Alaska Family Vacations: Guide to Visiting Alaska with Kids

Whether you’re thinking of taking a relaxed cruise along Alaska’s icy waters to witness nature’s most awe-inspiring shows — breaching whales, playful seals, or the magical northern lights — or you’re planning a thrilling, out-in-the-wild Alaskan expedition, this guide is here to help you navigate your journey. We’ve compiled all the essential information you need to know to make your family vacation to Alaska a fantastic, stress-free experience.

Welcome to the stunningly rugged and beautifully untamed wilds of Alaska, where adventure waits around every corner for you and your family. Choosing a family vacation in Alaska promises to be an experience filled with unforgettable moments of discovery and delight.

With a landscape like no other, your Alaska family vacation is sure to be incredible. From the majestic Denali to the emerald-green Kenai Fjords, your family trip to Alaska is bound to be the adventure of a lifetime!

This guide aims to offer detailed insights into the best Alaska family vacations, including top attractions, activities for children, accommodations, dining options, and transport.

We’ll also share crucial safety tips, suggest the best time to visit, and provide a handy packing list. Plus, get ready to discover exciting Alaska vacation packages, all of which include tours and activities that guarantee you ultimate family fun!

Top Attractions and Activities for Families Visiting Alaska

Denali National Park and Preserve

Adventurous families planning their Alaska family vacation will find Denali National Park and Preserve a child-friendly wonderland.

This bewitching expanse of wild Alaskan forest, featuring the tallest peak in North America – Denali, offers unmatched views and abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Kids will love the Park’s Junior Ranger program and sled dog demonstrations in the summer. Be sure to visit the Murie Science and Learning Center, which offers hands-on exhibits.

If your family is into hiking, the park’s variety of trails caters to all abilities, making it a great family Alaska vacation.

aerial shot of snow covered mountains in Denali National Park

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

If you’re planning an Alaska family vacation, make sure to include the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on your itinerary. This enchanting spot nestled between Girdwood and Portage Valley is a haven for families who aspire to interactively engage with the native fauna in their natural habitats.

Your kids will marvel at the awe-inspiring sight of bears, moose, and a host of other magnificent Alaskan wildlife species. The center is also instrumental in advancing the region’s conservation efforts and animal rehabilitation programs.

A trip to this wildlife wonderland not only promises an unforgettable family outing but also a valuable opportunity to educate children about the importance of wildlife preservation.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is located at 43520 Seward Hwy, Girdwood, AK 99587.

Exterior view of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, an Alaskan Muskox lying down in a pasture next to a small stream with a red barn and rainbow in the background against mountains
Photo Credit: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center via Facebook

Alaska SeaLife Center (Seward)

If you’re embarking on an Alaskan family vacation, a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward is an absolute must. This public aquarium is the only facility in Alaska that combines a rehabilitation center for marine animals, a research institute, and an education center all under one roof.

Families will be captivated as they come face-to-face with fascinating marine life like seals, sea lions, puffins, and even octopuses.

Interactive exhibits offer a chance to learn about Alaska’s marine ecosystems, while daily animal encounters led by knowledgeable staff guarantee not just fun but also invaluable educational experiences for children of all ages.

Kenai Fjords National Park

For families taking an Alaskan vacation, the Kenai Fjords National Park is a must-visit. Kids of all ages will be mesmerized by the stunning fjords carved by glaciers, lush forests, and shimmering ice caps that reflect the sun.

An enriching experience for children, this park presents unique opportunities to observe a variety of wildlife, including whales, sea otters, puffins, and bald eagles, in their natural habitats.

Involve your little ones in guided ranger programs, or consider embarking on a Kenai Fjords cruise for an unforgettable family adventure. This park is also perfect for a family picnic, with its breathtaking views serving as your backdrop.

Tall rock formations coming out of clear blue water surrounded by mountains in Alaska

Whale Watching

If you’re contemplating a family vacation to Alaska, then seeing the magnificent ocean creatures in their natural habitat is a must. Whale watching is an unforgettable experience that will delight both kids and parents.

Related Post: Best Place For Whale Watching: In-Depth Guide to US Locations

For an unbeatable whale-watching experience, consider heading to Juneau or Seward. Both towns offer reputable tour operators that cater to families, ensuring that the adventure is both exciting and safe.

They will take you out into the waters, providing opportunities to spot Humpback and Orca whales in their natural habitat. Kids will also love spotting the seals, sea lions, and a variety of sea birds during the tour.

