No matter if your family hails from over the river and through the woods, across the country or around the world, Alaska is a delightful place to spend the holiday season. The 49th state has everything one would expect from a picture-postcard landscape, right down to the snow, and we’re going to tell you how it’s done. Below are several Alaska holiday destinations for families, places we know will put the “thanks” back in “Thanksgiving”, or the “merry” in “Merry Christmas”.
Homer is known as the place where “the road ends and the sea begins”, and it’s a prime destination for many Alaska family holiday gatherings. While most local attractions and hotels thrive during a busy summer season, winter is surprisingly vibrant on the Kenai Peninsula, 220+ miles from Anchorage. Stay at Lands End Resort at the end of Homer Spit. Regardless of weather, the spit offers great views, beach walks, and the stunning Kachemak Bay and mountains beyond. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring buffet dinners with all the fixings, too, and after you’ve eaten your fill, it’s easy to rent snowshoes from the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in town. At $5/pp, this is a great deal, and the center has snowshoes to fit just about everyone from age three on up.”]
Alyeska Resort in Girdwood crackles with energy from opening day, usually right around Thanksgiving, and 2013 is no exception. Try the latest Family Stay Package, complete with turn down service and milk and cookies. Ski, snowshoe, or walk the snowy trails near the Grand Hotel, then take a day trip to Portage and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where Alaska’s most popular animals await your visit. Girdwood is 45 minutes south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway, and AWCC is 10 miles beyond that.
Anchorage is the place to be for arts and crafts this holiday season, and the Anchorage Museum’s Craft Weekend is a tradition you won’t want to miss. Kicking off Christmas with its popular Wonderland of Toys exhibit, too, Craft Weekend is my favorite place to buy Alaska-themed gifts for my Outside relatives and friends. Wonderland of Toys is spectacular as well, featuring playthings from the 19th century to present day. Want to stay downtown? Try the Copper Whale Inn on L Street. The view, coupled with manager Glenn’s cozy hospitality, will warm your family up for the holidays. Count on it.
We sing the praises of Talkeetna Roadhouse constantly, and with good reason. This kid-friendly roadhouse located in the village of Talkeetna, 120 miles north of Anchorage serves up history and activity in an atmosphere of family. Stay in the upstairs rooms or our favorite, the Little Cabin in the Back, but whatever you choose, you’ll be pampered and return home glowing from the truly authenti Alaska experience. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve bring family-style suppers, games, fireworks, and an amazing opportunity to talk with people from every walk of life. Snowshoe, ski, or visit the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum just around the corner. It’s worth every penny of the $2 admission. Hint: If you visit on a weekend, consider taking the Alaska Railroad. The train drops you at Talkeetna’s winter station (section house) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, then returns for you at 4:50 p.m. on Sunday, making this an excellent Alaska family getaway.
Fairbanks knows how to do the holidays, and no wonder, with snow and ice piled high and temperatures plummeting to record lows. No worries, though, because a family holiday in Interior Alaska means visits with Santa Claus, experiencing an ice slide, and taking a walk through a moonlit birch forest. Visit Creamer’s Field on Thanksgiving weekend for a Yuletide Light festival, or spend a few hours at Christmas in Ice. If indoors calls, visit the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum on the Wedgewood Resort property (open on Sundays during the winter).