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Erin Kirkland

Anchorage, Alaska

MY KIDS

My Travel Style

Adventure travel, family travel. Hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking/canoeing, mountain biking. Oh, and the occasional beach vacation to help this Alaska family escape a long winter. I'm the author of "Alaska On the Go: Exploring the 49th state with children."

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Sol Duc Hot Springs Hotel Port Angeles

12076 Sol Duc Hot Springs Rd, Port Angeles, Washington

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Pet friendly
  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Outdoor pool


Average user rating (1 Reviews)

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My ratings by kids age

  • Big kids (6-8)

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Visited: 2013-05-01 | Submitted: 2014-01-02 13:14:25.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Sol Duc Hot Springs Hotel offers seclusion and activity in Olympic National Park

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Tucked away in the old-growth forests of Olympic National Park, Sol Duc Hot Springs and Hotel provide a lovely retreat for families of all ages. Featuring a smattering of cabins throughout the property and a newly-renovated lodge, the facility has done much to increase asthetics in the past few years. Cabins house up to six people, and can be adjoining or separate. They are not fancy, and do not offer much beyond beds, bathroom facilities, and a porch, but they are clean and also have undergone some upgrades. The whole point is to entice guests to the lodge and famous hot spring pools (3 total), where soaking in the mineral water is said to soothe many an ailment, or parental frazzled nerve… A small restaurant is on site, but can be crowded in the summer months. There is a small gift shop with sundries and a few small snack items, but guests should be aware that there are NO services for miles besides what is available at the lodge. The pools are traditional hot springs, with little chlorine, so guests are required to shower thoroughly before entering. Like Goldilocks, the temperatures are hot, medium, and "just right" in the form of a large swimming pool. Some pool toys are allowed; check with resort staff. If you don't want to stay at the property, or are camping in the adjacent campground (great), one can secure a day pass to the pools, very, very nice after a day of hiking.

Tips for Families

Bring snacks, juice or milk boxes, and everything needed for small children's (or infants') comfort; no stores are available for many miles. Take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails, especially to tumbling Sol Duc Falls. DO NOT go beyond the fenced area - the falls are steep and the rocks, slippery. Drive within the park to other hiking/walking trails, and schedule time for a ranger presentation at the campground. Watch for deer, listen for owls, and enjoy the scenery; Sol Duc is a magical place. The occasional black bear will wander through the area, so secure food and smelly items in a car or cabin.

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Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge Denali National Park

Mile 238.5 George Parks Highway, Mckinley Park, Alaska

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • On-site restaurant(s)


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  • Big kids (6-8)

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Visited: 2012-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-12-16 23:24:13.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Denali Princess Lodge brings access and activity to Denali National Park

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Located in the heart of Nenana Canyon, better known as "Glitter Gulch" to Alaskans, sits the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. Owned and operated by the Holland America/Princess dynasty of cruise lines, this is an enormous property that offers plenty of room for families, and access to the activities famous in the Denali NP area. Hotel rooms are nicely appointed, especially the family suites, with bunk beds, a sitting area, coffee maker, fridge, and television. Service is generally fine, but we have twice encountered dirty sheets in the rooms, which were promptly replaced after a phone call to the front desk. A swath of trails lead in, around, and through the property, and are great for roaming, and the views from bluffside are excellent. Take the trolley from one end of the property to the other to access restaurants, a dinner theater (silly, but my kid loved it), the main lobby/coffee shop/gift shop/activity desk. Princess staff can aid with all sorts of activities, from guided tours of the Park to sled dog kennel trips. Access to the Nenana Canyon area is easy, too, but the Parks Highway does run right through the area, and traffic is nearly always present - watch kids carefully.

Tips for Families

If your family needs supplies like diapers, baby food, extra snacks, etc. be sure and purchase before you arrive. There is NO real grocery store and prices for some items are outrageous. Bring bikes if you have them (rent in downtown Anchorage or Fairbanks) and enjoy the paved bike path from Nenana Canyon to the Park Headquarters area. Wi-fi is spotty here, but adequate in the lobby. Many, many older cruisers stay at this property, so don't be surprised if they aren't thrilled at your youngsters jumping, playing, and generally being kids. Staff are quite accommodating, however, and seem to enjoy children.