Large whale leaping backward with rocks and thick trees in the background in Juneau, Alaska, USA
photo credit: Juneau Tours and Whale Watch via Facebook


Visit a Glacier

Treating your kids to the awe-inspiring spectacle of glaciers is an experience you shouldn’t miss out on your Alaskan family vacation.

Destinations like Matanuska Glacier offer a thrilling yet safe exploration for young adventurers. Glacier walking here is mesmerizing, and you can even enjoy a sled ride over Troublesome Glacier!

For an easier walk and still breathtaking view, be sure to stop at Exit Glacier View. If you want to go all out, taking a Southeast Alaska family cruise is the best way to marvel at these ice giants up close. This trip will be etched in your family’s memory for years to come.

Dog Sledding

Experience the thrill of a lifetime with a dog sled tour from AK Husky Adventures. Perfect for families, they offer an authentic dog mushing experience with guidance from seasoned professionals.

To drive the sled, participants must be 15 and in good shape, making it a fascinating adventure for older kids. However, younger children can still join the fun by taking a spot in the sled to soak up the incredible Alaskan backdrop.

But remember, while the activity is exhilarating, it can also be physically demanding. It’s important to ensure everyone is prepared for the adventure.

Create a memory your family will cherish forever on your next family trip to Alaska with this truly iconic Alaskan adventure.

10 dogs hitched to a dog sled in the snow surrounded by mountains

Alaska Railroad

Consider embarking on an unforgettable journey with your kids aboard the Alaska Railroad. This splendidly scenic travel option is not just a means to get around but a genuine highlight of a family vacation to Alaska.

Kids will be thrilled by the sight of towering mountains, sweeping plains, and potentially even some wildlife from the comfort of a train car.

Opt for the GoldStar Service for a glass-domed ceiling and outdoor viewing decks to make the most of the amazing Alaskan landscape. Moreover, special onboard programs for kids made this family trip to Alaska a fun-filled educational experience.

Anchorage Museum

If you’re planning an Alaska family vacation, then visiting the Anchorage Museum should be high on your list. It’s not only one of the largest museums in Alaska but a marveling showcase of art, history, ethnography, ecology, and science—you’d be amazed.

For the young explorers in your family, the museum’s Discovery Center will be a highlight: a hands-on science center where they can learn more about the Aurora Borealis, experiment with kinetic sand, and even participate in live science demonstrations.

It’s an enriching and thoroughly fun educational experience for kids and adults alike. Check the museum’s calendar for kids’ activities and workshops happening during your visit to make the most out of it.

Anchorage Museum is located at 625 C St, Anchorage, AK 99501.

Is Alaska a Good Family Trip?

Alaska is a phenomenal choice for a family trip. The state’s rich variety of natural beauty and outdoor activities provides a unique, memorable, and educational experience for kids and adults alike.

Moreover, customizable options from tour operators make the trip suitable for all ages, making Alaska a versatile and highly rewarding family vacation destination.

little girl in a pink and grey snowsuit smiling at the camera with a yellow and black sled in the background being pulled by small child in grey and black snowsuit in Alaska

Keeping the Kids Entertained: Activities for Children in Alaska

When it comes to keeping your kids entertained during your family trip to Alaska, rest assured that heaps of child-friendly activities and excursions cater to all age groups.

Brace yourselves for non-stop fun, adventure, and, of course, learning too.

  • Wildlife viewing: One of the top-rated Alaska family activities includes wildlife viewing. Immerse your kids in the fascinating world of wild animals right within their natural habitats. This is an experience like no other that will not only thrill but also educate them. Just remember that while this is certainly an exciting venture, safety should always be placed first.
  • Hiking: Amongst other popular activities in Alaska for families, hiking tops the list. Make your hikes fun for the kids through simple tricks like using binoculars, organizing small scavenger hunts, looking for walking sticks, carrying snacks, etc. Set age-appropriate distances and allow enough time for exploration. Making it interactive is the key to keeping their interest piqued.
  • Winter activities: Do not miss out on the chance to enjoy winter activities like dog sledding or a visit to a sled dog kennel in Denali. The mushers often share stories about the Iditarod race, inspiring children and adults alike.
  • Whitewater rafting and biking: For some family bonding time coupled with a dash of adventure, consider whitewater rafting or biking through the beautiful trails in Alaska. Most excursions offer kids-friendly facilities; however, do always check the age requirements beforehand.
  • Gold panning: Lastly, how about trying your hands at gold panning? It’s a fascinating activity that also reflects a significant part of Alaska’s history. This experience of hunting for gold, just like the prospectors from ages ago, is cogs attached to an exercise in true treasure hunting!

Where Should I Take My Family in Alaska?

