I was born and raised in Alaska, and I’ve put together this epic 10-day Alaska itinerary! It takes you all over the state — without making you feel too rushed.
This Alaska itinerary features popular places to visit in Alaska and several lesser-known gems. I share activity and hotel recommendations, as well as alternative destinations for varying preferences. Plus, I share tips for visiting that will help you make the most of your trip to the Last Frontier.
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10-Day Alaska Itinerary
Day 1 – Anchorage
Start your Alaska vacation with breakfast and coffee at Snow City Cafe. From there, walk over to the Anchorage Museum (everything is within walking distance downtown).
Spend some time here learning about Alaska’s Native tribes, as well as the scientific side of life in Alaska. Stop at the Imaginarium and Thomas Planetarium here if traveling with children. Follow this up with a trip to the Alaska Native Heritage Center for a deeper dive into Native cultures. Visit the gift store to buy a few authentic hand-made Alaskan souvenirs.
Afternoon & Evening
Swing by Lucky Wishbone for some classic American fare for lunch. Or make your way to the Middle Way Cafe in Midtown for something lighter. Middle Way offers simple, but delicious sandwiches, baked goods, and other entrees with vegan options. It also has a hearty breakfast menu served until 1 pm and is generally less crowded than Snow City Cafe.
After lunch, work off your meal with a walk along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Check out other hiking trails further from downtown if you’re up for more of a challenge. Flattop Mountain and the Eagle River Nature Center are some of the best in the area. After a good hike, make your way to 49th State Brewing in downtown Anchorage for dinner.
Alternate Afternoon & Evening
There are more great museums in Anchorage if a full afternoon of hiking is a little too much for your tastes. The Alaska Aviation Museum tells the long and storied saga of aviation in the Last Frontier. The Oscar Anderson House Museum preserves a little piece of life in old Anchorage.
There are also tons of coffee shops across Anchorage. Local roasters SteamDot and Kaladi Brothers have several locations around town. There are also lots of individual cafes across Anchorage that are great places to kick back and caffeinate.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Hotel Captain Cook ($$$$, Anchorage’s top luxury hotel), Historic Anchorage Hotel ($$$, vintage boutique hotel), Aptel Studio Hotel ($$, best budget option)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Snow City Cafe ($$), 49th State Brewing ($$$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Darwin’s Theory ($), Avenue Bar ($)
- 👉 Pro Tip: Things often cost more in Alaska, and prices increase the further afield you go. Shop in Anchorage, as grocery and department stores have the best prices in the state.
Day 2 – Fairbanks
Take the 9 am flight to Fairbanks out of the Anchorage Airport and pick up a rental car upon arrival. You can also take the 6:30 am flight if you don’t mind getting up extra early. This will give you even more time to explore Fairbanks, one of the best cities in Alaska.
Your first stop will be the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Peruse the museum’s extensive collection of classic cars and other exhibits on life in Fairbanks in the city’s early years.
Get lunch at Jazz Bistro on 4th for a little taste of the Caribbean in Alaska. Follow this up with a visit to the Museum of the North. This museum has a vast array of exhibits on every aspect of life in Alaska, from Native Alaskan cultures to prehistoric creatures.
You have a few great alternatives to choose from for the rest of the afternoon’s itinerary. Head to North Pole, a suburb to the southeast of Fairbanks, if you are traveling with children. Visit the Santa Claus House, where the jolly old elf is available year-round to hear children’s (and adults’) requests.
You could also visit Pioneer Park, which celebrates Fairbanks’ rich frontier heritage. The park boasts reconstructions of old Western-style storefronts, antique vehicles, and much more. It’s a must for anyone who loves the American West.
You could also take a dog-sled tour of the local trails. Mushers attach wheels to the dog sleds when there is no snow, so you can even take one of these tours in summer!
Now it’s time to unwind a little. Head out to the Chena Hot Springs Resort and relax in the natural hot springs. Follow this up with a visit to the “coolest” bar in Alaska inside the Aurora Ice Museum. Get dinner at the Pump House Restaurant back in town and then head to your hotel for some rest.
Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the northern lights if you visit Alaska between late August through mid-April. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a site dedicated to forecasting the phenomenon. It’s worth losing a little sleep to see these waves of light dance through the night sky. Several excellent tours are available for this unforgettable experience.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Pike’s Waterfront Lodge ($$, log-cabin bungalows available), River’s Edge Resort ($$$, cozy, simple cottages), Sven’s Basecamp Hostel ($$, hostel with private rooms)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Jazz Bistro on 4th ($$), The Pump House Restaurant ($$$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: HooDoo Brewing Company ($), Golden Eagle Saloon ($)
Day 3 – Denali National Park
Denali National Park is the next stop on your 10-day Alaska itinerary. The drive to Denali from Fairbanks takes 2 hours. You could take the Alaska Railroad, too, if you haven’t picked up a rental car. The train takes longer (4 hours), but does pass some remarkable vistas you can’t reach by road.
