On the northernmost tip of Alaska, Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, is a unique and remote destination that offers a one-of-a-kind experience for intrepid travelers. This Arctic community, known for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and frigid temperatures, may not be a typical choice for a family vacation, especially with a toddler in tow. However, with proper planning and a sense of adventure, visiting Utqiagvik can be an unforgettable and educational journey for your family. We’re excited to share our experiences and tips for exploring Utqiagvik with a toddler, so you can embark on this chilly adventure with confidence.
Visiting Utqiagvik with a Toddler
Preparing for the Cold
Utqiagvik experiences extreme cold temperatures throughout the year, with winter temperatures often dropping below -20°F (-29°C). Therefore, preparation is key, especially when traveling with a toddler. Here’s what you need:
Dress in Layers: Bundle up in warm layers, including thermal underwear, insulated clothing, and waterproof outerwear. Ensure your toddler is similarly dressed with multiple layers.
Cold-Weather Gear: Invest in high-quality cold-weather gear such as warm boots, gloves, hats, and scarves for both you and your little one.
We’d suggest Reima clothing for the best quality outdoor clothes designed to be functional in any weather conditions. They offer warm base layers and water-proof pants and jackets that are perfect for the drastic temperatures in Utqiagvik. We’ve traveled to all seven continents with Reima clothes and they’ve stood the test of time and temperature.
Utqiagvik is home to a vibrant Inupiaq culture, and there are several opportunities to learn about the local traditions and heritage:
Inupiat Heritage Center: Visit this Inupiat cultural center to explore exhibits, artifacts, and artwork that showcase the history and lifestyle of the Inupiaq people.
Engage with Locals: Don’t hesitate to strike up conversations with locals. Many residents are eager to share their culture and stories.
Attend Cultural Events: If your visit coincides with cultural events or festivals, be sure to attend. You and your toddler can witness traditional dances, storytelling, and art displays.
Despite the cold, there are numerous outdoor activities that can be enjoyed with your toddler:
Arctic Ocean Exploration: Take your little one to the Arctic Ocean and let them experience the thrill of standing at the northernmost point of the United States.
Northern Lights: If you visit during the winter months, keep an eye out for the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Bundle up and venture out at night for a chance to see this natural wonder.
Wildlife Viewing: Keep an eye out for Arctic wildlife like caribou, polar bears, and various bird species. Make sure to do this from a safe distance.
Child-Friendly Accommodations and Services
Utqiagvik may not have an abundance of child-friendly amenities, but there are options:
Accommodations: Choose lodging that offers comfortable family-friendly rooms and amenities. The Top of the World Hotel is located directly across from the Arctic Ocean and provides warm hospitality and unique opportunities for relaxation and adventure.
Dining: Most restaurants are accommodating and can prepare child-friendly meals and offer child-friendly menus. Niġġivikput, found in the Top of the World Hotel, is a special restaurant in Utqiagvik, known for preserving and showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Inupiaq people. The warm and welcoming atmosphere at Niġġivikput provides not only a delightful culinary experience but also an opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the Inupiaq people.
Local Stores: Stock up on supplies and necessities in case you run out. Stuaqpak is the local Utqiagvik grocery store. You can find pretty much everything that you’d need if you run out, but the cost reflect the Arctic location.
Visiting Utqiagvik, Alaska, with a toddler can be an extraordinary adventure that immerses your family in the unique culture and breathtaking landscapes of the Arctic. By preparing for the cold, embracing cultural experiences, enjoying outdoor activities, and utilizing available services, you can create lasting memories while exploring this remote and beautiful corner of the world. Remember to stay safe, keep your toddler warm, and savor the magic of this unforgettable destination.