It's getting warmer and school will be out soon which means many families in Alaska are preparing for their summer trips. We've got insider tips, suggestions and great itineraries for your family's next getaway.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: KTD Host Shana Sheehy speaks with two local travel gurus in the studio. ,
• Erin Kirkland is our resident family travel blogger and owner of the AKontheGo website. Her specialty is exploring the top family destinations in Alaska.
• Scott McMurren writes the AlaskaTravelGram blog.
Erin's Top 5 Summer Trips Inside Alaska:
- SUMMIT LAKE AREA: If you've never stopped on the drive south to Homer or Seward you're missing great spots like the Quartz Creek Campground and the Summit Lake Lodge, plus whitewater rafting fun with Wildland Adventures.
- TALKEETNA: Whether you arrive by car, plane or train this little town is lots of fun for families with a walkable downtown that includes a great playground. Check out Mahay's Riverboat Service to take a Jetboat Safari!
- FAIRBANKS: The interior has a lot going on outdoors in the summer! Like the Sandhill Crane Festival in August; Tanana Valley State Fair in August; UAF Museum of the North; the Riverboat Discovery; and the El Dorado Gold Mine.
- HOMER: This little Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea has a lot to offer families who want to move at their own pace while enjoying the outdoors, art and good food. Check out: Seaside Cottages, Two Sisters Bakery, Bishops Beach, Islands and Ocean Visitors Center, Fat Olives, Seldovia and Halibut Cove ferries.
- VALDEZ: This tiny town has been through a lot over the past six decades, but while it's been shaken it hasn't been stirred because it remains one of the most beautiful and family-friendly places to visit which is why it tops Erin's list. She suggests taking the Alaska Ferry from Whittier to Valdez (a 3-hour trip on the Chenega) and when you arrive there's kayaking, fishing and hiking trails to explore.
Scott's Top 5 Summer Trips Outside Alaska:
- RELATIVES + ANY BEACH, USA: If you're flying the whole family out of Alaska might as well double up on the excursions and get more bang for the buck - visit grandparents who live down south, says Scott, followed by a relaxing, toes-in-the-sand trip to the nearest beach afterward.
- WASHINGTON D.C.: The perfect setting for a big city romp plus a big dose of our nation's history. Visit the National Zoo; rent a bicycle and ride to the 18 (!) Smithsonian Museums and to as many memorials as you care to visit.
- HAWAII: What Alaskan doesn't have a particular fondness for this tropical state a short hop south across the Pacific? Sure why not, you can visit in the summer when the waves are tamer, the water a bit warmer and air and hotel deals abound. Check out Family Fun in Hawaii.
- SAN FRANCISCO / LAKE TAHOE: Another twofer trip Scott suggests is bundling together the cool city sights and sounds of the endlessly walkable San Francisco (or hop on the trolley) with the vast and ridiculously blue Lake Tahoe, a 3.5 hour drive up into the mountains. In SF visit the MOMA, Alcatraz, hike the Marin headlands, and kids love the Exploratorium. In June participate in the GeoCaching Treasure Hunt in the South Lake Tahoe area, or in the North lake area rent bikes or kayaks.
- LAKE POWELL: And Scott's number one out of state take the whole family summer trip happens on a houseboat! The most fun he's ever had, he says, and these houseboat rentals are available on a number of lakes - check out Houseboating.org to get started.
- Dispatch from the Oregon Trail - KTD Contributor Jessica Cochran calls in from Oregon where she's traveling throughout the state with her family to report on vacation rentals in Portland, traveling with in-laws, and kid-friendly spots in the city, at the beach and points in between.
- Teens First Solo Trip - Remember the first time you traveled without your parents? It was a big deal, right? KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales asked a few of Devon Robert's Service High School students about their first time and finds out that freedom is still a very popular state of mind.
- National Parks & Ferry Trips - We hear from Kathy Kupper at the National Park Service HQ in DC and Danielle Adkins at the Alaska Marine Highway System - each shares why theirs is a family-friendly travel option and they suggest some truly awesome itineraries that will have you itching to get outside!