Make the Denali Visitor Center your first stop. Take a little time to browse the displays and watch films about the area before you explore the park itself. The Denali Kennels are located 1.5 miles from the visitor center and offer demonstrations of the role that sled dogs play at the park in the winter. The kennels are open year-round but have limited hours in fall and winter.
The Husky Homestead is a great alternative to the Denali Kennels! The homestead houses and trains sled dogs under the direction of legendary Iditarod musher Jeff King. The Husky Homestead tours cost $64 for adults and $54 for children 3-12, whereas the Denali Kennels are free.
The Husky Homestead tour is worth the price, though. Jeff King offers his unique perspective and knowledge as a four-time Iditarod champion. Plus, there are puppies here.
After the kennels, head out to one of the many trails in Denali and experience the natural beauty of the park for yourself. The Triple Lakes, Mount Vista, and Savage River trails are among the most popular.
Facilities inside the park are limited, so now is a good time to pack a lunch. You’ll have more options in Fairbanks, so if you plan on packing lunches, do your shopping before leaving for Denali.
After a day of hiking and touring, get dinner at your lodgings or one of the restaurants in the small towns right outside the park.
Tonight is one of the best nights on your Alaska itinerary to look for the aurora borealis (if visiting outside the summer months). The light pollution in Denali is minimal, with just a few lights around cabins and other facilities. In general, your chances of seeing this spectacular light show are better the farther north you are and the further from light pollution.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge ($$$, cabin-style rooms) • Grande Denali Lodge ($$$, impressive views) • Carlo Creek Cabins ($$, chalet-style cabins)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Moose-AKa’s ($$), The Overlook Restaurant ($$$$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: 49th State Brewing – Denali Park ($$), Karstens Public House ($$)
- 👉 Pro Tip: The Eielson Visitor Center has stellar views of the peak, but is inaccessible due to a recent rockslide. Keep this part of the park in mind for a future Alaska itinerary!
Day 4 – Denali National Park
It’s well worth taking two days out of your 10-day Alaska itinerary to see Denali. Your second day in Denali National Park is the perfect time to explore more of the local hiking trails. It’s also a great time to take a private tour of the park.
Princess Cruiselines operates the Tundra Wilderness Tour, a bus tour featuring Denali National Park highlights. The tour departs from several different locations throughout the day. Princess Cruiselines also operates a luxurious lodge, the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.
Today is the best day for private tours because you’ll be able to get an earlier start. Not every tour begins as early as the one mentioned above, but Denali is huge, so many tours take all day.
There are a ton of ways to see the park on a tour, including off-road vehicle tours and even aerial tours (see the alternative below).
👉 Pro Tip: Most tours only operate during the summer season, like many other major attractions in Alaska. Check to see what is available if you are traveling outside the peak season of June-August.
Alternate Full Day
Leave Denali National Park a little earlier in the day and head south to Talkeetna. There’s a lot to do and see here, even though it’s a tiny town!
Fly through the forest on an exhilarating experience with Denali Zipline Tours. Take a stretch break at the pleasant Talkeetna Riverfront Park. Or go on a flightseeing tour of Denali for a real treat. You’ve been to the park, yes, but you haven’t seen it like this!
Talkeetna also has several options for overnight accommodations. It’s a good idea to spend the night in Talkeetna, even if you spend all day in the park. Talkeetna is 2 hours closer to the next stop on your Alaska itinerary.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: The Perch Resort ($$, creekside cabin site), Denali Bluffs Hotel ($$$, on-site restaurant), Talkeetna Inn ($$, cozy hotel with bar)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: McKinley Creekside Cafe & Bakery ($$), Mountain High Pizza Pie ($$, Talkeetna)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Denali Brewpub ($$), West Rib Pub & Grill ($$)
Day 5 – The Mat-Su Valley
Get an early start for this day of your Alaska itinerary now that you’ve visited Denali National Park. Traveling around Alaska takes a long time, but it’s well worth it! Head south towards the Matanuska-Susitna Valley (aka the Mat-Su Valley) outside Anchorage. The highlight here is the Matanuska Glacier, but there are other worthwhile sights to see, too.
Make Matanuska your first stop no matter how you choose to spend the rest of the day. Guided tours go out onto the glacier itself. Most tours take several hours, so if you reserve one, this will take the rest of this day on your Alaska itinerary. You can also just stroll around the area and admire the natural Alaskan beauty, too.
