Leave room for ice cream
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
The joke in Skagit Valley around this time of year is that it’s not tulips we’re celebrating, but the Skagit Traffic Festival. Hours on the freeway can easily be followed by hours sitting on rural backroads in bumper-to-bumper backups, especially on a sunny weekend when the fields are in full bloom. A spot to stop, get a bite to eat and stretch the legs is always welcome.
For visitors taking the Fir Island route from Conway, the natural first stop is Snow Goose Produce (http://www.snowgooseproducemarket.com). Appropriately named for the huge flocks of snow geese that linger in the surrounding fields all winter and into spring, this farm stand/market/gift shop has something for everyone. Open seasonally, they do sell fresh local produce, but the rambling structure also includes displays of wine, cookbooks, baskets, local cheese, smoked fish and fresh seafood, bread from Breadfarm and Shambala bakeries, and copious potted tulips and garden starts. They even sell wooden planters and garden furniture.
None of these are the main attraction at Snow Goose, though. That honor goes to the vast ice cream cones (officially titled “immodest”), served in massive scoops on house-made waffle cones. On a sunny day —or even a cold, wet one—the ice cream line streams out the back of the building and winds into the parking lot.
The ice cream comes from either Cascade Glacier or Lopez Island Creamery in a wide variety of flavors, which was handy when on a recent visit my first two choices were sold out. A regular scoop will cost you $5.50 (cash only), but it’s easily enough ice cream for two moderately hungry people. There are picnic tables overlooking the Fir Island landscape, so it makes a nice break from driving before you head up to the main tulip route.
Just a bit further up Best Road from Snow Goose is the Rexville Grocery (http://www.facebook.com/rexville-grocery). An old gas station and lunch counter popular with locals, it changed hands a few years ago but continues the tradition of weekend breakfasts, daily lunches, takeout deli options, and a selection of wine and beer, including cute little single-serving wine bottles for your picnic.
A few miles up that same road, Christianson’s Nursery (http://www.christiansonsnursery.com) is a wonderful stop for the gardening fanatic in your car, and while that person is happily wandering through greenhouses overflowing with flowers, everyone else can check out the art show in the old schoolhouse and the food stalls that are set up during the Tulip Festival featuring crepes and Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
As you make your way back around the tulip route on Memorial Highway, Schuh Farms (http://www.facebook.com/schuh-farms) is a nice place to visit before you head out to the freeway. In the fall they have a pumpkin patch and corn maze for kids, but in the spring they have flowers, garden starts, produce, baked goods like pie and cinnamon rolls, and their drive-through coffee stand also makes excellent milkshakes—because there’s always room for more ice cream.
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