Alaska might seem like a far-flung state in the USA to visit; but trust me, it’s worth the trip! It’s one of those places in the United States that has a little bit of everything. You’ll honestly be spoilt for choice with all the very best things to do in Alaska when you visit.
From huge mountainous ranges, beautiful fjords, and gorgeous little towns to heaps of wildlife; you won’t know where to begin. Best of all, it doesn’t matter if you’re travelling by road, plane or as part of a cruise – you’ll get to see some incredible places in Alaska.
So, to make things nice and easy for you, we’ve shared some of our favourite spots on our trip. This way, you can focus all your attention on enjoying your trip.
Take a look, below, at the very best things to do in Alaska when you visit. Have a brilliant time!
Being the capital city of Alaska, Juneau is one stop you’ll almost certainly visit whilst part of an Alaskan Cruise… and it’s well worth getting off the ship here.
We loved our time exploring Juneau and it’s easily one of the best things to do in Alaska if you want to experience a charming city life with heaps of nature on its doorstep.
Once you arrive in Juneau, you’ll want to take a gander over at the Alaska State Museum, the Shrine of St Therese and the Alaska State Capitol, too. These are all really easy to explore on foot and you won’t need any transfers whilst exploring the city itself.
Oh, and don’t forget to ride on the Mount Roberts Tramway and reach its top to have an excellent view of the city. It’s such a lovely view, especially on a clear and crisp Alaskan day.
Depending on how long you’re staying in Juneau, you can also check out the slopes at Eaglecrest Ski Area which is perfect for all abilities. We totally loved the runs at East Bowl.
Finally, don’t forget to book this Juneau whale-watching trip that will pick you up from the cruise terminal and take you straight out to see the resident whales. It’s so incredible.
Just be sure to book these tickets in advance, places fill up fast.
Read more: What it’s like to sail the Tracy Arm in Alaska
2.) Denali National Park
So, visiting Denali National Park is one of the best things to do in Alsaka – but it’s not the easiest to visit and certainly not accessible if you’re travelling on a cruise.
Known as the United States’ third largest National Park, it’s around a 4-hour drive from Anchorage – one of the largest cities in Alaska.
With it being a ‘trek’ to visit, we’d suggest including Denali National Park as part of a wider Alsakan road trip, especially when travelling between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Once here, make sure to pop inside the Denali Visitor Center and get the low down and updates on the current conditions and wildlife in the area. After all, you want to be a respectable and cautious explorer in this area.
Along the area, you’ll get to see so many vast valleys, huge ranges, and mountains that make this an incredible hiking area. We love the Savage River Loop. It’s only around 2 miles and a really nice but moderate hike to get a taste of the scenery here.
If you want more of a challenge, join the Mount Healy Overlook trail that’s almost 3 miles. Just be sure to wear good shoes and take supplies – the hike might seem short but this one can be tough.
Don’t forget, you might even get a chance to spot grizzly bears, elk, wolves and reindeer when you visit Denali National Park. If you are also a big fan of birds, there are over 167 species of birds recorded in the park, so might as well consider this a reason for your visit.
Oh, remember, only the buses which the park has approved are allowed to go beyond Savage River.
If you want a birds-eye view, book this sightseeing flight of Denali that departs from Talkeetna. It’s so incredible and one of the best ways to see the national park.
3.) Kenai Fjords National Park
Perched on the Kenai Peninsula, visiting Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the best things to do in Alaska if you love nature.
Now, you can enter the park through the Seward Highway and the Alaska Railroad. However, Exit Glacier is the only area in the whole park which vehicles can access. Best of all, there are several trails are also located in Exit Glacier if you want to have a closer view of the icefield and the pathways are pretty well maintained.
Best of all the Glacier View Loop Trail is wheelchair friendly and great for all the family to experience the beautiful of this region.
It’s breathtaking and the Harding Icefield, which is 700 square miles long, is just so colossal.
Oh yes, and don’t forget you can take boat tours to spots like Aialik Glacier that are just so beautiful.
Book this incredible tour from Seaward where you’ll get to see two tidal glaciers up close. You might even see them calve!
4.) The Alaska Highway
The Alaska Highway, or ALCAN, is one of the top scenic drives in the whole world and one of the best things to do in Alaska (and Canada). Stretching well over 1,000 miles, this road trip is all about the travel as much as it is about the final destination.
