Anchorage with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day
First of all, stay in a child-friendly hotel, preferably one that can offer you and your kids a bit of relaxation and fun without leaving the property. My favorite spot to stay for a family vacation in Anchorage is the Fairfield Inn & Suites (5060 A Street, Anchorage, AK 99503, 907-222-9000 for reservations) in the midtown area of the city. Their rates are reasonable, the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the hotel has an indoor pool and hot tub. So while the kids are working off their end of the day energy in the pool, you can enjoy the steamy hot tub, all the while keeping an eye on those tweens.
After a good night's sleep, it's time for breakfast. The Fairfield Inn & Suites offers free breakfast, and their selection is sure to satisfy even the most finicky tween eater, offering kid-friendly cereal, bagels, muffins, sweet rolls, fresh fruit and yogurt, as well as a selection of juices and coffee.
So, now you are ready to explore Anchorage with your tweens, and you want to ensure that this is one of the best family vacations you've taken together. I would recommend a trip to the Anchorage Museum's Imaginarium Discovery Center (625 C. Street, Anchorage, AK 99501, 907-929-9200), located on the first floor of the museum. Here, there are over 80 hands-on exhibits where you can make an earthquake, see what makes the aurora borealis, shoot air cannons or hold a live sea star. I dare even the grumpiest tween to stand inside the center's giant bubble exhibit and not crack a tiny bit of a smile! The main entrance to the museum is at the corner of 7th and C Streets. The Imaginarium is open from 9AM-6PM daily in the summer months, and 10AM-6PM Tue-Sat, noon-6PM Sun and closed Mondays during the winter. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students over 13 and $7 for kids over 3. The Anchorage Museum offers a range of other fascinating exhibits, so feel free to explore the rest of it, but definitely don't miss the Imaginarium.
Lunchtime in Anchorage offers a wealth of possibilities, as the city is home to an overabundance of restaurants, cafes and fast food spots. As parents with tweens know, choosing where to dine usually depends on whatever mood your kids are in at the time. One of my favorite quick lunch (or dinner) spots is the Burrito King in midtown (111 W. 38th Avenue, 907-569-2900). Burrito King offers excellent Mexican food at low prices, and the restaurant has a soda fountain with free refills, the tween's equivalent to a frat boy's kegger. You can always go with another perennial favorite, McDonald's, of which there are many in Anchorage, just like every other city. My favorite place to eat lunch in Anchorage with tweens, though, is Sicily's Pizza (2210 East Northern Lights Boulevard, Anchorage, AK 99508, 907-333-8000) on East Northern Lights Boulevard near Seward Highway. This casual, fun restaurant has an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, which includes fruit, salad, lots of pizza and sticky, gooey sweet dessert pizza. Sicily's is not the best pizza in town, nor the fanciest restaurant in town, but it is priced for a family and it is hard to go wrong with pizza and free soda refills for anyone, let alone a potentially picky child. The buffet is available from 11AM-10PM daily.
After your family is stuffed to the gills with pizza and soda, it's time to work off some of that lunch at H2Oasis (1520 O'Malley Road, Anchorage, AK 99507, 907-522-4420), Anchorage's indoor water park. Given the cool weather in Alaska, parents with tweens will appreciate the fact that this year-round family destination is indoors. Open daily in the summer months from 10AM-9PM and closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the winter, this perennial favorite boasts a wave pool, water cannons and a 368-foot-long open flume slide, making it perfect for your family vacation with tweens. As parents, you'll enjoy relaxing in the Lazy River, a long, meandering oasis that circles the park. A separate children's lagoon is provided for your tweens' younger siblings.
After a shower and clothes change at the Fairfield, your whole family can get ready for dinner. The Golden Corral (4520 Union Square Drive, Anchorage, AK 99503, 907-563-9000), located about ½ block north of the hotel on C Street, is not unique to Anchorage, but it is an easy-going, friendly place for families to dine on an incredible variety of options. Enjoy a relaxing dinner, then head back to the hotel to watch a movie and relax because the trials of entertaining your tween on a family vacation in Anchorage will begin again tomorrow.