Thanks to Lia Keller for sharing her favorite fun activities for babies and toddlers in Anchorage, Alaska. Lia was born and raised in Alaska, leaving only for school and marriage, and vows to never leave again (except for vacations that is). She has two little boys, Duke (1) and Huck (2). She runs the Alaskan Mom Approved website, with honest harsh-weather product reviews, and Skedaddle kids, an all-weather playgroup that meets year-round on Tuesday mornings. She is also working to start an outdoor family non-profit.
Indoors – Head to the Cuddlers group at Providence Hospital to meet with other parents of kiddos 0-2. This free group is a great way to meet other new mothers while your babe lays on a blanket looking at other babies. There also are other Cuddlers days, double cuddlers, groups for dads and also cruisers for babes on the move.
Outside – The summer brings free music in the park and Mondays are for the kids. A great band plays child friendly songs, blows bubbles and leads dances. The lawn fills with kids dancing and parents chat when not pulling kids off the stage or out of the trees.
Grab lunch at Middle Way Cafe where you and your little one can eat a sandwich and get a smoothie.
Indoors – Children of all ages have fun at the Anchorage Museum’s Imaginarium. Older children enjoy the hands on exhibits and the younger set enjoys playing on the slide, jumping on the water bed and exploring the toys and puzzles. There are always parents to talk with and a cozy little nook for breastfeeding. The toilets in this area are child sized!
Outside – Play outside with the Skedaddle all weather playgroup where the kids can run off some energy and you can chat with other parents. This group meets at a different park each week so you can find new play spaces as well.
Grab some of your new friends and eat at the Moose’s Tooth for pizza or a salad. They open at 10:30 so you can arrive then and have a bit of space before eating. They have a coloring menu and kids can order just a slice of pizza.
Indoors – A great place to meet other parents is at H2Oasis for toddler time when school is in session. The child area with pirate ship and small slide are open for the kids. With two kids under two, I could have one in the sling and one run around. There also were lots of parents willing to lend a hand!
Outside – The Alaska Zoo is all outdoors and they have a great story time on Wednesday complete with animal encounter. While some kids sit and listen to the story, others (like mine) often wander around the greenhouse until the animal arrives or we leave to see one.
Call on your way to Snow City Cafe to have them hold a bench for your crew. They are welcoming to children and have a menu to please them and you. Breakfast is fantastic!
Indoors – Another great place if you have two young children is the Spenard Rec Center for toddler time. For $5, your kids can be contained in an area with playmate, balls, ride on toys, ropes, hull a hoops and other play equipment. I loved being able to talk to other parents without being worried about run away kids!
Outside – Join the Taiga Trekkers for a family friendly hike. This group hikes each Thursday allowing you to get out, hike and talk with adults. It is casual with all manners of kids, stamina and rests!Brrr. All-weather hiking with the Taiga Trekkers
After some fitness, regain those calories at Road Runner. They have an amazing outdoor eating location on Campbell Creek. They have salmon burgers and a great grilled cheese. The kids can be messy and run around between bites. Duck often wander in and you can see fish during the summer!
Indoors – Arrive a little early for story time at the Loussac Library. While they offer story time on other days, Friday is most popular. You can do some puzzles and look at books before it starts. A woman leads finger songs, reads stories and sings songs. Children run around and some don’t stay the whole time, but that is fine.
Outside – Grab a picnic lunch and head to Valley of the Moon Park. You are guaranteed to see other families and the play equipment is top of the line (remodeled in 2010) with areas for all ages of children.
Indoors – Alaska Natural History Museum is truly a hands on museum where you can touch anything (except for Mr. Lion). You can pick up shells, dinosaur bones, claws, pet a bear and try on furs. There is a great kid area with puzzles, books, dinosaur digging pit, play dough and many other activities. It is free for kids under 6 as well!
Outside – A great place to let an older child run is the Botanical Garden. There are stroller friendly paths for pushing a younger sibling, clearly marked plants and little fear of losing a child!Holding onto two boys at the Botanical Garden
Make a date with one of the parents you met during the week and drive out to Girdwood. The drive takes about 45 minutes and you can often stop to see whales, sheep and salmon depending on the time of year. The Girdwood Playground is amazing and many families from Anchorage make the drive. Plan to take a picnic or get some pizza at Chair 5 (very family-friendly) or the Bake Shop for a cinnamon roll or soup.