Looking for fun suggestions for cool things to do in Alaska with teenagers? Well, look no further.

Alaska is a great adventure trip for teens. With such a big state and so many amazing experiences, it is difficult to know what to choose.

We have traveled to over 20 countries and all over the United States as a family. Alaska was a state we explored with our own teenage son. 

We have built this list based on many of our own experiences in Alaska and added other adventures that we know our own teenager would love. 

So if the 49th state is on your teenager’s bucket list, let’s dive right into some Alaska fun!

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Our Pick

Kenai Fjord Whale Watching

The Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay Half-Day Wildlife Cruise is our recommendation for the best thing to do with your teenager in Seward, Alaska.

1. Visit Denali National Park  (Denali)

Denali National Park is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Alaska. The National Park is especially great for active teens. 

We love Denali because although it is about 110 miles from Fairbanks, it is still accessible. 

Unlike the unspoiled Katmai National Park — home to majestic brown bears catching salmon as they swim upstream — Denali is accessible by road and train. This makes it a possible destination on an Alaska family vacation on a budget, like ours.

Denali National Park is home to stunning landscapes, including the towering peak of Mount Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), which is the highest mountain in North America. 

Such rugged places demand to be explored. There are several ways to get your teen into what are some of the most beautiful wild places in all of the United States.

A true bucket list way to see Denali National Park is to see it by air.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, see Mt. Denali

This one hour flight over Denali gets you up close to the largest peak in the U.S. You will soar about Mt. Denali’s snow covered peaks, jagged ridge, and glaciers. A true trip of a lifetime!

The tour includes transport from your accommodations to the airstrip. On board, you’ll wear a headset so you can learn from your pilot as you soar above the park.

Your teen is sure to remember seeing the most important national park by air.

moose in tundra

If a flight is out of your budget, the second best way to see the park is to book the Tundra Wilderness Tour. This tour is how we saw Denali. 

The tour is a necessity because private vehicle travel is restricted after mile 15. If you want to really see Denali, including its wildlife and Mt. Denali itself, you will need to take a guided tour. 

The Tundra Wilderness tour is a 5-6 hour experience. If you want to go deeper into Denali, you can also opt for a full-day tour. 

We felt like the Tundra tour was enough for us and on it we spotted a bear, Dall sheep, and caribou: three of the big five. Our bear viewing was particularly close. 

The tour has a driver and a guide. The guide uses their spotting scope to show you animals that you might not be able to pick out on your own. The view from the spotting scope is then shown on screens around the bus. It’s a great way to see so many more animals. 

The tour also comes close enough to Mt. Denali, that if the day is clear, you will get a great view of the peak. The tour also includes planned stops to admire the views and take pictures.

The tour bus picks up and drops at several hotels in the area.

Whether you opt to book a bucket-list air tour or the more budget-friendly bus tour, Denali National Park is a must for any trip to Alaska with teenagers. 

2.  See the Northern Lights (Fairbanks)

No winter trip to Alaska with your teen should miss the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

Since the Northern Lights can only be viewed in a couple of dozen places around the globe, this experience is absolutely one of the most unique things to do in Alaska. 

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is best experienced from September-April on clear, dark nights when the solar activity is high.

The best places to see the Northern Lights in Alaska are away from light pollution in rural areas, including the area just outside Fairbanks. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second-largest city and the largest in the interior region.

It is possible to see the Northern Lights from closer in town, including from the University of Alaska’s Fairbanks campus. If you are serious about having this experience with your teen, however, consider booking a tour with professional Northern Light chasers.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, see the Northern Lights

This small group tour transports you from downtown Fairbanks out into the rural areas where viewing is best. The small group size of this tour means that you can get personalized attention and information about the phenomenon.

The tour guides not only know the best places to find the lights, they will also take some remarkable photographs of you and your teen as you experience nature’s most remarkable light show. 

The tour is approximately 3 hours. Be aware that the tour leaves late…like 10:30 p.m. late, which makes perfect sense. Your teen will most likely not have an issue with such a late start — and late night — and the views will definitely be worth it. 

3. Try Ice Fishing  (Fairbanks)

Enjoy a fresh catch for dinner. Having the local experience of ice fishing is another great thing to do in Alaska with family. 

