Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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Mat-Su area: Museums, mine, State Fair and animals draw visitors

Rebekah Curtis soaks up the sun while rock climbing in Hatcher Pass.

Anchorage Daily News

Rebekah Curtis soaks up the sun while rock climbing in Hatcher Pass.

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Alaska Garden and Art Festival

See the Alaska State Fair gardens at the peak of their beauty during midsummer. There will be experts on hand to answer questions about the fair's perennial, herb, vegetable, and fruit and berry gardens. The festival will include gardening speakers, exhibits, artists and artisans, vendors, music and workshops.

Where: Alaska State Fairgrounds, Palmer

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 23

Cost: $5 adults, free for age 11 and younger

Phone: 1-907-373-5494

Web: www.alaskastatefair.org

Alaska State Fair

The fair will conclude with a two-day Alaska Native cultural celebration, which includes dancing and the erecting of a 16-foot totem, and artists and craftspeople displaying their work and techniques. All five of Alaska's major cultural groups will be represented. New this year will be sprint-car races. Additionally, the fair's staple of giant vegetables will be on display. Other highlights include Alaska arts and crafts, food, flowers, concerts, livestock exhibits, a lumberjack competition, rodeo, fireworks and a demolition derby. This year's theme is "Brings Out the Kid in You." The parade through downtown Palmer is Aug. 27.

Where: Alaska State Fairgrounds, Palmer

When: Aug. 25 to Sept. 5; hours are noon to 10 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends and Labor Day

Cost: $10 adults, $6 youths 12 and younger and seniors

Phone: 1-907-745-4827

Web: www.alaskastatefair.org

Alaska Transportation Exposition

The annual event brings together vintage tractors, antique autos and motorcycles from around the state. The expo also includes food booths, homemade ice cream, a parade, miniature displays, entertainment and pedal tractors for children.

Where: Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, 3800 W. Neuser Drive, off Parks Highway, Wasilla

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 18-19

Cost: $8 adults; $5 students, seniors; $18 per family

Phone: 1-907-376-1211

Web: www.museumofalaska.org

Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

The center monitors seismic and tsunami activity in and around Alaska and the Pacific Ocean region. The center's area of responsibility is from the Aleutian Islands to Southern California. The center was built in 1967 after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and a subsequent tsunami that killed 114 people.

Where: 910 S. Felton St., Palmer

When: Tours from 1 to 3 p.m. Fridays

Cost: Free

Phone: 1-907-745-4212

Web: wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov

Colony House Museum

Take a trip back to the mid-1930s at the museum and follow a band of pioneers from the Midwest who traveled to Alaska to begin a farming community during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal era. The museum is in one of the original farm homes built by the pioneers and is entirely furnished in period decor and artifacts. Many of the items were donated by the original settlers. Open house is June 11, which also serves as the 70th anniversary of the Matanuska Valley Colonization Project.

Where: 316 E. Elmwood Ave., Palmer

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, May 1 to Aug. 31; special openings are available

Cost: $2 adults, $1 younger than 12

Phone: 1-907-745-1935

Dorothy Page Museum and Historic Town Site

Get a glimpse of Alaska and Wasilla's history at the museum that opened in 1967. A variety of displays focus on local history, gold mining, Alaska wildlife, homesteading and the Iditarod race. Several old buildings, including the original schoolhouse from 1917, are at the site. The museum building itself was constructed in 1931 as a community hall. Showing throughout the summer is "Eight Stars of Gold: A Story of Alaska's Flag." A farmers' market is hosted noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays beginning in mid-June.

Where: 323 Main St., Wasilla

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays through Sept. 30

Cost: $3 adults, $2.50 seniors, free for children 12 and younger

Phone: 1-907-373-9071

Web: www.cityofwasilla.com/museum

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters

It doesn't have to be snowy and cold to enjoy the Iditarod, a true Alaska adventure. The headquarters features Iditarod race displays, souvenirs and videos for viewing. Sled dog rides with a wheeled cart are available. A veteran musher is on hand with sled dogs and puppies.

Where: Mile 2.2 Knik Road, Wasilla

When: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, mid-May to mid-September

Cost: Free; fee for sled dog rides

Phone: 1-907-376-5155

Web: www.iditarod.com

Independence Mine State Historical Park

Take a trip back to Alaska Gold Rush history with a visit to this scenic mine. The state has refurbished the site at Hatcher Pass. The park has handicap-accessible walkways, paved paths, a pavilion and more than 30 interpretive panels. Guided historic-building tours of the park are offered several times a day. The pass is named for Robert Lee Hatcher, who discovered gold in Willow Creek Valley in 1906. The mine, on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed in 1951. The road to the park is paved.

