50+ Things To Do This Summer in Alaska

Here’s the perfect bucket list of summer fun for your family

What’s more fun than summer? Summer vacations! But if you need some help planning summer activities in Alaska for your family, here’s a bucketful of suggestions to get you started – from day trips to longer trips, and trips to fit any budget. Try something new – or tried and true – from our list of 50+ great family-friendly ideas across the state.

Southcentral Alaska

Anchorage / Eagle River

Meet the polar bear, watch the tiger, and check out the critters like porcupines, coyotes and owls at the Alaska Zoo, the state’s only zoo.

Cost:  $15/adult (Alaska resident); $10/child (3-17); 2 and under free
Info:  For upcoming zoo activities, visit alaskazoo.org/zoo-events

Enjoy an afternoon of Music in the Park at Peratrovich Park. From June to August, Anchorage Downtown Partnership throws free family-friendly live concerts every Wednesday, 12-1 pm.

Cost:  Free
Info:  anchoragedowntown.org/annual-events

Walk the boards at Potter Marsh boardwalk. Spot many species of birds (eagles, ducks, arctic terns, swans, and more). Look for muskrats swimming, salmon spawning and moose foraging in the marsh.

Cost:  Free
Info:  Visit Potter Marsh

Fill the day with fun and discovery at Anchorage Museum’s Discovery Center. With its many science exhibits and interactive displays, kids and families will be kept entertained for hours. Climb inside a giant bubble or pet marine animals including sea stars.

Cost: $17/adult Alaska resident (18-64); $10/child (6-12); 5 and under free
Info:  anchoragemuseum.org

Take your aviation enthusiasts to the Alaska Aviation Museum, where they can learn about historical planes and see them first-hand. Jump into the simulator and soar among the clouds.

Cost:  $17.50/adult; $10.50/child (3-13); $48/family (2 adults, 3 children); under 3 free
Info:  alaskaairmuseum.org

Go fishing at one of Anchorage’s stocked lakes, such as Campbell Creek and Jewel Lake – perfect for young anglers. Fish for rainbow trout, arctic char and salmon.

Cost: Fishing licenses are not required for Alaska residents under age 18
Info: Search fishing stock at adfg.alaska.gov

Stop by the Eagle River Nature Center or a workshop, take a child-friendly guided nature walk or just enjoy the spectacular views. Stroll the easy 3/4-mile Rodak Loop trail where you’ll find informative signs about wildlife in surrounding areas and viewing platforms raised over the streams. Walkers, strollers, the family dog, and wheelchairs are all easily accommodated.

Cost:  $5 parking; fees for workshops vary
Info: For upcoming workshops and other info, visit ernc.org

Hit the Thunderbird Falls Trail. Just 25 miles north of Anchorage, this flat, one-mile trail is an easy-breezy hike for families with small children (even in strollers) and leads to a roaring 200-foot waterfall. There’s a viewing platform and boardwalks.

Cost:  $5/parking
Info: dnr.alaska.gov/parks/maps/thunderbirdfallsguide.pdf

Girdwood / Portage / Whittier

Alyeska’s Aerial Tram lets you get a bird's-eye view of Turnagain Arm, “hanging” glaciers and streams. Look down and you might spot a bear or moose. Bring lunch with you and enjoy a scenic picnic at the observation deck up top, or grab lunch at the Bore Tide Deli.

Cost: $38/adult; $28/student (13-18); $21/child (6-12); under 5 free
Info:  alyeskaresort.com/alyeska-aerial-tram

Perfect for that first family campout, Bird Creek Campground (at Mile 101 on Seward Hwy) features 24 campsites with picnic tables, fire pits and nearby water and latrines. Enjoy fishing, hiking, whale watching, wildlife viewing and spectacular sunsets.

Cost:  $20/night campsite
Info:  dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/chugach/birdcreekcamp.htm

Bring your bicycles and tricycles to ride along the paved 13-mile bike route from Bird Creek to Girdwood . At a fairly flat elevation, this easy route is accessible even with the kids in tow for a fun day trip. The path features numerous rest stops with benches, interpretive signs, and telescopes along the way. Catch glimpses of beluga whales and soak up the gorgeous views of Turnagain Arm.