Visitors to Alaska can purchase a recreational fishing license, which allows you to fish for salmon in designated areas. If you are fishing with your teen, be aware that teens who are not Alaska residents and over the age of 16 must have this license to fish. 

If you decide to go without a tour, there are also restrictions on the type and size of gear that can be used, as well as the number of fish that can be caught and kept. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has all the details on the restrictions.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, go ice fishing

If you want the experience of fishing with your teen, but don’t want to deal with the details, you can book a unique ice fishing tour, just 20 minutes outside of Fairbanks.

The tour includes a warm and toasty cabin where you will ice fish and all the gear you need to catch your meal. 

If (or rather when) you catch that fish, tour staff will gut, season, and cook it up for you. And while you are on the hunt, they will cook you up a reindeer dog and some hot chocolate to keep you motivated.

The fishing license is not included, but you can buy it from the guide at the site.

4. Take a Dog Sledding Tour (Fairbanks and Seward)

A dog sledding tour in Alaska is a unique and exciting way to experience the state’s stunning winter or summer landscapes. 

Visiting Alaska in the winter? A winter dog sledding excursion will let your teen experience a unique, traditional mode of transportation in Alaska and provide a glimpse into the state’s rich cultural heritage.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, take a winter sled dog ride

If your winter travels have you in Fairbanks, consider booking a winter dog sledding tour with Howling Bay kennels. 

The tour begins a scenic 20-minute drive from Fairbanks. Once at the site, you will get geared up, meet the dogs — who will be harnessed up and ready to run — and then head out on the sled for a 45-minute winter ride. 

After the sled ride, there is time to properly thank your four-legged engines with some belly rubs. And if you are lucky enough to be on-site when there is a litter, you will also get some puppy snuggle time. And, of course, there will also be some hot chocolate to warm you.

If you are in Alaska with your teen in the summer, as we were, then Seward is a great place for a summer dog sled ride. 

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, take a summer sled dog ride

The summer tour, which is the exact one we took, includes transport from the coastal town of Seward to Ididaride Sled Dog Tours.

The Ididaride Kennel has won the Iditarod — Alaska’s grueling, 938-mile annual dog sled race — eight times. Many of the dogs that you meet and that will pull you are truly champions.

A summer dog sled tour is much like a winter tour with the exception of the cold weather and darkness. Remember, Alaska only gets 5-6 hours of sunlight in the winter. Except in the summer, the dogs pull sleds with wheels instead of rails. 

Just like the winter tour, you will have an opportunity to meet and greet the dogs. 

One of our best tips for traveling with teens is to include adventurous activities. Our time with the Ididaride Sled Dog Tour met that definition and was a great choice.

We loved our time interacting with the friendly and energetic sled dogs, and learning about their care and preparation for the Iditarod race. The thrilling experience of riding behind a team of dogs was great for our own teen.

However, we must admit that our favorite part was puppy snuggling. It was very hard to put them down and head back to town.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, snuggle sled dog puppies

Overall, a dog sledding tour in either the winter or the summer is a unique and memorable way to experience the state’s wild places and is highly recommended for adventurous travelers.

5. Explore the Glaciers and Fjords in Kenai Fjords National Park (Seward)

Visiting the glaciers and fjords in Kenai Fjords National Park with your teen is highly recommended.

There are many tour options to see the Kenai Fjords National Park. For those who are looking for a more traditional tour of the fjords, a bout tour is a great choice.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, take a boat tour to a glacier

The Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay Half-Day Wildlife Cruise is our recommendation for the best traditional boat tour. 

We took this tour with our teen and had an amazing time. Not only did we have several whale sightings, but the opportunity to get so close to Bear glacier was truly remarkable. 

The tour is 4 hours long and leaves from the center of town. 

Even though we are budget travelers, we still recommend this for an Alaska family vacation on a budget. For us, it was a splurge, but we absolutely would have regretted not having the experience. 

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, kayak to a glacier

If you have an active teen who loves to paddle — like ours – then definitely consider a kayaking tour of Resurrection Bay.  This tour is the most environmental way to experience this beautiful nature. 

Our top recommendation for kayaking tours is a 4-hour paddle around Resurrection Bay. The guides are so helpful. Most paddlers are able to see otters and eagles, but some even see Orcas.

While this is a long paddle, most travelers can participate. The tour does have a minimum age of 8. 

