Anchorage Basecamp: 5-day Family with Kids Under 5

5 Days


Mid-May to Mid-August




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Day 1

Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage

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Fly into Anchorage and check in to your family-friendly accommodation that will act as your basecamp for the next 5 days. When selecting your hotel, consider the space you need for your family. Several hotels in Anchorage offer suites; you could also opt for a vacation rental home. Renting a car will give you the flexibility you need when traveling with young kids. Pick up your rental car directly from the airport or after you check in to your accommodation at an off-airport location (which may be a little less expensive). Depending on what time you get into town, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring. Go out to eat, pick up some groceries so you have snacks for the kids, and do some light exploring.

  • The Alaska Zoo is a perfect place to start. Kids can see a variety of Alaskan animals, like bears, moose, and eagles.

  • Stroll through downtown Anchorage to visit shops, restaurants, and historic sites.

  • Kincaid Park is a scenic, child-friendly destination—kids love the sandy dunes.

  • Take a short drive to Ship Creek to watch the salmon run and enjoy the scenic views.

Day 2

Drive from Anchorage to Whittier

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Make the 90-minute drive south toward Whittier for your day trip on the Glacier Quest Cruise—it’s a fun glacier and wildlife adventure for the whole family. You’ll want to make the 11:30 a.m. slot for driving through the tunnel, since the 4-hour cruise starts at 1 p.m.

If you can make it to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center by 9 a.m., you’ll have time to see some of Alaska’s wildlife in their own habitat. Drive or walk through; you might even catch an interactive tour where you can feed certain animals. Just remember you have to reach the tunnel to Whittier by 11:30 a.m.

Once aboard the Glacier Quest Cruise, relax as you watch for seals, otters, whales, glaciers, and more. Kids are sure to have fun as you sail around Prince William Sound and visit active tidewater glaciers. Dress in layers and bring a light jacket—the ocean and glacier breezes can be chilly.

Day 3

Drive from Anchorage to Girdwood

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With so much to explore south of Anchorage, it’s worth retracing your scenic drive from yesterday. This time, though, you’ll be stopping in Girdwood—a charming town with many quaint restaurants and hiking trails. Explore on your own, or go on a guided dog-mushing tour. Kids will love getting pulled on a cart along scenic trails and playing with the puppies. Then take the Alyeska Tramway up Mt. Alyeska for stunning panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains and Turnagain Arm. Explore the top of the mountain and take family pictures against the stunning backdrop. Another family-friendly hike, the Winner Creek Trail, winds through the towering trees of Girdwood’s temperate rainforest. If you’re staying at the resort, let the kids play in the pool before you all have dinner and prepare for the next day’s adventure.

Day 4

Drive from Anchorage to Mat-Su

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Today you’ll be exploring the Mat-Su Valley. There are lots of options!

  • Take a scenic drive along Hatcher Pass and stop at Independence Mine State Historical Park. Kids can explore the old gold mining structures and enjoy the alpine scenery along gentle trails that are good for the whole family.

  • Visit the Reindeer Farm in Palmer, where your kids can meet and feed reindeer, see elk, and learn about Alaskan wildlife. You can also get to know the fascinating musk ox at the Musk Ox Farm.

  • Go on a dog-mushing tour, where professional guides will steer you along private trails while being pulled by canine athletes.

Day 5

Final day in Anchorage

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Spend your last day in the Anchorage area if you don’t want to stray too far before your flight home. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery along hiking and walking trails—the Glen Alps area is one of many options. (Bonus: Kids can get some energy out before the plane trip.) If you have time, stop by the Anchorage Museum to learn about Alaskan art and history or visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center—kids love the life-size replicas of Native Alaskan dwellings.