Cost: $5/parking at Bird Point rest stop (mile 96.1)
Info: alaska.org/detail/bird-to-gird-trail

Seeking incredible glacier views in the middle of summer? You’ll find it on the 1.4 mile Byron Glacier Trail, an all-time family-favorite hike. This scenic trek wanders along the glacial Byron Creek after emerging from a lush forest setting, where you’ll be met with views of the glacier. The many stones along the creek bank offer plenty of imaginative activities for kids of all ages.

Cost: $5/parking
Info:  alaska.org/detail/byron-glacier-trail

Get up close to amazing critters at the 200-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Tour the scenic 1.5-mile loop by foot, by bike, or by car, while learning about the resident wildlife. Stop by during feeding time and watch animals – like lynx and birds of prey – eat. If your budget has room, sign up for a special guided tour where you can feed the animals, and more.

Cost: $20/adult; $16/child (5-17); 4 and under free; cost for special tours vary
Info:  alaskawildlife.org

Make your trip to Girdwood memorable by learning to rock climb as a family with Ascending Path at Tram Rock. Climbing gear, a technically experienced guide, and snacks and water are provided. Wear comfortable clothing and athletic shoes.

Cost: $129/person (3-70)

Info:  ascendingpath.com/tours/rock-climbing

On the way to Whittier, drive through the famous Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel – the longest highway tunnel in North America (at 2 1/2 miles), built to withstand -40 degree temperatures and up to 150 mph winds. Tip: Time your trip to get to the tunnel around its opening time to avoid a line – or arrive early and soak up the sunshine and scenery.

Cost: $13 toll roundtrip

Info:  dot.alaska.gov/creg/whittiertunnel

Mat-Su Valley

Tour the Independence Mine State Historical Park and learn what it was like to live and work in one of Alaska's largest gold mining camps. Wander around the abandoned mining camp, amid spectacular mountain scenery. Hit one of several great hiking trails in the park leading to alpine lakes, mining ruins and stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Cost: $5 parking fee; optional 45-minute guided tour: $15/adult, $5/child (2-11), under 2 free
Info:  dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/indmine.htm

Saddle up with the Alaska Horsemen Trail Adventures for a 90-minute horseback trail ride through the foothills of Red Mountain where you’ll see incredible views of the Chugiak Range.

Cost: $129/person for 90-minute ride
Info: sunderlandranch.com

Near the Independence Mine, take a family-friendly hike on the 1.5-mile Gold Cord Lake Trail. This moderately trafficked trail features a crystal-clear lake with lots of places to relax by the water. Look for birds and marmots.

Cost: $5/parking
Info:  Gold Cord Lake Trail

Tour the 70-acre Musk Ox Farm and get a close-up look at the lively herd of over 80 musk oxen, from powerful bulls to frolicking calves. Check out the gift shop full of crafts made with harvested muskox hair (qiviut).

Cost:  $14/adults; $8/children (5-17); under 5 free
Info: muskoxfarm.org

Feed, pet and interact with reindeer, moose, alpacas and more critters at the Reindeer Farm .

Cost: $15/adult; $13/child (3-11); under 3 free
Info: reindeerfarm.com

Kenai Peninsula

Homer/Kachemak Bay/Kenai River

Take the kids fishing at a great family fishing spot, Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, locally known as The Fishing Hole. The lagoon is stocked with silver (coho) and king (chinook) salmon. Fish cleaning tables, restroom facilities, and a small picnic area are also provided.

Cost: Free
Info:  cityofhomer-ak.gov/publicworks/fishing-lagoonm

Stop in at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center for an educational journey through the refuge's sights and sounds (and even the smells of a seabird colony). From there, walk the easy 1.2 mile Beluga Slough Trail, a well-known birding “hot spot” for viewing sandhill cranes, ducks and shorebirds. The trail ends at Bishop’s Beach.

