Photo Credit: Jordan Parker

Anchorage + Kenai Peninsula in 5 Days for Families with Teens

5 Days


Mid-May to Mid-August



Why This Trip?

This itinerary may be relatively quick, but you’ll be amazed at how much you and your family can fit into an Alaskan day. Every place you go will offer lots of amazing activities and the scenic drives between locations are guaranteed to thrill. On this trip, you’ll focus on the Kenai Peninsula—Alaska’s playground, which boasts glaciers and wildlife galore—and visit charming towns along the way.


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Day 1

Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage

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Fly into Anchorage, rent a car, and check in to a vacation rental, hotel, or B&B—all of which are great options for a family with teens. After settling in, take a leisurely walk and explore the downtown area, where you’ll find fun shops with artisanal and craft goods. Visit the Anchorage Museum and Alaska Native Heritage Center to immerse yourself in the region’s history—there are interactive exhibits that both adults and teens can enjoy. Head to Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk to look for birds and maybe even a moose or two. Kincaid Park is a fun destination to view the sunset; go down by the beach and explore the sand dunes.

Day 2

Drive from Anchorage to Girdwood

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Start your day with a 45-minute drive southeast to Girdwood, checking out views of the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet. Stop at Beluga Point or McHugh Creek for the best photo ops. Once you arrive in Girdwood, choose an adventure. You could explore lush rainforest trails, hike the North Face up and ride the Alyeska Tramway down, go flightseeing, or enjoy a dog-mushing adventure on a nearby glacier.

You could also bypass Girdwood by about 20 minutes and board the Alaska Railroad at Portage for a ride to Spencer Glacier, where you’ll board a raft for an intimate encounter with majestic icebergs against a backdrop of towering glaciers and stunning mountains. Guided by experts, you’ll learn about the area’s natural history while gliding amid serene blue waters and ancient ice formations.

Return to Girdwood and spend the night. You’ll find a variety of accommodations, like local B&Bs, home rentals, and the Alyeska Hotel, a great option for those seeking luxury as well as fun resort amenities.

Day 3

Day & Overnight in Girdwood

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Check out of your Girdwood accommodation and continue driving south toward Seward. The drive is about 2 hours straight, but there are several options to break up the trip. About 20 minutes beyond Girdwood is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center—a must-see spot for visitors of all ages. Take a walking tour or drive the loop to see Alaska’s wild animals in their natural habitat. If you want a heart-pounding adventure, Six Mile Creek is one of the most famous—and challenging—whitewater runs in the entire state of Alaska. The meeting point is just 45 minutes south of Girdwood. Guests must be 12 years old for the 2-canyon trip and 16 years old for the 3-canyon trip, and be able to pass a swimming test.

Continue on to Seward, check in to your accommodations and do some light exploring. At the SeaLife Center, you and your teens can learn about marine life and engage in interactive exhibits. Then check out the town’s murals and quaint shops and end your day with a walk near the water and a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants.

Day 4

Day and Overnight in Seward

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Seward serves a variety of options for your family to choose from:

  • Have a water taxi drop you and your family off at a secluded cove where you can go beachcombing.

  • Go sea kayaking.

  • Enjoy the Stoney Creek Canopy Zipline Tour.

  • Take a day cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park looking for marine wildlife like whales, sea otters, and sea lions, as well as glaciers.

  • Explore Exit Glacier, the one portion of Kenai Fjords National Park accessible on land. There are options for every budget and adventure level. If you want to explore on your own, arrive early to mid-morning (the parking lot tends to fill up as the day progresses). At a minimum, walk the trail to the face of the glacier. If you’re up for a more strenuous hike, the Harding Icefield Trail overlooking the glacier is the one for you. If you want to get out on the glacier itself, opt for a guided adventure. You can helicopter in, land on the glacier, then begin your guided hiking or ice-climbing journey. Or skip the whirlybird and walk to a glacier access point with your guide before trekking out on the ice.

  • Book a night at a wilderness lodge nestled in a remote cove or island and enjoy the activities available from the lodge such as kayaking, hiking, and beachcombing.

Day 5

Return to Anchorage

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Get an early start and get out on the water for a day of fishing. Most charters leave around 6:30 a.m. You can opt to target salmon, halibut, or both.

If fishing (or the early start) isn’t your thing, choose one of the adventures presented on day 4 to round out your Seward experience before making the 2.5-hour drive back to Anchorage.