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Alyeska Resort Girdwood

1000 Arlberg Ave, Anchorage, Alaska

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Average user rating (2 Reviews)

My overall rating

My ratings by kids age

  • Tweens (9-12)

My detailed rating

  • Cleanliness
  • Customer Service
  • Comfort
  • Location
  • Value
  • Pool
  • On-site/nearby restaurants
  • Other kids' amenities

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$98

avg/night

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Visited: 2013-11-01 | Submitted: 2013-12-13 13:29:12.0 | I traveled with tweens (9-12)

Alyeska Resort and Grand Hotel combine luxury with Alaskan recreation

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Alyeska Resort and Grand Hotel are Alaska's only true-luxury ski in/out properties in the state, and provide year-round access to a plethora of exciting activities. The hotel is an enormous, full-view property with such amenities as spa, several restaurants, and an outstanding swimming pool and whirlpool spa. Anchorage families flock to the resort for their frequent family specials that include in-room movies, cookies, and resort credit (restaurants, gift shop, etc). Winter brings excellent skiing, lessons, and tons of fellow shredders to the mountain. Not a skier? Try snowshoeing (rentals available at the hotel), Nordic skiing (tons of local trails right near the property), or simply take the aerial tram up to the top of Mount Alyeska for lunch at the Glacier Express, or dinner at famous Seven Glaciers restaurant. During the summer, do take the kids on hikes up and/or down the ski runs for excellent views of the surrounding Glacier Valley area.

Tips for Families

Remember that winter in Alaska can be frigid! Dress in layers, add face coverings, and a ski helmet. NOTE: Alyeska's run identification system (black, blue, green) is decidedly more challenging than other resorts, so ask concerning terrain. No out of bounds skiing here, ever. Summertime visitors should access the community playground, and visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 10 miles south.


My detailed rating

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Value
Customer Service
Pool
Comfort
On-site/nearby restaurants
Location
Other kids' amenities

Suggestions for nearby family-friendly attractions

Community playground, Winner Creek trail, aerial tram, Alpine Air helicopter tours and dog mushing adventures, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing.

Suggestions for nearby family-friendly restaurants

The Bake Shop, Jack Sprat, Chair 5, Double Musky (for older kids)

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Wedgewood Resort Fairbanks

212 Wedgewood Drive, Fairbanks, Alaska

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Smoke-free property
  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Refrigerator in room
  • Microwave in room
  • Kitchenette or kitchen in room


Average user rating (1 Reviews)

My overall rating

My ratings by kids age

  • Big kids (6-8)

My detailed rating

  • Cleanliness
  • Customer Service
  • Comfort
  • Location
  • Value
  • Pool
  • On-site/nearby restaurants
  • Other kids' amenities

From

$75

avg/night

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Visited: 2012-08-01 | Submitted: 2013-12-10 17:46:20.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Wedgewood Resort customer service shines

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Wedgewood resort is part of the Fountainhead Development, an enormous property, built during the 1970's to meet the increasing demand for rooms during construction of the Alyeska pipeline. With enormous rooms and a nice neighborhood with access to a number of interesting activities, we found Wedgewood to be more than satisfactory. Dated and definitely catering to a cruise-tour population, the staff were kind and accommodating to our family. However, kids were not number one on their list of people to please, and we had to ask for a small fridge in our room, kid-pleasing entrees in the dining room (very overpriced, too), and lists of activities to please our six year-old. But, everyone did a stellar job of accomplishing requests, and I'd give top marks for service. The hotel is located on the same property as the famous and fabulous Antique Auto Museum, where all vehicles are kept in pristine condition, and where Willy the Manager may let kids honk the kahoo-ga horn. Do not miss this place. Walk Wander Lake's trail, too, and see if the beavers are out. The hotel property also has some interesting historical displays, and a nearby school provides an excellent playground. For more walking, and kid-friendly folks, hike on over to Creamer's Field Migratory Bird Refuge. Sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, and four-footed critters live on this wonderful section of old dairy farm, and the Farmhouse Visitor Center is a great place for kids.

