Whether you arrive by ship or fly direct to Anchorage it is definitely worth taking a few days (or more) to explore the area around Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. We spent a little over a week in the area and felt like we barely scratched the surface. Depending on what else you are doing on your visit to Alaska with teens or tweens you can pick and choose from our top ten list or try to fit them all in. Each of the links below will take you to a more detailed article about our experiences traveling around the area. Each article includes lots of photos as well.
Best Teen and Tween Activities in and around Anchorage
- Hike Flattop Mountain – allow at least 2 1/2 hours to reach the summit and return. The mountain is located just outside Anchorage and the views are stunning.
- Biking on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail – rent bikes downtown, grab a gourmet hot dog then spend the afternoon biking as much as 20 miles round trip. Watch out for moose!
- Tour the Alaska Native Heritage Center - be sure to take a leisurely stroll around the replica native dwellings and ask lots of questions
- Drive Hatcher Pass and Visit the Historic Independence Mine – step back in history and explore Alaska’s gold mining past. End the day with a float trip on Willow Creek or head north to Denali
- Explore Girdwood, Mt. Alyeska and the Turnagain Arm – within an hour’s drive from downtown Anchorage enjoy the views from Beluga Point and take the Tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska
Best Teen and Tween Activities in Whittier and the Kenai Peninsula
- Go Fishing Alaska Style – if you are anywhere near the Kenai Peninsula during the salmon season be sure to act like a native and go fishin’
- Check out the Bears at Wolverine Creek or other spectacular fly-in sites accessible via float planes from Soldotna, Homer or even Anchorage
- Go flightseeing over a glacier – combine this with fishing and flight seeing for an incredible day
- Take a Prince William Sound glacier viewing day cruise from Whittier - get much closer to the glaciers that you can on a large cruise ship. Getting there is half the fun whether you drive through the tunnel or take the train
- Visit the Soldotna Homestead Museum – be sure to spend some time chatting with the historical society members about growing up on the edge of civilization!
Hints for a Successful and Sane Alaska Trip with Teens and Tweens
As with any family vacation that packs a couple of parents and their teens and tweens into cars and hotels for days on end, be sure to build in down time, book lodging situations that will give everyone some room to breath, plan to be outside a lot, and let the teens and tweens have a say in the itinerary. We also recommend asking the teens and tweens to help out on the photo crew – our #1 Son took many great shots that we might not have noticed, including some really nice ones of Alaska’s summer wildflowers, as well as most of our photos from the Flattop Hike and the Coastal Trail bike ride.
Note that we paid our own own way for all activities and lodging on the entire trip and were pretty happy with all our arrangements. However, there are a couple of folks we just have to give extra kudos including:
- The Alaska Serenity Lodge in Soldotna. On a lake and just off the beat track it was the perfect place to chill out, roast marshmallows, enjoy the hot tub, and be totally amazed about how it never gets dark out in late June and early July.
- High Adventure Air in Soldotna made our fishing/bearviewing/flightseeing day a major success. We particularly appreciated their waiting when we forgot our fishing licenses and had to rush back to the lodge to get them first thing in the morning!
We also recommend checking out some of the discount coupon books that are available online. We purchased the Northern Lights book for about $50 and saved hundreds with two for one discounts on museums, raft rides, tram rides and the glacier cruise. Just looking through its pages can give you some great ideas on activities and outfitters.
Finally, if you plan to do any amount of driving around the state be sure get a copy of The Milepost guide which is likely to have a better idea of where you are going than many GPS systems. We found it to be very helpful, particularly when we made the spur of the moment decision to drive to Willow via Hatcher Pass rather than the main highway.
We’d love to hear if reading our blog influences your choice of what to do with your teens and tweens when your family visits Alaska. Please leave a comment or drop us an email to let us know how you do!