While the traditional neighborhood march a’la costume is indeed alive and well in Alaska (AK Kid can attest to that), many popular tourist attractions double their efforts for unique Halloween celebrations that capture the required amount of spookiness with a little learning thrown in alongside those candy bars and fruit snacks.
Visiting the 49th state in the fall can yield a wealth of interesting and totally fun activities for the whole family. Low lodging rates, falling airfares, and a chance to schmooze with the likes of real, live, unpretentious Alaskans means your family will receive a truly authentic experience, especially during Halloween. Check it out:
WHERE: While most Alaskan communities big and small put on some sort of event for kids, a visiting family is likely to score a variety of activities in the state’s two largest cities, Anchorage and Fairbanks. Fly into either place via Alaska Airlines, whose airfares scream “bargain” during their PFD Sale each September.
WHEN: With full calendars of spooky events, arriving in Alaska at least two or three days before Halloween is a splendid idea, especially if the Big Day arrives on a weekday. Take a few days on either end, too, for enjoyment of late-fall hiking and exploring, or early-winter sledding depending upon the weather. Many hotels and resorts offer excellent specials in that gray space between the end of summer and the beginning of winter. Try Alyeska Resort in Girdwood (we’ll tell you why in a minute), the Copper Whale Inn or Anchorage Grand Hotel in downtown Anchorage, or the Hampton Inn and Pike’s Lodge in Fairbanks. All are extremely family-friendly and I just bet would love to have your Superman or Wonderwoman streaking down the halls for a candy treat at the front desk!
WHAT TO DO: Now, the fun stuff. Here’s a rundown of signature special events with an outdoor theme, suitable for every member of your brood:
Friday, October 28:
Icky, Squishy Party, Anchorage: What could be more fun for your school-aged kids than checking out the inner workings of a dead critter? The folks at the Alaska Museum of Natural History know how to weave a little bit of science into spooky. Join a biologist from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for an afternoon of autopsy. I promise it will be interesting. And fun. Be sure to wander the rest of the museum, too, and connect the dots to Alaska’s natural biology, geology, and archeology. Kids will love the dig pit and activity corner, too. Drop-in program from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $5/adults, $3 kids.
Girdwood Kids’ Carnival: Thanks to the generosity of Alyeska Resort, the Girdwood Carnival is one of our fav Halloween events. A fundraiser for the Girdwood School, the event features music, food, crafts, and traditional carnival games, all in a truly family-friendly atmosphere of the Alyeska Daylodge. Love it. I love it even more when we stay overnight at the Alyeska Grand Hotel for a little pampered luxury and yummy breakfast before heading home the next day. 4:30-8:30 p.m. $3/person, $10 family.
Saturday, October 29:
Creepy Critters at Creamer’s Field, Fairbanks: We love this place, with its old farmhouse visitor center and attentive staff who teach and entertain kids in such creative ways! From Noon-4 p.m., kids and parents will walk among the fields and search for creepy crawlies before heading back to the visitor center for crafts, snacks, and warm drinks. This is a drop-in program, so show up whenever you like for some northern fall fun. Costumes, of course, are encouraged. FREE.
Eagle River Nature Center, near Anchorage: The first of three events at this nature-themed facility, the Enchanted Forest is a chance for pre-school children to get a taste of Halloween without the spook-factor. 2 p.m. FREE, $5 parking for non-members.
Night at the Museum, Wasilla: THIS is amazing. The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla is hosting their annual haunted event from 4-8 p.m. Old cars, trucks, and trains take on an eerie glow as staff and volunteers make up a maze of trouble for visitors. Don’t forget to visit the haunted Alaska Railroad Train? ACKKK!! Suitable for all ages (there is a non-scary area, too). $8/adults, $5 kids.
Halloween At AWCC, Portage: Join the folks at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for an after-hours party with the critters at their facility in Portage, 55 miles from Anchorage. Learn about the animals who call AWCC home and spend a little time making crafts, eating snacks, and inspecting moose, bear, and eagle, um, scat. Come in costume, of course! Regular admission fees apply, check website. $10/adults, $7.50 kids. 5-8 p.m.
Sunday, October 30:
Old Hallow’s Eve, Eagle River Nature Center, near Anchorage: Stop by the center at 2 p.m. for a presentation titled “The Witch and Her Owl,” then stick around for an “Old Hallow’s Eve” celebration, featuring a walk along the trails of the property and ending up at the classroom yurt for treats. FREE, $5 parking for non-members.
Monday, October 31:
ZooBoo! Anchorage: A longstanding tradition among many Anchorage parents, ZooBoo! is trick-or-treating in the boundaries of the Alaska Zoo, with much help from the facility’s animals, of course. Get a candy bar from the moose, or perhaps a sticker from the wolf pack; at any rate, you better get your tickets online before they go away! 5-8 p.m., $5/passholders, $7/general public. 346-2133.
Halloween at the Museum of the North, Fairbanks: Visit this incredible facility on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and see firsthand the research labs and behind-the-scenes sites of spectacular spookdom! Science experiments, goodies, and lots of buggy fun will be going on between 4-7 p.m. FREE with a donation of canned food. Call 907-747-7505 for more info.
Have a howling good time in Alaska for Halloween, and watch out for flying specters; they could be anywhere this time of year!