Alternate Afternoon & Evening
After a brief visit at the Matanuska Glacier, stop for lunch at The Noisy Goose Cafe back in Palmer. Next, head to Hatcher Pass if you’re up for more adventure. Follow one of the many hiking trails leading to tranquil alpine lakes and scenic vistas. Visit the Independence Mine State Historic Park for a glimpse at an Alaskan ghost town.
The Mat-Su Valley is Alaska’s farm country and two farms in particular stand out as unique. Drop by the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer for a look at the herd and the chance to buy gifts made with high-quality musk ox wool. Visit the Reindeer Farm for the chance to get up close with the herd of reindeer and even feed them.
Get some Greek food for dinner at Evangelo’s Restaurant in Wasilla, then head back into Anchorage for the night. The next day’s destinations are south of Anchorage, so it will be better to shave the driving time from the Valley to Anchorage (about 45 minutes) off of tomorrow’s itinerary. This applies for any of today’s alternatives.
Alternate Full Day
Today’s agenda on the Alaska itinerary will be very different if you’ve been taking the Alaska Railroad. The train from Denali back to Anchorage takes 8 hours and departs at 12:30 pm. Spend the morning in Denali if this is your plan and enjoy the ride. You won’t be disappointed, even if you don’t see the Matanuska Glacier today.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Home2 Suites Hilton Anchorage-Midtown ($$$, kitchenettes), Base Camp Anchorage ($, affordable bunk-bed dormitories), Embassy Suites Anchorage ($$$, all-suites accommodation)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: The Noisy Goose Cafe ($$), Evangelo’s Restaurant ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Matanuska Brewing (Eagle River) ($$), Four Corners Lounge LLC ($$)
Day 6 – Turnagain Arm-Kenai Peninsula (North)
Start today off with breakfast either at your accommodations (if provided) or at one of Anchorage’s many classic diners, such as Sami’s City Diner. Head south along the Seward Highway and stop at Beluga Point to take in the majestic surroundings of Turnagain Arm. You could also watch the bore tide surging in if you get there at the right time.
Your next stop is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see some of Alaska’s most famous wildlife. After that, head east to Portage Lake. Take the short boat tour across the lake to get an up-close look at Portage Glacier. Consider hiking the nearby short trail to Byron Glacier once the tour is over.
👉 Pro Tip: Can’t decide between the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage? Both feature many of Alaska’s most famous creatures. The Alaska Zoo has several exotic species such as snow leopards and Amur tigers. The AWCC has a more natural surrounding and feels more “Alaskan.”
Afternoon & Evening
Head back to Girdwood for lunch at one of the restaurants at the Alyeska Resort. Take a little time to explore the hiking trails in the area after your meal. The Crow Creek Gold Mine in the hills above the resort is a great place to learn about the history of mining in Alaska. You can even try your hand at panning for gold!
Girdwood is one of the best places to stay south of Anchorage. There may be only a few lodging options, but it will save you an hour’s drive back into town plus another hour of travel time the next day.
Alternative 1: Afternoon & Evening
Another option for today’s Alaska itinerary is to head west to Hope, Alaska for a river-rafting tour (this route is easy with no whitewater areas). Hope lies about an hour west of the Portage Glacier Cruise departure site and just short of two hours south of Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad does not run to Hope, so you’ll need a rental car to get there.
Hope itself, though tiny, is big on atmosphere. It’s a great place to stop and enjoy the surroundings, especially along the shore of Turnagain Arm. After your hiatus in Hope, drive back to Alyeska and get dinner at the resort.
Alternate 2: Full Day
Another alternative for your Alaska itinerary is a trip on the Alaska Railroad Glacier Discovery Train. The route covers most of the stops mentioned above but also features a visit to the Spencer Glacier. The Spencer Glacier can only be reached by the Alaska Railroad.
The full route takes all day, leaving Anchorage at 9:45 am and returning to town at 9 pm. You can stop anywhere along the way, but will need to arrange your own further transportation from that point on.
Alternative 3: Full Day
Consider visiting a more remote national park on this day of your 10-day Alaska itinerary. Lake Clark National Park, Katmai National Park, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park are the best options. You’ll need the better part of a day to get to and see the sights at these parks, though.
Lake Clark National Park lies 1 hour (by prop plane) southwest of Anchorage. Katmai National Park is a 4-hour flight. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is a 5-hour drive east of Anchorage.
Overnight accommodations and dining options are limited in these places. The two parks southwest of Anchorage have a few wilderness lodges and cabins. Small towns, such as Glennallen, line the road to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Some of them offer visitors a small handful of roadhouses and convenience stores.
