An invitation to participate from the DSN 2008 Family & Social
Anchorage Alaska is a wonderful vacation destination!
This year, we are making a special effort to help accompanying persons take
advantage of the opportunity to travel to this amazing location with an
attendee. On this brochure are notes and pictures from our scouting trips to
Alaska. Dont miss this opportunity to explore Americas last
frontier with your family! Well have special support for families and
- A local information and arrangements desk at the conference, staffed by
- Discounted tickets for the excursion and banquet -- kids are welcome!
- Airfare and rental car discount codes
- This "family" web page (well add to it over time)
Please feel free to contact me with questions. Were really excited
about seeing you in Alaska were sure youll have a great time!
Sue Kennedy; Family & Social Activity Chair;
While we can't officially endorse any particular family activity, below is
some information you will find helpful.
We have a two-page summary
brochure, specific to DSN 2008.
New -- Top 10 Things To Do In
For weather, "what to pack," and other local information please
see our Location page.
Other ecommended information sources:
Be sure to see our travel discount page
(airlines and car rental discounts)
Logistics LLC will help you book activities, including Renown Tours
and Alaska Heritage Tours activities. More info to appear here shortly. They
will have an on-site representative at the conference for last-minute planning
Download a tour brochure listing
available tours and prices.
Contact by e-mail: [email protected] (please put
DSN08 in the subject line)
Contact by phone: +1-907-276-6060
Of course you can also book activities on your own. In our experience, any
vendor who is an ACVB (Anchorage
Convention and Visitor Bureau) member has proven reputable.
We hope you'll be able to take your family on our excursion (tickets
available via the registration page; must be booked by May 23rd. Unfortunately,
there is no mechanism for purchasing other conference meals or breaks for
Family activities in and around Anchorage are numerous and fun (we've
family-tested them ourselves on a scouting trip). The city is very safe, and
downtown is quite walkable. Below are some of the activities we enjoyed the
most or that were recommended to us are:
A little farther afield (drive or take a complimentary shuttle to most) are:
- Anchorage Museum of History and
Art. The main attraction is natural history exhibits of Alaska. This
includes exhibits on Native Alaskan (Eskimo) artifacts and lifestyles, mounted
wildlife, and even a full-size cross section of the Alaskan oil pipeline. It is
near the downtown mall and a bit of a walk from the hotel. We recommend the
docent tour. This museum is well worth seeing! (This is near the downtown
shopping mall. It is walkable from the conference hotel, although it is a bit
of a long walk, past the 5th Avenue Mall.)
- Ship Creek. Walk down the hill from the hotel past the railroad station to
the bridge over Ship Creek, and you'll see hundreds of salmon swimming upstream
to spawn. (Not too far a walk from hotel; no admission.) No fishing license
needed for kids under 16, but adults will need one.
- The Anchorage 5th
Avenue Mall is a major indoor shopping mall, a few blocks from the hotel.
It includes a Nordstrum and many other stores. There is no sales tax in Alaska,
so mall purchases are salses-tax-free. (Consider walking there and taking a
taxi home if you plan on making a lot of purchases.)
- Imaginarium: Science Discovery
Center. A hands-on science center an easy walk from the hotel.
- Consider a trip on the Alaskan Railroad
through Denali National Park. The station is a short walk from the hotel.
- Saturday market. Every Saturday morning a large lot next to the hotel hosts
a gathering of craftsmen and other vendors providing authentic handicrafts,
local food, and shopping. With about 300 booths, this is the place to get the
best deal on crafts and in many cases meet the artisans themselves. Dont
forget to try the reindeer sausage cart!
- Shops and other activities. There are numerous shops, large and small, to
see near the hotel and other tourist attractions. Also: day spas, microbrew
pubs, and local color evening shows that are fun.
Beyond Anchorage, we enjoyed:
- Alaska Native Heritage Center.
This is a unique opportunity to experience Alaskas many diverse native
cultures in one location. A walk takes you through clusters of native buildings
and interpreters who explain the many different Eskimo cultures. There is a
huge totem pole. A central building hosts native performances, exhibits,
craftspeople, and a fascinating gift shop worth visiting to shop for authentic
native crafts. Its an easy drive, taxi, public bus, or free shuttle ride
from downtown. Dont miss this one!
