Saturday, May 19, 2007

Twenty Summer Activities for Children in Anchorage, Alaska

Highland Bagpipe Competition, Music in the Park Anchorage, AlaskaThis was a popular list last summer so I've updated it with current times, events and locations. If you're not in Anchorage it might give you ideas for activities in your own community--try putting together a list for your own town. Every parent there will thank you.

1. Visit the Loussac Library. Sign up for the 2007 summer reading program, “Get a Clue at Your Local Library” at any municipal library or Saturday May 19th noon-4pm at the 7th annual Reading Rendezvous at Cuddy Family Park where they'll have juggling, theater, awards and activities to kick off the summer reading program. Grade school age children earn awards for meeting reading goals.

Join one of the reading groups at the story theater in the Loussac Library:

Mother Goose (birth-18 months) on Thurs 10:30 am, Fri 2:30
Lapsit (18 months-3 years) Tues 10:30, 11:30 Wed 10:30, Thurs 7pm, Friday 10:30
Storytime (3-5 years) Thurs & Fri 11:30 am

Enjoy “Live at the Library” for free outdoor concerts by the fountain Tuesdays noon-1pm.

2. Enjoy concerts at "Music in the Park". These free outdoor concerts are Wednesdays & Fridays noon-1pm at Peratrovitch park downtown and are always fun. We never miss the bagpipes because who doesn't like bagpipes and a picnic in the sun? There is also "Music for Little Ones" every Monday noon-1pm and “Live After Five concerts for adults, a fun Friday night date activity, both held at the same location.

3. See auto racing at The Northstar Speedway. This track in Wasilla has Saturday racing May 12th through August 25th. The gates open at 2 pm and races start at 5pm. GCI customers can go to any GCI store for free tickets, otherwise it’s $10 for adults, $5 for kids and free for kids 10 and under.

4. See a free movie at the Dimond Center Theaters. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and now Thursday at 10am the theaters hold their Free Family Family Film Festival where two movies are shown, no age limit. Movies are shown concurrently all three days.

May 29-31 Curious George & Ice Age 2
Jun 5-7 Jonah: Veggie Tales & Happy Feet
Jun 12-14 Everyone's Hero & Over the Hedge
June 19-21 Clifford's Really Big Movie & Night at the Museum
Jun 26-28 Doogal & Garfield 2
Jul 3-5 Wallace and Gromit & Monster House
Jul 10-12 Rugrats: The Movie & Barnyard
Jul 17-19 Jimmy Neutron & Open Season
Jul 24-26 Charlotte's Web & Flushed Away
Jul 31-Aug 2 Elmo: Adventures in Grouchland & Happily N'Ever After

5. Catch a Bucs Baseball game. Playing at Mulcahy Stadium several evenings a week (usually at 7pm) June 9th-July 28th, this is great fun. Bring a big bag of peanuts and show your kids what baseball at sunny 10pm feels like. The library's summer reading program often gives out free passes for four to the games otherwise admission is $5, six and under are free.

6. Go gold panning at Indian Valley Mine. Off of the Seward Highway just before the turnoff to Indian and open from May 15th-September 15th 9am-9pm. Admission is $1 per person for the mine and museum and then $3 and up for the dirt to pan--depending on the amount of dirt. It's very clean and very easy for small children and the views of Turnagain Arm are worth the trip.

7. Build something at The Home Depot and Lowe’s kid clubs. Free to children of all ages, each store's kids' club provide aprons (to keep), tools, safety goggles and kits to build various easy woodworking projects such as birdhouses, bookshelves and wooden toys. Home Depot on Abbott holds their kids' club the first Saturday of every month 9am-12pm while supplies last (and I've never seen them run out but it can get crowded around the tables). Lowe’s on Old Seward and O’Malley holds theirs the 2nd Saturday at 10am. Children get certificates of completion and patches to put on their aprons each time they complete a project.

8. Go fossil hunting in Sutton. Anywhere where the rock is layered and loose you can find plant fossils from the late cenozoic period (50-70 million years old). Bring a good map, take any road into the Talkeetna Mountains, find a good place to turn off and you'll find fossils. The kids like carrying picks and buckets--but the picks are more for fun than necessity. It's just fun banging rocks.

9. Family cross country running at the Tuesday Night Races. Enter the Munchkin, Farm or Lightning leagues to choose your distance (between 1-10 km) on various cross-country courses chosen by guest runners. The Halloween race is in costume with the Munchkin league running for treats along the way. It's a great activity for families, registration begins at 6pm, the races start at 6:30. The cost is $2 for kids, $5 for adults, $10 for family and $60 for family season pass. Results for each race are posted on the website a day or two after each race takes place. The 2008 schedule will begin September 2 and run through the first week of November, check the website for the race locations as September gets closer.

10. Visit some of Anchorage's lakes. Rent paddle boats at Cheney Lake (on Baxter road), swim at Goose Lake (the corner of East Northern Lights and Providence Drive) or picnic at Lake Hood (near the airport) and watch the planes take off at the world’s largest and busiest float plane harbor.

