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Alaska with Kids: A Family-Friendly Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors

by Terrye

Alaska, a land of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur, offers a unique playground for families seeking adventure and connection with nature. From its majestic mountains and glaciers to its rich wildlife and cultural heritage, Alaska provides an unforgettable experience for both adults and children. This guide is tailored to help families with kids explore the Great Outdoors of Alaska, ensuring a trip that is both exciting and safe.

Preparing for Your Alaskan Adventure

  1. Research and Plan: Alaska’s vastness means it’s crucial to plan your trip well. Research the areas you want to visit and the activities suitable for your children’s ages and interests.
  2. Pack Appropriately: Weather in Alaska can be unpredictable. Pack layers of clothing, including waterproof and warm gear. Don’t forget essentials like mosquito repellent, sunblock, and sturdy footwear.
  3. Safety First: Educate your family about wildlife safety, the importance of staying on trails, and respecting the natural environment. Consider carrying bear spray in bear country and familiarize yourself with its use.
  4. Health Precautions: Ensure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and be aware of the nearest medical facilities in the areas you’ll be visiting.

Family-Friendly Destinations in Alaska

  1. Anchorage: As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is a great starting point. Visit the Alaska Zoo, the Anchorage Museum with its interactive Discovery Center, and the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary for some bird watching.
  2. Denali National Park: Home to North America’s highest peak, Denali National Park offers ranger-led programs, junior ranger activities, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The park’s shuttle bus system provides access to various trails and viewpoints.
  3. Kenai Fjords National Park: Take a boat tour to witness glaciers and an array of marine wildlife, including whales, sea otters, and seals. The park’s visitor center in Seward also offers educational exhibits.
  4. Fairbanks: Known for the Midnight Sun in the summer and the Northern Lights in the winter, Fairbanks offers unique experiences. Visit the Museum of the North, Pioneer Park, and the Large Animal Research Station.
  5. Ketchikan: Explore the Misty Fjords National Monument by boat or seaplane. Visit the Totem Heritage Center to learn about Native Alaskan art and history.

Outdoor Activities for Families

  1. Hiking: Alaska has trails for all ages and abilities. In Anchorage, try the Flattop Mountain Trail. For a more gentle hike, the Exit Glacier area in Kenai Fjords National Park offers easy trails with stunning views.
  2. Wildlife Viewing: Take a wildlife cruise in Resurrection Bay or visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Girdwood to see animals like bison, bears, and moose.
  3. Fishing: Experience Alaskan fishing by joining a guided family-friendly fishing trip. Many charters cater to families and provide all the necessary gear.
  4. Kayaking and Canoeing: Paddle in the calm waters of Eklutna Lake or take a guided kayaking tour in more protected coastal areas.
  5. Berry Picking: In late summer, go berry picking for wild blueberries, raspberries, and salmonberries. It’s a fun and tasty activity for kids.

Educational Experiences

  1. Cultural Learning: Visit cultural centers like the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage or the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka to learn about Alaska’s indigenous cultures.
  2. Glacier Education: Visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau or the Glacier Discovery Train to Spencer Glacier to learn about these natural wonders.
  3. Gold Rush History: In Skagway, take a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad and learn about the Gold Rush history.

Tips for a Successful Family Trip

  1. Keep It Flexible: With kids, it’s important to maintain a flexible schedule. Be prepared to slow down and adjust plans based on your children’s moods and interests.
  2. Involve Kids in Planning: Get your children excited and engaged by involving them in the planning process. Let them choose some activities or places to visit.
  3. Stay Connected: While disconnecting is part of the appeal, ensure you have a way to communicate in case of emergencies, especially in remote areas.
  4. Document the Journey: Encourage your kids to keep a travel journal or a photo diary. It’s a great way for them to process and remember their experiences.
  5. Local Knowledge: Don’t hesitate to talk to locals for recommendations and insights. They can often suggest the best spots for families.

Dining with Kids in Alaska

Alaskan cuisine offers fresh seafood and unique dishes. Many restaurants in tourist areas are family-friendly, offering kids’ menus and casual settings. Don’t miss out on local treats like fresh salmon, reindeer sausage, and wild berry cobbler.


From hotels and resorts to cabins and campgrounds, Alaska offers a range of family-friendly accommodations. Consider what works best for your family’s needs, whether it’s a hotel with amenities or a cabin for a more rustic experience.

Exploring Alaska with kids can be an enriching experience for the whole family. The state’s natural beauty, combined with its wildlife, cultural heritage, and outdoor activities, offers an unparalleled opportunity for adventure and learning. By planning ahead, staying safe, and embracing the wonders of Alaska, your family can have a truly memorable journey in the Great Outdoors.

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