- Alaska Wild Berry
Products. This is more like a mini-theme park than a museum, and is a
for-profit attraction. But, has a lot of things for the kids to do. It's a
great way to spend an afternoon if the kids get restless of the grown-up stuff.
(Drive, or they can arrange a shuttle van.)
- Alaska Zoo A zoo with
animals in smaller pens, both local and from around the world. Just outside of
town. Its medium-sized, but expanding all the time. (a short drive or
shuttle ride from the hotel.)
- Sea Plane flightseeing. Fly from the worlds biggest seaplane
facility, next to Anchorage airport. We saw Beluga whales, Dahl sheep, moose,
and bears on our flight, but you might not get to see all of them on the same
- See sled dogs and take a sled-dog ride on a glacier. (We didn't get to try
this, but we hear it is a great experience.)
- Other outdoor activities. Four-wheeling, sea kayaking, hiking, wildlife
viewing, dogsled rides, golf until midnight.
Other places you might want to visit, but which we didn't get a chance to see
- The Alaska Wildlife Conservation
Center wild animal park (with large, but fenced, animal areas) perhaps an
hour drive south of the city, on the way to Whittier. Features native animals
in open range pens including bears and moose.
- Whitter, Alaska.
Whittier is a small town that hosts glacier cruise excursions on Prince William
Sound. We plan to take such a cruise for the main DSN excursion, but you can
also do this on your own as a family activity. You can get to Whittier by
rental car (90 minutes), bus, or train on the Alaskan Railroad. Some excursion
cruise lines will arrange transportation if you dont have a car. There is
a former WW II military rail tunnel that now permits vehicle traffic, but it
alternates direction every half hour, so be sure to check the tunnel schedule
if driving. Its a very small town; plan on chili dogs rather than a fancy
meal. The conference excursion will include a bus ride to Whittier and our own
private offering of the "26 Glacier Cruise".
Alaska. Talkeetna is a cute little town about 2.5 hours drive north of
Anchorage, on the border of Denali National Park. It has cute small shops, a
great view of Mt. McKinley (North Americas tallest mountain -- called
Denali by the natives), and fun family activities. By far the most spectacular
activity is taking a ski plane to a glacier partway up Mt. McKinley. This is a
memory that will last a lifetime! Another fun activity is taking a jet boat
tour up and down the river. You can get to Talkeetna by rental car, daily train
service on the Alaska Railroad, or a shuttle service. If you want to spend the
night, consider Talkeetna Lodge.
There is much more information available from the
Anchorage Convention & Visitor
Bureau, including a much longer list of attractions, sample
one-day itineraries, and
suggested tours. Also, trips to
most places can be arranged using the DSN tour brochure, which lists various trips
for sightseeing and fishing.
For families on a budget, there is a small food store within walking
distance of the hotel, but the nearest real grocery store requires a car and is
an easy 2.3 mile drive (under 10 minutes) to: Carr's Quality Center at 1650 W.
Northern Lights Boulevard, AK 99517 (Bring your Safeway supermarket chain
discount card to avoid the implicit "tourist tax" on out-of-towners
who don't get the with-card discounted prices.) Carr's also has a pharmacy and
a liquor store. Pharmacy hours are: weekdays 9am-9pm; weekends from 9am-7pm;
phone +1 907-297-0500.
The 5th Avenue Mall has many services, including: one-hour prescription
eyeglasses, games, shoes, and clothing. Surprisingly, it does not appear to
have a pharmacy or drug store.
One exciting possibility is taking a pre-conference or post-conference
cruise. These cruises are very popular and tend to book up quickly for the peak
season. We recommend you book your cruise as far as a year in advance to get
your choice of sailing date and cabin. The ports near Anchorage are Whittier
(nearer to Anchorage) and Seward (the more commonly used port). Cruise lines
- Princess Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Royal Carribean
If you have any questions, please contact our Family & Social Chair,
Susan Kennedy, and she'll do her best to help you out. By e-mail:
(please type this e-mail address, there is no web browser link
because of spam problems)