Why This Trip?
Alaska offers immersive experiences that thrill traveling teens and their parents, and this itinerary covers some of the state’s most iconic options. From walking on a glacier to ziplining, Jet Skiing, and dog mushing, you’ll find all sorts of unique, exciting expeditions. Add in scenic vistas and wildlife spotting and your teens will find the trip more engaging than any video game—and they’ll have plenty of social media fodder. Travel from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula and up into the Mat-Su Valley to discover all the fun that awaits.
Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage
1 View on Map
Fly into Anchorage, rent a car, and check in to your accommodation. Visit shops downtown and sample some famous Alaskan seafood. Then go for a relaxing walk near Westchester Lagoon or the sand dunes of Kincaid Park. If you get into town earlier, consider going to the Alaska Zoo or Anchorage Museum.
Drive from Anchorage to Girdwood
2 View on Map
Make the 45-minute drive south to Girdwood, where you can stay at the luxurious Alyeska Hotel. Hike the North Face—the longest double-black-diamond ski run in North America, which opens for hiking in the summer—then take the Alyeska Tramway down for even more scenic views. (When you hike up, you can ride the tram down for free!). If you’re up for another adventure, go on an exhilarating dogsled adventure that includes a flightseeing tour and glacier landing. End your day by enjoying Alyeska’s pool, hot tub, and fitness center, or its game and recreation areas.
Drive from Girdwood to Seward
3 View on Map
Drive through Portage Valley to Whittier. (You could also take the Glacier Discovery train to Whittier for scenic, hassle-free transportation, but you lose some flexibility with your schedule.) In Whittier you have a few options. Take a 4-hour journey through Prince William Sound via Jet Ski, touring the beautiful tidewater glaciers with a guide. You could also opt for a sea kayaking trip to explore the same spots using a paddle. The most laid-back option is a glacier and wildlife cruise into Prince William Sound. Drive back to Girdwood for one more night and unwind at the Alyeska, which offers many amenities your teens can take advantage of independently.
Drive from Girdwood to Seward
4 View on Map
Depart Girdwood and make the roughly 2-hour drive to Seward for another opportunity to get out on the water with a day cruise into Kenai Fjords (tours depart between 11:30 and 12:30). Boats offer comfortable viewing decks, informative narration, and the chance to witness the grandeur of tidewater glaciers calving into the sea. Also look for humpback whales, orcas, puffins, and seals in their natural habitat. Other options for the day include sea kayaking, dog sledding, or exploring one of the area hiking trails. And, since Seward is very walkable, you could explore the downtown area’s shops and restaurants or stroll the waterfront trail. To glimpse some marine wildlife up close—like otters, sea lions, and seals—pop into the SeaLife Center. End the day in your cozy Seward vacation rental, hotel room, or campsite.
Day in Seward & Overnight in Anchorage
5 View on Map
Today, 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.
To get on the glacier itself, opt for a guided adventure where 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. After your adventure, make the 2.5-hour drive back to Anchorage and spend the night.
Drive from Anchorage to the Mat-Su Valley
6 View on Map
Drive about 90 miles northeast of Anchorage to Glacier View, home to the Matanuska Glacier and lots of adventures. Travel on the Nitro and G2—the longest (and some of the fastest) ziplines in the state—as you fly 250 feet above the Matanuska River, checking out views of picture-perfect forests, glaciers, and mountains. Add a private ice-climbing or glacier-trekking adventure for even more thrills. You can also go on other glacier-viewing adventures, like whitewater rafting or ATV touring—or do more than one if you have time! You’ll find accommodations in Glacier View that range from wilderness lodges to campsites, or backtrack an hour to Palmer for even more lodging options.
Drive from the Mat-Su Valley to Anchorage
7 View on Map
Depending on your flight time, you could take in one of the adventures you missed yesterday before driving back to Anchorage and flying out. If you prefer to head to Anchorage early, rent bikes and cruise the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Visit the shops downtown along 4th and 5th avenues for last-minute souvenirs. Or connect with Alaska’s rich culture at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.