Cost:  Free
Info: fws.gov/refuge/alaska-maritime

Go tidepooling. Bishop's Beach is a perfect spot for intertidal adventures. Watch for the low tides and you can find sea stars, octopus, crabs, anemones and other sea creatures.

Cost:  Free
Info: cityofhomer-ak.gov/publicworks/bishops-beach

Bask in the views as you enjoy a serene 2-hour float along a non-motorized stretch of the scenic upper Kenai River with Alaska Wildland Adventures. Keep a watch for moose, eagles, Dall sheep, salmon, waterfowl, beavers and bears as your guide navigates you through snow-capped mountain scenery.

Cost: $65/adults; $45/child (5-11)
Info:  alaskawildland.com

Explore life of the Kachemak Bay region through exhibits and local artisans at the Pratt Museum . Take a nature trail walk, watch seabirds in real time through a live-feed wildlife camera, and tour an historic homesteader’s cabin and garden.

Cost: $13/adult (Alaska residents); $5/child (6-18); 5 and under free
Info:  prattmuseum.org

Enjoy wilderness to its fullest without roughing it by “glamping” in a 16-foot Park Yurt in the Kachemak Bay State Park. These yurts are the perfect launchpad for the many adventures Kachemak Bay has to offer (kayaking, beachcombing, fishing, hiking and more).

Cost:  $75/night
Info:  alaskanyurtrentals.com/kachemak-bay-yurts

Seward/ Resurrection Bay

Get close encounters with marine life at the Alaska SeaLife Center. See Stellar sea lions gliding past underwater viewing windows, puffins diving in a carefully crafted naturalistic habitat, and a giant pacific octopus change its color before your eyes.

Cost (Alaska resident):  $22.95/adult; $13.75/child (3-12); under 3 free
Info: For birding guides and checklists, visit alaskasealife.org

See Seward from a whole new perspective – soaring above on a Stoney Creek zipline. As you go, admire the forest scenery, plus views of the Kenai Mountains. A fun and exhilarating family trip!

Cost:  $164/adult; $119/child (10-14)
Info:  stoneycreekca.com

Go for a 2.5-hour kayaking trip with Sunny Cove. Paddle in 2-person kayaks along the beautiful shoreline of Lowell Point State Recreation Area and Resurrection Bay. Great for first-time kayakers, this family-friendly trip is available for kids 8 and up.

Cost: $109/person
Info:  sunnycove.com

Ride a dog sled through Alaska's wilderness trails with Seavey’s Ididaride, home of 3-time Iditarod champ Mitch Seavey. Tour the kennel, learn about the Iditarod and how dogs are trained, and cuddle adorable husky puppies.

Cost (1.5-hour tour):  $99/adult; $49.50/child
Info: ididaride.com

Explore the world of wildlife up close in the calm, protected waters of Resurrection Bay on a 4-hour Kenai Fjords Wildlife Cruise. As you travel along the scenic coastline, look for orca whales, humpback whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, puffins, and many species of marine birds. A great cruise option for families with small children.

Cost:  $129/adult; $64.50/child (2-11); under 2 free
Info: majormarine.com/tour/4-hour-kenai-fjords-wildlife-cruise

Get gorgeous glacier views without the cost of flying or boating in by taking a roadtrip to the Kenai Fjords National Park and hit the trail to Exit Glacier (just a 10-15 minute drive out of Seward). Just outside the Exit Glacier Nature Center, ranger-led walks to the edge of the glacier are offered twice daily during the summer. The Art for Parks Backpacks filled with art supplies can be checked out for free from the center.

Cost:  Free
Info: nps.gov/kefj

Interior Alaska


Fill the day with fun and discovery at the Fairbanks Children's Museum. Kids will love the big water table, air tunnel, tree canopy climber (a giant wooden jungle gym) and more.

Cost: $10/person; $5/grandparents; $3/Alaska Quest/EBT card holders; under 1 free
Info:  fairbankschildrensmuseum.com

Go bird watching! Take a guided nature walk at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, a 2,200-acre bird sanctuary. In the summer, see lots of sandhill cranes before they make their journey south. One family-favorite trail is the Boreal Forrest Loop with about 2 miles of forest and boardwalks. Stroller friendly too.