Girdwood is the best place to stay tonight, being closest to the next day’s attractions. The options are a bit limited here, but have a lot of Alaskan character.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Alyeska Resort ($$$, ski resort and day-spa), Brown Bear Saloon & Hotel ($, no-frills with bar/lounge), Carriage House Accommodations ($$$, cozy apartments and cottages)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Seven Glaciers Restaurant ($$$$), Jack Sprat ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Chair 5 Restaurant ($$), Girdwood Brewing Company ($$)
- 👉 Pro Tip: Purchase an America the Beautiful parks pass to get unlimited annual entry to all US national parks!
Day 7 – Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is the next stop on your 10-day Alaska itinerary. The stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife make this place a must-see if you visit Alaska.
Follow the Seward Highway south from Girdwood and take the turn for Seward, located roughly 90 minutes away. This cozy seaside town is the best gateway for exploring Kenai Fjords National Park. The best features of Kenai Fjords National Park are seen from the sea. Several tours depart from Seward to explore the Kenai Fjords ranging from 4 to 8 hours.
Stop for lunch at The Highliner Restaurant in Seward after the cruise tour of the Kenai Fjords. Your next stop is the Alaska Sealife Center, ideal especially if traveling with children. Alaska’s wildlife can be elusive, and this is the best place to see the various sea creatures (besides whales) that call Alaska’s waters home.
Seward has some great hiking options, too. The steep slopes of Mount Marathon are a local favorite (and feature a grueling race to the top on the 4th of July).
The Exit Glacier lies a little farther north out of town and is a highlight of Kenai Fjords National Park. Those wishing for a more long-distance hike can also take the trail leading from the Exit Glacier to the Harding Icefield.
Drop by The Cookery for dinner. Enjoy some oysters here, or other seafood and New American fare if oysters aren’t your thing. Finish up the evening with a walk along Seward’s Waterfront Park or the Seward Boat Harbor.
Stay the night in Seward and get some rest for the next leg of your Alaska itinerary: southeast Alaska. You also have the option to return to Girdwood or even Anchorage after dinner, depending on your energy level, and whether or not you want to take the earliest flight out of Anchorage.
👉 Pro Tip: The long hours of sunlight make June through mid-August the best time to visit Alaska for hiking. Follow bear safety while on the trail. The same general principles apply to other Alaskan wildlife, such as moose.
Alternate Full Day
Prince William Sound is an alternative for this day on your Alaska itinerary. Follow the highway roughly 30 minutes to Whittier, Alaska instead of heading all the way south to Seward. You’ll pass Portage Lake again and travel through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest (2.5 miles) tunnel in North America!
Glacier cruises depart from Whitter ranging in length from a few hours to all-day excursions. Many cruises provide lunch, but double-check if it will be provided if you book a tour. Stay the night in Girdwood again if you choose this alternative. Whittier has limited options for accommodations and it’s better to leave unneeded things back at your lodgings for today.
Many visitors to Alaska often ask about the difference between Prince William Sound and Kenai Fjords National Park. Both places feature majestic coastal landscapes and abundant wildlife. They each have their “specialty,” though. Prince William Sound has more glaciers (this tour takes you to 26 glaciers!), while Kenai Fjords National Park tends to have more wildlife.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay ($$$, private beach), Hotel Seward ($$, vintage-style rooms), Harbor 360 Hotel ($$$$, harbor views)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: The Highliner Restaurant ($$), The Cookery ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Seward Brewing Company ($$), Yukon Bar ($$)
Day 8 – Juneau
The next destination on your 10-day Alaska itinerary is Juneau. Many Alaska itineraries focus more on southcentral Alaska, but the southeast has plenty to see as well. Return to Anchorage and fly to Juneau on the late morning flight departing at 11 am. There is also an earlier flight departing at 7:45 am if you don’t mind the early rise and the drive.
Make the Mendenhall Glacier your first stop. You can either rent a car at the airport or take a shuttle bus to the glacier. Mendenhall differs from the other glaciers on this Alaska itinerary in that it has ice caves that can be explored with a tour guide if conditions are right. Snap some selfies in front of the epic Nugget Falls and head back into town.
Check out the shops downtown and learn more about the city and the state at the Juneau City Museum and the Alaska State Museum, respectively. Get some exercise by hiking up Mount Roberts, or take the tram ride to the top if you prefer.