11. See paragliders off the mountain in Girdwood near the Alyeska Prince Hotel. On a clear day the updrafts start around noon and for the best view take the tram ride ($14 with an Alaska ID, $7 for kids 7 and under) up the mountain for a picnic and first-hand view of their takeoffs. Hatcher’s Pass is a bit farther from Anchorage in the opposite direction but also has a great view and is popular with the paragliders--and it's free.

12. Pick blueberries on Flat Top or at Hatcher's Pass. The Flat Top trailhead starts at the top of Upper Huffman Road and though the entire trail (2 miles) may not be suitable for small children, the lower alpine area known as Blueberry Hill is great for picking berries in town. It's best to check about the first week of August to see if the berries are ripe, if you wait too long they'll be all gone. Hatcher's Pass, though farther, has more blueberries than you could ever pick if you're up for a two-hour drive. For an easy hike (even with a stroller) try the beautiful Thunderbird Falls. Follow the signs from the Glenn Highway twenty minutes north of Anchorage.

13. Ride Alaska Live Steamers miniature train. In Wasilla between the Museum of Transportation and the airport this 7.5 gauge miniature train is big enough for children and adults to sit on the individual cars as the train travels through the woods on a 20 minute train ride. The train runs the 1st and 3rd Saturdays the middle of May through the middle of September 10am-4pm. Cost is minimal ($4 for adults, children under 2 are free) children under 3 need a car seat but the owners have one to loan in a pinch.

14. Attend the annual 4th of July parade or the Governor’s Picnic. Festivities for the Independence Day celebration include a parade and fireworks, all free to the public. The governor's picnic is an annual event (July 28th this year) held at the Delaney Parkstrip between 9th and 10th Avenues downtown with activities and free food for all. Check the Anchorage Daily News for times as July draws closer.

15. Visit The Alaska Zoo. Located on East O’Malley Road on hillside the cost is $9 for adults, $5 children 12-17, $4 children 3-11. The zoo is open 9am-6pm 7 days a week, 12 months a year and also has children's workshops scheduled throughout the summer. Often the best animal viewings are on cloudy or snowy days when the animals aren’t avoiding the summer heat.

16. Visit The Alaska Botanical Garden. Take Tudor Road east to Campbell Airstrip Road and park in the Save II school parking lot. A network of gardens that is a work in progress blooming from May to October along wooded trails. The herb garden is particularly beautiful, see the website for a list of special events.

17. Visit Elmendorf State Fish Hatchery. Here you can view fish at various stages of growth at the facilities located at the corner of Reeve Boulevard and Post Road. The best time for viewing coho salmon is September but the hatchery is open from late May-September 8am-10pm.

18. Join a bookstore reading club
. Most bookstores in town have a reading hour for kids, some with crafts and other activities. Many have reading programs that offer rewards in the form of coupons and free books to children who complete the reading goals. Barnes and Noble has Preschool Storytime on Wednesdays at 11am and Beginning Readers Storytime on Saturdays at 1pm. Call 279-7323 for more details. Borders has their Storytime on Tuesdays at 11am and 1pm and Saturdays at 11am, call 344-4099 for more details.

19. Visit Triple D Hatchery in Wasilla. This poultry farm is open for scheduled tours of up to 20 children for $35 (group price). In the early spring they have colored chicks on display from late March through the Easter season. Visit their website for contact information and to schedule a tour.

20. Bike the coastal trail. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail reaches 10.5 miles from downtown Anchorage, along the coast of Cook Inlet and down to Kincaid Park. With easy terrain and beautiful scenery it's a great bike ride for kids--there are plenty of parks along the way as good places to stop for a picnic if little legs get tired. The Copper Whale Inn on L Street above Elderberry Park near the beginning of the trail has bike rentals.

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Anonymous said...

How about "stay home, read a book, take a nap, watch a video, eat dinner and play games with brothers & sisters?" All free. All saves gas and wear-n-tear on the vehicles & moms. Why must kids be "going & doing" all year long? Cecet

my4kids said...

Oh I have to remember to come back to this when we get there! I need all the advice on places to go as I can get. I hate staying at home in the summer. Its the best time to run and see and show the kids fun things

(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

Consider yourself TAGGED! Please tell us 8 random facts about yourself. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

G's Cottage said...

Those sound fun for adults too. We were big fans of the library summer reading programs and never lived anywhere there wasn't one. I agree with "anonymous" that children do not need to be over-programmed and until the older one's were in late middle school we had a daily "mom's quiet hour" in the summer when each was in his or her room with no electronics allowed. The neighbor children took some managing though; and in one community I had to close the drapes and disconnect the doorbell for the hour or so. I set the oven timer for 1 hour but rarely did anyone charge out the door when it went off because they either had fallen asleep or they wanted to finish what they started. It was very healing for me because dad traveled on business a lot and I needed to reset my parameters. However, a special activity each week to look forward to helped move the summer along.

Daisy said...