Cost: Suggested $3 donation for themed nature walks
Info:  creamersfield.org

Let gold fever strike your family at Gold Dredge 8, where you can learn to pan for gold – and find some! Ride a replica of the Tanana Valley Railroad (the original transported miners across gold camps) through a permafrost tunnel and learn how early mining took place in Alaska. Find another great treasure in the gift shop: free cookies and hot chocolate!

Cost (2-hour tour): $54.95/adults; $34.95/children (3-12); under 3 free
Info:  golddredge8.com

Visit Alaska’s only historic theme park: the 44-acre Pioneer Park. In the summer, attractions include a miniature passenger train that meanders through the park, mini-golf, a carousel, museums, food vendors, a playground and free daily outdoor concerts.

Cost: Free to enter the park; some museums and activities charge a nominal fee
Info:  co.fairbanks.ak.us/pioneerpark

Hot springs during the summer? You bet! Chena Hot Springs has many family-friendly summer activities available, including dog kennel tours, driving ATVs, touring the world’s largest year-round ice museum, horseback riding, and, of course, soaking in the hot springs.

Cost: Prices range from $15-$32 and up for tours and rides – check website for rates
Info: chenahotsprings.com/summer-activities


Hop aboard Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star Train in Anchorage for a scenic 3-hour ride north to Talkeetna (without worrying about driving).

Cost (Anchorage/Wasilla to Talkeetna): $116/adult; $58/child (2-11)
Info: alaskarailroad.com/ride-a-train/our-trains/denali-star

Talkeetna is a hotspot for mountain climbers (think Denali!) but even for those just stopping by, the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station is a must-visit attraction, full of historical climbing gear and information about famous climbers who braved the nearby mountains. Watch an interesting 30-minute video about climbing Denali.

Cost: Free
Info: nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/walter-haper-trs.htm

Check out the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, full of exhibits and stories of native peoples, gold seekers, trappers, and more. Don’t miss the room-sized sculpted model of Denali!

Cost: $10/adult; $8/senior (62 or older); under 10 free
Info: talkeetnamuseum.org

Just a short walk from downtown Talkeetna, the large Talkeetna Riverfront Park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great views of Susitna River and Denali.

Cost: Free
Info: alaska.org/detail/talkeetna-riverfront-park

Take a 2-hour Wilderness Excursion boat tour down the scenic Susitna River with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures Visit an Athabascan settlement, including a trapper’s cabin, and hear naturalists talk about local flora and fauna, the history of the Dena’ina people, what life was like in the area and more.

Cost: $84/adult; $57/child (2-12); under 2 free
Info: mahaysriverboat.com


Stop in at the Denali Visitor Center a great source for visitor information and ranger-guided walks. Watch a short film about the seasons and wildlife throughout the park; it will entertain even the youngest of viewers. Ask for a free Discovery Pack filled with lots of activities and supplies to keep kids busy as they explore the park. Plus, they can earn a Junior Ranger Badge to take home.

Cost:  Free
Info: nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/the-denali-visitor-center.htm

Get the best view of majestic Denali with a Sheldon Air Service flightseeing tour. For a truly unforgettable trip, cap it off with a glacial landing, where you can start a snowball fight mid-summer.

Cost: $120/person and up; for a glacial landing, add $120/person to any tour
Info: sheldonairservice.com

Love dogs? Check out the Sled Dog Demonstrations and visit the dog kennels where you can pet the dogs. These popular programs are a great way to learn more about mushing and the role of sled dogs in Denali.

Cost: Free
Info: nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/sled-dog-demonstrations.htm

Go camping at the Byers Lake campground, where canoeing and kayak rentals are also available on-location for family fun on the lake. This quiet, family campground is set on the shores of the lake and at the foot of Kesugi Ridge, an area that offers spectacular views of Denali. Along with the 73 campsites, 3 public use cabins are available.

