As the largest U.S. state, Alaska houses vast and varying attractions for you to host your next family reunion.
Family-Friendly Anchorage Attractions
Anchorage has come a long way from its railroad camp origins as a tent city along Ship Creek. Now as the largest city in Alaska, Anchorage holds about 44 percent of the state’s population and is a balance of natural wonder and urban appeal.
- Located in Chugach State Park and east of urban Anchorage is the city’s most accessible mountain, Flattop Mountain. Standing at 3,510-feet, the local landmark includes a 1.5 mile hiking trail to the summit where visitors can enjoy Flattop’s panoramic views of Anchorage, Denali, Mount Foraker and Mount Spurr.
- Regarded as a top Anchorage Attraction, Prince William Sound off the east side of the Kenai Peninsula boasts breathtaking scenery of the sound’s glaciers, waterfalls and bays. Visitors can whale watch along the coast, hit the waters on kayak and sailboat or explore more of this natural beauty via cruise.
- Kenai Fjords National Park is just a quick jaunt over from Prince William Sound and bears as much intrigue as its neighbor. The park is named for the fjords, which are characterized as long bodies of water between high cliffs, but this Alaskan destination includes more. Although much of the park is protected wilderness, visitors are free to Kayak, hike specified trails, embark on guided tours or go flightseeing.
- For travelers interested in learning more about Alaskan history, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is a museum and cultural center educating the general public on the state’s indigenous people. Acting as an interactive learning environment, your family can enjoy out-of-the-box exhibits, games, dancing and demonstrations. Tours are also available around the center’s lake.
- Less than an hour outside of Anchorage families can visit Historic Crow Creek Gold Mine to pan for gold, tour the scenic grounds and explore the site’s gardens and trails. Located in the Chugach Mountains, the mine was originally established in 1896 during the Gold Rush and remains operational to this day. With what is thought to be almost half of the original deposits still buried on-site, visitors may be being walking away with some treasure.
The Heart and Soul of the “Golden Heart City”
Known as the “Golden Heart City,” Fairbanks sits in the North Star Borough of Alaska and is comparable in size to the state of New Jersey. However, despite it being the state’s second largest city its wildlife population and outdoor attractions allow it to maintain an authentic frontier feel.
- Fairbanks, Alaska is a prime destination for witnessing the miraculous and mysterious Northern Lights. Families visiting between August and April can watch and learn more about the Northern Lights at the lodge of the Alaska Northern Lights Tours. Mountain man Ben Boyd is the world’s oldest Native American hoop dancer and serves as tour guide for Fairbanks’ visitors. Guests will get a great view of the Northern Lights, a Native Culture Show with Indian hoop dancing and a video presentation about the diverse native cultures in Alaska.
- As the host of the World Ice Art Championship it should come as no surprise that Fairbanks is also home to the Aurora Ice Museum at Hot Springs Resort. 15-time World Ice Art Champion Steve Brice and his wife are responsible for much of the art featured in the museum, including Northern Lights inspired ice chandeliers that change color. The museum, which is open year round, is even primarily made of ice itself.
- With old-fashioned structures lining the streets of Downtown Fairbanks you’ll get glimpse of this Alaskan city’s past. Visitors can independently explore the town’s unique shops, museums and restaurants or join a guided tour. For summertime guests the popular Downtown Market in Golden Heart Plaza features fresh produce, crafts, artwork and live music.
- Riverboat Discovery is much more than your typical boat tour. The three-hour long cruise will carry guests through the heart of Alaska and to the Chena Indian Village where they will get to explore the home and kennels of four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher. Aboard the Sternwheeler Riverboat families will also learn more about Alaska Native life and the role animals played in the arctic climate.
Your Denali National Park To-Do List
Sandwiched between Anchorage and Fairbanks is North America’s highest Mountain, Mt. McKinley. Located inside Denali National Park and Preserve, Mt. McKinley has made the site famous. However, the park includes much more with rivers, mountain lakes and wildlife covering much of the six million acres. Visitors can camp, bike, hike and fish within Denali National Park grounds or check out the park ranger led dog sledding demonstrations during the summer months.
- Denali National Park and Preserve also offers different bus tours for the varying interests of your family members. Traveling to Primrose Ridge, the Denali Natural History Tour runs roughly five hours long and focuses on the history and culture of the park. While the seven-hour Tundra Wilderness Tour will teach passengers all about the park’s wildlife population and The 12-hour Kantishna Experience includes a walking tour through the old gold town.
- With endless scenery and an expansive wildlife population its only necessary for there to be just as many ways of exploring it all. Park guests can see the park by horseback, go ATV riding or catch serious views from a flight tour. With very few roads in Denali, touring by plane has become a popular mode of transportation and allows adventurers to fly around Mt. McKinley and even land on a glacier.
Alaska has earned its nickname as “The Last Frontier” because of its great wildlife, breathtaking scenery and exciting adventures. Its a prime family travel destination and with the endless hours of summer sunlight, your family will never run out of time exploring all that Alaska has to offer.