“Yes, You Can:” Alaska With Kids

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”~ Neale Donald Walsch

When our family first moved to Alaska, 13 years ago today, the end of my comfort zone wasn’t just a cautionary line; it was a chasm of the unknown. We were a band of four; mother, father, and two kids, moving from a humid South to the frozen North, with little to prepare us beyond wild tales told to us by my husband’s college friend who lived in Anchorage, our new home.

Moose and bears were frequent enough in our neighborhood that the idea of venturing beyond Anchorage’s urban wilderness seemed patently ridiculous. Traveling across Interior Alaska during the winter months felt equally insane, as my mind swirled with possible scenarios, none of them good, usually predicated by the phrase “What if…?” 

We didn’t have the skills, or the gear, but what we lacked most of all was confidence the former would eventually provide, along with a supportive community to cheer us on. 

And that’s why AKontheGO began, for new Alaskans with kids, visiting families, and everyone who ever felt pulled one direction by the magic that is the Last Frontier — and the other by parental concern, inexperience, or a combination thereof. 

As 2019 dawns, my mantra for families traveling around or to Alaska is “Yes, you can.” You’ll see it in new partnerships, programs, and events. You’ll hear me say it – a lot. You’ll gather skills and confidence and hopefully, a new appreciation for the abilities of you, and your kids, as you explore the 49th state together. 

Team AKontheGO persisted. And it paid off during a recent trip to Caines Head State Rec Area near Seward with two kids. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Here’s a sampling: 

Alaska State Parks is AKontheGO’s newest partner project. Appointed as the first state parks ambassador, my “job” will be to visit as many kid-friendly state park sites as possible and tell you all about them, starting on Saturday, January 5 with a “First Day Hike” event at Glen Alps Trailhead. This two-mile guided interpretive hike is perfect for kids, parents, and everyone except the family dog (sorry, not on this trek). Find out everything you need to know HERE, including other First Day Hikes around Alaska. I’ll be there as well to hike with your family, and talk up state parks, the outdoors, and options for day or overnight adventures around Alaska. From Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula, my crew and I look forward to promoting and enjoying all your state park system has to offer. 

UnCruise Adventures is offering special savings for families sailing with kids. The Grandparent Family Savings special offers grands $500 off ($250/couple) on select departures in Alaska. On other sailings, save $500/child, no small change when you consider the wow-factor of UnCruise’s itineraries. Additionally, I will be leading two very special trips aboard the SS Legacy on July 5 and August 9 departures to explore Alaska’s glacier country, including beautiful Glacier Bay National Park. Check out the experience, and all UnCruise Adventures savings HERE. 

New to mountain or fat-tire biking? I’ve been watching the efforts of North Shore Cyclery in beautiful downtown Talkeetna, and am impressed by owner Shawn Thelen’s commitment to cycling kids and their families. Grab a rental or take a tour with one of North Shore’s expert guides and get to know the sport of biking in Alaska. North Shore Cyclery also has a stock of nordic skis, boots, and poles for rent — so if you tire of pedaling, you can glide instead! Check out the tours HERE. North Shore also offers day camps for young people looking to find their footing, er, pedaling, on mountain bike trails. THIS is how you get kids comfortable with an activity and gain independence. Way to go, team North Shore! Psst: You can, of course, utilize our favorite mode of transport to Talkeetna, the Alaska Railroad, to go up and back during their special winter season schedule dates; and stay at the adorable Talkeetna Cabins. 

Finally, the most exciting partnership of all comes in the melding of the minds at Salmon Berry Tours and AKontheGO for 2019 tours with day and overnight trips focused on kids, parents, and grandparents. Whether you family has only a few hours to spend in Anchorage, or is looking for a multi-day excursion that delves deeper into the history, industry, culture, and recreation of Alaska, the SBT-AKontheGO approach is hands-on and fluff-off. We have several excellent options to pique kids’ interest in several topics of interest while also providing an active day or more of adventuring. From hiking a glacier to sled dog rides to making your own northern lights, we’re all about kids and Alaska. Find out more HERE.

Alaska with kids: say it with me, “Yes, you can.” 

Curry Ridge Trail in Denali State Park from the K’esugi Ken Campground is a 3-mile hike with amazing views; perfect for kids and parents. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO


Posted in General Travel Info, Logistics With Kids and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Love this post! When my husband and I moved up there in 2010 (he was playing for the Aces), we had no idea what we were in for. We loved it so much that we jumped in head first to the lifestyle (which was very very different than home in Toronto) and stayed fro three years. We’ve been back twice since we moved back to Toronto in 2013, our last visit in October/November 2017 with our then 19 month old daughter. People thought we were crazy for visiting in the fall and also for taking our 19 month old, but we knew what we were in for. She had an amazing time and to this day still talks about the trip. We are already planning our next visit back in summer 2020!

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