New Tours and Old Favorites
Named in honor of a prominent Alaska Native businessman, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center in Fairbanks features family friendly exhibits, films and workshops. A unique treat is the opportunity for families to be dressed from head to toe in traditional Athabascan clothing. After donning garb made from moosehide, wolf, wolverine, muskrat and beaver fur, families pose for a photo.
The Kodiak Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center is a year-round facility located in downtown Kodiak with several programs for youth. Completion of junior ranger activity books for children aged 5-8 or 9-12 earns kids a patch and certificate. The center’s Kodiak Summer Science and Salmon Camp is the largest science-based camp in Alaska and was recognized as a top environmental education program by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The camp runs in four-day sessions throughout the summer and requires early registration.
If you’re looking for family fun paired with fabulous food, check out Kodiak Crab Festival. The four-day event features an amusement park atmosphere with rides and games, special exhibits at the Baranov Museum, art shows, a parade, a Coast Guard rescue aircraft flyover, kayak, bicycle, swim and foot races, musical performances, arm wrestling contests, a cook off and the chance to find treasure in a sawdust pile with $1,000 in loose change.
The Alaska Sealife Center in Seward is the state’s only public aquarium and also operates as a rescue center, rehabilitating injured and abandoned marine animals so they can be returned to the wild. Daily tours provide a behind-the-scenes look at the animals currently being cared for and an overview of the rescue process. Other programs highlight the facility’s puffins and shorebirds, octopuses and marine mammals.
The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center in Homer is home to photo exhibits, ocean and river displays and a film theater with a feature about the largest seabird refuge in the world. There are also programs for families that include birding trips and guided walks on nearby Beluga Slough or Bishops Beach.
In addition to a collection of fabulous crafts made by Alaska Natives and stunning works of art that celebrate Alaska, the Anchorage Museum is also home to the Imaginarium Discovery Center. The center’s more than 80 exhibits give kids a chance to experience simulated earthquakes and auroras, interact with live animals and explore displays that include life sciences, a planetarium and bubbles.
Families who follow the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will relish the chance to meet recent champion Dallas Seavey and meet dogs from his family’s storied kennel at the family business, Seavey’s Ididaride. The Seaveys give tours all year, using authentic sleds to ride on snow and glaciers or wheeled sleds to cruise dirt trails near Seward. Of course, visitors also get a chance to meet the dogs and cuddle with puppies.
Valdez is home to several summer fishing derbies, including one just for kids. Awards go to the anglers that land the biggest pink salmon. Prizes in past years have included skateboards, fishing poles and subscriptions to Fish Alaska magazine. There are several age categories (5-7, 8-10, 11-13, 14-16 years old) and a Cub Scout division.
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