Travel Tuesday: Spring weekend trip ideas
Local tourism businesses are opening up and many have great early deals Alaskans can take advantage of.
Here are some great weekend trips for the family, according to Kathy Dunn with Travel Alaska.
In addition to the annual gray whale watching tours going on in Seward, wildlife viewing is a great option for families looking to get outside and have interactive visits with some of Alaska’s wildlife.
Visits to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka or even the Running Reindeer Ranch in Fairbanks allow for families to get out and stretch their legs and learn more about Alaska’s diverse animal landscape.
“One thing that I learned about that I hadn’t known about before — the Running Reindeer Ranch in Fairbanks where you actually go out and walk with the reindeer,” Dunn said. “That’s something on my list for sure.”
Alaska’s museums are also a great treat for locals looking to learn about their state. Museums such as the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks or the Anchorage Museum and Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage mostly still have winter hours but are less crowded, allowing for longer time to reflect on Alaska’s rich history.
“Exhibits change all the time,” Dunn added. “So it’s not one of those one and done [things], and it’s a great way to learn about the local area.”
Another option for Alaskans is to leave the driving up to the Alaska Railroad and ride the rails to a nearby destination for a weekend escape. The Alaska Railroad even offers Alaska residents and military personnel a year-round 20 percent discount on published retail rail fares. Summer service is just around the corner with the Coastal Classic train kicking off Saturday, May 9, the Denali Star beginning summer service Wednesday, May 13 and the Hurricane Turn train beginning summer service on Thursday, May 14.
The Alaska Railroad is also offering value service with special discounts on the Denali Star train from May 13-31. For more information, visit AlaskaRailroad.com.
Ketchikan’s annual Hummingbird Festival is going on through the end of the month. This festival honors the rufous hummingbird and more than 100 migratory birds returning to Southeast Alaska. Locals can take advantage of birding hikes, films and speakers that cover a wide range of topics about Alaska’s migratory birds at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.
“There’s also the shorebird festival in Homer,” Dunn said. “Down in Girdwood they have their spring festival. So, anytime you’re traveling anywhere in state, out of state, always check out those fun, quirky and homegrown-type festivals.”
National Park Week
National Park Week is going on right now (April 18-26) and celebrates America’s national parks. Get out and explore Alaska’s 15 national parks, preserves, monuments and national historical parks. For more information on Alaska’s national park service, click here. If you’re posting your pictures on social media, use the hashtag #findyourpark.
If you’re interested in looking for even more travel deals in Alaska, visit the Hottest Deals section of the State of Alaska tourism office’s website: TravelAlaska.com/specialoffers.