Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Activities in Anchorage, Alaska 2009

Highland Bagpipe Competition, Music in the Park Anchorage, Alaska"When are you going to put out your summer activities list?"

Ask no more because here it is--just in time for school to be out--and I've added half a dozen or more new things so look carefully.

If you wish to download this list in a pdf format for distributing you can click here. Just please leave the URL and credits in place (it is copyrighted after all).

1. Visit the Loussac Library
Sign up for the 2009 Summer Reading Program "Be Creative" where children earn rewards for reading. The big kick off was Saturday May 16th on the Loussac lawn but if you missed it it'll be repeating May 30th at the Muldoon branch.

Some extra Loussac events throughout the summer held at 2pm in the Wilda Marston Theater (see the website for repeat performances at the other branches around town):

June 2 Fractured Fairy Tales
June 9 Creativity the Mad Scientist Way
June 16 Create-a-Circus with Megan Holtan
June 23 Get Crafty! Get Creative!
June 30 Rockin' Reptiles
July 3 Alaska's Fiddling Poet
July 21 Cosmically Creative

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 3:00 pm
Lapsit (18 months-3 years) Tues 10:30 am, 11:30 am Wed 10:30 am, Fri 10:30 am
Storytime (3-5 years) Thurs & Fri 11:30 am
Family Storytime (families and children under 5 year olds) Thurs 6:30 pm

2. Enjoy outdoor concerts at the "Music in the Park" concert series.
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, kilts and a picnic in the sun?

June 3 Melissa Bledsoe Fischer
June 5 Alaska Brass
June 10 Jalmon Salmon Dixieland Band
June 12 Marcia Knorr/Barbwire Twisters
June 17 Dixie Express
June 19 Top Cover
June 24 The Greatlanders
June 26 Bagpipe Competition
July 1 Canada Day Celebration w/Alaska Brass
July 3 Karenodie and Paul
July 8 Dixie Express
July 10 Army Brass Quintet
July 15 Carhartt Brothers
July 17 Terri & Jerry Holder
July 22 Northern Lights Brass
July 24 Nuther Brothers
July 29 Derry Aires
July 31 Galway Day Band
Aug 5 Jared Woods/Robin & Caiti Hopper
Aug 7 Top Cover
Aug 12 The Greatlanders
Aug 14 The Asteroids
Aug 19 Matt Hammer
Aug 21 Hawaii Statehood Celebration
Aug 26 Midnight Starlight
Aug 28 Button Box Gang

Then there are "Cultural Saturdays" concerts at the same location (unless otherwise noted) each Saturday:

June 6 Oceans Fest on the Park Strip
June 13 1-3:00pm John Damberg Quintet
June 20 10:00am – 6:00pm G Street Artists Market
June 20 All Day AWAIC Festival in Town Square
July 11 10:00am – 6:00pm G Street Artists Market
July 18 1 – 3:00pm Bucket of Bolts
July 25 10:00am – 6:00pm G Street Artists Market
Aug 1 All Day Galway Days (Irish Music) Festival on G Street
Aug 8 1:00pm – 3:00pm Woodrow
Aug 15 10:00am – 6:00pm G Street Artists Market
Aug 22 1:00pm – 3:00pm Hawaii Statehood Celebration
Aug 29 1:00pm – 3:00pm Rank Strangers

There is also "Music for Little Ones" concerts every Monday noon-1pm July 13-Aug 3, "Theater Thursdays" productions every Thursday noon-1 pm, "Live after Five" concerts every Friday 5-8pm and "Cultural Faire" cultural events every Saturday 2-3 pm. All are held at the same location downtown.

3. See auto racing at The Northstar Speedway.
This track in Wasilla has Saturday and Sunday racing May 23rd through August 29th. 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. We went a couple years ago and had a great time--there was even a demolition derby before the races.

