Welcome to Alaska. Alaska is on many a seasoned traveler’s bucket list with it being one of the final frontiers for adventure travel. There are so many things to do in Alaska it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to begin. An Alaskan cruise is a good start but, even with cruising, there are many ports of call and areas to choose from, how do you know what route is the way to go? We are breaking down the best things to do in Alaska by region to help you decide which tourist attractions are right for you and where to go next.
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Top Things to Do in Alaska
The largest state in the United States is an adventure lover’s dream with tower mountains, glaciers, and fjords to incredible wildlife encounters and cultural experiences. Some of the best things to do in Alaska include exploring places like Denali National Park or Glacier Bay NP but it also has unique towns to visit and fun adventures to be had.
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If you trying to decide what to do during your Alaska trip, you have come to the right place. Are you ready to explore with us? Let’s Go.
1. Denali National Park and Preserve
Our first stop in Alaska is Denali National Park and Preserve. This is a popular tourist destination for pre or post-Alaskan Cruiser and you don’t want to miss seeing this massive protected area. Denali, the highest mountain in North America stands proud above more than six million acres of this national park known for its abundant wildlife and unspoiled land.
2. Hop on School Bus Tours
One of the first things most people do in Denali National Park and Preserve is to hop on a bus to journey deep into the park. This tour offers the chance to spy on plenty of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep in their natural habitat. During our two different tours of the park, we managed to see moose, grizzly bears, and sheep. Not bad at all.
Visitors can also explore the park on foot by hiking on its many trails with some multi-day hikes and camping. The park also has a variety of ranger-led programs and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. Denali is home to several campgrounds, lodges, and other accommodations for visitors who wish to stay overnight.
While visiting Denali National Park, we stayed at Mckinley Park Lodge, just two miles from the park entrance.
3. Fly Over Mount Denali
One of the main highlights of Denali National Park is the Denali itself. Also known as Mount McKinley, Denali stands at an impressive height of 20,310 feet (6,190 meters). Denali is the highest peak in North America and to see it by air is a must.
We were fortunate enough to take a scenic flight over the mountain which not only offered the most incredible views but was a great adventure.
We stepped into a 1966 De Havilland Beaver bush plane and felt like pioneers exploring the Great North! This was probably one of our favorite things to do in Alaska because, in Denali, you truly feel like you have reached the final frontier.
It offers stunning views of the glaciers of Mount McKinley and gives you the most up close and personal perspective of the mountain next to actually climbing it.
A lot of people refer to Denali as Mount McKinley. It was named Mount McKinley after the 25th President of the United States in 1869 by a gold prospector. But in 2015 it officially changed back to its original indigenous name as that is what most Alaskans had been calling it and to show respect for the indigenous people that have inhabited this land for centuries.
4. Go ATVing
If you are into more motorized sightseeing, there are ATV tours on offer in the Denali area too! We went through the TriValleys on ATV and had a rip-roaring time.
5. Take a Trail ride
Put yourself in the mind of early settlers and imagine what it must have been like for them riding through the Alaskan Bush by horseback. It takes you through remarkable scenery and you truly feel as if you’ve gotten away from it all!
6. Visit The Huskey homestead
If you want to see dog mushing and don’t have a chance to go dogsledding elsewhere in Alaska, pop into the Husky Homestead to meet Iditarod sled dogs. Opened by 4 times Iditarod champion, Jeff King, this homestead is a year-round training facility for sled dogs. And you may just get the chance to meet the “winningest dog musher in history”, Jeff King himself.
7. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
The next on our list of top things to do in Alaska is to visit Glacier Bay, National Park. Covering more than 3 million acres, the park is home to a wide range of glaciers, fjords, mountains, and forests. The park is accessible only by boat or plane, which adds to its sense of isolation and pristine natural beauty.
Visitors can explore the park’s wilderness by hiking along its many trails, camping in its backcountry, or taking a guided tour with a ranger to learn more about the park’s natural and cultural history. But most people visit Glacier Bay on their cruise, and it is definitely an amazing way to see it. We sat back on our balcony watching glaciers calve into the sea plunging into the deep blue waters.