Family trips to Alaska should undoubtedly include destinations such as Fairbanks, a hub for appreciating the state’s history and culture, and Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city with ample opportunities for exploring nature and wildlife.

For the best Alaska family tours, consider a journey into the Denali National Park, where families get to experience beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife up close.

For a unique experience, embark on a southeast Alaskan family cruise, one of the best ways to see glaciers, enjoy wildlife, and soak in Alaska’s breathtaking beauty.

family hiking along a boardwalk surrouned by alpine folliage and mountains in AlaskaAccommodation in Alaska: Where to Stay with Kids

When it’s time to take a break from your Alaskan adventures, you’ll want a comfortable place to rest and recharge. But where? Check out the family-friendly hotels available through Tripster.

There’s a wide variety of accommodations to suit every family’s needs, and the best part is all are on offer at the lowest rates possible. You can rest easy knowing you have a cozy spot to retreat to at the end of each day without breaking your vacation budget.

Here are some of the most popular family-friendly accommodations in Alaska for the best Alaskan family vacations:

Dining with Kids in Alaska: Local Favorites and Easy Meals

If you’re planning your Alaska family vacation, rest assured that finding kid-friendly eateries won’t be a challenge. Alaska hosts a multitude of restaurants serving both local favorites and familiar meals that cater to a young audience.

Below, we’ve curated a list of top recommended restaurants across Alaska that perfectly suit families visiting with kids.

  • Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria (Anchorage): This lively Anchorage institution dishes out gourmet pizzas and hearty sandwiches and boasts an incredible selection of craft brews (for the adults, of course!). A rock climbing wall and a laid-back atmosphere make it a hit with kids and parents alike.
  • Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant (Anchorage): Gwennie’s serves up homestyle classics with a generous side of Alaskan hospitality. Their menu features everything from reindeer sausage to fresh seafood, plus an all-day breakfast for picky eaters.
  • 49th State Brewing Co. (Anchorage & Healy): Enjoy a casual meal with beautiful views at either of this brewery’s locations. Their menu includes kid-friendly options, hearty pub fare, and locally brewed beers and root beer!
  • The Crepery (Girdwood): This charming spot near Alyeska Resort offers sweet and savory crepes that will please the whole family. Relax on their scenic deck while enjoying breakfast, lunch, or a delightful dessert crepe.
  • Ray’s Waterfront (Seward):  With stunning views of Resurrection Bay, Ray’s is a great place to sample fresh Alaskan seafood. Their diverse menu includes kid favorites like mac and cheese alongside locally sourced fish and chips for a taste of Alaska.

Close up of a cheesy pepperoni pizzaGetting Around Alaska with Kids: Transport Options for Families

Traveling with little ones can be a challenge, but the various transportation options in Alaska make it far less daunting. Keeping your entire family comfortable and entertained while transitioning from one spot to another has never been easier.

Let’s explore a few smart options to get you moving around the Last Frontier with your family:

Alaskan Railroad

One of the best ways for your family to soak in Alaska’s stunning sights is by hopping aboard the Alaska Railroad. Not only is this a comfortable and relaxing journey, but it’s also a thrilling adventure for kids and adults alike.

The railroad provides dining and entertainment options, keeping the little ones well-fed and engaged whilst gliding through the Alaskan wilderness.

Rental Cars and RVs

Alaska’s magnificent landscapes are renowned for their natural grandeur, and one of the greatest ways to experience them is by road. Hiring a vehicle or, better yet, an RV is a splendid idea.

Related Post: Embrace the Adventure of Iditarod Arctic Races

With the freedom of your vehicle, you can plan your family trip to Alaska at your own pace while enjoying a family road trip with breathtaking window views.

Winding road through Alaksan country side, surrounded by mountains, a small lake, and evergreen trees

Park Connection Motorcoach

If you’re looking to travel between various Alaska family vacation hotspots like Anchorage, Seward, or Denali, the Park Connection Motorcoach offers the perfect solution. It provides a scenic and comfortable ride with ample space for your family and luggage.

Private Cruise Transfers and Ferries

Alaska flourishes in coastal beauty, so what better way to get a front-row seat to these incredible sights than via water?

For coastal cities, availing private cruise transfers or using the Alaskan ferries can transform your journey into a memorable sightseeing tour in itself.

Bush Plane Charters

Are hankering to explore something further off the beaten path? Turn to bush plane charters and get ready to dive into the true Alaskan wilderness.

Note: While there are many thrills, children handling these adventurous modes of transit may require extra attention.

