Alaska On the Go Show #5 brought Mandy Garcia into the studios. Mandy is co-owner of Salmon Berry Tours, a small but vibrant company based in Anchorage that strives to help visitors and residents alike enjoy their Alaska experience.
Mandy Garcia arrived in the Out North Studios with a slurry of notes covering front and back of a sheet of paper. Clearly, we had a lot to talk about. The team at Salmon Berry Tours has been guiding visitors (and a fair amount of Alaskans) on trips around the Last Frontier since 2007, and since that humble beginning with one small van and a ton of enthusiasm, has become a hallmark of family-friendly tourism. (Full disclosure here: A few years ago I became so impressed that I signed on as an occasional guide.)
What is the reason behind this success? Garcia talks of the company mission, and also its hashtag — #FindYourAlaska — as a guidepost for helping travelers discover what they really want from their Alaska experience, and matching them up with appropriate activities.
Dedicated to smaller tours — most range from 5-15 people at one time, depending upon the experience — Salmon Berry guides are able to truly immerse visitors in their tour with personal touches that range from making sure everyone has all the clothing they need to adding kid-friendly snacks and drinks for families.Where does Salmon Berry Tours go? Perhaps a better question is “Where do they not?” With the smaller size as an advantage, the company is able to offer curated trips that match a traveling family’s needs, especially within the scope of multigenerational groups. A few examples include aurora borealis tours that enable families to stay overnight with the kids all snuggled in while adults enjoy the light show; an exploration of Kenai Fjords National Park; or a broad-brush look at mainland Alaska, Seward to the Arctic Circle.
Daytripping families will also appreciate Salmon Berry Tours’ access to Anchorage-area highlights, like the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Turnagain Arm, Talkeetna, and Matanuska Glacier. Using a “hub-and-spoke” approach, families traveling with kids will find it much easier to set up a base camp in Anchorage and venture out each day under careful guidance from SBT.
And the company doesn’t stop when the snow flies, Garcia says. In fact, winter tours have become a hallmark of Salmon Berry Tours, especially right now during Fur Rendezvous and Iditarod season. Have a group of family or friends who want to experience dog mushing in the spirit of Iditarod? How about gathering everyone up and hopping aboard a comfortable SBT van for a trip to Talkeetna and a few hours mushing at Dallas Seavey’s kennel? You’ll be able to relax, leave the driving to the guides, and get lunch out of the deal as well. If this is a “must-do” activity, the tour is a great investment and a fun day.
New to Anchorage? Check out one of the shorter day tours for an overview of our fair city. From one to three hours, tours like the Scenic City Tour or Anchorage Eco-Tour offer the chance to become acquainted with Alaska’s largest city and leave the driving to someone else. This is also an excellent option for those transferring to Seward or Whittier to pick up or disembark a cruise ship.
Gear-wise, the Salmon Berry Tours office, located on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, has all the extras: Car seats, extra boots, jackets, and gloves. They always bring snacks and drinks as well, aiming for the goal of comfortable guests and guides who go the extra mile, every day.
Not sure which tour is right for your family? Visit the Salmon Berry Tours website, or call the office for guidance about all their Alaska tours.
#FindYourAlaska? Indeed, you can!