Kid-Friendly things to do near the B&B

Got young ones who love learning about animals and active adventures for kids? Here are some ideas if you’re traveling with children.

1. Go to the Iditarod Headquarters, just south of Wasilla on the Knik-Goosebay Road. There, you can watch a short video, pet the sled dog puppies, and take a $5 short cart ride, pulled by the dogs in harness.
2. Musk Ox Farm, located just north of Palmer on the Glenn Highway. Take the tour and watch musk ox lounge or play in their pastures.
3. Reindeer Farm: Go into the pens and pet and feed the domesticated caribou. Great photo opp!
4. If you’re out on a day-trip towards Seward or south of Anchorage, go to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center near Portage. This refuge park offers either a short drive or walking loop where kids can see grizzly bears, caribou, moose, eagles, and other large game up close as these animals rehabilitate in fenced pastures or habitats.
5. Older kids, perhaps over 7 or closer to 10 and up may enjoy the bus rides through Denali National Park. These 4-14 hour bus rides may be too much for younger kids or those who can’t sit still that long. You could have a great day and see tons of the Big Four (grizzlies, caribou, moose and wolves) up close, or it could be a cold, drizzly day when the bus windows are constantly fogged up. You be the judge about whether this is a good match for your child’s interests.
6. ATV tours are really fun for ages 6 or 7 and up. Your kids can either drive their own ATV or ride with you, at your discretion. It’s as adventurous as you want it to be, at the pace you choose, while being out in the great wide natural backcountry of Alaska.
7. Pan for gold at Hatcher Pass. You can buy inexpensive gold pans at Wal-Mart or sporting stores, and it’s quite possible to recover specks or small particles that could amount to a couple hundred dollars of gold, depending on your child’s patience or enjoyment of the activity. Take the short walk around Independence Mine where interpretive boards tell the story of the miners who lived there at the turn of the century. Hatcher Pass is also a fantastic place to “turn them loose” to just run and explore the gentle lower mountain slopes. Boulders and little streams make it a place of imagination and adventure.
8. Hike on the Matanuska Glacier. This is an unusual and fun thing for families to do, as long as your kids will pay attention to walking where you tell them to. It may not be the best for kids under 6 or so who may run off in a different direction because of hazards from crevasses.
9. Rainy day ideas: The Transportation Museum, just outside Wasilla, or the Native Heritage Museum north of Anchorage, or watch an Alaska-themed kids’ DVD at the B&B like Snow Dogs or Alaska’s Coolest Animals.
10. On Fridays, the Tsunami Warning Center is open for tours in Palmer. This NOAA office monitors the Pacific over to Russia and Japan and down to Hawaii, then along all of the US West Coast. During the tour, you can watch screens monitoring seizmometors, and there’s usually an earthquake or movement happening somewhere.
11. If you’re here between Aug. 20-Sept. 2, be sure to go to the Alaska State Fair. Learn about Alaska agriculture and pet the farm animals. There’s lots for kids to do all day.

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