Child walks trail in Alaska's Inside Passage region
Photo Credit: ATIA

Family Fun in the Inside Passage

Family Fun in the Inside Passage

Want to give your kids the journey of a lifetime? They’ll never forget this five-day, ferry-based itinerary through Southeast Alaska. Featured activities include ziplining, family-friendly hikes, interactive museums, and animal rehabilitation centers.

Day 1: Juneau

Arrive in Juneau via plane, cruise ship, or Alaska Marine Highway ferry. Once you’re checked in to your hotel, the whole family will enjoy a tram ride up Mount Roberts, which looms over the cruise ship docks. The upper tram terminal offers sweeping views of the rainforest below and the surrounding mountains. Back in town, explore the Alaska State Museum‘s collection of historic artifacts. You should have just enough time left for a stop at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, where kids can wander walking trails, stroke animal pelts, and use spotting scopes to get a closer look at the glacier’s blue ice. Overnight in Juneau.

Day 2: Juneau to Sitka

Hop on one of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry for the four-and-a-half hour journey to the beautiful island community of Sitka. Once you land, head to either the Alaska Raptor Center or the Fortress of the Bear. Both facilities care for rescued animals, although the bears are not released back into the wild. The eagles are released whenever possible, and watching them regain their ability to fly within the enclosed “flight training center” is a real treat.

Other kid-friendly destinations include the Sitka Sound Science Center, which includes a hatchery, aquarium, and touch tank; and the nearby “totem trails,” where you can roam the forest among dozens of totem poles. End your evening with a stroll on Sitka’s charming coastal walk that stretches from the science center to the cruise ship docks, then spend the night in Sitka.

Day 3: Sitka to Wrangell

Spend the day taking in the sights on your ferry trip from Sitka to Wrangell. The trip takes about 14 hours in total; think of it as a delightful sightseeing cruise and make sure to keep an eye out for playful humpback whales. Many ferries offer kid-friendly amenities like playrooms, arcades, and observation decks. (This journey can also be done overnight.)

Day 4: Wrangell

Stretch your legs in Wrangell on the mile-long walk to Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park, where you and the kids can stroll the beach at low tide to spot ancient carvings left by early Alaska Native people. Next, walk back through town to Chief Shakes Island — accessible via a short footbridge — to explore a traditional Tlingit longhouse. Want to try and spot some wildlife? Older children will never forget a trip to the Anan Creek Wildlife Observatory, where bears come to feed on the largest pink salmon run in the Inside Passage. Overnight in Wrangell.

Day 5: Wrangell to Ketchikan

Hop back aboard the ferry for the six-hour sailing to Ketchikan. You’ve spent plenty of time on the water and the ground: now it’s time to see Alaska by air with a zipline adventure that sends you soaring through the massive trees of Tongass National Forest. Other fun, family-friendly excursions include a trip to Totem Bight State Historical Park, strolling the elevated boardwalks of the historic Creek Street, or a visit to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. Spend the night in Ketchikan and get ready to fly — or sail — home the next day.


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