8. cruise to Hubbard Glacier
The main glacier that large cruise ships see is the Hubbard Glacier. It is one of the most impressive and popular glaciers to see in Alaska. Located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is the largest tidewater glacier in North America, stretching over 76 miles (122 kilometers) from its source in the Yukon Territory to the Gulf of Alaska.
It towers over 300 feet (91 meters) above the water with a width of over six miles (9.7 kilometers). Ships circle the bay to give passengers unparalleled views of this beauty known for its distinctive deep blue color comes from the compacted snow and ice, which absorbs all colors of the spectrum except blue.
9. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Alaska is filled with many of the largest things…It’s the largest state housing the highest mountain in North America and now we come to the largest national park in the United States. At 13.2 million acres is larger than the entire country of Switzerland. The three largest national parks in the USA are all actually located in Alaska, The second largest national park being the Gates of the Arctic National Park, and the third largest national park is Denali National Park.
If you love the great outdoors, Alaska has all the national parks you could want! Now that’s impressive.
10. Take a Zodiac Tour at Dawes Glacier
When taking a small ship tour, we had the chance to take zodiac tours and go kayaking around Glacier Bay National Park and it was spectacular.
Our zodiac tour took us close to Dawes Glacier where we visited waterfalls, tasted fresh glacier ice, road the waves from a calving glacier, and had the chance to sneak closer to the glaciers for a more intimate look at the ice.
There are other tours to the Hubbard Glacier where you can hike to its nearby ridges to see panoramic views of the glacier.
11. Witness Johns Hopkins Glacier
Another glacier we spent a lot of time at in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve was Johns Hopkins Glacier. It is named after Johns Hopkins University, which sponsored an expedition to explore the area in the late 1800s.
The glacier is a tidewater glacier, meaning that it terminates in the ocean. It measures approximately 12 miles (19 kilometers) long and is located at the head of Johns Hopkins Inlet, which is a remote and pristine area of the park.
One of the unique features of Johns Hopkins Glacier is its striking blue color. Like other glaciers, it gets this color from the way the ice reflects light, absorbing all colors of the spectrum except blue, which is reflected back to the viewer. The glacier is also known for its active calving, which creates a dramatic sight as chunks of ice break off and fall into the ocean.
12. Go Kayaking
Kayaking in Glacier Bay is a bucket list adventure indeed. We have been kayaking a couple of times in Alaska and it is a far more intimate way to take in the Alaskan beauty. By silently paddling through the icy waters, we kept our eyes out for sea lions, whales, and otters while enjoying our natural surroundings.
13. Ride the Alaska Railroad
One of the best ways to explore the wilderness is to get on the Alaska Railroad aboard a dome train. We caught the Alaska Railroad in Denali National Park and Preserve and took it to Anchorage on one trip and to Talkeetna on another.
The Alaska Railroad itself spans 470 miles (750 kilometers) from the coastal city of Seward in the south to the interior city of Fairbanks in the north. When the weather is good, the train passes through some awe-inspiring scenery from pristine forests to rugged mountains.
It’s a fun trip with dining cars, cocktails, and comfortable seating creating a unique and memorable way to travel through Alaska. There is something very decadent about eating breakfast in the dining car with a fresh Bloody Mary (c’mon, you’re on vacation, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!) while watching the wild Alaskan scenery as you pass by. You may spot a grizzly or two as well! You can add this excursion onto land tour portions of Alaskan cruises or book it independently.
14. Stroll Along Creek Street in Ketchikan
We have been to Ketchikan three times and this is one of our favorite cities in Alaska. It’s a lively frontier city dating back to the Gold Rush. One of the highlights of Ketchikan is the elevated historic boardwalk that runs along Ketchikan Creek. The street was built in the early 1900s, and at one time, it was the center of Ketchikan’s red-light district.
