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PUBLISHED: 4:45 PM on Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Eats, treats, fun for summertime guests of all ages
There are two kinds of house hosts: the worriers, who organize every last detail in order to exude tranquility when friends or family arrives; and the laid back, who prefer to plan meals as they're loading their shopping cart in the grocery store as guests are ringing the front door bell.

Who knows which type will live longer, but if you can't relax when you're having a house full of visiting children and their parents - for a week-- until you're organized. A secret to ensuring fun for all is to know as much as possible about the city's family-friendly activities and to plan in advance. The ideas outlined here cover the whole the summer and two types of weather: wet and dry. They are geared to hosts and houseguests on limited budgets and with children under age 10.

Festivals, celebrations

Festivals tell a community's history and its future, its values and its aspirations. Juneau's gatherings are a great way to understand what makes the community tick and to have fun. Take note of these three summer events.

The Celebration Native Cultural Conference is a biennial native cultural celebration featuring a costumed procession, dance performances, and arts and crafts. It is held from June 1-3 at sites around the city including Centennial Hall.

Gold Rush Days take place June 24-25 and include logging competitions, mining events and lots of food. Festivities are held at Diamond Park.

The City starts celebrating July 4 at midnight on July 3 with fireworks over Gastineau Channel. On the fourth, there's a parade on Douglas, a sand castle building contest and a firefighter's race.

Hikes

If ever there were a group that took the time to smell the roses, it's children on a walk. They won't see many roses along Juneau's trails, but they may find starfish and seahorses; blackberries and salmonberries; porcupines and hoary marmots.

Last June, the National Park Service named the Perseverance Trail a National Recreation Trail, and its designation comes with good reason.

The 3.5-mile trail offers hikers a look at old mining ruins, wildflowers, warblers and marmots. Plan to picnic by Ebner Falls, which is about a mile from the trailhead. It's a bit of a drive to the Point Bridget State Park, which is near 39 mile Glacier Highway. The park's 3.5-mile boardwalk trek from the parking lot to the beach makes it worthwhile. Along the way, look for sea lions, whales and, on occasion, bear.

On North Douglas the City's Rainforest and Outer Point Trails meander through wet meadows and sub boreal forests to the beach.

Every Saturday, Juneau's Department of Parks & Recreation leads guided walks that are open to children.

Beginning in May, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum will offer a period walking tour around historic downtown Juneau. Designed to showcase the City circa 1925, the 90-minute walk, which leaves from the museum at 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, includes stops at the Russian Orthodox Church, the Valentine Building and a Seward Street site where a log cabin once stood.

Family-friendly eating

When it comes to children and cuisine in Juneau in the summer, "keep two things in mind: salmon bakes and fish and chips," suggests Lorene Palmer, president and CEO, Juneau Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Hangar, the Douglas Café and the Hot Bite in Auke Bay all craft a tasty fish and chips and offer a kid friendly atmosphere.

Salmon bakes are family style, all-you-can-eat events that include a mix of local fare and entertainment. The setting of the Thane Ore House is an interesting, old mining building. The menu includes salmon, halibut and ribs and baked beans.

The menu at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake is much the same, but it's an outdoor restaurant and on its grounds, there's a pond, a campfire for roasting marshmallows and a trail to a waterfall.

When it rains

Murphy's Law and the fact that Juneau sits in a rain forest almost guarantees it will rain during part of your guests' visit. If soggy hikes don't suit them, there are indoor activities.

At the Alaska State Museum, children love the reality of the eagle exhibit.

The museum's children's room has a hands-on policy where kids can play on the stern of a ship and dress up in historic costumes.

The Macaulay Salmon Hatchery has a 450-foot fish ladder and visitors can watch Pacific salmon climb it as they return to the hatchery. There are also interesting tutorials about the life cycle of salmon. Its large aquarium offers an up-close look at local marine life.

Exhibits at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center show the formation and "life" of glaciers through interactive exhibits. On Saturdays in the summer, the center runs free outdoor naturalist programs for kids.


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