Tips for Families

Plan on walking, it's an excellent way to see the area and kids tired of buses, planes, and trains can get some exercise! The hotel is built from concrete, and thus, wireless internet is spotty at best. Go down to the lobby if you need to surf the web. Take the free trolley shuttle to Creamer's Field, the Tanana Valley State Fair (mid-August), or downtown.


My detailed rating

Cleanliness
Value
Customer Service
Pool
Comfort
On-site/nearby restaurants
Location
Other kids' amenities

Suggestions for nearby family-friendly attractions

Creamer's Field Migratory Bird Refuge Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum Wander Lake University of Alaska Fairbanks Tanana Valley Fair

Suggestions for nearby family-friendly restaurants

Geraldos Falafel Shack Weekly farmer's market near College Road during the summer months

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Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage

4800 Spenard Road, Anchorage, Alaska

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Average user rating (2 Reviews)

My overall rating

My ratings by kids age

  • Big kids (6-8)

My detailed rating

  • Cleanliness
  • Customer Service
  • Comfort
  • Location
  • Value
  • Pool
  • On-site/nearby restaurants
  • Other kids' amenities

From

$105

avg/night

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Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-12-10 17:35:25.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Millennium Alaskan Hotel provides accessibility and views

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One of the older, more established hotels in the greater Anchorage area, the Millennium has undergone some renovations this past year. Located on the shores of Lake Spenard/Lake Hood seaplane base (the busiest in the world, by the way), the hotel is abuzz in the summer with float planes taking off and landing on the placid water, within full view of the hotel and nearby walkways. Rooms are spacious if a little outdated, and the restaurant/bar is fully stocked and appeals to families. Full breakfast available. Shuttle service from airport/train stations, and on the main taxi route/bus route. Be aware that the hotel is NOT downtown, and attractions require a drive. But the hotel IS in the Spenard neighborhood, one of Anchorage's oldest, and the collection of characters is interesting, indeed. The Millennium is also the official hotel for the Ceremonial Start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the 1,100-mile run from Anchorage to Nome, held the first Saturday of March. The place is busy with mushers, volunteers, and staff during Iditarod week, and if one wishes to visit then, they better reserve months in advance.

Tips for Families

Walk, jog, or bike the paved pathways around Lake Hood and Lake Spenard, watching float planes, "Bush planes" with fat tires, and keeping a sharp eye out for resident moose, eagles, and waterfowl. The Alaska Aviation Museum is located on the shores of Lake Hood, just across the lake from the hotel. Great displays of aircraft that are so important to Alaska's history.


My detailed rating

Cleanliness
Value
Customer Service
Pool
Comfort
On-site/nearby restaurants
Location
Other kids' amenities

Suggestions for nearby family-friendly attractions

Alaska Aviation Museum Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and Earthquake Park Rust's Flying Service (flightseeing, fishing, bear-viewing) Parks and picnic areas

Suggestions for nearby family-friendly restaurants

Gwennies City Diner

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Denali National Park

Park Rd., Denali, Alaska

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My ratings by kids age

  • Big kids (6-8)
Visited: 2012-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-12-04 15:10:33.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Denali National Park combines history and recreation for an outstanding family experience

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Denali National Park, in the shadow of mighty Mount McKinley, lies approximately 5 hours from Alaska's largest city of Anchorage. Accessible by car or via Alaska Railroad, the park is a must-see for anyone exploring the 49th state. It does, like the rest of Alaska, require advance planning, however. Visitors have the choice of camping within the park boundaries (we like Riley Creek Campground; the combination of ranger talks, trails, and access to a small store is a bonus for families), in fringe accommodations, or within Nenana Canyon, better known to Alaskans as "Glitter Gulch". Full of large-scale hotels that cater to the cruise tour industry, Nenana Canyon is for those who thrive in the middle of all the action, and it is almost always bustling with people. The first stop should be at the Denali NP Wilderness Access Center, just at the park entrance. Here, one can secure shuttle bus tickets (a must for anyone who wants to see the park in-depth, as no non-permited vehicles are allowed inside the park after Mile 15), get maps, and reserve campsites. The main park visitor center is a mile or so up the road, and is worth a stop to learn more about the area, activities, and history. Kids can check out a Discovery Backpack from park rangers and explore with parents, hike local trails, and pick up a shuttle to the Dog Sled Kennels, and deeper to the park itself. Shuttle schedules are long, but not so confusing once you get the hang of it, but it is too much detail here. Go to the WAC upon arrival and ask about times, routes, and requirements. A visit to the DNP Sled Dog kennels is a must! These are the last remaining sled dogs for the National Park Service, and their service is critical to the success of park management and operations during the winter months. Give a dog a pat, listen to a great presentation, and watch the team tear around the course. It's great, free, and worth it. We like hiking the trails near Savage River Canyon, the end point for most private vehicles into the park. Hike Savage Rock, or the canyon trail, and enjoy wildflowers, ground squirrels, babbling brooks, and amazing vistas.