One of the most famous buildings on Creek Street is the Dolly’s House Museum, which was once a brothel and is now a museum. The museum offers a glimpse into the life of Dolly Arthur, a prominent madam who operated the brothel, and has displays dedicated to Alaska’s history.
Stroll along the boardwalk to enjoy the waterfront, watch salmon spawn in the creek, and keep an eye out for bald eagles and sea lions as you wine, dine, and shop in one of the historic wood-framed houses of Creek Street.
15. Watch Bears Eat Salmon in Ketchikan
Hands down one of the best things to do in Alaska is to watch bears feed on salmon. Ketchikan dubs itself the salmon capital of the world and where there is salmon there are bears. The city is situated in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, which is home to several species of salmon and a thriving population of black bears.
There are several bear viewing areas, such as Anan Creek or Traitor’s Cove and we made our way out to Neets Bay by float plane to see black bears feeding on salmon in their natural habitat.
Neets Bay is a salmon hatchery and a natural place where salmon make their way upstream to spawn. After laying their eggs, the salmon are ripe for the pickings for black bears wanting to fatten up for their winter sleep and if you’ve ever wanted to see black bears fishing, this is the place to do it.
Here you’ll stay at the Westmark Sitka Hotel which is within walking distance of the harbor and downtown.
16. Spot Brown Bears
If you want to see brown bears feeding on salmon, make your way to Katmai National Park and Preserve. It has the highest concentration of bears in the world.
If you were ever wondering what the difference between brown and grizzly bears is, they are actually the same species. It is the location and diet that sets them apart. Brown bears are found in the coastal regions and typically eat fish and berries (Salmon being a favorite) while Grizzly bears are found inland and typically eat plants, roots, and grasses as well as berries.
17. Drive Your Own Zodiac
If you are looking for some of the more adventurous things to do in Alaska a seld drive zodiac tour in Ketchikan was the most fun we had. Leaving downtown, we made our way out to explore the shores of the Tongass National Forest while whipping around the harbor in our self-drive zodiacs.
We geared up in complete raingear, learned how to drive the powerful zodiacs, and were let loose to twist and turn our way through the waters.
Following our guide, we crossed the bay watching whales breach and bald eagles dive for prey. We then set up camp in the forest to enjoy a tasty treat of ‘Smores (marshmallows and chocolate melted on graham crackers) by the fire.
18. Totem State Historical Park
Ketchikan has many monikers such as Alaska’s First City, the Salmon Capital of the world and it also has the largest concentration of standing totem poles in the world. You can see a collection of totem poles at Totem Bight State Historical Park just outside of the city or at the Totem Heritage Center. The Totem Heritage Center showcases the living heritage of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Peoples.
When we saw Totem Bight State Historical Park, it was covered in bald eagles resting on the tops of the original Tglinglet Peoples totems making for one of the most beautiful scenes of nature. These totem poles of Ketchikan signal the preservation of artistic traditions.
We also learned about the Tlingit People and visited a longhouse at Bartlet Cove. If you don’t get the chance to stop at Bartlet Cove to see the longhouse, and totems and listen to storytellers talk about their culture, Totlem State Historical Park is a good spot to visit in Ketchikan. If you visit Anchorage, you can visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn more about the indigenous people of Alaska. Regardless of where you are, make sure to learn about Native Alaskan culture.
19. Klondike History in Skagway Historic District
Skagway Alaska is another top stop on an Alaskan itinerary with plenty of things to see and do. In Skagway, you’ll find plenty of the best things to do in Alaska with its gold rush heritage and its location along a historic route.
20. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is an area dedicated to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898 when thousands of people traveled to the Klondike region of the Yukon in Canada in search of gold. Much of Alaska’s history was built on the gold rush, so taking a stroll through the Skagway Historic District takes you back in time with its historic buildings that were the starting point for gold rush seekers setting out to tackle the Chilkoot Trail.
If you don’t want to hike, check out the Gold Rush Museum where you’ll see exhibits from the days of the gold rush and artifacts from the trail. In Skagway, there is a visitor center, rail terminal, and plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants.
