People hiking in Portage Pass JodyO.Photos | Visit Anchorage

Family Vacations Are Bigger and Better in Anchorage

See recent posts by Caroline Morse Teel

This post is sponsored by Visit Anchorage.

There’s no better backdrop for family bonding than the fresh air and beautiful mountain scenery of Anchorage, Alaska. Amidst a landscape studded with glaciers, lakes, and roaming wild animals, your kids will be compelled to put their phones down and live in the moment. Family vacations are simply bigger and better in Anchorage—here’s why.

City Amenities

Frank Flavin | Visit Anchorage

Anchorage has all of the wild natural beauty Alaska is famous for combined with the family-friendly amenities of a city. The city is home to more than 8,500 hotel beds and over 1,600 restaurants—which means your kid who hates dirt and bugs can sleep in a hotel (and doesn’t have to camp) and the picky eater in the family can find something to enjoy for every meal.

Location

Anchorage is surprisingly easy to get to. Your family can fly to Anchorage in three hours from Seattle, five hours from Los Angeles, and six hours from Chicago. Once you’re here, everything is within easy reach—Anchorage is located at the base of the Chugach Mountains along the coast of the Cook Inlet, giving easy access to water and mountains. In fact, six mountain ranges can be seen from Anchorage and there are more than 200 mountains within 50 miles of Anchorage. The iconic Denali can be seen from many spots within Anchorage—including some restaurants—so you can relax with a local brew and admire the peak without leaving the city!

So you can set up a basecamp in Anchorage (and only have to unpack once) and easily explore the highlights of the state with day trips. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why Anchorage is the Best Base for Your Dream Alaska Trip

There’s So Much to Explore

Ascending Path | Visit Anchorage

Anchorage is huge—it’s so big, that it’s almost the size of the entire state of Delaware. The city sprawls 70 miles from Portage Glacier to Eklutna, so your family will never get bored or run out of things to do. When you think of a city, you might not think of natural beauty, but Anchorage is unique in that it encompasses both a vibrant urban area and plenty of wild nature. In fact, there are 60 glaciers within a day’s drive of Anchorage!

Hoping to see some wildlife? You’re almost guaranteed to on a trip to Anchorage, which is home to 1,500 moose, along with plenty of bears, bald eagles, beluga whales, and other Alaska animals.

Anchorage is a Year-Round Destination

Family vacations are simply bigger and better in Anchorage, no matter what time of year you visit. Anchorage is the ultimate year-round destination. In the summer, you’ll have 22 hours of daylight to make the most out of every day. There are 90 miles of hiking trails to tackle (with routes for every age and ability level), wildlife viewing tours, day cruises to spot marine life and glaciers, biking, kayaking, railroad tours, rafting, fishing, gold panning, and more.

In the winter, you’ll have less daylight but the chance to catch the spectacular Northern Lights. 

Bundle up and enjoy the unique winter activities that Anchorage has to offer. In the winter—the city offers over 130 miles of plowed walkways, wildlife-viewing tours, dog sledding, skiing (both downhill and cross-country), ice skating, snowmobiling, ice climbing, sledding, tubing and more.

Related: The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List

Unique Family Activities

In Anchorage, you can make memories that will last a lifetime as you engage in unforgettable adventures you can only have in Alaska. Here are some of our favorite family activities you can only do in Anchorage to inspire your trip:

Spencer Iceberg and Placer River Float

Catch the Glacier Discovery Train from Anchorage and enjoy the scenery along the way before transferring to a raft for a spectacular float that will take you around the icebergs on Spencer Lake and down the pristine Placer River before whisking you back to Anchorage by rail. 

Make New Friends at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

JodyO.Photos | Visit Anchorage

Feeding wild animals is prohibited in Alaska, but at Anchorage’s Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, your family can get up close and personal with native animals. Sign up for the Moose Encounter, and feed a moose right out of your hand! Or opt for the Bear Encounter where you can safely participate in the animals’ training and feeding. 

Ride Bikes on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

People riding bikes on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Chris Arend | Visit Anchorage

Let off some energy and enjoy incredible scenery on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, an easy 11-mile paved path that winds from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park. Rent bikes at one of the many shops in the city and download a map that flags attractions you don’t want to miss along the way (like the Earthquake Park exhibits). Hooked? Anchorage has over 135 miles of paved bike and multi-use trails to explore. Biking is a year-round activity in Anchorage. In the winter, rent fat tire bikes to enjoy the trails.

Related: Best Waterproof Winter Boots for Kids

See America’s Tallest Mountain

Visit Anchorage Alaska

You don’t have to be a climber to see the summit of Denali, the tallest mountain in the U.S. Sign up for one of the scenic flightseeing tours that depart Anchorage daily, and you can soar over the peak or even land on a glacier for a snowball fight. 

Learn About Alaska’s History and Culture

Chris Arend | Visit Anchorage

A visit to Alaska’s largest museum, the Anchorage Museum, will captivate your family’s attention for the entire day. Here, you can learn about the diversity of Alaska Native cultures through multimedia art in the new Art of the North wing or explore Alaska and the Arctic through the Discovery Center’s interactive installations, marine-life tanks, and artwork.

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