Along the way, you’ll get to see some incredible spots and natural landmarks that are just so beautiful.
It’s well worth trying this drive in Summer. Though, one thing to remember is to always keep your headlights on. The highway can get pretty dusty at times and visibility can change pretty quickly.
Ketchikan is the southernmost city in Alaska and is known as the world’s salmon capital that’s filled with lots of little eateries and local places to see.
Typically, most people arrive to Ketchikan by ship and that makes it really easy to get around the city once you dock.
After getting on land, be sure to stroll the waterfront and boardwalks of Creek Street with its little shops and cafes. Plus, you’ve got the Tongass Heritage Museum and the Totem Heritage Center all within a short distance.
To make things easier, you can book this trolly tour of Ketchikan that’ll take you around all the key sights. It’s well worth it if you’re short on time and looking to see as much as possible.
We headed out on a crabbing adventure whilst in Ketchikan; it was so good (and delicious)!
6.) Glacier Bay National Park
Another great place to visit in Alaska is Glacier Bay National Park, which is not all too far from Juneau (well, around 150 miles as the crow flies).
Typically, the best way to explore Glacier Bay National Park is by boat and lots of cruise itineraries include elements of this area in their wider Alaskan tours (Which is great).
Honestly, sailing Alaska’s inside passage and spotting huge glaciers is just incredible. Around the area are Muir Inlet and the John Hopkins Glacier which are the most famous spots in the park.
While you’re here, try kayaking if you plan to explore the park. You can access kayaks through guided tours or by renting them.
More of an access point to the wider region, Homer is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore more of Halibut Cove and Cook Inlet.
Sometimes included as a part of a wider summer road trip through Seaward, Anchorage and Kenai National Park, it’s easily one of the best things to do in Alaska if you want to explore more of the area on your own.
Once here, be sure to check out Wild Honey Bistro for their delicious wild honey latte and stop by the Pratt Museum which showcases the history of the region.
8.) Misty Fjords National Monument
Considered the largest wilderness area in the national forests of the state, Misty Fjords National Monument is composed of colossal rock walls, vast sea cliffs and steep fjords. Not only that, there’s dense rainforests cover the place and dramatic waterfalls are present throughout the landscape.
This all makes visiting one of the best things to do in Alaska that’s actually not too far from Ketchikan.
Now, in my opinion, kayaking is the best way of exploring the fjords in the region, but if you are not a fan of kayaking, you can opt for boat excursions or sightseeing flights, too.
You will have a great experience in Mist Fjords National Monument as you see orcas, moose, mountain goats and black bears enjoying the place with you.
North of Anchorage, following the Sustina River, Talkeetna is a total haven for outdoor and nature enthusiasts. Well, as long as you don’t mind some crisp days, that is. Talkeetna is mostly always cold (but hey, that’s relative I suppose).
In the area, you can stroll the Talkeetna Riverfront Park, hike the local trails, camp, take a river tour and zipline depending on your mood and preference.
Oh, and don’t forget to grab one of the juiciest burgers at Shirley’s Burger Barn. They’re so good. Plus, whilst you’re here, book this flight across Denali National Park that departs from Talkeetna Airport. It’s so magical and the views are phenomenal.
10.) Mendenhall Glacier
We totally loved visiting and hiking around the Mendenhall Glacier. It’s such a beautiful area of Alaska and totally easy to visit with a guide from Juneau.
Lots of the routes are pretty accessible to see the glacier and the views are as dramatic as you can imagine. We even got to see the salmon swimming upstream!
To make things nice and easy, you can book this Mendenhall Glacier and whale-watching tour. It departs right from Junea and is one of the best things to do in Alaska if you want a break from strolling the streets of the capital.
Once known as Russian America’s capital, Sitka is another interesting town you can explore when you’re in Alaska. Often said to be the second oldest city in Alaska, Sitka it’s well worth taking a gander if you’re stopping in the area.
Since Sitka has a rich history, there are several historic landmarks and structures which you can check out during your visit. Firstly, if it’s kayaking you love, check out the area (with a guide) around Fort Rousseau Causeway. It’s such a beautiful area to kayak between the tiny islands that surround Sitka.
Oh, and don’t forget about seeing St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Cathedral right in the heart of the city. It’s been around since the 1800s (when this was still part of Russia).
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