21. Hike the Chilkoot Trail
Chilkoot Trail, which was one of the main routes taken by gold seekers on their way to the Klondike. People had to carry everything (including the kitchen sink) on their backs and many a fortune hunter perished on this challenging 33-mile-long trail.
Today, hikers and backpackers can retrace the route of the Klondike Gold Rush and hike the Chilkoot Trail themselves. You can pick up permits in the town of Skagway. Along the way, you’ll see artifacts left behind by early settlers. They tried to bring everything with them, and for many, it was just too much to handle, so they left their belongings which can still be seen today on the trail!
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is an important part of Alaska’s history and a popular destination for visitors to the state. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the whole multi-day trek, you can do a day hike to get a feel for it.
22. Ride The White Pass Rail
If you are not up for a multi-day hike but want to trace the route of the gold rush, a great day trip is the White Pass Rail. We have taken this train twice and it is worth the trip as it is one of the most popular railway journeys in the world. The White Pass Rail has been designated as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers
This historic narrow-gauge railroad runs from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in Canada. The railway was built during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898 and was a crucial transportation route for miners traveling to the gold fields. Today, visitors can get a taste of what life was like by taking a journey that includes tight curves and steep grades through the mountains to the summit of White Pass.
- Gold Rush Cemetery – Famous icons from the gold rush days are buried here including Soapy Smith and Frank Reid who died in a shootout in Skagway.
- Black Cross Rock – A 100-ton rock that buried two railroad workers.
- Bridal Veil Falls
23. Hike the Tongass National Forest
Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the United States. A hike through here, lets you see what it was like for people passing along the Chilkoot Trail toward Alaska with all their belongings to strike it big in the Gold Rush.
We followed the Skagway River learning about the flora and fauna of the area and we even saw where a bear scratched into a tree! Our three-hour hike took us through the wilderness to our final destination, a view of the Alaskan Sawtooth Mountain range and a glimpse of Laughton Glacier.
24. Get up in the Air
Our heli, hike, and rail tour took us over breathtaking glaciers followed by a hike to see the flora and fauna of the national forest before meeting up with the train while hitching a ride back to Skagway. It was the ultimate three tours in one.
There is nothing better than seeing Alaska from above and one of the best things to do in Alaska is to get up in the air for a bird’s eye view of glaciers. We also did the White Pass Rail during another visit to Alaska when we took a helicopter tour to meet the train after hiking through the Tongass National Forest.
Another place to take a helicopter tour is over the Juneau Icefields. It offered up one of the most striking views we’ve ever seen. The 30-minute flight took us over the massive ice fields that have been here for millenniums. Seeing the deep gorges from above, truly showed us the power of mother nature.
25. Relax in Juneau
Juneau is a popular tourist destination and one of our favorite cities in Alaska. The capital of Alaska is modern with art galleries and plenty of dining options, but it also takes you back to the Gold Rush days of th 180ss with the swinging red doors of the Red Dog Saloon and colorful facades of shops lining the streets.
Some popular things to do downtown Juneau include the Alaska State Museum, and going up the Mount Roberts Tramway, Besides enjoying time in town, there are many outdoor adventures in Juneau making it one of the must-stop destinations on any Alaskan bucket list.
26. Go Whale Watching
Juneau is one of the premier places in Alaska to go whale watching. We’ve taken two whale-watching trips in Juneau and saw whales each time. Located near the Inside Passage, Juneau makes for a great base to see humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, and porpoises.
Juneau also offers the unique opportunity to see humpback whales’ bubble-net feeding. This is a hunting technique where a group of whales swims in a circle while blowing bubbles, which creates a wall of bubbles that trap the fish. The whales then swim up through the middle of the bubble net, opening their mouths to scoop up the fish.
Whale-watching tours in Juneau typically operate from May through September, with the peak season being from June to August. During this time, humpback whales migrate to the area to feed on the abundant plankton and fish that are found in the waters around Juneau.
