Even though summer seems to be missing in action today, Alaska’s communities are gearing up for Memorial weekend and the many activities signaling an arrival of longer days, warmer weather, and tons of visitors. AK Fam is happy to jump right in, of course, and I’ve kicked things off with a short visit to the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks.
What the heck am I doing here without AK Dad and AK Kid? Working hard for you, AKontheGO’ers, capturing the essence of this frontier community for my upcoming book, Alaska On the Go: Exploring the 49th State With Children. I flew up aboard an Era Alaska Beechcraft prop plane yesterday, secured my car via Avis, and today will meet with the always-helpful folks at the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau before sneaking out and enjoying the wonderful Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center (always a highlight of any Fairbanks visit). I’ll top off my weekend with a stop at the Museum of the North, then swing into the great outdoors with a hike at Wander Lake and Creamer’s Field. Indoors or out, Fairbanks always delivers for me, and, I’m happy to say, for the rest of the family, too.
There is so much happening all across the state this weekend; here are a few highlights your family might enjoy, brought to you by Alaska Center for Pediatrics, our Fun Friday sponsor since 2011.
ANCHORAGE is hopping all weekend long with the Anchorage Market and Festival, a Saturday-Sunday event happening all summer, downtown on 3rd and E streets. Open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days, the market features Alaskan-made goods, local music, kids’ activities, and some authentic 49th state treats. It’s free to wander among the booths, listen to the tunes, or just people-watch the grounds.
It’s Public Gardens Day on Saturday, and the Alaska Botanical Garden near the corner of Tudor and Campbell Airstrip Road is going to be free all day, beginning at 9 a.m. With more greenery showing up every day, the Garden is a treasure of Anchorage, and a super place to take kids. Wander the Lowenfels Family Nature Trail, visit the rock gardens or see what’s growing in the herb garden. No matter which direction you head, know it’s all native plants, all the time. Bring a backpack or jog stroller for the small ones, the trails are barked, making the use of street strollers difficult. Some families bring a wagon.
If you like parks and green spaces, get “appy” this weekend (or right now, for that matter), with the brand-new Anchorage Parks App, available courtesy of the Anchorage Park Foundation. This free app is available on both iPhones and Androids, and has nifty features like a park finder, rating function, and listing of features for each one of Anchorage’s parks. If you will be visiting Anchorage this summer and need to find a spot to enjoy that “down day” we recommend so highly, this is the app for you. Residents, this is is the perfect solution to the “Where shall we play, today?” question. I’m downloading the app as we speak, in fact. Love this.
Memorial Day is Monday, and AK Fam always reserves a few hours for the Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson ceremonies at the Fort Richardson Cemetery. We dress up a little, bring some flags, and take time to remember those military men and women, and their families, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country’s freedom. The military bands begin playing at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, so plan to arrive by 11 a.m. to secure a spot on the lawn. If you do not possess a military ID, bring your own photo ID, and proof of car insurance, to the Fort Richardson Main Gate off the Glenn Highway to secure a visitor pass for the event. The line may be long, so come early.
FAIRBANKS is hosting their annual Free Museums Day throughout ten area museums and visitor centers on Saturday. Start at Pioneer Park, pick up a map, and weave your way around town, looking for the balloons that signify a free museum to visit. Take the family-friendly quiz, too, and see how much you know about the greater Fairbanks area. Creamer’s Field Farmhouse Visitor Center is free, too, so stop in and say hi!
Like cars? The Carlson Center is hosting an Antique Classic Car Show on Saturday, featuring many vehicles from my favorite Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. You won’t believe what sorts of automobiles have made their way to and from the 49th state, and the show will offer up-close inspection and some gearhead mechanics to answer any questions. If that wasn’t enough, make your way to the Antique Auto Museum on the Wedgewood Resort grounds near College Road to see many more, and a beautiful collection of vintage clothing.
EXTRAS! Mark your calendars right now for the annual Bear Safety For Families class Wednesday, May 30 at Campbell Creek Science Center. A must-do class for all outdoor-minded families, this is the 3rd year we’ve helped promote this class and have learned a thing or two along the way. 7 p.m. in the Center’s multipurpose room, and the class, as always, is absolutely free. Bring kids, for sure!
The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is offering a cool Family Camp on multiple days this summer, starting in June. Take a boat across to Peterson Bay from Homer, stay in a yurt, roast marshmallows, and learn a ton about our Alaskan marine world. Your class fee covers transportation to/from Peterson Bay, all meals, activities (except kayaking, $50 extra), and the personal touch that only the Center provides to guests. So, so awesome. What a great way to spend a summer weekend. Check their website for complete fee listings and dates.
EXTRA-EXTRA! Over the next month, AKontheGO will begin our transition to a completely-new, absolutely-incredible, bigger-than-life website. I mean, really, really big. We’ve been working hard since January of this year to create a completely new experience for our loyal readers, and we’re nearly ready to launch. It’s going to be different, folks, but rest assured, the same AKontheGO stories will be right at your fingertips. We’ve grown up, remember, and the website needs to grow with us. Look for some sneak peeks these next few weeks, with our big deal launch the third week of June.