Alaska has a unique culture and environment that can be quite fun for families and fascinating for kids of all ages. Here are just a few ways to create memories in Anchorage to last a lifetime:
Get back to nature
Watch beavers build a dam or king salmon spawn, look for Ursa Major against an aurora borealis-painted sky, or explore the colors of snow at one of the many weekend programs geared for tots and adults at the Eagle River Nature Center.
Everything is blooming at the Alaska Botanical Gardens’ “Storytime in the Garden.” Pick up a “Discovery Duffel” for kids and trek the 1.1-mile nature trail through a boreal forest.
Meet a moose and behold a bear. See arctic wildlife in a natural setting at the Alaska Zoo or the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a 140-acre wildlife park just 43 miles south of downtown Anchorage.
Contemplate the magnitude of the universe
3-D graphics, surround sound and a dome screen set the scene for a fascinating look at astronomy, the solar system and more at the Anchorage Museum’s Thomas Planetarium. Delve into Earth’s awesome forces with simulated tsunamis, auroras, earthquakes and 70 other interactive exhibits in the museum’s Imaginarium Discovery Center.
Buy the Alaska Culture Pass and also get admission and a free shuttle ride to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where the whole family can listen to Native storytellers and see traditional dances and dwellings.
Hit the mother lode
Venture into an original mining camp and try panning for gold at Crow Creek Mine and Indian Valley Mine, or transport back to 1898 at the Bear Paw Mining Co. in Bear Square, downtown Anchorage. Also at the Square, stop at the Bear & Raven Adventure Theatre to see “The Amazing Trail,” jump on an dog sled, hook into a king salmon or step aboard a hot air balloon for a simulated drift over Prince William Sound.
Take a mouth-watering look at the world’s largest chocolate waterfall. The 20-foot high milk-chocolate wonder that would make Willy Wonka proud can be found at the Alaska Wild Berry Theater & Park. See how candy is made, walk along the wild berry trail and visit four live reindeer. Across the street at Sourdough Mining Company family style restaurant, kids of all ages enjoy the tales of Dusty Sourdough.
If your taste in art is a little wilder, head down the Seward Highway to Putters Wild. Step through the door and you’ll walk into a riot of vibrant neon and psychedelic blacklight hues. The 18 holes of mini-golf have an eerie glow, and huge murals of sea life jump into the third dimension. Mastering this course may not put you on the PGA, but duffers of all ages will enjoy hunting for birdies here.
Make a splash
H2Oasis is Alaska’s only indoor waterpark and it's the fifth largest in the United States! The whole family can also make waves at Goose or Jewel Lake supervised swim areas. Goose Lake has basketball courts, food concessions, picnic tables, paddle boats and fire pits, and Jewel Lake offers covered picnic shelter with grills, softball field, volleyball, playground and beach.
Relive the Old West at Frontierland Park at 10th Avenue and E Street with a wagon and a teepee or blast off in a mini-rocket ship in the Valley of the Moon Park at 17th Avenue and E Street, just one of more than 200 parks in the Anchorage area.