Alaska offers a wide variety of transportation options to cater to your family’s unique needs, making Alaska family vacations more enjoyable and less stressful.

Helpful Tips for Staying Safe in Alaska’s Wilderness

From awe-inspiring wildlife encounters to beautiful trails, Alaska’s wilderness offers a unique and exciting experience for all family vacations. However, it is equally essential to prioritize your family’s safety while exploring this untouched land.

Let’s dive into some helpful tips to ensure you stay safe as you enjoy your Alaskan family vacation.

  • Observe Wildlife from a Safe Distance: Getting a glimpse of Alaska’s vast wildlife is a tremendous part of any Alaska family trip, but remember to maintain a safe distance. Wild animals can be unpredictable and potentially harmful if approached. Use binoculars for close-up views, and never attempt to feed or touch them.
  • Be Prepared for Changing Weather: Alaska’s weather is very unpredictable. Ensure you pack layers and waterproof items, and always check the weather forecast before heading outdoors on your Alaska family vacation.
  • Practice Safe Hiking: Hiking is a popular activity on Alaskan vacations, but it can pose challenges for inexperienced hikers, especially kids. Practical tips for making hiking fun and safe for kids involve using binoculars, having a scavenger hunt, looking for walking sticks, and carrying snacks. Always remember to set age-appropriate hiking distances and allow time for exploration.

Related Post: Harmony of the North – An In-Depth Guide to Anchorage Folk Festival

  • Always Inform Others of Your Travel Plans: When going on excursions, it’s essential to let someone know about your planned route and expected return time. In the event of an emergency, this information could be crucial.
  • Bear Safety: Alaska is home to both black and brown bears. Consider carrying bear spray during hikes and learn about bear behavior to avoid unexpected encounters.

Safety is paramount, and ensuring that you and your loved ones are prepared for any situation can make your Alaska family vacation an unforgettable experience.

Family showshowing through deep snow surrouned by alpine forestWhen is the Best Time to Visit Alaska with Kids?

The high season, between May and September, is generally the best time to embark on an Alaska family vacation. However, the months of June to August specifically draw in the most visitors, with longer daylight hours, warm weather, and wildlife in abundance.

These months are perfect for an array of activities, from wilderness hikes to wildlife cruises, making it an exciting and educative time for kids to explore Alaska.

Family Vacation Alaska: What to Pack


Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable at times, so packing layers is a must. These can include base layers such as short and long-sleeved shirts, pants, and thermal underwear.

It’s also a good idea to have layers for insulation, such as fleece and soft-shell jackets. Top off your layers with a waterproof and windproof outer jacket.

For your feet, waterproof boots and wool socks are ideal. And don’t forget to pack hats, gloves, and scarves for those chillier Alaskan days! Remember to pack extra clothing for the kids, too, as you might need a quick change from time to time.

Camping Equipment

If your family decides to stay at any of Alaska’s gorgeous campgrounds, proper camping gear is crucial. Pack your tent, sleeping bags suitable for perhaps cooler temperatures, sleeping pads, camping stove, cooking ware, and, of course, a first-aid kit.

Remember- practice ‘leave no trace’ principles to preserve the state’s untouched beauty!

Outdoor Gear

On your Alaskan family vacation, robust outdoor gear will make your adventures smoother and safer. Consider packing binoculars to get closer views of wildlife, headlamps for those late-night campfires, hiking poles for treks, and fishing gear if you’re planning to catch dinner in a pristine river!

Wide shot of green blanketed mountains in Alaska with purple fire bush in the foreground

Health and Hygiene

Never overlook the importance of good health and hygiene practices, even on vacation. Be prepared with a sufficient stash of hand sanitizers, wipes, toilet paper, and all the necessary personal hygiene items.

A travel-sized first-aid box stocked with common medicines, band-aids, and sunblock is also essential.

Snacks and Hydration

Adventures make for hungry kiddos. Remember to pack lots of snacks and water bottles to keep their tummies satisfied and reduce reliance on convenience stores that are few and far between in more remote parts of Alaska.

The key to enjoying an Alaskan family vacation is preparation. Use this packing list and remember to take into account the unique needs of your children to ensure they stay comfortable and happy on this thrilling family journey.


Discover the Top Alaska Family Vacation Packages

Now that you know what to pack, it’s time to consider one of the many affordable, all-encompassing Alaska vacation packages, all including lodging and exciting activities, like the customizable ones offered by Alaska vacation packages on Tripster.

These are designed to maximize safety, convenience, and enjoyment for families of every size and cater to every age group.

Embark on a family vacation to Alaska that you will cherish forever!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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