According to Tina Santos, a Youth Coordinator for Princess Cruises, Alaska cruises have some of the highest numbers of kids onboard cruise ships. “We’ll see at least 400 children under the age of 18 onboard each cruise throughout the summer months,” said Santos. With these kinds of numbers, families cruising with children will be happy to know there’s an abundance of attractions in Anchorage for children.
Inexpensive Things to Do in Anchorage with Kids
Imaginarium, 737 West 5th Ave – Located in downtown Anchorage, this is Alaska’s only hands-on Science Discovery Center. Exhibits are interactive where visitors can stand inside a giant bubble, discover starfish and other marine life in a marine touch tank, touch exotic reptiles, and learn about the universe in the planetarium (Admission $5).
Salmon Hatchery, near Reeve Blvd and Post Road – The Elmendorf State Hatchery is owned and operated by the State of Alaska and produces salmon and rainbow trout for Alaska sport fisheries. The salmon viewing area is downtown, adjacent to the hatchery and provides opportunities to see salmon struggle upstream throughout the summer (Free).
Botanical Gardens, 4601 Campbell Airstrip Road – The Alaska Botanical Garden is ever-changing featuring a rock garden, floral gardens, a nature trail, and an herb garden. On Tuesdays through Saturdays, families can borrow a Discovery Duffel, a bag filled with kids’ activities and books (cost $5).
Best Ways to Spend the Day with Children
Alaska Zoo, 4731 O’Malley Road – Located just south of downtown Anchorage, this small zoo covers 25 acres of wooded property featuring animals that are native to Alaska. Get to see grizzly and brown bears, moose, caribou, wolves and eagles. There are also some exotic animals, such as Ahpun the polar bear (Adult admission $12; Youth ages 3 to 17 admission $6).
H2Oasis Water Park, 1520 O’Malley Road – Also located south of downtown Anchorage, this indoor water park provides family fun for all ages. The Children’s Lagoon & Pirate Ship has seven slides that exit into a 12 inch deep lagoon. For older kids and teenagers, the Master Blaster water coaster is 43 feet high and 505 feet long. There’s also the Wave Pool that generates three to four foot waves (Adult admission $23.99; Youth ages 3 to 12 admission $18.99).
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Mile 79 Seward Highway – Located about 40 miles from Anchorage is the 160-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Have the opportunity to observe and photograph Alaska’s largest animals up close, such as grizzly and brown bears, moose, bison, deer and eagles. The difference between here and the zoo, is that there are no cages, just a fence (Adult admission $10; Youth ages 4 to 12 admission $7.50).
And, for a uniquely Alaska experience for all ages, check out the Sled Dog Rodeo (185 East Ship Creek Ave). Every day at 3 p.m. during the summer, the Seavey family shares with visitors the history of the Iditarod and its sled dogs. They demonstrate the power of these dogs with highlights of the 50-minute show including a sled dog race and a 16-dog Iditarod team pulling a 10,000 pound truck (Adult admission $19; Child ages 2 to 11 admission $9.50).