Alaska Highlights: 7-day Families with Kids Under 5

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.

Day 2

Drive from Anchorage to Girdwood

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In the morning, drive the Seward Highway toward Girdwood. If you go straight there, it takes about 45 minutes. But this is a drive made for stopping. Take advantage of the various pullouts to stretch your legs, check out the informational signs, marvel at the views, and walk the short trails. Arrive in Girdwood by late morning, drop off your bags at your accommodation, and have lunch. Explore the Alyeska Resort, which features several restaurants, or visit a local eatery in town.

After lunch, enjoy a scenic tram ride up the mountain and walk the alpine trails at the top. 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 having dinner and preparing for the next day’s adventure.

Day 3

Drive from Girdwood to Seward

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Grab breakfast and continue south on the Seward Highway to Seward. It’s about a 1.5-hour drive, but you’ll find many fun pit stops and attractions on the way. Detour to the Begich Boggs Visitor Center to learn about glaciers; there’s an optional 1-hour boat ride to the face of Portage Glacier. Or drop by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can explore a scenic 1.5-mile loop by car or on foot. The center offers free daily educational programs, so look at their schedule and see if one of them fits into your schedule. You can also sign up online for a chance to feed moose!

As you continue your drive to Seward, there’s a rest area with vault toilets at Turnagain Pass, about 30 minutes south of Girdwood, and another at the Tern Lake Day Use Area, about an hour south. Once you arrive in Seward, check in to your accommodation. If you have the time and energy, the SeaLife Center is a must-see attraction, especially for kids.

*It’s possible to visit Seward as a day trip from Girdwood if you’d like to stay at the same accommodation. If you choose this option, leave Girdwood early, do a half-day boat cruise in Resurrection Bay, and return to Girdwood that evening

Day 4

Day & Overnight in Seward

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Hop on a half-day small-ship cruise and venture out into Resurrection Bay. It’s perfect for adults and little ones alike, and the boats often have fun programs for kids on board. You’ll explore the coastlines and look for whales, seals, puffins, and more. There are heated cabins inside these cruises, so if it’s too chilly outside for the little ones, you can take them into the cabin and still enjoy the views. Bring warm clothes, since it can get breezy. Once back in Seward, spend the rest of your day visiting the SeaLife Center (if you missed it the day before) and wandering among the fun shops downtown. The amazing Waterfront Playground is a great spot to get the wiggles out. Have a relaxing dinner and unwind at your Seward accommodation.

Day 5

Drive from Seward to Anchorage

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Before you depart Seward, make a stop at Exit Glacier. This is the one part of Kenai Fjords National Park that’s accessible by road. There’s an accessible, paved loop trail that leads to a view of the glacier and an optional short spur (doable for the littles in a pack) that gets you even closer.

Then head north. A final pit stop before Anchorage is the Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk, where you can look for migratory birds and moose. In Anchorage, take a leisurely stroll through the Alaska Botanical Garden or head to the waterfront walk at Westchester Lagoon and enjoy the mountain views from Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park. You could also stop by Earthquake Park for a mini-history lesson, or visit the Anchorage Museum, where you’ll find interactive educational displays and kid-friendly exhibits. If your kids are interested in playing at more parks, check out our guide for the best playgrounds in Anchorage.

Day 6

Day in Mat-Su & Overnight in Palmer/Wasilla

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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.

Spend the night at a hotel, cabin, or B&B in the Palmer/Wasilla area.

Day 7

Drive from Mat-Su to Anchorage

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If you have time before your departing flight, pick another of the Mat-Su Valley activities. If you have a late flight, it’s worth making the hour-long drive from Palmer/Wasilla to the Matanuska Glacier. View it from a distance or take the 2-mile, 2-hour guided tour—it’s great for all ages. The drive back to Anchorage will take 2–2.5 hours, so give yourself enough time to account for traffic delays in order to make your flight.