Tips for Families

Allow at least three nights in the greater Denali NP area; the long trip up and back takes a day, and you'll want to allow kids some free time as you explore. Make sure to bring warm clothing and sturdy shoes, you'll be outside a lot! Bring ALL supplies for babies and young children, as local stores carry only the basics, and even then, not everything you want. From diapers to food, you need to bring it. Take advantage of the Murie Science and Learning Center, near the visitor center (follow the painted tracks on the trail). A great place for a little quiet time, staff there can answer questions about flora and fauna, and are very good with kids. Bring cash!

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Alaska Sealife Center

Anchorage, Alaska

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  • Big kids (6-8)
Visited: 2013-07-01 | Submitted: 2013-12-02 19:12:36.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward informs and entertains kids

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The SeaLife Center is actually located 128 miles south of Anchorage, in the town of Seward (at Mile 0 of the Seward Highway, to be exact). One of the most popular attractions in this small Alaska town, the SeaLife Center is the only marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation facility in the state, and they take their job of education and conservation very seriously. From displays talking about Alaska's fishing industry, to covering the annual salmon runs, to providing up-close opportunities to meet and greet Alaska's marine mammals and birds, the center is a must-see for anyone visiting Seward. Small children may become restless on the upper floor, but venture outside and downstairs for the enormous viewing areas of sea lions, seals, and the touch tanks. Allow about an hour with kids, longer if you have older kids who like to explore science-based exhibits.

Tips for Families

Do consider a behind-the-scenes tour with bigger kids; you can feed a Giant Pacific Octopus, watch a bird keeper gather up dinner for the flock of feathered friends in the aviary, or learn more about the rescue program. A bit pricey, but worth it. Take a stroller for little ones, and allow them to spend time viewing 'Woody,' the huge sea lion who loves to swim past kids! Combine the trip with a day trip aboard Kenai Fjords Tours; the have a combo deal that allows for both SeaLife Center visits, and a day cruise.

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Seward Windsong Lodge

31772 Hermann Leirer Road, Seward, Alaska

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Refrigerator in room
  • Microwave in room
  • Hiking trails on site


Average user rating (1 Reviews)

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My ratings by kids age

  • Big kids (6-8)

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$155

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Visited: 2011-06-01 | Submitted: 2013-11-23 21:52:50.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Seward Windsong is your ticket to Alaskan exploration

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Located on Exit Glacier Road, a few miles outside downtown Seward, the Windsong Lodge is owned and operated by Kenai Fjords Tours, and serves a mostly cruise ship-oriented crowd, which can be a huge benefit or a big detraction, depending upon your style of travel. With multiple complexes of rooms designed for accessibility and bulk travel, the lodge's property has a nice little network of trails upon which the kids can stretch their legs. Rooms are clean, quiet, and have nice views of surrounding forests. There is an excellent restaurant on site, Resurrection Roadhouse, where outstanding Alaska cuisine is featured with an expansive kid-friendly menu. The lodge can help you arrange glacier and wildlife tours, guided hikes at Exit Glacier, and other Seward-based activities. They also have a free shuttle into downtown, a huge benefit. We enjoyed our stay very much, but wish there were more kids around.

Tips for Families

Bring a backpack or stroller for little kids; the walking paths are great, and if you venture to Exit Glacier, you'll want something for tiny children. Do allow the lodge to arrange a package tour to Exit Glacier and/or a wildlife cruise. Complete worth the money and it is so nice not to worry about details. Roadhouse is a fabulous place to eat lunch or dinner.