4. See a free movie at the Dimond Center Theaters.
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and 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 26-28 Veggie Tales: Pirates Who Don't Do Anything/Evan Almighty
June 2-4 Kit Kitredge/Nim's Island
June 9-11 Horton Hears a Who/Inkheart
June 16-18 Tale of Despereaux/Kung Fu Panda
June 23-25 Everyone's Hero/Surf's Up
June 30-July 2 Igor/Journey to the Center of the Earth
July 7-9 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium/Bee Movie
July 14-16 Curious George/Alvin and the Chipmunks
July 21-23 Space Chimps/Madagascar 2
July 28-30 Wallace and Grommit/City of Ember

Also note: The Century 16 theater also has a summer movie clubhouse event running all summer long where shows are $1 at 10 am or prepay for 10 shows for $5 and get 50% off.

June 4 Daddy Day Care
June 11 Daddy Day Care/Pippi Longstocking
June 18 Igor/Pippi Longstocking
June 25 Igor/Horton Hears a Who
July 2 Space Chimps/Horton Hears a Who
July 9 Space Chimps/Tale of Despereaux
July 16 Kit Kitteredge/The Tale of Despereaux
July 23 Kit Kitteredge/Kung Fu Panda
July 30 Madagascar 2/Kung Fu Panda
August 6 Madagascar 2

5. Catch a Bucs Baseball game.
Playing at Mulcahy Stadium several evenings a week (usually at 7pm) June 9-August 2 (see their schedule here), 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.

Gold Panning at Crow Creek Mine6. Go gold panning at Indian Valley Mine or at Crow Creek 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 $5 and up for a bucket of 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. This isn't quite free but it's nearly so.

You might also try Crow Creek Mine a bit further down the road for a couple dollars more. We went last summer and you can see pictures here.

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. It's great fun and our kids have loved participating.

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. I've got a post coming on this one later this summer with pictures from when we went.

9. 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.

Paragliders at Alyeska10. See paragliders jumping off the mountains.
In Girdwood (near the Alyeska Prince Hotel) on a clear day the updrafts start around noon and though it's free to sit and watch them land down around the hotel grounds 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 from all viewpoints.

11. 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. For a longer hike that has a spectacular prize at the end try the Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood. Andrew and I were there for our anniversary last year.

Alaska Live Steamers Miniature Train12. 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 isn't free (they don't accept credit cards) but it's 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. We did this in 2007 and had a fun time if you'd like pictures and video footage.

13. Attend the Alaska statehood celebrations.
This year Alaska is been celebrating its 50th year of statehood and June 27th 12 pm-5 pm on 4th Avenue between C & H Streets there will be street performers and artists, an antique car show, a science exhibit for the kids including a giant sandbox and friendly competitions between the police and fire departments (they're calling it the "Hero Games"). From 5:30-8:30 pm the evening will finish off with a street dance so it ought to be a fun day.

Then of course there are also festivities for the Independence Day celebration July 4th which will include a parade, kite flying, fireworks, all free to the public. The governor's picnic is an annual event usually held toward the end of July 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. There are usually summer solstice events as well every year.

14. Visit the Eagle River Nature Center.
I have wanted to visit ever since I discovered their claim to be home to Alaska's 27 indigenous species of orchids (or something close to that, the details were sketchy). Who would have thought? Open every day from 9am-5pm (7pm on Fridays and Saturdays) the center has nine miles of hiking trails and conducts free nature events for kids all summer long.

Each Monday through Friday from June 2 through August 29th 1-2:30 pm they have guided nature hikes on their trails. Then there are also their "Junior Naturalist" programs on Saturdays at 2pm for children ages 5 and up where they can earn a Junior Naturalist Badge after attending 12 sessions.

Here in Anchorage there is also the Campbell Creek Science Center that has trails of its own where you can see eagles and bunnies and even eagles eating bunnies (seen it). Check their calender for lectures and programs.

15. Visit Seward for the 82nd Annual Mountain Marathon.
Every 4th of July Seward, Alaska hosts the Mountain Marathon and though you may not be prepared to participate it's fun to see. I quote from the website:

The foot race is a climb and descent on Mt. Marathon - a mile and a half up and a mile and a half down, complete with cliffs, scree fields, waterfalls, and a spectacular view. This annual event draws runners from around the world.

