10 Kid-Friendly Activities in Alaska

Take the family snowmobiling or let the kids rocket down a slide made of ice. Adventures and fun await in the Last Frontier.

Photo By: Brian Adams/State of Alaska

Photo By: Brian Adams/State of Alaska

Photo By: Jeanne L Baker

Photo By: Chris McLennan/State of Alaska

Photo By: Brian Adams/State of Alaska

Photo By: Alaska Backcountry Adventures

Photo By: Chris McLennan/State of Alaska

Photo By: Reinhard Pantke/State of Alaska

Photo By: Gray Line Portage Glacier Cruises

Photo By: Brian Adams/State of Alaska

Ice Slides

Each winter, Christmas in Ice brings amazing ice slides, carving competitions (there's one for youth), an ice maze and much more to Alaska's North Pole, a small city in the metropolitan Fairbanks area. Take a spin in a twirler, a kind of bucket made of ice, or borrow a sled (it's fine to bring your own). Santa arrives on Christmas Day, or you can let the kids hand him their wish lists when you visit The Santa Claus House, also in North Pole.

Dog Mushing

Dog mushing, or sledding, is Alaska's official sport. Let the kids meet the Huskies that pull the sleds and climb aboard for a ride over icy trails. You can book a mushing trip and many other fun activities at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, the state's only true resort town. It's near the base of the Chugach Mountains, in a glacier-carved valley about 40 minutes south of Anchorage.

Aurora Winter Train

Board the Alaska Railroad's Aurora Winter Train for incredible views of the state's backcountry from a heated rail car. Kids can explore the cars or watch the passing scenery with you from the big picture windows. The Aurora runs on weekends from Anchorage to Fairbanks from mid-September to mid-May; check the website for select weekday service. If you disembark in Fairbanks, take the family cross-country skiing or learn to make pies in a fun class at Talkeetna Roadhouse.

Northern Lights

Keep your eyes on the skies with a Leaf Out Nature Guides tour. Based in Fairbanks, this company takes visitors to see the Northern Lights; you and the kids can sip hot chocolate while you wait for them to appear. You can also book a customized snowshoe tour or a nature hike led by trained biologists who will discuss the local wildlife, Alaska's boreal forest and more.

Backcountry Sights and Experiences

There are many ways to see Alaska. Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours offers snowmobile and ATV glacier tours led by local guides. Sheep Mountain Lodge also offers a variety of activities, such as skiing and hiking, and has luxurious cabins available to rent year-round. Both are located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, north of Anchorage. Ask about age limits for adventures like the full-day tour to Nelchina Glacier.

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling or snow machining; Alaskans use both words for exhilarating rides through the frozen landscape. Anchorage is home to multiple companies that offer snowmobile tours or rental equipment. Ask about age restrictions before you book. For example, at Glacier City Snowmobile Tours, kids ages 6-15 can ride double with an adult. Riders must be at least 16 to operate their own snowmachines.

Wildlife Encounters

If your kids love animals, you're in the right place. Look for moose, wolves and more at The Alaska Zoo and interact with over 100 animals on its 25 acres. All generations can enjoy a wolf encounter, and kids age 8 and up can spend the day with a zookeeper.

See bears and other animals in their natural environment at Katmai National Park and Preserve, or let the kids encounter reindeer, elk, a porcupine and more at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Whale Watching

Head to Sitka for the annual Sitka WhaleFest. This three-day event is put on by the Sitka Sound Science Center to celebrate the marine life in southeastern Alaska. You'll find wildlife cruises, an art show, live music, a marketplace, a 5K and 10K run and more. The fest will be held Nov. 1-4 in 2018. Be sure to stop by the Science Center, too, to explore its aquarium, hatchery and touch tanks.

Glacier Cruises

Come within 300 yards of a glacier formed in the Ice Age on a Portage Glacier Cruise. Portage Glacier is one of the state's biggest visitor attractions, and it's about an hour from Anchorage. The onboard cabins are enclosed and heated, but for the best chance to spot a calving glacier, take the kids to the topside viewing deck. The cruises are narrated by U.S. Forest Service representatives. They don't operate year-round, so check the website for a schedule. Tickets for 2019 go on-sale Oct. 2, 2018.

Fur Rendezvous Winter Festival

This winter festival, nicknamed Fur Rondy, lasts for 10 days and features giant snow sculptures, sporting events, carnival rides and dog sled races through downtown Anchorage. It runs Feb. 22 through Mar. 3, 2019 and offers different activities each day. Plan to attend on the first Saturday in March, and you can also see the ceremonial start of the Iditarod.

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