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, take a helicopter ride

Or, if you don’t cash in your bucket-list coupon at Denali with an air tour, you can take a flightseeing tour of the fjords and glaciers as well. 

While relatively short in time, helicopter tours of the area are long in memories. Our recommended tour is a 30-minute experience with a helicopter ride from Seward to glacier view that includes, literally, a walk on a glacier.

The tour lands on Godwin Glacier. You’ll have 15 minutes to explore the glacier and take spectacular photos.

Then you are back in the air for a helicopter ride back to the town of Seward.

Whether you choose boat, kayak, or helicopter, your teen is sure to remember seeing a glacier up close and personal for the first time. 

6. Take a Scenic Ride on the Seward Highway (Seward)

The Seward Highway is considered one of the most scenic highways in the world due to its breathtaking views of glaciers, fjords, mountains, and wildlife. 

The highway runs along the coast of the Kenai Peninsula, a glacial fjord, and offers stunning views of the Chugach Mountains and the Turnagain Arm, a scenic inlet within the larger Cook Inlet.

The highway passes through several state parks and wildlife reserves, providing opportunities to see a diverse range of wildlife, including moose, bald eagles, and beluga whales. 

The scenic drive also offers breathtaking views of glaciers and the rugged Alaskan coastline, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Seward Highway is also known for its unique engineering feats, including the scenic Moose Pass section of the highway and the incredible bridge over the Portage Glacier, which provides panoramic views of the glacier and the surrounding landscape.

While most people travel by rental car in Alaska, we actually traveled the state from Denali to Seward without a car. 

If you also opt to use public transit to explore Alaska, which we highly recommend, you can still experience the Seward Highway, by train or by tour. 

take the Alaska Railway

We opted to take the AlaskaRail train from Anchorage to Seward. The 4.5-hour trip was some of the most scenic that we have ever experienced. We saw bears, moose, and eagles. 

While the train followed part of the highway, it also went into the backcountry, where you can see massive glaciers and remarkable waterfalls. 

The train allows for a 7-hour layover in Seward, which is plenty of time to experience a whale-watching tour or kayak Resurrection Bay if you opt to make Seward a day trip from Anchorage. 

Seward is also home to the Alaska Sealife Center. While the center is slightly better as a thing to do with younger kids, a tween or particularly scientifically-minded teen will still enjoy the center’s information-rich and interactive displays. 

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, drive the Seward highway

If travel by train isn’t your teen’s thing, you can also experience the scenic Seward highway by booking a driving tour from Anchorage to Seward. 

The tour picks up in Downtown Anchorage. Its first stop is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a must-see experience in Anchorage and #9 on this list. 

After exploring the Center, you will head down the highway, with stops at Beluga point for some whale spotting, and at Portage Glacier.

The tour includes all your transportation to and from Anchorage and a knowledgeable local guide. 

7. Go whale watching (Juneau and Sitka)

Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see a variety of whale species. Within Alaska, Juneau is one of the best places to take your teen on a whale-watching tour.

Due to its remoteness, most people come to Juneau via cruise ship. In fact, Juneau and its Glacier Bay National Park are two parts of Alaska so remote that they are only accessible by boat or plane. 

Juneau’s remoteness and location inside the Inside Passage make it a prime location for whale watching because it’s a feeding ground for humpback whales. During the summer months, humpback whales migrate to Alaska to feed on krill and herring, and you can often see them breaching and tail slapping.

humpback breaching

This half-day tour of the Mendenhall Glacier is an excellent opportunity not only to see the 13-mile glacier itself but also to see humpbacks as they feed. Most tours encounter at least one whale breaching. Amazing!

At the glacier, you and your teen will actually have time to explore the area around the glacier. The tour gives you 30 minutes to walk.  A walking path near the glacier lets you get up close to this natural wonder.

whale tale

If your trip to Alaska takes you to Sitka rather than Juneau, don’t fret. There is good whale watching in Sitka as well. In Sitka, you have the opportunity to see humpback and grey whales. 

Given that Sitka is a well-known cruise port, many tours in this area are designed to fit within the port schedule. We recommend this 2-hour tour to whale watch from a catamaran sailboat.

One of the beautiful things about this tour is that because it is on a catamaran, the size of the tour is quite small. Only 6! 

