs are expensive for the novice gardener, but bouquets are a great way to take home some tulips or daffodils. Plus, if you’re at the festival before a dinner party or the day before a brunch, a bouquet will make an especially excellent hostess present or table display. And you’ll love being able to say, “Oh I just picked these up at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.”

What to do: Ride the train before lunch. The adorable cow train that gets pulled behind a tractor is a must-do. But it’s more than just a lovely ride through the flowers: It’s a bump-along extravaganza. The driver might pull you over plenty of ruts and mud holes so be ready to get shaken up! We recommend eating afterwards; and if you’re pregnant, make sure to pee before you get on the train!

When to go: Go on a weekday if you can. Cars are half-price Monday through Friday ($5 instead of $10). If you work full-time or your kids are in school it might be hard to get to the Tulip Fest during the week, but the farm is open until 6:00 pm and you can eat dinner there (Dutch sausages and hamburgers are always on the menu). Although some add-ons like the craft fair and pony rides aren’t available during the week, you’ll feel like you have the run of the place and won’t have to compete with other families during the handful of sunny weekend days.

Special Events: The farm offers an Easter Egg hunt (April 7), and an early morning Easter service in the Tulip fields (April 8). Nearby, the Race for the Tulips 5k run/walk (April 21) will wear you out before your visit, and the Moonstone/Oregon Gardens Brewfest (April 28-29) will provide beer-enthusiasts even more diversion.


–Evelyn Shoop

Photo credit: Cindy Davidson