Top 10 Things to Do in Alaska
You’ve been cooped up, restricted in your movements, shut in and locked down. When freedom finally comes from the virtual house arrest created by the COVID-19 outbreak, people are going to want to get out and go somewhere, anywhere. Excitement won’t just be desired, it will become compulsory. Adventure will be the order of the day.
When it comes time to let your hair down and go wild, why not go all in and head for the last frontier?
Alphabetically, Alaska comes second if you list the 50 states in order. Maybe it’s not the first or second state that comes to mind when planning a family vacation, though. No, it probably isn’t but perhaps after surviving coronavirus, it should be.
Like a quarantined Olympian, you’ve been in survivalist-mode training for some time. Everyone’s learned how to do without regular hair and nail care and discovered how to live their lives without looking their finest or dressing to impress. You’ve all gone off the grid, in a manner of speaking.
Heck, you’re already almost an honorary Alaskan.
The state motto of North To The Future is intriguing, because the juxtaposition of Alaska is fascinating. You can have the big-city life, or you can go deep into the wilderness. In general, Alaskans don’t flow with the traffic. Alaska is the Fleetwood Mac of states, because Alaskans know that you can go your own way. And most tend to do just that.
That’s the Alaskan spirit. There’s no Disneyland or Six Flags in their state. They don’t require theme parks to attract visitors. Alaska doesn’t need to create an attraction. Alaska is the attraction.
If you’ve haven’t visited Alaska before, you most certainly should. Here are the best attractions and things you need to do in this incredible destination.
1. Explore Anchorage
Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city, and is likely to be your first and last destination in Alaska. This city is famous for its cultural sites, including the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which displays traditional crafts, stages dances, and presents replicas of dwellings from the area’s indigenous groups.
This city has lots of great restaurants, shops and nightlife. The city is also a gateway to nearby wilderness areas and mountains including the Chugach, Kenai and Talkeetna.
2. Go on a Cruise
Alaskan cruises are nothing new. In fact, they’re the most well-known vacation option in the state. But if any form of getaway has taken a hit during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s cruise ships.
Regardless, cruising through the Bering Sea is something everyone must do at some point in order to consider their life to be truly complete. And there’s a way to do it without boarding one of those floating mega hotels that pass themselves off as sea-worthy vessels.
While the majority of the major cruise ship lines are foreign operations, one company, Alaskan Dream Cruises are 100 percent locally owned.
The Allen family, who started in the travel business in 1970 and continue to own the current five-vessel operation, are all native Alaskans. Their objective from Day 1 was to share the true Alaskan experience that they’ve lived with their guests.
Itineraries can be molded to suit the needs of every guest that boards one of their ships to create a personalized Alaskan adventure complete with a lifetime of memories.
3. Book a Trip on the Kuzof Explorer
The Kuzof Explorer, is a ship that takes you to some of the most remote areas of Alaska’s Inside Passage. A refurbished 128-foot Bering Sea crab fishing boat turned premier expedition vessel, the Kruzof Explorer was constructed with one of the toughest hulls on the planet. That makes the ship capable of exploring remote areas and bodies of water where few dare venture.
With room for just 12 passengers, it’s about as intimate as a cruise ship can get, yet it doesn’t cut corners when it comes to elegance or modern amenities. And with a maximum speed of just nine knots, passengers can relax and enjoy the breathtaking Alaskan shoreline, or marvel at the nearby presence of whales in the water at a leisurely pace.
The crab hold has been transformed into a theater room where films and presentations can be shared with guests. The vessel also features an expansive dining room and bar, a spacious outside deck and a lounge area offering panoramic views.
Each of its six staterooms measure 121 square feet, and all are stocked with the finest libations.
4. Visit the Rural Communities of Klawock, Yakutat and Pelican Bay
Lots of local and international tour operators are capable of taking guests to the tiny communities of Klawock, Yakutat and Pelican Bay. Visits to these villages are exactly the kind of true Alaska cultural experiences that local travel companies, dream of sharing with guests. Guests get to visit these small villages to experience the rich local Alaskan culture.
5. Go Kayaking
Lots of local companies offer trips to remote locations where being able to kayak right up close and personal to icebergs and glaciers is another perk of the journey. If you are lucky you might even get to see some of the majestic marine life up close. Search USA tours for options.
6. Go on a Rainforest Hike
There’s also hikes through rainforests, where the many species of Alaskan wildlife can be spotted. Other daily adventures possible thanks to the Kruzof’s onboard toys — a high-speed Zodiac, a sport fishing boat, and paddleboards.
7. See Wildlife at the Glacier Bay National Park
The Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most stunning places in Alaska. This stunning park covers 3.3 million acres, contains several tidewater glaciers, and provides a pristine habitat for a wide array of wildlife, including both brown and black bears, wolves, mountain goats, Steller sea lions, and humpback whales. Glacier Bay’s South Marble Island is a nesting area for puffins and a myriad of other bird species.
8. Explore the Denali National Park
Denali National Park is one of Alaska’s top attractions where you can witness a stunning wilderness with glacial rivers, wildlife and the majestic Mt. McKinley looming high above. This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States - and somewhere you really need to add to your itinerary.
9. Visit Tracy Arm Fjord
Tracy Arm is a fjord in Alaska near Juneau named after the Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Franklin Tracy. It is located about 45 miles south of Juneau and 70 miles north of Petersburg, Alaska, off of Holkham Bay and adjacent to Stephens Passage within the Tongass National Forest.
10. See the Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier is a glacier about 13.6 miles long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau in southeast Alaska.
Other Things to Consider
If you have enough time in your schedule and itinerary, these are some other amazing places to visit and activities to do, a lot of which are completely free:
- Take the Talkeetna Air Taxi
- Ride the Alaska Railroad
- Alaska Native Heritage Center
- Alaska Raptor Center
- Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center
- Kodiak Laboratory Aquarium & Touch Tank
- Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
- Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage
- White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
- The Aurora Ice Museum, Fairbanks
- Kroschel Films Wildlife Center
- Running Reindeer Ranch
- Sealaska Heritage Institute
- University of Alaska Museum of the North
- Husky Homestead
- Jewell Gardens
- Totem Bight State Historical Park
- Juneau Whale Watch
- Santa Claus House, North Pole
- Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour, Ketchikan
Have you ever been to Alaska? Do you have any recommendations we have missed? Let us know in the comments section below.