27. Hike to the Mendenhall Glacier Juneau
One of the top things to do in all of Alaska is located just outside of Juneau. The Mendenhall Glacier is one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers located just 12 miles from downtown Juneau. There are several ways to experience this 13m mile arm of the Juneau Icefields which covers an area of over 1,500 square miles. It is one of the largest ice fields in the world and the Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most visited glaciers in the world.
From The Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, you can choose from several hiking trails for views of the glacier. You can take a canoe trip to get up close to the glacier and the roaring nugget falls or you can book a tour to enjoy one of the most unique tourist attractions, the Mendenhall Glacier is the ice caves.
We took a guided hike tour along the trail of history to witness just how far the glacier has retreated over the years and on the trail we saw salmon spawning and a black bear.
28. Walk On Eagle Beach
Bald Eagles may be difficult to spot in other parts of the world, but in Juneau, they hang out on the beach, sit on totem poles and soar through the air. It is fair to say that when visiting Juneau (at least in the summer months) you’ll see plenty of bald eagles.
The best place to see bald eagles is Eagle Beach. There are so many bald eagles that frequent the beach, they named it after them. It’s located just north of Juneau and is a vast beach with driftwood scattered through the sand.
You’ll see a lot of eagles in Alaska. We saw these two on a beach walk and I happened to yell at Dave to point his camera up to the tree just in time to capture this action shot.
29. Visit Fairbanks
Fairbanks is another Alaskan destination that is filled with adventures. Many Alaskan land adventures begin in Fairbanks, and we flew into Fairbanks from the Yukon while taking an overland tour through Alaska (twice!).
It is a picturesque town on the river with great dining options. As the starting point of the Yukon Quest, it also has a great free dog mushing museum. Bouchard’s International Dog Mushing and Sled Museum shows the history and culture of dog sled racing in Alaska.
30. See the Northern Lights and Midnight Sun
If you want to see the Northern lights, Fairbanks is one of the best places in the world to witness the Aurora Borealis. From late August to mid-April, visitors can witness the beautiful light show in the night sky. The nights are long and dark over the winter months letting visitors see the Northern Lights even at midday.
However, most people visit Fairbanks in the summer, and during the summer months, you can enjoy the opposite of the northern lights, the midnight sun. It is the city that never sleeps in the summertime as you can be outside at midnight with the sun seeming like it is high noon.
31. Go Back in Time at the Alaska Museum of the North
There are plenty of things to keep you occupied in Fairbanks and one of the first places to stop is The University of Alaska Museum of the North, the state’s only research and teaching museum.
The museum’s collections include more than 1.4 million artifacts and specimens, ranging from fossils and minerals to historical objects and contemporary art. One of the museum’s most famous exhibits is the Blue Babe, a 36,000-year-old steppe bison that was found in Fairbanks in 1979. The bison’s remains are one of the most well-preserved specimens of its kind in the world.
Other notable exhibits at the museum include a collection of Native Alaskan art, including masks, carvings, and textiles, and a display on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which is a famous annual event in Alaska.
Other Popular things to do in Fairbanks include taking a riverboat cruise along the Tanana and Chena Rivers and The Chena Hot Springs.
32. Stay at the Chena Hot Springs
The Chena Hot Springs is located an hour from Fairbanks and are a great place to spend a night or two. The resort also features a hotel, cabins, and camping sites, making it a great destination for overnight stays.
One of the main tourist attractions at Chena Hot Springs is the Aurora Ice Museum, which is made entirely of ice and snow. The museum features beautiful ice sculptures and a bar where visitors can enjoy drinks served in glasses made of ice.
If you stay in the winter months, it offers aurora viewing tours, dog sledding tours, ice sculpting, and of course bathing in its mineral-rich hot springs.
The Chena Hot Springs Resort offers a range of activities, including hot spring bathing, dog sledding tours, ice sculpting, and aurora viewing tours.
