Alaska with Kids
We’ve done some traveling with our two youngest boys. One thing we’ve discovered is that if we want to have a pleasant traveling experience we have to gear some things towards kids or they will revolt. And it won’t be pretty. We try to plan one fun activity at least every other day when traveling and we’ve noticed that if we skip that it’s going to be miserable. Sometimes it’s enough to just stop at a playground (Yes I’m working on a post of open playgrounds in South Central Alaska so be sure to come back for that) and sometimes you need an activity that kids will eat up. I’ve got a mix of both of those today when you travel to Alaska with kids.
These are things we’ve done and enjoyed doing with our kid in Alaska, only one was sponsored. I’ve noted it for you and it has it’s own stand alone post which I linked to.
- Hike in Hatcher’s Pass: Hatcher’s Pass offers lots of hiking for people of all ages and abilities. Tour Independence Mine with a guide or just walk through yourself. Or stop below the gates and follow one of many trails that lead you up to amazing views. Also of interest in this area is Archangel (pronounced Ark Angel) Road for a one lane drive back to beautiful views and another favorite hiking spot Reed Lakes Trail. Lower down in Hatcher’s Pass you can hike back along Gold Mint trail for flatter terrain. This is bear country so pack bear spray and be bear aware.
- Ride the tram at Alyeska: The tram at Alyeska is fun activity, especially if you have little ones who wouldn’t make the hike UP the mountain. Which you can do by the way, if you’re SO inclined. The views from the viewing deck can’t be beat. There are two restaurants up there, a museum/gift shop and ample observation decks. You can look up the mountain, down the mountain, down Turnagain Arm and back into the valley. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, we’ve seen moose, lots of birds and even a bear up there!
- Wildlife Conservation Center: This is great place to stop if you’re driving to Seward, Homer or just the Kenai Peninsula. Lot’s of wildlife up close and personal. All the animals here were injured or orphaned and have been given room to roam. You can see wood bison, moose, bears and more!
- Alaska Sealife Center: In the last year the Sealife Center has been home to baby otters, a baby walrus and even a baby beluga whale, all orphaned or injured, and cared for there. They always have lots of Alaskan Sealife on display along with the yearly orphans.
- Alaska Zoo:Another home for orphaned, injured or displaced animals. Set in a boreal forest with nice wide trails for walking. You can see Siberian Tigers, Snow Leopards, Grizzly Bears and Polar Bears, plus a plethora of Alaskan Animals. A family favorite is the George the Magpie, he talks!
- Reindeer Farm: Located outside Palmer Alaska, this is a top rated attraction for people with kids. During your tour you can feed reindeer, visit a moose, see a bison up close, and learn all about Reindeer from knowledgeable tour guides. A cute gift store is onsite as well. Full disclosure I write their blog but my kids LOVE visiting the farm as well.
- Anchorage Museum: The museum is home to some of the best art in Alaska. Not only do they have painting. prints and drawings but they have large Alaska Native collections that are simply stunning. Plus a Planetarium, Imaginarium, workshops and classes are all onsite as well.
- Musk Ox Farm: Located in Palmer the Musk Ox Farm is another favorite for kids. These giant cow-ish shaped ruminants are a throwback to the ice age and roamed the earth next to saber toothed tigers. And you can visit them right now. Their soft under hair called qiviut makes one of the softest yarns for knitting.
- Alaska Aviation Museum: If you have kids who love planes the Aviation Museum is where you need to go. Hands on flight simulators, a control tower, 4 warehouses of planes, restoration rooms and more await you in this amazing museum.
- Climb the Butte or Climb Lazy Mountain: in Palmer as anyone for a fun hike and they’ll tell you the Butte for a short hike with gorgeous 360˚ views OR climb Lazy Mountain for a longer hike but with equally stunning views. The Butte is a short, less than an hour climb from either the south or west side, and tops out at 900 feet. Lazy is higher and takes longer but kids can climb it too. This is bear and moose country so be prepared, bring bear spray and be bear aware.
