Monday, December 04, 2006

Winter Activities for Kids in Anchorage, Alaska

If you aren't living in Anchorage, maybe these activities will give you ideas about what may be available in your own community--or maybe you should just move to Anchorage.

1. Go ice fishing. The 19th Annual Ice Fishing Jamboree out at Jewel Lake will be Saturday and Sunday December 16, 17 from 10am-3pm. It's free, with poles, warm-up tents and all equipment provided--perfect for kids and adults alike. My own children love it.

2. Go snow tubing at Alyeska Resort. Go sledding on the mountain, $15 for adults and $10 for kids, in 1 1/2 hour sessions starting at 10:00am. Beware that children must be 42" to ride. Inner tubes are provided.

3. Ice skate at Westchester Lagoon. The ice was declared thick enough a week or two ago and will be maintained for skating all winter and on Friday nights there are fire-barrels for added fun. This picture is from the Sydney Herald, as in Sydney, Australia. I thought it was funny that our little outdoor rink made it to the other side of the world.

4. Tour a reindeer farm. Williams Reindeer Farm in Palmer is open for regular tours in the summer but will do tours by appointment during the winter. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children over 3 and that includes a cup of feed for the animals. You can also drive to the farm and watch the reindeer for free. Oh, and please note that when in the wild they are called caribou, the domesticated version is the reindeer.

5. Tour the Musk Ox farm. Also in Palmer, winter tours are by appointment and run 11am-3pm. The admission prices are rather detailed so go to their link here.

6. Sledding. Here's a link that describes the best sledding hills in Anchorage--for the hardy sledder you can't beat the old Arctic Valley road's winding 2-mile coarse. That's where my little brother lost his glasses, if you find them give him a call.

7. Celebrate New Year's Eve at town square 4-8pm. With free events for families and children all evening long it's a great way to ring in the new year. Likewise, at Alyeska they'll be holding a "torchlight parade and fireworks display" starting at 8pm.

8. Swimming at H2Oasis. On any Wednesday when school is in session the water park opens at 11am for preschool children and their parents for $6 a child (adults are free). The large slides, wave machine, and river walk are not available though some days you can get lucky and they’ll be running for special occasions.

9. See the Christmas lights. Every year during the week before Christmas the Anchorage Daily News publishes their list of best house lights accompanied by a map. You can't beat free.

10. Visit Campbell Creek Science Center. Tucked away on the west end of Dowling Road it's a great place to see wildlife (I've seen eagles and rabbits and even eagles eating rabbits) and get away from it all without getting out of the city. Bring snow shoes or cross country skis or sleds and enjoy a hike to the beaver dam or break your own snow shoe trail. The trails are free but they also have educational programs you can register for here. Do remember that it's in a cold spot where the temperature is usually a few degrees colder than the rest of the surrounding area.

11. Catch a sleigh ride in downtown Anchorage. Every Friday and Saturday night 8pm-midnight in front of the Captain Cook Hotel, $35 for two people for 15 minutes, $5 for each extra person. A little pricey, but for a special event it may of interest. For a longer adventure and a better deal the same company offers sleigh rides through the Birchwood countryside which is $130/hour for a 20-person sleigh ride and you can pay extra for a bonfire after the ride. I went several years ago with my family and it's a fabulous trip.

12. Visit Stargate Observatory in Wasilla. Saturday nights September through the first Saturday in April the Burchell High School 26-inch Newtonian telescope is available for $2 a person. The third largest telescope owned by a an American high school it is just north of Wasilla at 1775 West Parks Hwy. Call 907 373-7775 for more details.

13. Visit the port. Not exciting? Oh just find a day when a ship is in and they're unloading or loading and it's something any child would enjoy. Inside is the biggest pile of sand in the Free World, used for winter road maintenance and lots of fun to climb. Here's the link.

14. Bookstore reading clubs. Most bookstores in town have a reading hour for kids, some with crafts and other things. Barnes and Noble has Storytime for preschoolers at 1pm on Saturdays and an American Girl club that meets Tuesdays at 6:30pm. Borders has Storytime with Gracie at 11am on Saturdays and Tuesdays, repeating at 1pm on Tuesdays. Go to the stores' home pages, search for a store nearest you and view their calendar of events.

15. Visit the Alaska Zoo. Though summer viewing is more popular, the animals are more active in the winter and the Zoo has educational programs scheduled regularly throughout the winter. Visit their web page for details, admission is $10/adult, children 3 and over $6--the Storytime At the Zoo program costs $2 after regular admission.

16. Check out the Home Depot and Lowe’s kid clubs. They're free and children are provided aprons, tools and kits to build various projects. Home Depot on Abbott’s is the first Saturday of every month 9am-12pm while supplies last (I've never had supplies not last). Lowe’s on Old Seward and O’Malley is the second Saturday 10am.

17. Don't forget Fur Rondy. A week's worth of winter celebrations including snow sculpture competitions, a blanket toss, art exhibits, amusement park rides, an antique car show, a Native crafts bazaar and so many other things--some free and some not--I'll just have to link you to the official web site here. Dates are February 24-March 3, 2007.