33. Visit Santa Clause at the North Pole
If you like all things Christmas, you’ll love ta stop at Santa Claus House at the North Pole, Alaska. Having a central location along the Richardson Highway, it’s a popular stop for tour busses to get out and stretch their legs, pick up some Christmas ornaments, and grab a photo of the world’s largest fiberglass Santa Claus statue, which stands at 42 feet tall. Or you can just do what Dave and I did, grab a cappuccino while everyone else shopped and visited Santas reindeer.
34. Pan for Gold at Gold Dredge 8
I don’t care how kitschy it sounds, when in Alaska one of the must things to do is to try your hand at panning for gold! We didn’t really want to do this tour, but it when we made our way out to Dredge 8 near Fairbanks, we thoroughly enjoyed our journey through Alaska’s history. After stopping to learn about Alaska’s oil history at the trans-Alaska Pipeline, we boarded a train and enjoyed a relaxing ride through the different stations where people reenacted how early prospectors mined for gold.
Alaska was built on the gold industry, and it’s cool to see an old Gold Mine and the equipment they used to strike it rich. Plus, at the end, everyone has a chance to try their hand at panning for gold, and each person is guaranteed to find a nugget or two that you can take home with you as a souvenir!
35. Take a Riverboat Cruise
The Riverboat Cruise on the Chena River is a staple of things to do in Alaska. Founded by Jim Binkley in 1950, it has become an institution showing visitors the way of life along the river.
From watching demonstrations by the Athabascan people showing us how they dry and hang salmon to viewing sled dog demonstrations. It may be summer, but sled dogs still love to run, so they hook them up to wheels and treat them to their daily workout!
36. Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
If you are looking for one of the more offbeat things to do in Alaska, visit the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum before leaving Fairbanks. The museum features 85 vintage automobiles from the 1900s to the 1930s. Autoweek Magazine named it one of the top 10 automobile museums in the world and you’ll be able to see rare old makes of Rolls Royce, a Duesenberg, and Cadillacs.
37. Arrive in Anchorage
We have always wanted to visit Anchorage, but for some reason it had eluded us on our other visits to Alaska, that is until our most recent trip. The largest city in Alaska has a lot going on. The transportation hub of Alaska, Anchorage is often the starting or ending point of Alakan tours and cruises.
Located in the heart of the Chugach Mountains on a branch of the Cook Inlet, there is an abundance of opportunities for outdoor adventures. From hiking in Chugach State Park to dining at one of its outstanding restaurants, visiting the Anchorage Museum, or enjoying the world’s largest chocolate waterfall there are plenty of things to do in Anchorage. Let’s take a look at a few highlights.
38. Alaska Native Heritage Center
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a must-stop on an Alaskan visit. Established in 1989, it celebrates the culture of the indigenous Alaskan Peoples. Anchorage is a popular departure point for Alaskan cruises and this is a great place to learn about the culture of the people you will be meeting along the way.
It has both indoor and outdoor exhibits featuring artwork and artifacts. One of the more impressive displays at the Alaska Native Heritage Center includes life-sized traditional dwellings with a traditional dance circle and a theatre. Visitors can take place in cultural programs, storytelling sessions, guided tours, and sample traditional food.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is committed to preserving and promoting the traditional cultures and ways of life of Alaska’s Native peoples, while also celebrating their contributions to the modern world. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the rich cultural heritage of Alaska.
39. Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park was a national monument and then became a National park designed to protect the misty fjords, rainforest, and wildlife that make up the area. Today, the Kenai Peninsula is a beloved part of the local Anchorage community as it’s just a two-hour drive outside of the city.
Make sure to visit the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Centre in Seward before you head out to learn about trail conditions and the Kenai Peninsula before you head into the park. And don’t miss seeing Exit Glacier located just 10 minutes from Seward, it is one of Alaska’s most accessible roadside glaciers.
The best way to see Kanai Fjords National Park is to get out on a cruise where you can hop on kayaks to explore the Kenai Fjords. We did exactly that on our Uncruise through Alaska in 2019.
40. Drive the Seward Scenic Highway
Dave and I took the train from Anchorage to Seward, but my parents drove the Seward Scenic Highway. This picturesque stretch of highway runs from Anchorage to Seward with plenty of things to see along the way. We even saw it from the train as we looked out at the stunning views of the Chugach Mountains.