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Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks

433 Harold Bentley Avenue, Fairbanks, Alaska

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Connecting rooms
  • Rollaway beds available
  • Sleeper sofa
  • Can accommodate large families
  • Smoke-free property
  • Refrigerator in room
  • Microwave in room
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Highchairs available
  • Cribs (infant beds) available


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$87

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Visited: 2012-03-01 | Submitted: 2013-11-23 21:43:45.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Hampton Inn and Suites combines convenience with kid-friendliness

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One of the newer hotel properties in Fairbanks, Hampton Inn's commitment to quality and the value of families shines with services and amenities. Managed by a longtime hotel administrator, the Hampton Inn has solid rooms with crisp, spotless bedding, furniture, and amenities. The swimming pool (a huge bonus for parents) simply sparkles, and we appreciate the attention to detail. Our son always loves the complimentary free hot breakfast, featuring waffles, cereal, muffins/toast, juice, and endless hot chocolate, just right during a wintertime stay. The hotel also offers fresh cookies and said hot chocolate or coffee all day long, which makes for happy campers after a long day of exploring the Last Frontier. Fridge in-room, cable television, crib on request, and fluffy beds! Complimentary transportation to/from airport or train station, and the hotel is close to restaurants and shopping. Special rates for Alaskans and during special events.

Tips for Families

Try visiting during the winter months - property manager Casey Thompson is an expert aurora borealis photographer and a dad; he is a wealth of local knowledge and expertise! The hotel is close to many summertime attractions as well, like Creamer's Field Migratory Bird Refuge, Tanana Valley State Fair, and Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. The only drawback, and it just requires a bit of planning, is the immediate location - no parks or scenic places right nearby, but fear not; the hotel will assist with getting you there!

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Kennicott Glacier Lodge

#15 Kennicott Millsite, Kennicott, Alaska

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Rollaway beds available
  • Kids stay free
  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Hiking trails on site


Average user rating (1 Reviews)

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  • Big kids (6-8)

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$185

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Visited: 2012-09-01 | Submitted: 2013-11-18 19:08:17.0 | I traveled with big kids (6-8)

Kennicott Glacier Lodge steeped in Alaska history

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At the end of a 65-mile dirt road that is not for the unwary, Kennicott Glacier Lodge is a beautiful respite from the typical busy Alaska vacation. Beautifully-maintained, expertly staffed, this family-owned lodge is perfect for the family with an independent spirit of adventure. Keeping in mind that simply arriving at the lodge requires a lot of logistics (either driving the 7+ hours from Anchorage or Fairbanks, or driving to Chitina (5 hours) and flying via small plane), Kennicott Glacier Lodge is cozy, warm, and sits in the heart of Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark. Formerly a copper mining town, Kennecott (with an 'e') offers great hiking, exploring, guided walks, and glacier trekking. From the lodge, it's merely a stroll down the path to access wild Alaska. Food is fabulous, and can be included in your stay (recommended if you are comfortable with family-style dining, and a limited number of selections). The common areas are great for a board game and hot chocolate (always available). Owner Rich Kirkwood loves kids, too, and goes out of his way to make sure everyone has what they need.

Tips for Families

Plan at least three nights at the lodge; after a long, stressful drive, it's a must. The Edgerton Highway (aka dirt road) has NO services along the way, so one must be prepared for 65 miles of indepedent travel. Take food, water, extra clothing, and a good attitude. No cell service, either. If your kids are picky, pack some healthy alternatives, like peanut butter, bread, cereal bars, etc. We brought all of the above and our son was pretty happy for the snacks. Plan on alpine-like weather; the lodge sits at the edge of a series of glaciers, and wind can be cold. Bring warm hats, gloves, rain gear, and sturdy hiking boots for everyone. A backpack for infants is a must. The lodge is only open June 1- Labor Day. We love Labor Day weekend; the leaves are turning and the views, stunning. Many Anchorage and Fairbanks families travel here for one last hurrah before winter, so reserve early. A shuttle is available to McCarthy, five miles down the road, and a little town where no "outside" autos are allowed. Try the local store for an 'on the go' meal, or eat at Ma Johnsons for a special treat. An epic road trip.

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