This is a wonderful list. It's also another example of the "6 dgrees of separation" theory. I noticed the Air Force band brass listing immediately. My Dad played trumpet in the Air Force Band when he was in the service. It was a life-altering, inspiring experience for him. He died last year, and was buried in a military ceremony with the Air Force Hymn (Off we go...) playing.

Anonymous said...

I really really appreciate this list! I have a child with no brothers or sisters and he really gets tired of playing by himself/playing with me. I love new ideas of things to do and see with him! Thanks so much! I will be using some of these ideas for dates with hubby as well--GREAT LIST!! Thanks for taking the time to compile it!

Scribbit said...

Well Cecet,

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your comment but perhaps you're misunderstanding the purpose of this list. I was simply providing readers in Anchorage with a list of things that are inexpensive yet fun to do this summer. There was no suggestion that children should be taken to all of them. Just as you're not suggesting children should stay at home and take naps and watch tv all summer long (two of your items) I'm not suggesting that children be taken to outdoor concerts or on nature hikes all summer.

Though I have to say, given a choice between watching a video/taking a nap and fossil hunting/miniature train rides I know which ones my kids would pick and which I'd rather have them doing.

An Ordinary Mom said...

We utilize our local libraries as well and they have great summer reading programs. Anchorage sounds like a pretty amazing place. It makes me want to look into what is around here to do. Thanks for the motivation!

And who says you can't have fun and enjoy your city while also having good times at home? Balance is the answer to everything :) !!

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

Sounds like you've found a ton of great stuff to keep the kids (and therefore you) happy all summer long!

chelle said...

Fantastic List!

Sandy said...

Wow! Who knew Anchorage had so many kid-friendly activities? It really puts our town to shame...

Lisa said...

This makes me want to visit your fair state!

subarctic mama said...

I used to live in Anchorage and I loved the Coastal Trail. This is a great list. We're planning a trip down in our (soon to be fixed) VW camper, so this list is going to come in handy. You've inspired me to get to work on a list for interior Alaska.

K T Cat said...

Family cross country running sounds like a wild idea. How do the little ones like it? I don't think my daughter would like being left behind.

K T Cat said...

By the way, I live in San Diego and it gave me some great ideas that I can adapt to my locale. Thanks!

Ni Yachen said...

We hiked Thunderbird Falls this Saturday. My two year old did the whole thing. It was pefect and the skeeters hadn't come out yet.
We have tried to do a simple two hour family activity on Saturday mornings to break the Saturday morning cartoon habit.

The problem is that in the winter in Anchorage the default is to sit at home,watch videos, nap, etc. Summers time is when you get out and do stuff. Also in our family, Sundays are the days when we do inside stuff.

PunditMom said...

My friend who lived there always wanted me to bring PunditGirl the few times I visited Anchorage. She was so small then. I'm sure we will some day. It would have made Marjorie happy. Thanks for all the great ideas!

Lei said...

Sigh. If only I lived in Anchorage.


Entertaining Justice said...

Nice list. Also, while you're out watching paragliders at Alyeka, you could travel a little further down the road towards Portage and visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, it's a drive thru wildlife park, you can also park and walk through- - I think admission is around $5 My kids always enjoy going there.

Jenny said...

I am visiting my mother and I found your list online and some of these I had never even heard of. Thanks for the list, my kids are going to have a fun vacation.

Deborah said...

This website has been a blessing and godsend.

My only child has been acting down and depressed since most of his buds leave the state for the summer, and he's stuck home with me (I think I'm fun but yeah, I'm no match for an 11 year old).

I'm going to try to do at least 10 of these things.. maybe more! You don't know how many times I've gone to sites like or others and can't find anything for kids. I feel refreshed and excited about our summer now!!!

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =)

Barb said...

I'm coming up for PNWER (Pacific Northwest Ecnomic Region) conference and will have my 17 year old.... and there are a great number of things for us to do on this list(plus one more: Read the new Harry Potter, which comes out while we're visiting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I agree that I would rather have my kids out exploring and learning to have an active lifestyle over watching videos and taking naps. Thanks again for the thoughtfullness and work that went into this list!

Anonymous said...

Great list! I found a book that has alot of things to do with kids in Anchorage. It is Anchorage with Kids and really helps me when I can't figure out what to do. I got it at the toy store, Classic Toys, on Benson Rd., but I have also seen it at Barnes and Noble.

Anonymous said...

Hi Scribbit,
you've done an awesome job!! that's very useful for the people around the area. I have been an early childhood educator for the last 4 years, and I believe that a lot of families are benefitting from this activity. I would love to personally share some extra ideas and tips for the families and children about various activities they can do in my personal blog over here.

kim said...

Thanks for the great ideas! We will be new to the area in October, so they will come in handy next summer. How about any great winter activities?
thanks again

Scribbit said...

Try this link from last year, I'll be doing a list for this year later in the season.

Anonymous said...

Of course there will be days to stay home, read a book and watch a movie together. That goes without saying. But to be able to take your kids outside, in the summer, in our beautiful might say "priceless". I want to thank you for this very well put together list of things to take the kids to and to do with the kids that is inexpensive and fun.