Old Jan 27, 13, 9:39 pm
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I have the chance for a free flight to Alaska on AA/AS. That means ANC, FAI or maybe even a more remote town.

This is a family trip with a rugged 3 year who can deal with anything. If we wanted to spend 3-4 days in one place in Alaska, where would you recommend we fly to?
We would like to experience Alaska-light... not the true hardcore camping, bear encountering, ice fishing Alaska travel experience, but enough for it to be different from Canada or the mainland.

What location would you recommend?

Time of travel would be Aug-Oct or Jan-Feb
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Old Jan 28, 13, 6:13 am
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Tough question, especially with a small child. If it were me I would probably fly into ANC and try to explore the Kenai Peninsula. Lots to do along Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage, including for children. Perhaps rent a car in Anchorage then drive south. Many pullouts along the way for views. You can stop at Potter Marsh to look for swans and moose, Girdwood for the Winner Creek Trail and unique hand tram (go from the Crow Creek Mine side and the walk to the hand tram is much shorter), gold panning, the Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Glacier area including a nice visitor center and a 1 hour boat ride to the glacier, Byron Glacier (an easy 1 mile hike with fun on the glacier and the snow for the little one). Then maybe drive south to Seward. If you can handle possible seasickness and be prepared for it, the 6 hour or longer Kenai Fjords tours are excellent. Gives you a good look at marine wildlife and an up close but relatively brief look at a glacier. The Sealife Center in Seward is worth a visit as is Exit Glacier and the small visitor center there. You can walk up very close to Exit Glacier.

That can easily occupy 3-4 days of your time. I know many FT'ers love to base themselves in Anchorage because they can use points for hotels, but that is an unfortunate mistake. Alaska is too big to be taking day trips from Anchorage.

My suggestions above are for Aug to early/mid September. Tourist season drastically winds down by mid September. If you are going in the winter, it is a totally different animal. If going in the winter, I would suggest late February or early March. Then you can take part in some of the fun winter activities like the Iditarod and Fur Rondy in Anchorage or the Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks. But you will need very good and warm winter clothing to visit in the winter. Fairbanks can easily get to -20F and it is not unusual to see -40F in Fairbanks. It would be warmer in and around Anchorage.
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Old Jan 30, 13, 4:45 pm
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Anchorage would give you the most flexibility if you book the flight then alter plans.

Do you have your heart set on doing xxx?

Are you sure you only want to do 3-4 days and not 7-8 days?

One thing with Seward is you can manage a visit there by train and not need a rental car to drive there. So you go there and back by train then you could rent a car for a day or two to do a few other things.

In terms of season I would look at mid June-midSeptember. Later August it dies down with tourists thus prices likely will drop.
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Old Feb 2, 13, 4:52 pm
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Considering the timing of your visit, I would recommend taking the Alaska Railroad between Anchorage and Fairbanks. In the winter it runs on weekends only, north to Fairbanks on Saturday and south to Anchorage on Sunday. Since you're on an award ticket it should be fairly easy to fly into ANC and out of FAI, or vice versa. It's a great way to see a lot of the state with minimal effort.

If you time it right, you can be in Fairbanks on the first Saturday of February to catch the start of the Yukon Quest, then take the train south the next day. It would be a nice trip and your kiddo would probably enjoy seeing all the mushers and sled dogs. Definitely a slice of real Alaska.
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Old Feb 2, 13, 4:57 pm
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Thank you guys for all your input. I ordered the alaska visitor guide and will also do a bunch more research, but you certainly helped us out quite a bunch

Really appreciate it

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Old Feb 4, 13, 4:04 am
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I'd second the Alaska Railroad idea especially during the Winter.
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