Photo Credit: AK Paddlesports

Anchorage Basecamp: 5 Days for Families with Teens

5 Days


May - June


Car Train

Why This Trip?

This itinerary offers the convenience of basing yourself in Anchorage and then taking day tours to sample iconic Alaskan destinations like Girdwood, the Kenai Peninsula, and the Matanuska Glacier. Each spot offers its own landscape and excitement, filling your trip with the kind of variation teens thrive on. Along the way, you’ll find lots of opportunities for all family members to immerse themselves in the magic of Alaska through hiking, Jet Skiing, ice climbing, ATV driving, and more!


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Day 1

Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage

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Arrive in Anchorage and check in to your accommodation for the next 4 nights. Explore downtown Anchorage, visiting shops and restaurants, as well as parks like the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Kincaid Park, and Westchester Lagoon.

Day 2

Day in Girdwood | Overnight in Anchorage

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Take a scenic, 1.5-hour drive from Anchorage to Whittier—a charming coastal town located along Turnagain Arm. Depending on how early you leave Anchorage, you could stop in Girdwood, where you’ll find great restaurants, hiking trails, and the Alyeska Tramway, which provides great aerial views of both the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. Continue your adventure in Whittier, where you can embark on an adrenaline-pumping Jet Ski ride to explore glaciers in Prince William Sound or hop aboard a wildlife cruise for sightseeing and wildlife viewing. Jet Ski tours depart as late as 3 p.m., so you should have enough time for a mini-adventure in Girdwood beforehand. Drivers must be at least 16 years old, so younger teens won’t be allowed to drive, but passengers can be as young as 8. Stop in Girdwood for dinner or eat in Anchorage, then head back to your Anchorage accommodation for the night.

Leave the rental car behind and let everyone sit back and enjoy the Coastal Classic Train from Anchorage to Seward. It’s an early departure (6:45am!), but we promise the views will make up for it. The train arrives around 11 a.m., giving you enough time for a day cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park before the train departs at 6 p.m. For teens craving a little more activity, opt for a kayaking trip, a heli-based glacier trek, or zipline tour instead. There’s also a shuttle to nearby Exit Glacier where you can explore the trails at your own pace. The Alaska SeaLife Center is a great option for those who want to see sea lions, seals, otters, and other marine wildlife up close. Your train will return to Anchorage by 10:15 p.m. If you enjoy the flexibility of driving, skip the train and drive the 2.5 hours each way.

Day 4

Explore North of Anchorage | Overnight in Anchorage

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Embark on a thrilling journey as you venture north of Anchorage today. Here’s a menu of options to fill your day:

  • Rent paddlesports equipment and go kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding at lakes near Eagle River, just 20–30 minutes north of Anchorage. For an immersive combo adventure, join a guided hike led by expert guides and unlock the region’s hidden gems.

  • Drive two hours north to witness the grandeur of Matanuska Glacier—Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier. Explore the glacier’s magnificence with guided hikes, thrilling climbs, ziplining, or even rafting.

  • Take a fly-in helicopter adventure and enjoy guided hiking, ice climbing, or standup paddleboarding.

  • Join a backcountry ATV adventure and ride to the face of the Knik Glacier.

  • Explore the hiking trails. Visit Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass—a beautiful mountain pass in the Talkeetna Mountains—then stop by the nearby Reindeer Farm or Musk Ox Farm (or both).

Return to your Anchorage accommodation.

Day 5

Day in Anchorage | Depart Alaska

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If you want to stay close to Anchorage for your last day:

  • Consider a guided hike with Go Hike Alaska, or explore the area’s trails, such as the iconic Flattop, on your own.

  • Rent a bike and explore local trails, or join a guided tour on gentle town trails or mountain biking trails with Alaska Trail Guides.

If you have a late flight and are looking for a full-day experience:

  • Embark on a fly-in bear-viewing trip to see bears in their natural habitat. Most tours go to Lake Clark or Katmai national parks.

  • Flightsee Mt. Denali from Anchorage. It’s the best way to see not only the mountain but also the national park if you’re short on time. Just be aware that the drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park takes 5 hours.

  • Drive 1.5 hours south to Six Mile Creek, one of the most famous—and most challenging—whitewater runs in the entire state of Alaska. 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.