The days are getting chillier and shorter, and the air is crisp with a hint of excitement. This can only mean one thing; Summer is over and it’s officially “Back To School” season! The structure and regularity that comes with the school year is every parent's dream. While it may seem like Winter is closing in fast (because, well, it is) there are still plenty of activities to get your family out and about during this beautiful season and beyond.


Perhaps the most valuable resource in the area is your local library. The Anchorage Public Library consists of 6 branches spanning Girdwood to Eagle River. They are a treasure to the community; offering a wide range of free activities throughout the week for every age group. From Lego Club to science experiments, to story time for your littlest ones, you’ll be sure to find something that sparks your child’s interest at your local library branch. APL also does an excellent job of keeping their Facebook events updated so be sure to like and follow their pages!


For the more nature-driven kiddos, the Eagle River Nature Center offers some incredible programs and workshops to get the whole family out to appreciate the natural beauty that is Alaska. For preschool-age, they offer guided nature walks “at a toddlers pace”. For your older kids, they offer everything from shelter building to nature-journaling events. If you’re looking for a great family hike, the Nature Center has beautiful, well-maintained trails for every level of hiker. Still not feeling super comfortable taking on the trails solo? The Nature Center offers guided walks Wednesday through Sunday at 3pm. For a full list of upcoming events and more information on everything the Eagle River Nature Center does, be sure to visit their website at: https://www.ernc.org/.


Are your kids crazy about animals? If this is the case, you’ve come to the right place! There are multiple animal viewing facilities just a short drive from Anchorage. The Reindeer Farm in Palmer is a must-visit. For families with older kids, you can pay for the VIP experience and get right in the pen to walk around with the reindeer! Even without the VIP package, feeding the reindeer and petting them through the fence is a fun-filled experience for all ages (it’s entirely possible I was even more excited about this day trip than my one-year old). They also have alpacas, moose, horses, tractor rides, a food truck and cafe that offers local must-trys like the fireweed milkshake, and play areas for your kids to burn off some energy.


The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is another great place to explore while simultaneously learning all there is to know about Alaska's native animals. This place is huge! You can drive through and park as you wish to get out and see the exhibits, or you can park in the lot and walk around at your leisure. Whichever you decide to do, The AWCC does a great job of providing information about their exhibits and making their animal-viewing experience accessible to all.


For a quick trip that’s a bit closer to home, The Alaska Zoo is a great option as well. Located in Anchorage, The Zoo is quite a bit closer than The Reindeer Farm or the AWCC (which are both about an hour outside of Anchorage). They have weekly events highlighting a variety of topics relating to their animal exhibits. They also offer Storytime at the Zoo every Wednesday from 10:30am-11am all year long.


Is your family more interested in free-roam, unstructured, pure outdoor bliss? There are plenty of great spots to simply run wild in Anchorage. Eklutna Lake is a beautiful and relatively short ride out of the city. Here you will find wide open spaces and unbelievable views that will spark the wonder of any kid. There are easy to navigate hiking trails, or you can simply mosey down the waterfront taking it all in. This is a great spot to bring a picnic and just hangout on a nice day. Kincaid Park, located in the Anchorage bowl, has something to offer for every outdoor enthusiast. This park has impeccably maintained trails that are perfect for hiking, biking, and jogging. There are wide open fields to play soccer or the sport of your choice. There is a designated archery range, and a lake for fishing. Once the snow falls, the park becomes an impressive system of cross country ski trails. Looking for a place to sled? You guessed it: Kincaid Park. They truly have it all. There is no shortage of outdoor adventure in the Anchorage area.


A bit of advice to propel you through your first Fall and Winter in Alaska: don’t let the weather deter you from getting out. Buy the gear to keep you warm and dry. You won’t regret it. There is so much beauty to be seen and fun to be had here. It will rain a lot, and that rain will turn to snow. The secret is to be prepared, and take the leap in those pockets of sunshine in between. Throw the gear in the car and get out there!

Updated: Aug 31

Pencils, protractors, new school clothes: it all adds up! Our wallets really take a hit this time of year and our community knows it. End the summer with activities the kids will remember, and that won't break the bank! With all the time and money you'll save you want to check out some locally owned shops for your school clothes essentials! These recommendations are an awesome way to learn about your new city, become a part of the community, make new friends, & get the kids out of the house. These recommendations will have your wallet and your kids thanking you!



Greentrike Back-to-School Festival

Come for the cotton candy & popcorn, stay for the school supplies giveaway, foam party, & free museums! This looks to be a jam-packed event with tons of useful resources for the upcoming 2022 school season. If museums are up your alley, head to the information booth for free admission to 4 local museums. The Children's Museum of Tacoma, The Tacoma Art Museum, The Washington State History Museum and, The Museum of Glass will all be participating. This event will be a fun way to explore what Tacoma has to offer. They will be hosting a scavenger hunt, live podcast, & local food trucks will be vending as well. Head down to Tollefson Plaza in downtown Tacoma on August 31st between 11am & 3pm for the fun! Admission is free. To learn more about the event & to sign up for a free bus pass to the festival check out this link: https://greentrike.org/event/back-to-school-festival


Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway

Pacific Church is hosting a family-friendly event Saturday, August 27th, 2022. The event is free and open to everyone. They will be providing the community with free haircuts and school supplies while supplies last so come early! The event will run from 10 am -1 pm at 3211 112TH ST E, TACOMA, WA