You and your teen will receive individual attention truly making this whale-watching tour a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

After your tour, your time in Sitka should also include Sitka National Historical Park. The 113-acre park is small in size but big in history.

Your teen can walk the Totem Trail, a mile-long path that showcases 18 native Tlingit and Haida totems amidst towering spruce trees. 

8. Take a sea kayaking trip (Ketchikan)

We love to explore new places with water and waterways on a kayak. We’ve kayaked in some likely places like the Wailua river to its Secret Falls in Kauai, Hawaii. And we have even kayaked some less likely places, like the canals of Venice in Italy.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, seakayaking

Kayaking is such a great travel experience for teens, and Ketchikan, Alaska is a great place to do it. Whether you are in Ketchikan as a destination or a cruise stop, this eco-friendly kayak tour is a great way to spend half a day. 

The tour has you paddle around Eagle Island to sight site salmon, eagles, and seals. Lucky paddlers might even spot orcas.

While the tour is a 3.5-hour guided paddle, the pace makes the tour accessible to all types of travelers.

Included in the price is everything you need for a day of paddling including all necessary equipment, sea kayaks, and a knowledgeable guide. If you are coming from a cruise, the tour can also include transit from the port.

9. Zipline Above the Tongass Rainforest (Ketchikan)

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, ziplining

If you have a thrill seeker teenager then you should definitely book time at the zipline park above the Tongass Rainforest.

The park has 7 zip lines and 8 canopy ropes. The majority of the lines have you soaring over 700-year-old red cedar trees. Two of the ziplines are over water so there is a great chance to see sea lions  

If the sheer volume of zip lines isn’t enough, the course ends with several rock climbing walls for your teen to enjoy.

Ziplining is definitely on the fun things to do in Alaska list. If you have a teenager who loves thrills and fun, this should be your #1 choice if you are visiting Ketchikan. 

10. Ice Hike a Glacier (Anchorage)

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, hike a glacier

Ice hiking on a glacier in Alaska is an unforgettable experience that offers a unique and close-up look at the glacier’s stunning ice formations and natural beauty. 

And what better place to ice hike than Matanuska Glacier, which is estimated to be around 10,000 years old. The Matanuska Glacier is also mammoth in size at 27 miles long and 4 miles wide.

Another feature that makes the Matanuska Glacier so great for tourists is that it is one of the few glaciers in the world that is accessible by car. Visitors can drive up to the glacier and walk on it or take guided tours.

Since this is probably your teen’s first ice hike, a guided ice tour comes with all the gear and technical expertise. The tour does require a moderate fitness level. The tour also includes roundtrip transport from Anchorage to the glacier.

Ice hiking on a glacier in Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers a combination of physical challenges, breathtaking scenery, and educational opportunities. If you’re up for an adventure, it’s definitely worth considering.

11. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (Anchorage)

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and conservation of Alaska’s wildlife. The center is located in Portage, Alaska, about 50 miles south of Anchorage, and spans over 200 acres of land.

The AWCC’s primary focus is on the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife, such as bears, moose, elk, caribou, musk oxen, bison, and other species native to Alaska. The center provides a safe and secure environment for these animals to heal and recover before they are released back into the wild.

In addition to its rehabilitation efforts, the AWCC also provides a unique opportunity for visitors to view Alaska’s wildlife up close. The center offers guided tours and educational programs that allow visitors to learn about the animals and their habitats, as well as the importance of wildlife conservation.

If you have a rental car, you can explore the center on your own. Rideshare is also available to the site.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, take a tour to explore the wilderness outside of Anchorage

A more unique way to see the center and experience even more of Alaska’s wildlife is a Wilderness Wildlife Glacier Experience, which is basically a 6-hour tour that rolls all of the best of Alaska in one tour.

The tour picks up in Anchorage and starts at the Wildlife Conservation Center. But the AWCC is only the beginning. 

The tour continues to Beluga point to whale watch, into the Chugach National Forest to see a ring of glaciers, and down towards Girdwood, Alaska past the Cook Inlet.

You will absolutely feel like you and your teen have seen the “best of” on this highly-rated Alaskan tour.

12. Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center (Anchorage)

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a cultural and educational institution in Anchorage, Alaska that celebrates the state’s indigenous cultures and traditions. The center offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the diverse cultures of Alaska’s indigenous peoples, including the Athabascan, Inupiaq, Yup’ik, Tlingit, and Haida.

native dress at the Native American Center

Your teen can explore interactive exhibits, watch cultural demonstrations, and attend workshops and classes that showcase the rich traditions of Alaska’s indigenous peoples. 

The center also features a Native Dance Theater that offers daily performances of traditional dance and music, as well as an art gallery showcasing the work of local indigenous artists.

In addition to learning about Alaska’s indigenous cultures, visitors to the Alaska Native Heritage Center can also explore the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The center is located in a beautiful park-like setting, with walking trails and scenic views of the Chugach Mountains.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center offers a unique and enriching experience for visitors, providing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of Alaska’s indigenous peoples.

13.  Bike Ride the Coastal Trail in Anchorage (Anchorage)

When in Anchorage, you should definitely explore the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, a scenic 11-mile trail that offers views of the city, mountains, and water, with your teen.

We loved this ride so much and appreciated how bike-friendly Anchorage is that we put it on our list of best bikeable cities to visit.

Taking a bike ride on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail can be a great way to experience the scenic beauty of Anchorage, Alaska. 

The trail is easily accessible, starting in the heart of downtown Anchorage and running along the coast. It is a convenient and popular destination for cyclists.

The trail is mostly flat and easy to navigate, making it a great option for families with teens and younger children. 

When we rode the trail we saw a ton of wildlife including birds, sea lions, and moose. Yes, moose. The chance to make it a unique and enjoyable experience for nature enthusiasts.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers, bike to see a moose, luckily safely on the other side of the fence

We rented bikes from a downtown local bike shop. 

You can also book a Tony Knowles Coastal Trail bike tour that will provide you with bikes, helmets, and a local guide for a 3-hour tour.

The trail is a must-see destination for anyone interested in outdoor recreation and scenic views. And it’s a great way to spend a  few active hours with your teen in Alaska. 


Is it worth it to go to Alaska with kids?

Alaska is absolutely worth it with kids. While some of the more remote places and experiences won’t make sense with smaller kids, there is still so much nature to enjoy.

Families with smaller kids may choose to base out of Anchorage so there is a good balance of urban things to do and tours to the surrounding area.

How many days in Alaska are enough?

Allow at least a week to experience Alaska. 

Alaska is the largest state in the United States. If you are planning a road trip across the state, plan 7 hours to travel between Fairbanks and Anchorage. 

Depending on how many sites you want to see and your mode of transit, a week in Alaska should let you experience 2-3 places.

What is the best month to visit Alaska?

Due to its closeness to the arctic circle, the best time for most people to visit Alaska is mid-June through mid-July.

However, if you do travel in the fall or winter, you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights from Fairbanks or places further north. 

Is Alaska expensive?

Yes. The cost of living in Alaska is 28% higher than the average cost of living in the United States. As a tourist, some of that cost will be passed onto you. Be prepared to pay more for accommodations and food while traveling in Alaska.

What is the #1 attraction in Alaska?

Denali National Park is the #1 attraction in Alaska. It is easy to see why. More accessible than other national parks but equally as stunning, Denali provides visitors a chance to see the rugged wilderness and wildlife that Alaska is famous for. 

The park gets well over half a million visitors a year.

Conclusion: Best Things to Do in Alaska With Teenagers

Alaska’s rugged beauty makes it an excellent choice for an adventure trip with teens. There is so much to see and do all over the state that your teen will absolutely remember your time spent in the 49th state.

If you have time for only one of our 13 recommendations, we most highly recommend a boat tour of the Kenai fjord and glaciers in Seward. Hearing the sound of the ice calve and the dolphins literally swimming at our ship’s prow is something our own teen will never forget. 

Most of these experiences would work equally well for a  trip to Alaska with younger kids. Yet, traveling with a teenager is a really important time. So it deserves its own list. And we know our list will never leave your teen a moment to ask, “What is there to do in Alaska anyway?”

We hope sharing our experiences of what we did in Alaska with our teen helps you make a lifetime of memories from your time in Alaska with yours. 

Need more help planning your Alaska trip? Here is our Alaska family vacation itinerary without a car.

things to do in Alaska with teenagers

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