It turns out you don’t have to head all the way to Holland to see vast fields of tulips in full bloom: instead, get your flower fix at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Oregon.
Every spring, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm celebrates their rainbow-hued fields by opening their 40 acres up to the public, where thousands of people come to admire the countless rows of blossoms each year.
History of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
The family-run farm is located near the city of Woodburn in the Willamette Valley wine region, which makes the annual tulip fest a fun day trip from Portland or the Columbia River Gorge. It was founded by Ross and Dorothy Iverson, who began growing tulips in 1974 while raising their six children.
As their kids grew, so did the fields and by the 1980s the Iversons realized it was time to expand. So, they started the Wooden Shoe Bulb Company and began selling bulbs, and when they welcomed the public to visit over Easter weekend a few years later things really took off. The Oregon tulip farm is now one of the largest in the PNW, and even has a windmill which makes it feel like the next best thing to being in Amsterdam.
Today, the operation includes a gift shop with bulbs, potted plants and fresh cut flowers, a cafe and the WS Winery. There’s also a “dig day” where they open the display beds and large pots so people can dig their own bulbs to take home and plant in their own gardens.
The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
The month-long Oregon tulip festival happens every year between the end of March and beginning of May, and sees the farm transformed into what feels like a fairground mixed with Instagram heaven; think parents trying to corral their excited kids as they beg to go on a ride or the tram, as girls in pretty dresses and floppy hats strike a pose against the floral backdrop.
The colorful crop is a sea of blush pink, fuschia, fire-engine red, sunshine yellow and even black tulips, and with views of Mount Hood in the distance the scene is simply breathtaking.
The Wooden Shoe tulip fest is very family-friendly, with attractions like a kids’ play area, pony rides, games and food stalls. You can also buy fresh bouquets of Oregon tulips or a bag of bulbs as a souvenir, or spring for a hot air balloon ride (advance reservations required) to see the kaleidoscope of colour from above.
Tips for visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
- How to get there: The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is a 40 minute drive from Portland, and about two hours from the Columbia Gorge.
- When to go: The tulip farm is open year round and has wine tasting, a gift shop and hemp products, while the festival usually runs from the end of March to the first week in May. The event is extremely popular, so expect to arrive to find a long, snaking line of cars if you’re visiting on a weekend.
- Price: $5 per person for general admission, $20 per vehicle (four or more people), or $15 per person for a sunrise ticket where you can access the fields one hour before sunrise which is perfect for photographers.
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Tamara Elliott is the travel editor and founder of The Gorge Guide, which highlights the best experiences in the Columbia River Gorge. She’s an award-winning writer based in Hood River, Oregon, who particularly loves the area wineries and waterfall hikes. Tamara is also the founder of Globe Guide, which offers savvy tips for exploring destinations around the world.