Someone told me the other day “Everything you’ve posted on your Website is a must-see. How the heck could we possibly do that during one trip to Alaska?” Very good point, intrepid AKontheGO-reader, and one I will attempt to answer.
Forty years ago (well, okay, maybe even after that) the family vacation was a standard two-weeks. Employers allowed the ”family man” of the household to spend two consecutive weeks away from the office. Somehow this concept has morphed into the vacation policies and procedures of the 21st century, when the economy is struggling and people are just lucky to have a job, much less a true “get outta Dodge” vacation. Vacations are not the compulsary summertime pilgrimage they once were, when families packed kids, dogs, and camping gear into the woody station wagon and headed to Yellowstone National Park and enjoyed 14 days of relaxation with no thought of work until the Sunday before Monday. Its trickier today, and the concept of fast-track travel through Alaska is certainly no exception; motorcoaches meet railroads and ships in order to streamline the busy traveler on his or her way towards seeing every possible inch of the state as possible before that final whistle call back home.
Needless to say, this strategy is not always the most effective for parents. AK Fam has long advocated the return of the “real vacation”, especially to Alaska. Why? Simple. It takes most families a day to get here, find their place of lodging, and acclimate to the daylight/darkness, and for mom and dad to forget about work back home. Vacation starts the next day. Let’s begin:
Anchorage: Three days. Pick ‘em at the beginning of the trip, you’ll be close to amenities, get a feel for how we Alaskans operate, and allow the kids to become comfortable in their newfound wilderness. Alaska Zoo, Campbell Creek Science Center and trails, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Museum of Natural History, and the Anchorage Museum. Throw in some of our favorite eateries and some downtown Anchorage fun like the Market and Festival or Bear and Raven Theater, and Boom! You’ve done it.
Denali National Park: Allow four to five days to get there, have fun, and get back to Anchorage or on to Fairbanks. Talkeetna? Don’t want to miss the Roadhouse for the cinnamon rolls and kitchy company, or the tons of Denali mountaineers who descend upon the town to register for their climb. Or perhaps a flightsee tour. At the Park, stay in the Denali Princess Lodge at the entrance and take advantage of their hospitality and arrangements for all things Great One.
Okay, so far we have a week. One more to go!
Fairbanks: Four days for sure, maybe five. Go on the Chena river with Riverboat Discovery, soak in the Chena Hot Springs, visit Santa’s House (really!), and pan for gold at Pioneer Park. Don’t forget some great hiking and biking, or the fabulous Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor’s Center, or Creamer’s Field and the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Museum of the North. Whew. Add few days to the trip back to Anchorage by looping around to the Glenn Highway and staying at Sheep Mountain Lodge, where Iditarod veteran Zack Steer and family will provide you with great food and incredible log cabin accommodations. Two days.
To wind up, or wind down, as the case may be, your vacation together, don’t forget to explore local parks found around any of the above mentioned towns. Let the kids, and you, have some unstructured time. Buy some picnic fixin’s at the store and just be. Breathe in the beauty of Alaska and the fact that you’ve just spent a full two weeks on vacation.
There is so much more to see and do. Visit each community’s Website for details and options just for your family. See what we do. See it together, without the rush-factor.