Anchorage Basecamp: 5 Days Family Kids 5-12

5 Days


Mid-May to Mid-August




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Day 1

Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage

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Fly into Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. 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 arrive, 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.

Day 2

Day in Anchorage

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Spend another day exploring the Anchorage area. Here are some more options:

  • Rent bikes and ride the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Kids will love the scenic views of Cook Inlet and the opportunity to spot wildlife along the way.

  • Visit Kincaid Park, which offers family-friendly hiking trails and a trail to the waterfront. Kids love the sand dunes.

  • Take a short drive to Ship Creek to watch the salmon run and enjoy the scenic views. You can even rent a pole from the Bait Shack and fish!

  • Visit Westchester Lagoon for some pretty scenery.

  • Take a short drive to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where kids can engage with Alaska’s diverse cultures through exhibits, performances, and interactive experiences.

Day 3

Day drive to Girdwood, Portage, or Prince William Sound

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Drive southeast about 45 minutes to Girdwood. Check out our Turnagain Arm driving guide for scenic stops along the way. Here are some fun activities to choose from when you arrive:

  • Enjoy a family-friendly hike in the Chugach National Forest on the Winner Creek Trail. A more challenging hike is the North Face Trail up Mt. Alyeska. If you hike up, you can take the tram down for free!

  • Skip the hike and just take the tram, then explore the trails at the top.

  • Pan for gold at Crow Creek Mine.

  • Join a dog-mushing tour. Ride a cart on a trail through the woods or take a helicopter to a glacier and mush across the snow (a higher budget item, but a fun splurge if you can swing it!).

Beyond Girdwood, here are some additional options:

About 20 minutes beyond Portage you’ll arrive in Whittier, on the shores of Prince William Sound, where you’ll find great day cruises and hikes.

  • Prince William Sound has the largest concentration of tidewater glaciers in the world. Take a day cruise to see them! The shorter Glacier Quest Cruise offered by Phillips is often the better choice for kids.

  • The 2-mile-long (4-mile round-trip), family-friendly Portage Pass Trail begins at a trailhead at the far end of the Whittier Tunnel. The trail leads to stunning views of Whittier Harbor, Prince William Sound, and Portage Glacier.

Have dinner in Girdwood, or return to Anchorage to eat before returning to your lodging.

Day 4

Exploring north of Anchorage

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Today, head north to explore the Eagle River or Matanuska-Susitna valleys.

  • Coordinate with AK Paddlesports and have a kayak, standup paddleboard, or canoe delivered to a nearby lake for a fun day on the water. Opt for a guided tour if you’d like some expertise.

  • Drive about an hour north of Anchorage to Eklutna Lake, where you’ll find bike and kayak rentals as well as hiking trails.

  • Take an ATV or dog-mushing tour in one of the Mat-Su Valley communities.

  • Drive 2 hours north to Talkeetna. Ride a jet boat, take a fun zipline, go rafting, or join a flightseeing tour to check out Mt. Denali from above. Talkeetna is actually closer to Mt. Denali than the Denali National Park entrance! Stop for a behind-the-scenes tour of local flavors at Kahiltna Birchworks, where beverages, candy, syrup, and sauces are made from locally harvested birch sap.

Day 5

Final Day in Anchorage

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Spend your final day in Anchorage enjoying one of the exciting activities you may have missed on the first two days.