18. Take the kids to the theater. With many small theater companies in town performing all winter, what's not to like? I won't be able to not take the boys to Treasure Island, and they'll probably want to go in costume.

Training Better Artists Theatre Company
A new theater company, the ticket prices and productions are perfect for families with small children and are a great introduction to the dramatic arts.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Dec 8-10
Rail Tales: Songs and Stories of the Railroad Feb 9-11
Treasure Island May 11-13
At: APU Grant Hall, E.R. Brown Auditorium
Showtimes: Friday & Saturday 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 3pm
Tickets: $7 general admission, $5 students

Anchorage Theater of Youth
A Christmas Story
Dec 7-17
Charlotte's Web Feb 22-Mar 4
Much Ado About Nothing May 3-13
At: Sydney Lawrence Theater, Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts
Showtimes: Thursday-Saturday 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 3pm
Tickets: $18.75 general admission, $16.25 18 and under

Alaska Junior Theater
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Dec 8
Grand Derangement Feb 9
Einstein Alive April 27
At:Discovery Theate, Anchorage Center for the Performing Arts
Showtimes: 7:30pm
Tickets: $14-16

Anchorage Community Theater
A Christmas Carol Dec 8-31
Showtimes: Wednesday-Saturday 7pm, Sundays 3pm
Tickets: $12 adult, $8 children 12 and under

Alaska Theater of Young People
Ashlad and the Good Helpers Feb 22-25
The Elephant's Child Apr 25-29
At: Wendy Williamson Auditorium, UAA campus
Showtime: Friday & Saturday 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 3pm
Tickets: $13 general admission Friday & Saturday, $10 general admission Sunday

19. Go dog sledding. We've taken rides with the Lucky Husky Sled Dog Kennel near Willow and had a wonderful time charging through the snowy wilderness with only our Trusty Guide and eight animal friends but they appear to be out of business--their site isn't working and their number is disconnected. Here's a site that lists other companies that offer dog tours in Anchorage, Willow or Girdwood.

20. And speaking of sled dogs, don't miss opening day of the Iditarod. Saturday March 3, 2007 at 10am on 4th and D Street in downtown Anchorage. Pray for snow and take the kids, they'll be almost as excited as the dogs.

21. Go to the museum. Check their web page for exhibits and concerts such as "Wonderland of Toys" runs November 28-December 29 and Saturday December 9 at 11am Santa will be visiting. Concerts are held on Sunday December 3, 10 and 17 throughout the day performing holidays favorites. Admission is $8 adults, $5 kids unless you have a membership.

22. But if you can't find something in this list to appeal, or aren't interested in skiing, hiking, winter camping, snow shoeing, snow machining, hockey, or the multitude of other outdoor winter activities Anchorage has to offer--get out of town. I'd suggest The Ocean House Inn on the beach in Homer. The off-season rates are fabulous. See my post Our Homer Odyssey for more details then pick a weekend--any weekend--and enjoy.

Feel free to leave a comment about any other winter activities you've found, I'm sure there are more I don't even know about.


Jenny said...

Holy crap. I can't even imagine doing that stuff.

What is this "snow" stuff you're talking about?

Anonymous said...

A total winter wonderland!

That really looks like a lot of fun. SF and Mista would love it. (I'm not a winter/cold loving gal)


Anonymous said...

I wanna move to Anchorage.

One snowflake, I just want ONE snowflake!

Anonymous said...

Living in California, we have to seek snow for play. If I could bear the cold, I'd love to have daily access to snow - especially for dog sledding. I've always wanted to do that.

marina said...

hi, that is one of the most informative articles I'd ever read. Too bad its not for Costa Rica:)
Plus, playing in the snow sounds sooo tempting right now.
The reason for the wrong data in Costa Rica about death rate and birth rate, is because they want to pretend that Nicaraguans aren't part of their society. They are not very immigrant friendly.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Wow! That's quite a lot of information there. I think out of all of them I most want to visit the reindeer place. I've always wanted to meet Blitzen.

(I know, everyone says Rudolph but I choose to go with the lesser reindeer. It seems more Democratic.)

andi said...

Holy crow, that is some list! I loved ice fishing when I was a kid. We tried to go on a sleigh ride last weekend, but didn't want a toddlersicle (-22F, Brrr), so we stayed inside instead.

The Lazy Organizer said...

I think of you and my parents every time I drag my kids in and out of the cold and it's only as low as 30 degrees during the day. I'm such a wimp!

When I lived in Alaska as a little girl I cried every time we went out in the cold. You'd think someone would have found me some warmer clothes!

Krisitna said...

We moved to Anchorage about 2 months ago and I *really* appreciate this information. Thank you so much!

scribbit said...

Glad to have you in town, if you have any other questions let me know . . .

Anonymous said...

This is all great! Thanks for the ideas. I just bought a book called Anchorage with Kids that has alot of this activities and a bunch of others. It really helped me figure out what to do. Here's to more ways to get out of the house with kids.