If you are looking for a great family vacation, why not consider a trip to Alaska, the largest state in the US. Kids will love exploring Alaska’s diverse terrain, abundant wildlife, and vast wilderness, and so will you. With its many charming small towns, the highest mountains in North America, and millions of acres of national parks, a trip to Alaska is a dream vacation for families with young kids.
Traveling to Alaska with young kids will expose them to nature, excitement, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Reasons to visit Alaska with kids
Alaska is a great destination for a family vacation for a number of reasons. First of all, it isn't too far away even though it seems like another world. Alaska offers something for everyone in the family, from the grandparents to young children and everything in between. History lovers will enjoy learning about the state’s rich history of native cultures and customs, the Russian influence in Sitka, the Gold Rush era in Skagway, and seeing the totem poles in Ketchikan. Nature lovers will delight in Alaska’s natural beauty, glaciers, wildlife, and marine life.
Preparing for your trip
To make the most out of traveling to Alaska with young kids, you will want to start by doing your homework. If your kids are old enough, talk to them about their interests, and let them help plan your activities. This will get them more interested in and excited about the trip.
The weather in Alaska can be very unpredictable, so when packing for your kids, be sure to bring layers, waterproof shoes, coats, hats, gloves, and thick warm socks. If you plan on hiking with your kids, bring water bottles, backpacks, and snacks, and consider GPS trackers and bear bells for safety. Choose hikes that are not too challenging or long so your kids won’t get too tired. Taking your kids on practice hikes before your trip might help get them prepared so they know what to expect.
How will you get to Alaska?
While flying is the quickest way to get to Alaska, you might consider driving if you have the time. If you drive via the AL-CAN highway, you will get to enjoy stunning scenery along the way. You might also consider taking the Alaska Marine Highway from Seattle through the Inside Passage. This offers you the option bringing your car and even a family pet. You will also get to see parts of Alaska that are hard to get to by car. The Alaska Marine Highway travels along the same route as Inside Passage cruises but at a lower cost. With playrooms, observation decks, and arcades, your kids will be entertained along the way, and you will have a choice of several different routes.
The best part about traveling to Alaska with young kids is that there are so many activities to choose from and places to see. From boat tours to glacier hikes, family camps to dog sledding rides, the range of kid-friendly activities in Alaska is unbeatable. Here are a few top recommendations for you to consider including on your trip.
Family camps give kids an opportunity to learn about wildlife and explore Alaska’s natural history. There are several camps to choose from including Alaskan Coastal Studies based in Homer on the Kenai Peninsula, the Road scholar program at Denali, and the Wrangell Mountains Center at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. All of them are educational and entertaining for all ages.
An Alaska cruise is a great choice for a relaxing family vacation with young kids. Whether you choose a small boat cruise, an Inside Passage cruise, or a themed cruise, you will find that kid-friendly cruises offer safety and security, activities, adventure, and programs that will keep your kids entertained and leave you time to relax.
Cruising on a small boat with kids provides them with close up views of nature, calving glaciers, and marine life. Shore excursions such as hiking, kayaking, nature walks, and fishing will be a highlight of the trip for you and for your kids. Family-friendly cruises offer plenty of food options that even picky eaters will like, youth programs, board games, and wildlife presentations. Many offer discounts for kids, so be sure to keep that in mind when shopping for cruises.
Sled dog adventure and Musher’s Camp - Skagway
A sled dog adventure, which combines thrills, puppies, and nature exploration with Alaskan culture and tradition, is sure to make your kids smile. To get to the training grounds, you will ride through the Alaska rainforest. From there, you will take a thrilling dog sled ride and then visit the next generation of sled dog puppies. This great activity will be an unforgettable experience for kids of all ages.
Yukoner Half-Day Tour - Skagway
A full-day train and bus excursions is too long for most kids’ attention spans. This half-day tour is a great way to see Yukon Territory in a shorter amount of time. It will take you over the White Pass Summit, into British Columbia, and to the Yukon border, where you will see beautiful scenery, mountain goats, and black bears. Children of all ages are welcome on this tour.
Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour - Ketchikan
If your kids like hands-on experiences, be sure to include this tour on your itinerary. Kids will love the excitement of joining a crew of fishermen. They will learn all about the local fishing industry and hear stories and first hand accounts of fishing adventures from the crew. Kids must be at least 5 years old to participate in this adventure. Be sure to book in advance because this activity is very popular.
These are just a few of the many kid-friendly activities that are available in Alaska. Other possibilities include rainforest tours, flightseeing adventures, whale-watching tours, glacier walks, ziplining activities, and visits to national parks, museums, nature centers, and zoos. Clearly, you will have no trouble finding exciting and educational activities for your kids in Alaska. The only problem will be finding enough time to take advantage of everything that Alaska has to offer.