Where: Mile 17 Hatcher Pass Road, off Fishhook Road

When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily starting in early June

Cost: $5 per vehicle or a $40 seasonal pass

Phone: 1-907-745-3975, 745-2827

Web: www.dnr.state.ak.us

Mat-Su King Salmon Derby

The sixth annual derby features a variety of prizes for the winners. There will be $100,000 in prizes. Participants can fish in all legal waters in the Susitna and Knik river drainages.

When: May 19 to July 12

Cost: $10 adult single-day tickets, $20 full derby; $50 pro class; $5 youth

Phone: 1-907-376-1299

Web: www.wasillachamber.org

Mat-Su Visitor Center

The center is a starting point for vacationers in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough -- an area the size of West Virginia. The staff can provide tons of information about things to do in the Mat-Su. There is a kiosk with information about last-minute accommodations and activities.

Where: Mile 35.5 Parks Highway, Trunk Road exit

When: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily, mid-May to mid-September

Cost: Free

Phone: 1-907-746-5000

Web: www.alaskavisit.com

Museum of Alaska Transportation & Industry

The 20-acre museum has a huge collection of artifacts from Alaska's history in the fishing, mining, farming, logging and oil industries. Indoor and outdoor displays feature boats, tractors, trains, aircraft and construction equipment. There will be a steam-engine demonstration July 23-24.

Where: 3800 W. Neuser Drive, off the Parks Highway, Wasilla

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays, May 1 to Sept. 30

Cost: $8 adults; $5 students, seniors; $18 family

Phone: 1-907-376-1211

Web: www.museumofalaska.org

Musk Ox Farm

Get up close and personal with animals that are native to the harsh Arctic and a remnant of the last ice age. The Musk Ox Farm is home to a unique domestication project that began in 1964. Photograph musk ox bulls, cows and calves. Regular tours are offered. There are interpretive exhibits in the museum and a gift shop where visitors can purchase garments made of musk ox hair, called qiviut, from Oomingmak, a musk ox producers' cooperative.

Where: Mile 50 Glenn Highway

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 9 to Sept. 15

Cost: $8.50 adults, $7 seniors and students, $5.50 children ages 6-12, free younger than 6

Phone: 1-907-745-4151

Web: www.muskoxfarm.org

Palmer Colony Days

The annual festival honors the colonists who arrived to establish a farming community in 1935. The three-day festival includes a juried parade, a craft fair, a garden fair, a produce market, wagon rides, children's games and entertainment. Colonist families will have a 70-year reunion with a catered dinner and a picnic.

Where: Downtown Palmer

When: June 11-13

Cost: Free

Phone: 1-907-745-2880

Web: www.palmerchamber.org

Palmer Visitor Information Center

The log cabin in downtown Palmer is the starting point for many adventures in the Valley. The center is home to the Colony Museum, which features artifacts from early 1900s pioneer life. Exhibits include dairy farming, the Colony project, mining, homesteading, mushing and trapping. The Colony Showcase Garden features flowers and vegetables.

Where: 723 S. Valley Way, Palmer

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, May 1 to Sept. 30

Cost: Free

Phone: 1-907-745-2880

Web: www.palmerchamber.org

Reindeer Farm

Visit with Rudolph and about 160 of his friends at the Reindeer Farm outside Palmer. In the wild, reindeer are called caribou, but at the farm, the animals are tame and can be petted, hand fed and photographed. Also on display at the farm are moose, Sitka blacktail deer, Rocky Mountain elk and a young bison. Horseback rides lasting from one to several hours are available by appointment. The guides take riders to the Matanuska River or up the Butte with views of Knik Glacier and Pioneer Peak.

Where: Bodenberg Loop Road, off Old Glenn Highway

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, May 1 to mid-September

Cost: $5 adults, $3 children ages 3-11

Phone: 1-907-745-4000

Web: www.reindeerfarm.com

Wasilla Independence Day Festival

Events include a five-kilometer race, midnight fireworks on July 4, stock car races, a parade, a community picnic, kids' games and a concert.

Where: Downtown Wasilla, Iditapark

When: July 2-4

Cost: Free

Phone: 1-907-376-1299

Web: www.wasillachamber.org

Wasilla Summer Solstice Festival

Celebrate the long days of summer with music, food vendors, clowns and other events.

Where: Iditapark, Wasilla

When: June 19-21

Cost: Free

Phone: 1-907-376-1299

Web: www.wasillachamber.org

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