Over the years, this home town historical event has drawn increased participation ~ resulted in new milestones. 54 women finished the first-ever women's race in 1985, juniors began logging their records in 1994, and 2005 heralded the beginning of the "staggered start" for the senior races. The popular Mini Marathon race starts them out young - toddling just a few feet to victory!

The tradition of the Mt. Marathon Race, according to folklore, began when two sourdoughs had an argument about whether it was possible to climb and descend the mountain in less than one hour.
If you think running is hard, you need to see running Alaskan style. When they come down they're sliding and skidding and tumbling--usually a bit cut up--but it's quite the sporting event to see. We're thinking about going this year.

16. 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.

17. 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. Borders has their Storytime on Tuesdays at 11am and 1pm and Saturdays at 11am, call the stores for more details.

18. See dogs catching frisbees.
Skyhoundz is the organization for dogs who love to catch frisbees and the local canine frisbee catching championship (not to be confused with the canine catching frisbee championship--watch those modifiers folks) will be held June 7 1 pm at Delaney Park strip on the soccer field at 10th and L Street. All the cool dogs will be there.

19. 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. Pictures of one of our trips can be seen here.

20. Visit some gardens.
The Alaska Botanical Gardens gets better each year and I particularly love the herb gardens with their gorgeous raised beds. There are lots of events going on all summer long (check the website for details but May 24-September 2 Tuesdays through Sundays families with children ages 4-9 can rent $5 "Discovery Duffles" that are filled with activities for children (presumably related to the botanical gardens). I haven't tried it but it sounds like it could be fun.

Also, June 3-September 2 each Wednesday at 6 pm is Storytime in the Garden for children ages 3-5 (weather permitting). They meet in the lower perennial garden area.

21. View some wildlife.
Eleven miles past the turnoff for Girdwood on the Seward Highway is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center with 140 acres of room for the buffalo to roam. Or rather the moose. You can see all sorts of Alaskan animals from 8 am to 8 pm May to September.

I've heard several people say it's a great trip--be sure to bring cameras, warm layers, binoculars and shoes for walking. Admission is $7.50 for adults and $5 for kids or $25 per car load.

Of course you can always visit the Alaska Zoo for about the same price and they also have Storytime at the Zoo on 10:30 am each Wednesday April 1-September 1 which is free with the price of admission.

22. Study the planets.
From the website which explains it best: "The Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk is a scale model of our solar system. Taking the walk, you experience the relative size of the planets and their distance from the Sun. The scale was chosen so that a leisurely walking pace mimics the speed of light. On this scale, each step equals the distance light travels in one second (300,000 kilometers or 186,000 miles).

"It should take you about 8 minutes to walk from the Sun station at 5th and G to the Earth station at 5th and K, just as it takes 8 minutes for a light beam to travel from the real Sun to the real Earth. Similarly, it takes you and a light beam 5 1/2 hours to reach Pluto at Kincaid Park."

Sounds like a fun activity for a sunny summer day, huh?

Ship Creek23. See some salmon.
Anchorage has lots of waterways within the city and if you haven't already you must go down to Ship Creek and see the salmon run. The hatchery is just up the road and last time we were there we spent time watching a beaver at work above the bridge making a dam. You can read more about the activity at the link above.

24. See some glaciers.
You might be really adventurous and head all the way down to Seward to hike out on Exit Glacier (we did that several years ago and had a great time) but closer to Anchorage there are always the billions of glaciers you can see around Portage. The Begich-Boggs visitors center is free and always has fun things for the kids to see and you can walk into Williwa campground to see salmon at the right time of year.

You can even take a trip through the Whittier tunnel. It's not as if there's really lots and lots to see in Whittier once you get there, but if you want to see a very long tunnel that would be the place for it.

25. Visit some museums.
Now everyone knows about the Anchorage Museum at the Rasmussen Center but there are a few other little museums around town that can be fun.

The Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo (301 W. Northern Lights) has 900 pieces of Native artifacts, gold and fine art. The Anchorage Fire Department (100 E. 4th) has fire department memorabilia. The Oscar Anderson House Museum (420 M. Street near Elderberry Park) is open for tours for seeing what life was like in the early days of Anchorage. The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum (4721 Aircraft Drive) has exhibits on aviation and a flight simulator and of course there's always the Imaginarium at 737 W. 5th Avenue for fun science exhibits for kids.

However, the one I'd like to check out is the Alaska Museum of Natural History which has a summer line up of classes for kids that looks pretty interesting (dinosaurs, whales and space) and the activity fees are reasonable ($1 for ages 3-5, $3 for 6-12, $5 for over 12 and $15 per family).

June 9-12 Dinosaurs: Teeth & Claws
June 16-19 Wild Whales
June 23-26 Fire & Ice July 7-10 Dinosaurs: Tiny & Huge
July 14-17 Mission Mars
July 28-31 Unlikely Predators August 4-7 Dinosaurs: Feathers & Scales
August 11-14 Weird, Wild & Wacky

The Anchorage Museum at the Rasumusen Center is having their free day May 30th with details here.


Roo said...

How cool! With the economy causing people to rethink their summer vacation plans, I think more people need to really think about what they can do in their home town (or within a days drive). I'm sure there are more activities around than most people realize. I can think of things in Colorado that I've never done that don't cost a lot and would be a lot of fun

Have a great summer!!!!

The Dunns said...

Great list! I'm going to start on a Fairbanks summer activities post. You're such an inspiration. :)

Kris said...

Thanks! This is our first summer here where we aren't completely overrun with visitors (who prefer not to sightsee) or out of town at family weddings and the associated obligations. It looks like it is shaping up to be a great summer and crossing my fingers *might* make up for last summer's weather? I needed a list like this. Thanks for doing the footwork. (you may want to add whale watching/glacier cruises to the list...I am going to do my second in July...FABULOUS!) K.

Chrissy Johnson said...

What an extensive list! Thank you so much! I'm tacking this up on my fridge for quick reference!

Kathryn said...

Thanks for this list! I am really excited for summer and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your activity lists!

Another activity that I just heard about is letterboxing. It's like geo-caching but you don't need a gps. It's free but you need a stamp and a record book. There are lots of sites in and around Anchorage. You can check it out at (I haven't done it yet but I plan to.)

Thank you again for the summer activities list!

autostry said...

Wow! That's a great list! I can't wait to join in the summer activities!

Denise said...

Thank you so much for pulling this together again. It really is a super-handy list.

Lisa said...

Awesome list! I love all the really unique things you have to do there. I loved watching the salmon when were there last year.

I think Alaska is a place I could visit multiple times because of all the really cool places to explore!

Julia said...

Thank-you, Thank-you!

Anonymous said...

Great list!! One thing we enjoy is free music Friday nights at the zoo. Have you heard if this is on this summer? I dont' see anything on their website.

Deanna said...

AK Railroad is celebrating the 50th anniv. of statehood by offering everyone who turns 50 this year a free ride. Also, as tourism is down (30% according to a RR employee I chatted with), there are some great deals to be had. If you haven't ridden the rails yet, this may be the year to do it!

Born Librarian said...

Thanks again for posting our activities at the Loussac Library. Don't forget our Live at the Library concerts. Free outdoor concerts featuring some fantastic groups, every Tuesday from Noon to 1pm, perfect for a picnic lunch. More summer activities are constantly being added for children, so check for the latest.

Thank you again for supporting the library!
Youth Services Librarian,
Anchorage Public Library

Cherise said...

This is a wonderful list!

We opted for #9 - Visit lakes. we found that you cannot rent paddle boats at Cheney Lake but you can at Goose Lake. Paddle boats fit four people and run $8 for half an hour or $11 for an hour.

We had a great time! Wouldn't have thought about it without this list :) - THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

We went to Crow Creek Mine last week, it is $5 a person to go just walk thru adn $15 a preson to pan for gold. It was worth it!! We paid the 5, and plan to go back to take the kids to pan for gold before summer is over. I have often refernced your list for fun things to do with family from out of town or just for us that live here all year round!!