Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Seward Highway, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

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Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier, as the easiest car-accessible attraction in Kenai Fjords National Park, is a natural destination for a family outing in the area. Exit Glacier affords a glimpse of nature in all its power and beauty, in this most unique Alaskan wilderness. There is a wide range of trails available to explore, most of them very easy, perfect for families of varying ages and abilities. The guided walks led by the park service offer the added bonus of learning about glaciers, local wildlife and history, while still keeping youngsters interested. The 8.6-mile road to the glacier can be traveled by car, taxi or shuttle from Seward, and even by snowcoach as needed. Exit Glacier is probably the most popular day-use area in Kenai Fjords National Park, and shouldn’t be missed.

Address: Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

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URL: http://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/exit-glacier.htm
Hours: Road is closed during winter months. Open when snow has cleared
Price: Free

Harding Ice Field Trail

At Kenai Fjords National Park, families are encouraged to take advantage of ranger-led hikes in the area. The Harding Ice Field Trail is one of the featured hiking trails. Although taking on the whole trail can be strenuous, families will still enjoy the walk even if they decide to turn back half-way. This 8.2-mile roundtrip excursion takes all day and gains almost a thousand feet in elevation per mile, so it’s not for the unfit or small children. However, it would be a shame to completely miss this scenic attraction of the park. Even a short walk up the trail affords great views of the valley floor and the Exit Glacier. Lots of families tackle the first quarter or half of this trail, which is often cited as the favorite part of a Kenai trip. Plenty of birds can be spotted along the way, as well as mountain goats, marmots and even the occasional bear. For adventurous families, who want to get up-close and personal with a real ice field, the Harding Ice Field Trail will be a vacation highlight.

Address: Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

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URL: http://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/harding_icefield_trail.htm
Hours: Year-round
Price: Free

Fox Island Dinner Cruises

Fox Island is a popular boat destination in Kenai Fjord National Park, but adding a little salmon and prime rib to the mix makes it even more special. Kenai Fjords Tours, a longtime cruise outfitter, takes passengers for a scenic tour along the shores of Resurrection Bay, then visits the island itself with its sea lions, bald eagles, otters and innumerable other species. The tour guides make a point of steering close to wildlife they think would interest children, varying their route slightly to accommodate whales and other sightings, which speaks volumes about their service. Visitors have the use of the company’s private day lodge and can stroll the trails until it’s time for dinner – all-you-can-eat wild Alaska salmon, prime rib and delicious sides, served buffet-style. A Fox Island dinner cruise is the perfect way for families to enjoy the island and make sure everyone is happy and fed at the end!

Address: Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

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URL: http://www.kenaifjords.com/kenai-dinner-cruise.html
Hours: June 15-August 10: 5:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Price: Adults(12+): $64; Children(2-11): $32; Children (0-1): Free

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is a stunning wilderness preserve, and offers an ideal outing for families with a love for nature. One of Alaska’s most popular destinations, the Refuge is well set up for a variety of activities: Hiking, fishing, kayaking and wildlife-spotting are all accessible, clearly marked and suitable for all ages. Walk or drive through the area for up-close views of rescued owls, caribou, lynx, moose and other unique species. Children will be fascinated listening to ranger talks about how the animals came to be acquired. There is also an old cabin near the park exit for kids to explore. The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge can be enjoyed in an hour visit or much longer depending on one’s itinerary, but it should be visited one way or the other -- the Kenai is too special to be overlooked.

Address: 1 Ski Hill Road, Kenai, Alaska 99669

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Phone: 907262-7021
URL: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/kenai/#
Hours: Year-round
Price: Free

Holgate Glacier

Holgate Glacier is a remote but fascinating place to visit within Kenai Fjords National Park, and offers a unique vacation experience for families with a taste for rugged adventure. A two- to four-hour boat ride away from Seward, Holgate Glacier is used by campers and kayakers to explore the fjords, streams and forests of the Holgate, and see the glacier up-close. This is very wild country, so campers need to be thoroughly experienced and prepared for staying at the glacier. The park service does have a public use cabin, a sturdy but rustic wooden structure that is probably better for families than roughing it at the beach campsites. From the porch, visitors have a scenic view of the bay, along with humpback whales and even bears that appear from time to time. These are attracted by the berries that they – and humans – love to eat; berry-picking is one of the day activities popular with visitors. As obscure as Holgate Glacier sounds, it gets plenty of visitors, and outdoorsy types may want to add this place to their Kenai travel itinerary.

Address: Kenai Peninsula, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska 99664

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URL: http://www.nps.gov/kefj/planyourvisit/holgate-public-use-cabin.htm
Hours: Year-round
Price: Free

Alaska SeaLife Center

Who doesn’t love an aquarium? The Alaska SeaLife Center offers families a nice alternative day activity while vacationing in and around Seward. This non-profit marine research and animal rehab facility does good work for the environment, while letting visitors see another side of the wildlife they’ve been spotting during their other local outings. The Center features two extra-large tanks swarming with fish of all descriptions, along with two oversize habitats where sea lions and puffins dive and play. Touch pools are especially fun for small children, and they’ll never get bored viewing sea anemones, glowing jellyfish, a giant octopus and other colorful creatures up-close. Visitors of all ages can appreciate the educational exhibits of orphaned animals that the staff has adopted. The back deck of the facility provides a lovely view of the bay, a pleasant backdrop to one’s visit. The Alaska SeaLife Center isn’t huge, but it’s just the right size for a cool two-hour getaway.

Address: 301 Railway Avenue, Seward, Alaska 99664

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Phone: (907) 224-6300
URL: http://www.alaskasealife.org
Hours: Summer: Mon-Thurs 9:00 AM - 6:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8:00 AM - 6:30 PM; Winter (Sep-April): 10: 00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily
Price: Adults: $20; Children(12-17): $15; Children(4-11): $10; Children(0-3): Free

Bardy's Trail Rides

There’s nothing like a nature walk enjoyed from the back of a horse, and Bardy's Trail Rides provides just such an opportunity. These horseback rides are especially nice for beginners and families, because the trips are gentle, controlled single-file sessions which anyone can handle. The guides give instructions before setting off so everyone feels comfortable. While the rides are fun, the exquisite Alaskan scenery is the main attraction. Riders can expect to cross streams and meadows and spot plenty of wildlife, like bald eagles and deer -- even the occasional moose. The guides point out actual eagles’ nests along the way, sure to be fascinating to children. Trail rides are scheduled twice a day and take about two hours; groups are limited to seven persons for that personal touch. For families looking to fill a morning or an afternoon while vacationing in Seward, Bardy's Trail Rides is a perfect change of pace.

Address: P.O. Box 689, Seward, Alaska 99664

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Phone: 907-224-7863
URL: http://www.sewardhorses.com/
Hours: Rides are two hours and begin at 12 PM and 3 PM (May-August). Riders must arrive 20 minutes early for check-in
Price: $95 per person

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