Home Travel Things to do around Alaska: The Colossal State

Things to do around Alaska: The Colossal State

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Alaska is huge. Colossal. And planning a trip and the potential for exploration and discovery of a state this huge can be overwhelming. It’s better to do some research in advance and decide where you want to go so you can plan your trip accordingly. Alaska is so much more than just a travel destination. It is an experience you take home with you. Fly to Alaska and collect as much memories as you can. 

Despite the daunting travel time between destinations, exploring this extraordinarily beautiful state is definitely worth the time. With the mesmerizing views, exotic wildlife, warm, welcoming people, glaciers, ice fields, active and dormant volcanoes, enormous mountain peaks, dazzling lakes, and fjords, Alaska has everything you need to make your trip memorable and worthwhile.

Let’s help you decide where to go and what to include in your travel itinerary when you plan your vacation to Alaska based on the things to do in some of its major cities.

Anchorage

Anchorage is a truly unique city where you can connect with nature and local culture. It has a charming downtown flooded with restaurants serving local cuisines, local art galleries, fascinating history, and you can even hike off into nature or up the mountain. 

  • Finding Moose. With more than a thousand of these antlered animals in Anchorage alone, you’re sure to spot one while you’re here.
  • Take a stroll through Downtown. It is pedestrian-friendly and has countless restaurants, bars, historic sites, and cafes to visit.
  • Transport yourself to Eagle River Nature Center. Also called the Miniature Yosemite, 
  • Hike at Flattop Mountain. If the thought of spectacular views, heights, and hikes excite you, then a hike at Flattop Mountain should be one of the things to do when you’re in Anchorage.
  • Tour in the Trains. Alaska Railroad tours are undeniably the best way to spend your day. You can take a look around Anchorage and its local craft beer industry.

Fairbanks 

Fairbanks has affectionately been nicknamed Alaska’s golden heart city. The city will make you fall head over heels in love with it. Fairbankhas plenty of things to dowhether you visit in subzero temperature or the heat of the midnight sun. Let’s take you through some of them.

  • Downtown—a blend of old and new. The area has preserved some historical buildings that date back to 1848, a multitude of bars, restaurants, art galleries, museums, and more.
  • Stroll through the Chena River Walk. Take a self-guided tour through the city while you walk through the paved trails along the riverfront. Maybe this could be your chance to get a little exercise.
  • Pay a visit to Santa Claus. Santa’s Home, the North Pole(a small town), is just outside Fairbanks, and it’s Christmas there throughout the year. Take a selfie with Santa, send a letter back home, buy unique toys, and so much more.
  • Marvel at the Aurora Ice Museum. The museum is known for its beautifully carved ice architecture. Make sure you sip their signature appletinis served in an ice-carved glass.
  • Aurora Borealis—the showstopper. Also known as the Northern Lights, is on everyone’s checklist and needs no introductions. It is one thing that’s on everyone’s list of things to see before they die. Your best chance to view the aurora is in winter, when the dark skies are abundant, from September to March.
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Seward

Situated in the Kenai Peninsula, the city is an excellent hub to enjoy Exit Glacier, other natural phenomena, and wildlife like seals and puffins. This young city has plenty of things to offer to tourists visiting Seward, so you won’t have to wonder before making your list of things to do when you are here.

  • Visit the Kenai Fjords National Park. The park is home to Exit Glacier and offers wildlife cruises and kayaking to let you enjoy the spectacular natural scenery. 
  • Hike in the Harding Icefield. What’s better than going for a hike? Going for an ice-hike. The 6-8 hour hike here is definitely not for the faint-hearted. If you believe that you are a true adventurer at heart, then don’t miss it.
  • Observe a plethora of wildlife. Take a wildlife cruise to get a chance to gaze at seals, puffins, otters, and sea lions.
  • Try Dog-sledding. Know everything about the works of dog sledding and try it for yourself at Turning Heads Kennel. 
  • Picturesque Downtown. The calm and peaceful Downtown area with colorful buildings, innumerable yachts, and a backdrop of vast mountains makes it a great option to take a halt and enjoy the beauty that Seward has to offer.

Homer

The delightful city of Homer, also known as the “cosmic hamlet by the sea,” is unlike any other in Alaska. The eclectic vibe, the local fishermen, farmers, artists, and crafters foster; the city has so much to offer its visitors. Hike, kayak, eat, or shop; there is so much to do in Homer.

  • Explore the pebbly beaches. Unlike the sandy beaches that you are used to, beaches at Homer Spit have pebbles. If you walk the beach during low tide, the chances are that you’ll get to see marine life up-close.
  • Shop for Souvenirs. Purchase hand-made ‘local’ crafts made by local artisans at the many quirky shops and take home a piece of Homer back home.
  • Take a step back in time. The quaint restaurants are perfect for brunch or lunch, and the museum is worth a visit. This small place that inhabits a little more than 200+ people is a ferry away from homer.
  • Carry forward the tradition at Salty Dawg Saloon. The place has long-plank tables and benches, and you don’t need to purchase an alcoholic drink to take a peek inside the Saloon. A notable thing about this place is that it has thousands upon thousands of signed dollar bills stuck to the wall and ceiling. This doesn’t happen without logic. It is believed that long ago, a customer waited for a companion who didn’t show up. So he left a dollar bill with the waiter to serve a drink to the friend upon arrival, and not so long after, it became a tradition.
  • Fresh produce at Farmers Market. Freshest of the fruits and vegetables straight from the mountains and delicious, homemade wares by local crafters and artisans. This is a wonderful location to add to your list of things to do in Homer.
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Juneau

The capital of Alaska is a heaven for people who love being outdoors. There are spectacular views; glacier cut mountains for as far as the eyes can see, adventurous hikes, kayaking, whale watching, and more. Let’s see what all the capital city has to offer.

  • Ziplining on Douglas Island. Alaskan Zipline Adventures features 10 platforms with 7 lines and a suspension bridge between huge pine trees. The place allows you to zipline in summers and ski in winters. Here you will find yourself immersed in nature and create memories for a lifetime.
  • END. Alaska has one 42 mile stretch of road, stopping abruptly and marked with a big yellow sign that says ‘END.’ You can not reach Juneau by road and can only access the city by sea or air. 
  • One of a kind ride on floatplanes. Fly over the Juneau Ice Field on the floatplane that leaves from right where the cruise ships dock. The ride allows you to take in the beauty Juneau has to offer.
  • Fly to the Fortress of Bears. If you have the guts and want to view brown bears, add the Pack Creek Sanctuary to your things to do in Juneau. If you don’t want to miss the magnificent beings, book your flight via Alaska Airlinesbetween June and September.
  • Gaze at the majestic Whales. Take a whale-watching trip to the Tracy Arm Fjord, and cruise through while dodging icebergs and observing whales and seals while you’re visiting the city.

We have covered 5 major Alaskan cities and the list of things you can do or places you can see if you are planning a trip to Alaska. There are a plethora of things to do, cuisine to taste, hikes to explore, and there is no better time than now!

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Christopher Stern
Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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