Five Alaska Hotels We Love For Families

A hotel catering to kids (and their friends) is an important factor when choosing Alaska accommodations. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

When I was but a wee traveler, my parents would pack the Volkswagen Bus with all sorts of gear and putt-putter around the Pacific Northwest in search of destinations to inspire their offspring. Most of those, I realize now, came from the size of the hotel swimming pool, taste of their silver dollar pancakes, or jumpiness of a room’s beds. Yes, friends, I, like millions of other vacationing children, cared mostly about The Hotel.

Who could blame me? In the 1970’s, nobody had TV in their bedroom, or swimming pool in their backyard, or access to silver dollar pancakes and sausages shaped like little bears. Let’s face it, staying in a hotel is half (okay, sometimes most) of the fun for traveling kids, so making a good choice is pretty important to the sanctity of family harmony. Alaska’s lodging options can be pretty wonky sometimes; options often range from overpriced wanna-be lodges to motels that really need an overhaul, not to mention a deep cleaning.

We stay in hotels a lot, but five stand out in our memories of Alaska travel with our son, meeting my slightly obsessive-compulsive nature and for AK Kid’s thumbs up for kid-friendliness. The top picks, in alphabetical order (because I like order)?

 

Image courtesy of the Anchorage Grand Hotel.

Anchorage Grand Hotel (Anchorage): Located right in the heart of downtown Anchorage, and directly above the Alaska Railroad depot (bonus for parents of train-loving folks), the Anchorage Grand is a former apartment building that was converted into a hotel, serving both long and short-term travelers of all ages (the AK Grandparents love this place). We like the full kitchens with dishwasher, pots/pans, etc., and a nice sitting room for families to relax after a busy day of Anchorage fun. Wintertime specials are plentiful, especially, with very affordable rates if you’re coming to town for Fur Rendezvous or Iditarod, just reserve early. 888-800-0640, 907-929-8888.

Summer at Lake Hood Seaplane Base with the Lakefront Anchorage hotel and Chugach range in the background. Image courtesy of The Lakefront Anchorage.

Lakefront Anchorage, (Anchorage). Formerly the Millennium Hotel, this is the site of all kinds of activity, from Iditarod Sled Dog Race headquarters to access to the busiest seaplane base in the world. It’s also undergone a nearly complete renovation in the past few years, and the last time we stayed there we were wowed by the changes. Convenient to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, biking and walking trails, the Alaska Aviation Museum, and offering three different choices for dining (one seasonally), the Lakefront is a nice choice for visitors. There’s also a modest children’s program called “Ask Alfred” that provides little touches making a kid’s visit more enjoyable. 

 

Did somebody say “POOL”? Hotel Alyeska’s swimming pool is one of its most popular features with families. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Hotel Alyeska (Girdwood): Ohhhh, yes. Bring on the mama-pampering. Sorry, but I was briefly carried away by the European-style comforters, cozy lobby fireplaces, and uber-fabulous family service; never mind the spa. Ahem. So, as I was saying, Hotel Alyeska loves to treat families (and lots of drooling parents) to a night or two of luscious mountain lodge atmosphere, a mere 45 minutes from Anchorage. Ski, hike, snowshoe, fat bike, or just hang out at the hotel, a historic, beautiful structure that spends a ton of time thinking about what packages to offer kids and parents. Pizza and a movie? How about that awesome swimming pool over the holiday break? Maybe a little resort credit? They’re dialed into our minds, and we love to share the love. Do check out the Pond Cafe, too. Great breakfast for kiddos.

 

Who wouldn’t love to hang out in a lobby like this? Pike’s Lodge in Fairbanks represents a uniquely Alaskan touch. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Pike’s Waterfront Lodge (Fairbanks): Need a dose of Alaska kitch? How about a friendly little game of golf that involves driving the ball across the Chena River? Pike’s Lodge is a lodging staple of the far north, and we so appreciate their attention to resident guests who need a place to crash for the year-round fun in Fairbanks. Featuring double-queen rooms, or adjoining rooms to accommodate families or groups, Pike’s also offers plenty of hang-out space; just gaze around the lobby and view the antiques from Alaska’s early days. You’ll see why we go back. Kids and grownups love the free, hand-dipped ice cream provided with each night’s stay, and during the summer, our family enjoys wandering the paved pathway that curves along the placid Chena River. Pike’s is also one of the few Alaska hotels dedicated as “Green”, and we love their commitment to our planet! 877-774-2400.

The Driftwood inn hotel in Homer has been a classic of the Kenai Peninsula for years, and looks just as great now as it did then. Image courtesy Driftwood Inn.

The Driftwood Inn, (Homer). Located on Bishop’s Beach in the old section of Homer (about 5 hours south of Anchorage along the Sterling Highway), The Driftwood is a collection of four separate buildings offering everything from budget rooms at the inn itself to two spacious homes/lodges that can accommodate a whopping 17 people. For families vacationing with grandparents, friends, or their own large crew, The Driftwood always provides great service and plenty of activities within walking distance. Two Sisters Bakery, the beach, Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, Fat Olive’s, and more. We love the ability to park and play, and I bet you will, too. 907-235-8019. 

EK

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