We’ve been on some pretty amazing vacations over the years. It’s interesting how things change once you have kids and the vacations shifts to more kid friendly activities. Last Summer we spent an amazing 10 days in Alaska visiting my father in law. We had out first experience with Airbnb and loved the home we stayed in. It was walking distance to the beach and had an amazing park just blocks away. Not to mention the perfect back yard for running around in. I wanted to share with you a few of the things to do with kids in Anchorage and hope you have as much fun as we did.
The Anchorage Zoo is by far one of the best zoos I have been to. The trails are lush with greenery and the animals are great, my favorite is was the polar bears. They have a regular toddler story time and sing a long, a small cafe on the grounds where you can enjoy a drink and snack. There are various education programs for children including adventure camp. Through their website you can watch the live polar bear cam and check things out before your visit. Admission price is reasonable and children 2 years and under are free.
There are playgrounds all over the city that are amazing. We would stop at random play grounds as we were driving around town. The one down the street from our Airbnb had a playscape that was shaped like a pirate ship. So are multi story and all have been well cared for. The parks department has put a great deal of energy into amazing play areas for the kids. Our favorite playground was Margaret Eagan-Sullivan Park, I loved that it was right along the water and had an adorable cafe called the Westchester Cafe were we bought snacks and drinks while enjoying the park.
One of my favorite experiences during this trip was a hike we took for pick wild berries. Just 45 minutes outside of Anchorage is a quaint little town named Girdwood. Girdwood has some amazing things to offer. Alyeska Resort for ski slopes in the winter and mountain biking trails in the Summer. The Mister rented a mountain bike and rode the lifts to the top of the slopes for some adventurous riding. We rode the lifts and had lunch at the restaurant at the top while we waited for him. You can pan for gold in the creeks, camping and my favorite hiking. We picked wild blueberries on our rainy day hike. This is a great hike for baby wearing, a little tricky for a stroller but can be done with a jogger very carefully. By the time we got back to the car, the tiny human had eaten our bounty and loved every minute of it. Alaska has many native berry plants so make sure to educate yourself on which berries are safe to consume before you eat them. Also in Girdwood we hiked the Winner Creek Gorge Trail, at the end of the hike we were rewarded with the once in a life time experience to pull and be pulled in a hand tram high above the rushing river!
While the drive to Girdwood is beautiful and you will enjoy the coastal highway, make the most of the drive with a few stops along the way. At mile marker 109, you will find a decorated pipe sticking out of the rocky mountain side, pouring from it is delicious cold spring water that you won’t be able to get enough of. We filled all of our water bottles and enjoyed the crisp taste of Alaska for the rest of the day.
As you make your way back towards Anchorage you will want to stop at Potters Marsh and walk around. You are likely to spot various wildlife, many birds and fish. You can see for what feels like forever and will enjoy looking through telescopes and reading the educational placards along the walk ways.
Back in Anchorage we rented bikes downtown, including a bike trailer for the little guy and rode along the Tony Knowles Coastal trail. It is a paved trail that runs along the coast line. We made a few stops for more awesome play grounds and took in another amazing rainy day. We were soaked by the end of our ride but everyone loved it. When we arrived back downtown and dropped off the bikes, we dried out and made our way to the Anchorage Market & Festival. The market runs mid-May to mid-September on Saturdays and Sundays. At the market market you will find Alaska locally grown vegetables & fruits; Alaska sourced meat: beef, pork, poultry, elk, bison; fish and seafood; smoked and canned seafood; fresh fudge, oven rolls, cakes, cookies and donuts, and many locally made arts and crafts.
Since we enjoy hiking we made sure to check out Powerline Trail. This trail is grated so it’s perfect for a jogging stroller, which we took along. The entire trail is 10.7 miles but no need to do the entire thing, it is an easy out and back at any point. Take in the beauty of the Chugach Mountains. Feeling really adventurous, make a right at the trail head and head up to the top of Flat Top Mountain. This is the most climbed mountain in all of Alaska, make sure to pack plenty of water!
Since we were visiting at a more rainy time of the year we looked for indoor activities to balance out our days. The Anchorage Museum in the heart of downtown was filled with not only beautiful pieces of art work that I enjoyed, but a children’s play area that we could spend days in. The children’s area is divided into several rooms. The first room we came to had a science approach and include interactive exhibits including making a giant bubble that you can stand inside of. The next area was geared towards kids 6 and under, there was a large tree house style climbing area, a dress up station, train table and various other preschool friendly activities. The 3rd and 4th rooms included building a race car and testing it on the track and other STEM exhibits. The offer various classes and camps, so look ahead and plan to enjoy these. A must for the entire family for sure.
If you are ready to head back outside, check the schedule for the Alaska Baseball League. We enjoyed sitting in the bleachers and cheering on the hometown team, the Anchorage Bucs. No baseball game is complete without peanuts and hot dogs, and they have both!
I’ll let you in on one of my travel activity finder tips, facebook! Make sure you have your location settings on and check out the facebook events tab in the browser. This will show you local events that are happening in your area that you might know about otherwise. Using this we found a 5k run that was happening that Saturday and since we had our jogging stroller with us we took the opportunity to get in some family workout time and support a great cause at the same time. Look for a local Anchorage running/walking event here and plan to support a local cause.
Great places to Eat with kids in Anchorage
We like to find a fun local pizza place everywhere we travel. In Anchorage we actually found two that we enjoyed, the Moosetooth has a fun pub style feel to it and the gourmet pizzas are amazing! Animal teeth seem to be popular restaurant names I’m noticing. The Beartooth Theatrepub and Grill was another fun pizza place, however they do have a full menu of other great options. You can enjoy your food while taking in a show or just stop in their dining room like we did.
Let me just start by saying before this trip I had never eaten gumbo. After lunch at The Gumbo House I was asking for it daily for lunch. It was so delicious, off the beaten path in a small house, there is limited parking and its popular amoungst the office workers in the area. We aimed for early or later meal times to avoid trouble with parking long waits. They have a children’s menu with traditional kid favorites like chicken strips and grilled cheese. I can personally say the chicken gumbo is to die for while The Mister is a huge fan of the “kitchen sink” gumbo. There is a amazing green area across the street from the restaurant, complete with a train engine on display and a children’s playground, we saw several people flying kites as well.