by Erin Kirkland
While spring arrived in Alaska with few of the bells and whistles of Lower 48 states (read: very cold temperatures and snow on the ground), 49th state families are nonetheless itching for warmer-season fun. Fortunately, weather be darned, activities are plentiful for kids, starting this weekend, so no matter whether March goes out like a lion or lamb, families can find a ton of opportunities to explore.
PLAN FOR SUMMER: Tickets are still available for Alaska Travelgram’s Summer Showcase, happening Saturday from noon-5 p.m. Kids are free and can come hang out with me in the UnCruise Adventures Kid Zone. I’ll also have a few copies of my new book Alaska On the Go: exploring the Alaska Marine Highway System with children for sale. But what makes Saturday additionally fabulous is that it is located at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Wander indoors or out, enjoy food trucks, and learn a bit about Alaska’s rich native culture.
DAY CRUISE: It’s gray whale season, and Major Marine Tours is offering a special overnight deal that wraps a cruise, overnight at Harbor 360 Hotel, and entrance to the Alaska SeaLife Center in one package.
Kenai Fjords Tours is taking reservations for gray whale cruises now, with tours beginning this weekend. Their overnight package includes a night at the Seward Hotel and entrance to the Alaska SeaLife Center.
SKI: Alyeska Resort has extended their season until Sunday, April 23, and I can tell you from experience the snow is quite delicious right now. Add in some extended daylight, a night at the Hotel Alyeska, a visit to the new Girdwood Brewing Company, and you’ve got yourself a pretty sweet experience within an hour’s drive of Anchorage.
PLAY HARD: Did you know that Eklutna Lake is one great place to spend the waning days of winter? Lifetime Adventures, longtime vendor at the lake, loves to take kids and parents of any age out to play, with a very cool slate of games and activities suitable for groups of 6 people or more. How about a game of snowshoe football? Or winter bowling? Or, maybe even a sledding contest? Have the late-winter blues? This will cure them, especially with a bonfire and warm drinks afterward.
HIT HATCHER: Hatcher Pass is looking great for cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing during our long, lazy spring days. Spend a weekend at Hatcher Pass Lodge, or drive up for the day and spend a few hours exploring the Independence Mine State Historical Park area. Remember to be aware of avalanche danger and very cold temperatures. Bring money for your parking pass, or buy a season pass HERE.
GO DARK: On Saturday, March 25 from 8-10 p.m. the Alaska Zoo is hosting Earth Hour, a worldwide effort of environmental awareness. The zoo will give a brief presentation, do some enrichment with the polar bears, and turn the lights OFF as visitors walk the grounds. Bring a candle, wear warm clothes, bring a donation for the zoo’s efforts and be part of something big.
Summer will be here before we know it. Let’s celebrate the snippets of spring while we can.
Erin Kirkland is publisher of AKontheGO.com and author of the Alaska On the Go family travel guidebook series.