When driving you can stop at Chugach State Park to enjoy parts of its 500,000 acres of wilderness area. Portage Glacier is another popular stop as it is just a short drive from the Seward Scenic Highway but the star glacier is Exit Glacier which is located in Kenai Fjords National Park and can be accessed via a short hike.
If you want to see beluga whales, stop at the Turnagain Arm. Turnagain Arm is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean which is filled with wildlife and you can actually see belugas from the shoreline.
41. The Iditarod National Historic Trail
Speaking of Seward, The Iditarod National Historic Trail is a trail system in Alaska that spans over 2,000 miles from Seward, Alaska to Nome, Alaska. The trail is named after the Iditarod River and was once used as a transportation route by Native Alaskans and later by gold miners during the Alaska Gold Rush.
The trail gained worldwide recognition in 1925 when a diphtheria outbreak threatened the town of Nome, and a team of sled dogs and mushers raced over 600 miles to deliver the life-saving serum to the town. That event is commemorated each year with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race but tourists and locals alike can use the trail for hiking and cross-country skiers.
The Iditarod National Historic Trail is maintained by the National Park Service, which works to preserve the history and cultural significance of the trail, while also promoting outdoor recreation and education.
42. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
If you really want to get off the beaten path in Alaska, one of the best things to do is to make your way to the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. It is one of the few national parks in the United States that is completely undeveloped, with no roads or trails.
Gates of the Arctic is located entirely north of the Arctic Circle and is an incredible place to spy caribou, grizzly bears, and even muskoxen. You can book guided adventures from river rafting and dogsledding to mountaineering and hiking.
43. Drive the Alaska Highway
We love road trips and Diving the Alaska Highway is one of the great road trips in the world. Also known as the Alcan Highway, the Alaska Highway is a 1,390-mile (2,237 km) long highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction in Alaska. You’ll have the chance to drive through mountain passes and over the tundra in search of brown bears, moose, caribou, and bison from the road. The Alaska highway takes you through one of the most remote parts of North America.
If you are looking for a drive that crossed the Arctic Circle when visiting Alaksa as we did in Yukon’s Dempster Highway, you’ll need to make your way to the Dalton Highway.
44. Take a Holland America Cruise
One of the best ways to see Alaska is by cruise ship as many of its cities and national parks can only be reached by plane or boat. We took an Alaskan cruise tour last summer where we spent two weeks visiting Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon. This tour was one week on land flying from Vancouver to Dawson City and finally on to Fairbanks, where we hit the ground to see more of Alaska.
It was then onto the ship as we took the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward to enjoy a cruise down the inside passage to British Columbia. We loved this cruise which showcase the best of Alaska while enjoying it in luxury and comfort.
45. Book a Small Ship Cruise
We have also taken a small ship cruise in Alaska and it offers a more intimate experience. You won’t be able to do all the wow tourist attractions or tours from a small ship cruise, but you do get to places that most don’t see. Our Uncruise was an all-inclusive tour that included kayaking and zodiac tours of Glacier Bay National Park. We had free hiking tours and even the Polar Bear Plunge. Food and drinks were included and we had the chance to really see an unspoiled Alaska that few get to experience.
Depending on what type of experience in Alaska you are looking for, we loved both our big ship cruises in Alaska and our small ship cruise. Each was amazing yet different.
Alaska is fast becoming a popular tourist destination that is on everyone’s bucket list. An Alaska trip will truly leave you speechless and create memories to last a lifetime. From the great outdoors to quirky Alaska attractions like the world’s largest chocolate fountain in Anchorage, there is something for everyone in Alaska.
And that ladies and gentlemen is our list of all the things to do in Alaska that we loved!
I know Alaska is a huge state and there are many adventures to be had, but hopefully, this will inspire you to go back again and again. I know we are ready for our next trip!
Did you enjoy all the things to do in Alaska we suggested?
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