Are you looking for things to do in Anchorage with kids? Alaska is a wonderful family destination full of adventure and awe inspiring scenery and wildlife. Anchorage, Alaska’s most populous city has tons of family friendly activities that the kids will love. Whether you are just passing through town on your way to a different part of the state or have a few days to hang out and see all the sights, you’ll love all the adventure that the last frontier has to offer.
What is there to do in Anchorage for Free?
Alaska is a very expensive state. The gas and food prices are quite high as things need to be shipped up all the way from the lower states.
There are plenty of things to do in Anchorage that don’t cost a dime.
The following are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for being part of Hubbard Family Travels
Check out the downtown area
While the city is rather small, there is a couple of blocks of touristy shops to check out. The visitors center is a lovely log cabin in the center of town with a living roof growing wildflowers. Inside they have post cards that you can fill out and they will mail for free back home.
On Saturday’s and Sunday’s there is a farmers market set up in the downtown area. This is a fun place to check out local vendors and pick up some inexpensive souveniers
This is a fun wildlife viewing area just off the highway heading south out of town. There are two long boardwalks that travel over a marsh area. There are lots of birds and wildlife to check out. We even saw a moose crossing the road as we were headed out.
If you continue on the highway past Potter Marsh there is a rest stop area called Beluga Point. This is a nice spot to get out and stretch your legs and take a quick walk on the beach.
What is there to do in Anchorage on a Rainy day?
There are plenty of activities to do on a rainy day. If the weather isn’t nice enough for a hike or outdoor excursion then you can head to some of the following places:
The Anchorage Museum
Most of the museum will be boring for kids however, as an adult I loved it. On the lower level there is an entire kid-friendly space that they can get hands on and play with experiments like giant bubbles, craft rooms and plenty of geological exhibits.
Chuck E Cheese
This was my 5 year old daughter’s favorite part of the trip. The place is old, dated and kind of gross, but if the weather is terrible and you need an indoor park where the kids can burn off some steam, this will do the trick.
Indoor water park
Check out the indoor water park if it’s too rainy outside to get out and explore but you don’t mind getting wet! Save this one for a gloomy day you don’t want to spend outdoors.
How Many Days should I spend in Anchorage?
I recommend 5-7 days in Anchorage if you can swing it. Many travelers will be just passing through the city on part or a road trip or final destination at a different part of the state. We flew into Anchorage directly from Bellingham Washington. It was a short 3 hour, direct flight.
If you are planning to spend you entire trip in Anchorage you will need to rent a car. Anchorage does have Uber and other ride share services but so many of the fun activities you will want to do are at about an hour’s distance via car.
You can take day trips via the Alaska Rail or with a tour company via bus but if you are travelling with a family a car will be the most economical way to travel around town.
Can you see the Northern Lights in Anchorage Alaska?
Yes, but only in the winter. We visited Anchorage in June, the day after the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. Anchorage is so far north that it never gets truly dark out in the summer months. It’s wonderful to have so many daylight hours when you are on vacation there.
If you want to see the northern lights I recommend taking a trip up to Fairbanks which is about a 6 hour drive north of Anchorage. Fairbanks is one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights and they are visiable from September though April.
Keep in mind that just as the summer months have plenty of daylight hours, the winter months have almost total darkness. You will be able to see spectacular views of the northern lights but it comes at a cost- freezing cold temperatures and only 3-4 hours of daylight per day in the winter.
Things to do with Kids in Anchorage
Eklunta Heritage Center
On the way back from the reindeer petting farm we stopped by the Eklunta Heritage Center. This is an old Russian Othodox Cemetary and church that you can tour. The grave sites are interesting because they are built up over the earth in little colorful boxes. You can view the old and new church which is still a funcitioning church. Kids might be a little bored with this excursion but it was interesting and we stayed there for about 45 minutes.
The glacier is only viewable by boat so this is a fun family day trip. Drive down to the Girdwood area about an hour south of Anchorage and hop on a cruise boat for a fun, informational ride to the glacier. The ride lasts about 90 minutes and leaves every 90 minutes all day.
Indian Valley Gold Mine
This excursion was a lot of fun for the whole family. The Indian Valley Gold Mine is located halfway between Anchorage and the Portage Glacier. It’s an old-timey cabin set up where you can pan for gold. You choose a bucket of silt for either 20- 50 or 100 and they will teach you how to pan out the silt and get the gold. Our family split a $20 bucket between the 4 of us. There is plenty to see there as they have chickens, ducks and turkeys. You can view the entrance to the original mine from about 100 years ago. The owners are very friendly and will happily chat about the mine and history. We spent about 2 hours here and visited Beluga point and Potter marsh on the way back to the house. So it was a pretty full day of fun.
Reindeer Petting Farm in Palmer
If you head up north from Anchorage you will get to the lovely farm town of Palmer. If you are headed up this way the Reindeer Petting Farm is a must-visit. Kids and grown-ups will both love to see reindeer up close and have a chance to pet and feed them. They have other animals as well like a moose and elk and horse back riding is available too.
Wildlife Conservation Center
The wildlife Conservation Center is located about 10 minutes away from Portage Glacier so if you are checking out one of these excursions you can hit both of them up in one day.
The conservation center is full of native Alaskan animals that have been rescued. You can see moose, bears, wolves and lots of other really neat animals up close and personal that you likely won’t see anywhere else.
There is a café and gift shop on the premises after you are done checking out the animals. Plan to spend one or two hours at the center.
Have you traveled to Alaska? Let me know your best ideas for fun things to do with kids in Anchorage in the comments.