Okay, the holidays are officially here, and if you are like our family, relatives will soon be descending upon Alaska in search of the perfect Christmas vacation. Snow and all. Time to go in search of Alaskana adventures to please everyone.
I will admit that our family is a bit attracted to food. Not quantity, mind you, but the unique specialities that are present in whatever state we happen to be living. I guess it comes from our government, somewhat transient lifestyle. At any rate, my husband began his "food tour" the first Christmas we spent in Alaska, and it has become a tradition ever since. We start the day with a hearty breakfast and head out to enjoy all the goodies the greater Anchorage area has to offer, ending with a treasure-trove of gifts for Outside relatives and friends. My in-laws are spending the holidays with us this year, and we plan to take them on the Kirkland Food Network Tour. Enjoy!
First, fuel up at the Village Inn
on Northern Lights, near Fred Meyer. Kind, kid-friendly staff welcome your whole family with a fresh pot of coffee at your table and holiday specials that will make you think of home. The Village Inn starts off the day right with adequately-priced meals and an atmosphere everyone will enjoy. Last year they even had carolers roaming the aisles, a treat for sure, and you can't beat the price for feeding the entire family.
When everyone is full of coffee and pancakes, take a drive South on the Seward Highway towards Indian Valley Meats
. A favorite of our family, the store is open M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and offers Alaskan specialties; smoked salmon, jerky, even canned musk ox. The drive alone is worth mentioning; out of town guests will marvel at icy Turnagain Arm and the icefalls from the rocky cliffs. Stop at the pull-outs and take in the view, especially on a nice day.
After sampling the goodies at Indian Valley, head back to town for a treat at Alaska Wildberry
on Juneau Street, east of Old Seward. Even in the off-season, the store has the famous chocolatefall running and samples of their delectable treats, a hit with our kids. Visiting friends always enjoys a stop here, the staff are friendly and helpful, and the chocolate always delightful, especially during the holidays. Hours are from 10 a.m. until at least 9 p.m. every day.
Looking for some salty to compliment that sweet tooth? Duck into the Alaska Chip Factory
located at 144 E. Potter. Ralph and his crew will wow you with their almost-famous chips, the Grizzly BBQ being our family's favorite. Visitors can also watch the whole process from a viewing window. The chips are not cheap, but during the holidays, why not? The store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. M-F.
A final stop on our food tour is the Great Harvest Bread Company
. We've been fans of this whole-grain outfit since living in Seattle, and we were thrilled to find an store in Anchorage. Kids (and grownups) love the free hunk of bread upon entering the warm, sweet-smeling store, and the staff are knowlegable about specials for the holidays. We like the Cinnamon Chip for french toast at home. While a loaf of bread can run upwards of $5, be assured of the quality and goodwill that goes into baking each one; these folks are pros.
Whew, I could go on, but I think I'll leave the remainder to readers. Where does your family like to go during the holidays? Are there any favorite food haunts that cater to kids? Let us know so we can visit, too.