2022 Back-to-School Bash

This next event has been held 15 years in a row! It's being held just 10 minutes from JBLM, and should make for both a productive and super fun day. This event is offering free sports physicals, immunizations, haircuts, school supplies, and more. There will be inflatables for the littles to play on and free lunch is being served by the church. This action-packed event will be held on August 27th, 2022 from 10 am-3 pm at City of Faith Christian Center 11011 Occident St. SW Lakewood, WA 98499


Back-to-School Jam

This next event is sure to have the kids wiped out by bedtime. On The Road with PartnerCafe is hosting a dance party on August 27th, 2022 from 10 am-3 pm. This is a separate event from the Back-to-School Bash being held at the same time. They will be serving lunch and giving away backpacks filled with school supplies. They will also have inflatables to play on! Come dance and play the day away while checking your school supplies shopping trip off your to-do list. This jam will be held at Giaudrone Middle School and is open to everyone! 4902 S ALASKA ST, TACOMA, WA 98408


Basketball Camp

This free 1-day event is being hosted by Our Sisters House. Kids ages 10-18 can come to learn basketball skills for free and enjoy pizza and snacks after with the new friends they are sure to make. The camp is being held on Friday, August 26th at 5 pm. Head on over to downtown Tacoma to The University Y Student Center at 1710 Market Street, 98402. For more information about the event and their May basketball camp please contact Kye at Kyerobinson3@gmail.com.


Shop Teen Fashion on a budget at Runway Fashion Exchange

Located just outside of the Tacoma Mall, right next to one of my favorite comic book shops, Atomic Comics, is Runway Fashion Exchange. I have been shopping here since I was a teen and continue to do so today. They only buy the latest fashions and offer their thrifted items at an extremely competitive price. They also have a points reward system you can sign up for to score more deals. They sell both men's and women's clothing, shoes, and accessories. You would be hard-pressed not to find something here for yourself as well that you just had to have. Don't let back-to-school shopping make your bank account weep. Shop the locally-owned deals here at Runway Fashion Exchange and thank me later. Located at 4020 S. Steele St Tacoma, Wa, 98409.


Kids' clothing, toys, & more!

6th ave just feels like home to me. It's host to some of my favorite restraints, bars, and shops in Tacoma. There is one place however that all my friends with kids can't stop raving about and that is Kidz Kaboodle. They are touted as the largest children and maternity consignment shop in the Pacific Northwest. One thing you should know about us Pacific Northwesterners is that we. Love. Thrifting. They offer sizes from Newborn to 14/16. Every Friday from 10-2 & Sunday from 11-3 they have a 25-cent sale that my friends go nuts for. You could really set the kids up for a stylish school year on a major budget at this locally owned shop. It comes highly recommended by locals. Located in Tacoma at 6409 6th Ave., suite 10.


Find more great local businesses and events on the BaseHubs app. As always, recommendations and reviews come from others in the military community, like Cindy.


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  • Jeff Lanctot

Updated: Jul 22


I grew up the son of a small town newspaper publisher. If you’ve lived in a smaller town, you know that news tends to travel fast. In those days, the newspaper, in particular, was the hub of what was happening, and where news was spreading. Much of it was about local events, or town politics, but a good bit was about the local business community. I knew every store that was opening or closing, and where the deals were to be had. I also had a good sense of what customers thought about each business, because that’s the kind of thing we talked about.


Of course, time moved on, and so did technology. Newspapers don’t carry the weight they once did. Apps and websites have replaced many of our old resources. We gained a whole host of new ways to hear what people have to say...and boy, do we ever have a lot to say. Unfortunately, a lot of the opinions shared online are authored behind the cloak of anonymity. You don’t know who these would-be critics even are, let alone whether you have anything in common with them.


Lost in this technological “progress” is community. We’ve moved our shopping online, we have our meals delivered, and we get “customer service” by sending an email into the void. An unfortunate result of these new behaviors is that too many of us take for granted the lifeblood of any strong city or town - local businesses. When we are supporting the shops in our area, we’ve lost that old small town art of turning to the people around us for recommendations. The people with whom we have something in common, and whose opinions carry far more weight than a nameless, faceless reviewer online. Sure, we’d all like to get recommendations from people we trust, but that’s not exactly the internet’s specialty. It should be easy to find a new great place for your family to eat, or a reliable mechanic, or a new dentist. That’s not reality. Something as simple as finding a great locally-owned business becomes a cluttered, unreliable, and unsatisfying task.


BaseHubs is setting out to change that, one community at a time. We’ve built a service powered by the community itself - where the reviews and recommendations of local businesses are from real people. It’s a place where good news travels fast, just like it did when I was getting my dining room diploma in the family newspaper business.


At BaseHubs, we think of community as the intersection of two things: "Pack and Place." Your place, of course, is where you live. For an app that acts as a guide to the businesses near you, that's essential. "Pack" is a large group of people that have something in common - like a profession, an alumni network, or a life stage. When we started to build BaseHubs, we knew the pack we wanted to focus on was military families and Veterans. It's a group with unique needs, including the frequent challenge of settling into a new area after a PCS. BaseHubs is built for those families, and for the local businesses that they support.


We first launched our app in the JBLM/greater Tacoma area, and soon after received a call from leaders in Anchorage, asking about bringing BaseHubs to JBER. It's been exciting to gain the immediate support of both the military and business communities. Their belief in what we are building is what drives us. We're at Day 1, but we're committed to making a difference for them today, tomorrow, and in the months and years ahead. One community at a time.


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