Cost: $5/parking; $20/campsite; $80/cabins
Info: dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/matsu/byerslkcamp.htm

Explore the Alaskan backcountry on an ATV with Denali ATV Adventures . Your adventure includes splashing through rivers and catching breathtaking views of the Alaska Range, Otto Lake and the Healy Valley. Choose from single-rider to multi-passenger ATVs so the kids can ride along for the fun.

Cost: Starting at $125
Info: denaliatv.com

Southest Alaska


Comb the soft sands at Savikko Park, also known as Sandy Beach. Throw a ball around at one of the parks, use the playground, check out tide pools created by former mine tailings or explore the remnants of the historic Treadwell gold mine on the beach or the trails in the forest.

Cost: Free
Info: juneau.org/parks-recreation/savikko-park

Stroll down the Seawalk, which provides amazing views of real whales when they make their way down Gastineau channel. Check out the iconic whale statue, Tahku – a life-size bronze sculpture of a breaching humpback whale rising amidst waterworks from the infinity pool.

Cost: Free
Info: juneau.org/parks-recreation/overstreet-park

Visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, learn about the glacier, landscape and wildlife from a local park ranger and pick a trail to hike. Kids of all ages will enjoy the easy to moderate trails around the area, or you can take your teens for a more challenging path along the 3-mile East Glacier trail.

Cost: $5/adults; under 16 free
Info:  fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/about-forest/offices/?cid=stelprdb5400800

Explore Alaska’s sea life at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. Check out the many indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a saltwater aquarium with over 150 species. Don’t miss the touch tanks where fearless kids (and adults) can feel slimy sea cucumbers, spiny urchins and crawly crabs.

Cost: $5/person; under 2 free
Info:  dipac.net


Walk through the Totem Bight State Historical Park, packed with restored and re-carved totems as well as a colorful Clan House. This park is as beautiful as it is historical, with beach-side walking trails connecting the totems. Learn about towering totems through interpretive signs and an informational pamphlet available at the entrance. Tip: Plan your visit at low tide for fun exploring the nearby tide pools!

Cost: Free
Info:  dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/totembgh.htm

Discover Alaska's rainforest and learn about the people who call it home at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. The center is full of exhibits and interactive displays that are fun for kids of all ages. Feel the fur of various forest creatures, color forest-themed pictures, see a movie in the 150-seat theater and participate in a scavenger hunt.

Cost: $5/adults; under 15 free
Info:  fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/about-forest/offices/?cid=fseprd547855


Walk from downtown Sitka to the wheelchair- and stroller-friendly coastal trails in the Sitka National Historical Park. The woods are full of gorgeous plants, critters and enormous totems carved by the Tlingit and Haida people.

Cost: Free
Info: nps.gov/sitk

Watch a Tlingit dance performance at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House. Their dances and songs have been passed down for generations.

Cost: $10/adult; $5/child (3-12); children who sit on laps are free
Info: visitsitka.org/member/naa-kahidi-dancers

Want to see bears up close? Get within 25 feet of brown bears in a naturalized setting at the Fortress of the Bear. Watch three populations of bears and observe their unique personalities from the safety of a large viewing platform, indoor balcony windows, or ground level windows.

Cost: $15/adults; $5/youth (8-18); under 7 free
Info:  fortressofthebear.org


Get a taste of the historic Gold Rush by riding the famous White Pass & Yukon train. The train climbs from sea level to nearly 3,000 feet in 20 minutes. Tour guides narrate the stories of the hearty miners as the train winds through narrow tunnels and between towering mountains and crystal-clear lakes. After the train ride, look around the Depot to see historic artifacts from the gold rush.

Cost (2.5-2.75-hour trip): $142/adult; $71/child; under 2 free
Info:  wpyr.com

Start your visit at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center, where your kids can learn more about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush through different exhibits and ranger talks, and even earn their Junior Ranger Badge. Then head out on a beautiful scenic hike to see waterfalls, lakes, and more in one of the trails old miners used to walk on.

Cost: Free
Info: nps.gov/klgo