- Walk the Coastal Trail: Check their website for place to get on the trail and go for a good walk. This trail meanders for 11 miles between the city of Anchorage and Cook Inlet. The views are amazing and it’s a great place to burn off steam.
- Bike the Coastal: Equally as fun as walking, is Biking. there are many places to rent a bike in Anchorage. Here’s a few: Downtown Bicycle Rental and Repair, and Pablo’s are both highly rated, ask around, call them and make an informed decision!
- Bike or Walk Eklutna Lake Trail: This is a fabulous trail alongside a glacial lake, if you follow it back there’s a glacier at the end of the road. This is a trail that ATVs can use as well on some days of the week, we’ve been then there on atv days and they weren’t an issue. There’s also a lovely beach area if you just want to walk down to the lake. You will need to pay for parking, bring cash.
- Saturday Market (Anchorage): This is a fun market to check out. You can park for free downtown and walk down for a fun morning. The coffee, food and entertainment are all top notch plus you can find one of a kind souvenirs actually made by Alaskans.
- Friday Fling Market (Palmer): Another fun market out in Palmer! This one is smaller and has a small town feel. You’ll find locals lunching, fresh veggies, fresh flowers and local music. Bonus? it’s across from the Palmer Museum (SMALL!), the Palmer garden, and across the tracks from all the awesome downtown merchants.
- Exit Glacier (Seward): You can spend a fun day at Exit Glacier, hiking the trails, walking on the river bed, taking in nature and getting to touch the glacier. Don’t forget to check in at the Ranger Station for your Jr Ranger handbook.
- Whale Watching Cruise (Seward): There are plenty of Whale Watching cruises out of Seward all spring, summer and fall. Ones we’ve taken and enjoyed were on Major Marine Tours, we especially liked our hosted Orca Quest Cruise last year.
- Hike Thunderbird Falls: A fun way to spend a short amount of time, the entire trail is about 1 mile in with minimal altitude gain. You can view the falls from a deck or hike down for a closer look. It’s bear country so pack bear spray and be bear aware.
- Hike Winner Creek Trail: This trail heads out from behind the Alyeska Hotel but it’s open to the public. You can hike back to a gorge and use a hand tram to pull yourself across. The tram is also accessible from the other end of the trail off Crow Creek Road, and it’s a quicker trip to the hand tram. Again bear country take pre-cautions.
- Eagle River Nature Center: If you’re looking for hiking, classes, naturalists head to the Eagle River Nature Center. There’s so much going on here you just have to check it out to believe it!
- Chocolate Waterfall at Wildberry: Do I need to say more than chocolate waterfall, what about World Largest Chocolate Waterfall?!?? Ok how about candy kitchen tours? And chocolate samples? And 8 foot tall stuffed bears. you can’t go wrong with a stop in at Alaska Wildberry, it’s just fun.
- Hurricane Turn: Take the trip and find out why people are RAVING about it. Warren the conductor is half the fun, the views from the train are the other half. You slowy make your way north on the Alaska Railroad, stopping for any and all wildlife viewing. You stop whenever a local wants on or off the train. And you finish on the bridge once you reach Hurricane Gulch. Yes you literally stop ON the tracks over the gulch, it’s exciting, beautiful and tons of fun for everyone. Plan on a full day for this trip though, you leave in the morning and get back by 8pm.
- Potter’s Marsh Boardwalk: Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars for this one! 1500 feet of boardwalk over the marsh get you up close and personal with all kinds of birds. Even though it’s right along a busy highway it’s still full of migratory birds who make their summer home here.
Have fun in Alaska with your kids! Just be sure to plan an outing for burning off steam and letting them be kids and your trip will be so much more enjoyable. You’ll have a better time and your kid will have some great memories as well. And as always feel free to contact me with any travel questions, tour questions, restaurant questions or anything else you can think of, I’m always available to help.
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