Top 3 Things to do in Anchorage with Kids (when short on time)
My family recently returned from a trip to Alaska and we enjoyed it so much, we plan on returning again next summer! The state was on our bucket list for quite some time as it has the draw of being off the beaten path and even appearing slightly mysterious. Alaska is the largest state in the union and packed with a rich cultural heritage not found in most other states. As with most visitors to Alaska, we flew in and out of Anchorage which tends to be a launching point for fishing and cruise excursions, glacier viewing and trips to Denali National Park. I am so thankful we added a couple days to explore this vibrant city into our itinerary. It proved to be a highlight of our trip!
Anchorage is a unique city which lies in the shadow of the Chugach Mountain range and borders the Cook Inlet. With over 223 municipal parks and 250 miles of trails just inside the city alone, you don’t need to go far to enjoy the outdoors. Plus, there is jaw-dropping scenery nearly everywhere you go. Within a single day you can explore a glacier, take a train ride or float-plane to a remote location and see more wildlife than most people do in a lifetime. Alaska is a year-round destination, but most visitors take advantage of the warmer weather in the late spring to early fall with the summers offering nearly 24 hours of sunlight.
Because we only had a couple days to soak up a small portion of what Anchorage offers (this unfortunately seems to be the case with a lot of visitors), it was difficult to choose what to do. But we had to prioritize our activities and make good use of our time in order to maximize our visit.
So if your family, like ours, is short on time, I recommend these 3 fun things to do in Anchorage, Alaska to maximize your visit. Of course, there is so much more to see and do that I also recommend the Visit Anchorage Alaska website to help plan your itinerary. They really have it dialed in on how to help organize and make your visit a success.
Anchorage Trolley Tours
If you don’t have much time for anything else, make sure your Last Frontier adventure includes an Anchorage Trolley Tour! This family run business proved to be the best way to get historical background, a layout of the city and learn little nuances about Anchorage that most visitors would never get to know.
For approximately an hour, the little red trolley winds through Anchorage, where you get to watch seaplanes splash-land on Lake Hood (seriously incredible!), hit scenic viewpoints with stunning mountain and ocean views (have that camera ready!), and travel through Earthquake Park.
The young adults giving the tours are very knowledgeable, quite entertaining and clearly enjoy sharing their love of Anchorage! The tours start next to the Visitor Center and can fill up quickly so I recommend calling ahead for reservations. Visit their website Anchorage Trolley Tours for the most up-to-date information.
Rent a bike
With miles and miles of trails and gorgeous summer days filled with sunshine, renting a bike and pedaling off to explore is the perfect way to spend a few hours and maybe you will get lucky and spot some wildlife!
Located on the corner of W 5th and L Streets, you will find Pablo’s Bicycle Rental which is operated out of a large shipping container situated on a big parking lot. With an impressive selection of bikes, Pablo himself or his experienced staff will help you find the most suitable bike for your needs.
Because we had young children, we were outfitted with a couple of tandem bikes and four helmets. The tandem was a bit awkward at first as I had never been on one before, but Pablo was very encouraging and let me practice riding around the parking lot before I dared to add my young son on the back. Once we were comfortable, we peddled off to explore the nearby Tony Knowles Trail which is literally one of the most gorgeous coastal trails in the nation!
Tip: To keep your energy level up, make sure to bring a backpack with snacks and water. The trail length is 11 miles one-way!
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska not only has an abundance of fishing and wildlife, they also have a thriving Native American culture quite unique to Alaska. The best way to learn about this rich heritage is a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center where you will have an amazing educational experience and learn all about the Last Frontier’s indigenous people. The museum is devoted to preserving customs that have been around much longer than the cities that now call Alaska home.
There are three main parts: a gallery that displays native artifacts; a performance hall where members of native communities tell stories, dance and show off their athletic abilities; and a grouping of seven traditional dwellings that represent the lifestyles of some of the tribes. Many exhibits are interactive to encourage exploration by children. The museum is only open in the summer months so make sure to check out the Alaska Native Heritage Center website for the most up-to-date information on admission costs and opening hours.
Tip: I recommend staying at Hilton Anchorage which is located within walking distance of many attractions and restaurants.
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