To the outsider, winter in Anchorage, Alaska could appear as a dreary, depressing, cold time of year where the kids drive parents nuts and the sun never shines. Unfortunately this perspective on Alaska’s largest city is more wrong than most would believe. Sure the sun only shines for 4-5 hours per day during the winter and the temperatures can reach a bone-chilling 10 degrees and below, but parents shouldn’t despair, there are numerous free activities one can enjoy with their children even during the heart of winter.
To begin with, one thing must be made clear; if you want to do outdoor activities with your children in the winter, you need to be dressed appropriately. Unlike the lower 48 most clothing stores in Anchorage have plenty of winter gear for you and your little ones; some even year round; so you can enjoy the splendor of the great outdoors in Alaska. Even though the sun is virtually never out, on any given day you can see a multitude of children enjoying the snow on the ground.
The staple activities of old are always free and are considered to be just as normal in the frigid temperatures of Anchorage as they are in Boston or New York. Having a snowball fight, building snowmen or snow forts; and depending on if you live in a neighborhood with a hill or not snowboarding and sledding; are all options right outside your door that cost absolutely nothing for you and your children to enjoy. Some Anchorage residents take snowmen building to the extreme and taking the kids out to see the famous city officials; is a free treat and a great little diversion from the dark.
If your kids are into ice skating and you don’t want to pay to skate at the Diamond Mall Ice Skating Rink, all you have to do is wait until mid-December for the local lakes and ponds to be frozen and free ice-skating rinks will be open for enjoyment. As a safety note, if there are signs stating you shouldn’t skate on the ice, then it is your best bet to keep your kids and yourself off of the ice. For the most part though, the lakes and ponds on the outskirts of Anchorage and beyond are free to skate on and generally the ice is more then thick enough for you and your children to have a great time.
Outdoor activities are only half of what is available to you as parents because the indoor activities at your disposal are just as numerous as the outdoor ones. If you still need to get out of the house and do something, walking around the Diamond Mall is always a treat to just let the kids run around and for you to do some “people-gazing.” On occasion numerous organizations throughout the city will host family-fun days where they sponsor free to minimally costing events to help break-up the winter months but for the most part indoor activities outside of the home are centered and sponsored by the local school system. Getting your children involved in after school activities will not only give you some free time but also give you some opportunities to interact more with your kids’ school if you want. Indoor sports are big in the winter in Anchorage, so getting your children into them is generally considered to be the norm.
At individual homes across the city from night to night a family game night is a common thing to see if you looked through some windows. Monopoly, Scategories, Life, Go Fish, and other family-friendly games are great ways to pass the time with the little ones during the cold months in Anchorage. With the arrival of Nintendo’s Wii system the world of family game night has changed dramatically and the sales of the system generally skyrockets as winter approaches in Anchorage so if you don’t have one now, get your hands on one if video games are up your kids’ alley. No matter what type of games you decide to play, a night full of fun at home is always free and can be done with little effort on your part.
The winter months in Anchorage don’t have to be dismal or depressing as most think they are. Even during an economic recession there are plenty of activities one can do with their children during the cold, dark months that marks the winter in Anchorage. This article lays out only a handful of the activities one can do while in Alaska’s biggest city. If you want to know more, do some exploring and you will not be disappointed.