Anchorage: A Family-Friendly Metropolis

From cultural and culinary institutions to moose sightings and hundreds of miles of trails, Alaska’s largest city offers a variety of activities for the whole family.


Alaska’s largest city is far more than just a gateway to the rest of the state. Anchorage is a must-stop for any family-travel itinerary to Alaska.

Bordered by the jagged peaks of the Chugach Mountains to the east and the shimmering waters of Cook Inlet to the west, Anchorage is awash in scenic beauty. It’s a vibrant city graced with fine places to eat and shop, cultural activities and historic attractions for the entire family. With more than 500 miles of trails within its city limits, Anchorage offers all sorts of wilderness access. And thanks to the funneling effect of the mountains and the water, kids are likely to site big critters, like moose, right in town.

Downtown Anchorage

Start your visit downtown, where in addition to visiting fun shops like the Kobuk Coffee and Tea Company and the Alaska Glass Gallery, you can wander past fanciful fiberglass Wild Salmon on Parade sculptures. When you’re ready for a rest, head to the top of the Hotel Captain Cook or the Snow Goose Restaurant to grab a drink or a meal while enjoying panoramic views of the city, the ocean and the mountains.

Other favorite downtown eateries include Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, Snow City Café and the more formal Simon and Seafort’s.

Anchorage also houses a couple of great places to get acquainted with the local history and culture. The Anchorage Museum hosts a marvelous collection of regional art along with interactive permanent displays.

At the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, you can learn about the natural history and geography of the Great Land. If you have time, take in the free earthquake film, then head to South Anchorage to visit Earthquake Park, marking the place where 75 homes slid from their foundations during a magnitude 9.2 Good Friday Earthquake in 1964.

500 miles of hiking trails

From either downtown Anchorage or Earthquake Park, you can access the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail for a hike or bike ride, stopping to marvel at the swirling mud flats formed by the inlet’s rushing tides and to let the kids feed the ducks at Westchester Lagoon. Ducks also paddle the waters of Lake Hood, the busiest float-plane base in the world. For a more challenging hike for older kids, join the locals in a trek up Flattop Mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Anchorage Bowl.

The whole family will also enjoy the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where in addition to permanent displays on the Yup’ik, Athabaskan, Inupiat, Tlingit and Haida cultures, there are often live demonstrations of traditional native crafts and activities. Kids will also have fun catching a glimpse of Star the Reindeer, housed at a private residence at the corner of Minnesota and 10th Streets, or ogling the huge chocolate waterfall at the Alaska Wild Berry Products store.

Just south of town, you can ride a tram up Mount Alyeska, stopping to hike, explore or pick berries at the top. At the foot of the mountain, stop by the world-famous Double Musky Inn, known for its Alaskan seafood served Cajun-style—but be prepared for a wait, as the place doesn’t take reservations. And if you’re hoping to subsidize your trip with a bit of the stuff that made prospectors rush the Klondike, stop by the Indian Valley Mine, where even the kids can pan for gold.

Contact information:


Double Musky Inn
Crow Creek Road, Girdwood
(907) 783-2822

Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse
610 West Sixth Avenue
(907) 276-2337

Casual favorites like halibut tacos in a friendly (if sometimes noisy) setting.

Simon and Seafort’s
420 L Street
(907) 274-3502
Great martinis and fine dining with fabulous ocean views. 

Snow City Café
Fourth Avenue and L Streets
(907) 272-2489
Great breakfasts. Call ahead to put your name on the waiting list.

Snow Goose Restaurant
(907) 277-7727
Home of the Sleeping Lady Brewery, with a nice outdoor deck and live music on weekends.


Historic Anchorage Hotel
330 E Street
(907) 272-4553
Twenty-six charming rooms and suites in the heart of Anchorage.

Copper Whale Inn Bed & Breakfast
440 L Street
(866) 258-7999
Built in 1939 in downtown Anchorage.

The Hotel Captain Cook
Fourth Avenue at K Street
(907) 276-6000
A favorite of tour companies, but there’s plenty of room for all in the three towers of this hotel.

Voyager Hotel
501 K Street
(907) 277-9501
A friendly small hotel, with 40 guest rooms.

Destinations: Alaska, Anchorage

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Hiking

User Comments

I love Anchorage. I've got to get back to my city when I get the chance.

Don't forget the trolley. My kids loved it!! It's only an hour and is very inforitave.

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