Alaska Highlights: 7-day Family with Kids 5-12

7 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.

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

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

  • Drop by the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where kids can engage with Alaska’s diverse cultures through exhibits, performances, and interactive experiences.

Day 2

Drive from Anchorage to Girdwood

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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.

  • 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!).

Day 3

Drive from Girdwood to Seward

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Make the 90-minute drive to Seward, where the main activity is a wildlife cruise. Depending on the ages of your kids, you might opt for a 3.5-hour cruise in Resurrection Bay or a 6-hour cruise, which goes into Kenai Fjords National Park. Kids will love looking for marine life, including whales, sea otters, and puffins. All-day cruises have child rates to make it more affordable for families, and the longer cruises include a meal.

After a day on the boat, visit the amazing Waterfront Playground to get the wiggles out. Have a relaxing dinner and unwind at your Seward accommodation.

Day 4

Drive from Seward to Homer

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Drive to Homer on the other side of the Kenai Peninsula. The trip takes 3–4 hours, but you can make a full day of it with some fun stops. Here are our recommendations:

  • About 45 minutes out of Seward, the Tern Lake rest area has bathrooms and a little picnic area. The lake is also famous for a high concentration of wildlife, especially migrating birds and nesting waterfowl. You may also see moose, black bears, beavers, and river otters. Look for Dall sheep that may appear as white specks on the surrounding mountains.

  • Consider a 2- to 3-hour rafting trip on the turquoise waters of the Kenai River from Cooper Landing (a 1-hour drive from Seward). There are discounted rates for kids. Trips depart as early as 9 a.m., or you can choose an afternoon departure.

  • Also near Cooper Landing is the Russian River Falls. The two-mile trail to the falls is more of a leisurely stroll than a hike, making it perfect for families and hikers of any level. And the Russian River is teeming with thousands of green-headed, red-bodied sockeye salmon during the two major summer runs between mid-June and late July. Watch them power their way upstream through the strong current to reach their ancestral spawning grounds. Be alert for bears in the area.

Then explore the charming beach town of Homer and walk on the famous Homer Split—a paved trail along the beach that offers views of the bay and mountains. After a long day of driving and exploring, retire to your accommodation for the night.

Day 5

Day & Overnight in Homer

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Homer is world-famous for fishing. Begin your day with a half-day fishing charter adventure—which is more manageable than a full-day trip for families with young kids—and go angling for halibut and salmon. (Check age restrictions with the charter company before booking.) This activity also lets you marvel at coastal views and watch for marine wildlife like whales, sea lions, seals, and more.

After (or in place of) your charter, visit the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, where you and your kids can engage in educational and interactive experiences. From there, you can walk down and explore the tidepools at Bishop’s Beach, which can be both entertaining and educational for children. Check the tide chart to be sure you visit at low tide for maximum tidepooling fun. Overnight in Homer.

Day 6

Drive from Homer to Soldotna

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Start your scenic 1.5-hour drive toward the kid-friendly town of Soldotna. Once there, you’ll have several options:

  • Borrow a fishing pole from the visitor center and walk down to the river to cast your line. Kids don’t need fishing licenses, but adults have to have one to help out. (Purchase them online or at the local Fred Meyer.)

  • Explore local playgrounds and parks, such as Swiftwater Park.

  • Have the kiddos engage in the Junior Ranger program at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center for an educational adventure.

  • See our full guide on things to do with kids in Soldotna.

Soldotna offers several overnight accommodations, from wilderness and adventure lodges to campsites.

Day 7

Drive from Soldotna to Anchorage

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Start the 2.5 to 3-hour drive back to Anchorage. You can break up the drive with any of the attractions in Cooper Landing you missed on the way down, or visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, about 1.5 hours north of Soldotna. Explore a scenic 1.5-mile loop at the AWCC on foot or by car, depending on how much time you want to spend at the center. They also offer free educational programs; look at the schedule to see if you can attend one. You can also sign up online for a chance to feed moose!