Finish up the day’s adventures with drinks at the Alaskan Brewing Co. Next, head to Tracy’s Crab Shack for a taste of authentic Alaskan king crab. Wrap up the day with another drink or two at the Red Dog Saloon, or head back to your hotel for the night.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Juneau Hotel ($$$, ensuite kitchens/washing machines) • Silverbow Inn Hotel & Suites ($$$, deck with jacuzzi) • Best Western Country Lane Inn ($$$, close to Mendenhall Glacier)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Tracy’s King Crab Shack ($$$), Donna’s Restaurant ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Alaskan Brewing Co. ($$), Red Dog Saloon ($$)
Day 9 – Sitka
Sitka is the next destination on your 10-day Alaska itinerary. Catch the late morning flight to Sitka after staying the night in Juneau. Visit the Fortress of the Bear first for an up-close look at rescued black and brown bears. The Alaska Raptor Center provides a similar experience with bald eagles and is also worth a visit.
Get lunch at Sitka Pel’Meni and then stroll the streets of downtown Sitka. St. Michael’s Cathedral and the Russian Bishop’s House offer a glimpse into the past before Russia sold Alaska to America. Taking a walk on the local docks and observing Sitka’s commercial fishing fleet is another fun (and totally free) thing to do.
The Sitka National Historical Park is also worth taking a walk through. Here, you can see a wide variety of totem poles and learn about the history and symbolism of these iconic Alaskan monuments.
Grab dinner at Bayview Restaurant and follow it up with drinks at Mean Queen. Sitka is a great place to soak up the small-town Alaska atmosphere, so chat for a while with the locals before heading back to your Sitka hotel for the night.
Alternate Full Day
Fly to Gustavus from Juneau instead of setting out for Sitka. Gustavus is the gateway town to Glacier Bay National Park (not to be confused with Glacier National Park in Montana). Alaska Airlines operates a seasonal flight departing once a day in summer at 4 pm. Local air taxi company Alaska Seaplanes operates year-round flights.
During the day, check out the AJ Mine and Gastineau Mill tour in Juneau before flying to Gustavus. There are a handful of wilderness lodges and B&Bs in and around Gustavus to stay the night in.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Longliner Lodge & Suites ($$$, waterfront property), Aspen Suites Hotel Sitka ($$$, kitchenettes), Baranof Lodge ($$$, no-frills, centrally-located)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Bayview Restaurant ($$), Sitka Pel’Meni ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Mean Queen ($$), Ernie’s Old Time Saloon ($$)
Day 10 – Ketchikan
Ketchikan is the final destination on your 10-day Alaska itinerary. Fly out of Sitka on the midday flight and spend the rest of the day in Ketchikan. The flight only takes 1 hour, so there’s plenty of time. There is an early morning (6 am) flight, but rising that early may not be to everyone’s liking.
Once in Ketchikan, get lunch at The Alaska Fish House. Next, check out the Totem Bight State Historical Park north of town and the Totem Heritage Center in town. Here, you can learn more about totem poles and their role in the local Native culture.
The charming downtown area is well worth a visit and you can even fish for salmon right off the boardwalk! Visit the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show for some frontier-style fun. Check the event’s website as showtimes vary between days. It may be better as a first stop depending on the day.
Wrap up the day with dinner at Ocean View Restaurante for some great Mexican and Mediterranean fare. Follow this up with some drinks at The Asylum or with a walk along the docks before retiring for the night.
Ketchikan is a great last stop for your 10-day Alaska itinerary because it has several flights to Seattle each day. Most are direct, but at least one will go on the famous “Milk Run” route that hops between southeast Alaska’s major communities.
Alternate Full Day
Today’s alternate itinerary applies if you chose to visit Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park. Spend the day exploring the park and catch the return flight to Juneau departing around 5:30 pm. You’ll arrive in Juneau shortly after 6 pm and will have a few options for continuing flights to Seattle, either directly or with a stop in Anchorage.
The earliest viable flight departs just before 7, so it may be a bit too tight of a squeeze if you have checked bags. Another direct flight to Seattle departs at around 8:20. You also have the option, if you have the extra time, to stay the night in Juneau again and depart in the morning.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: The Landing Hotel ($$, closest to airport), Gilmore Hotel ($$$, vintage atmosphere), Inn at Creek Street ($$$, central location)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: The Alaska Fish House ($$), Ocean View Restaurante ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: The Asylum ($$), Bar Harbour Ale House ($$)
- 👉Pro Tip: This agenda takes you all over Alaska to many places that are a bit off the beaten path for most airlines. Book a multi-city ticket instead of the usual one-destination round-fare one to side-step this quirk in getting to and from Alaska.
Alaska Itinerary Map
Here is a Google Map with all the stops, attractions, and hotels mentioned in this post.
How to Get Around in Alaska
Alaska is large and spread out. Much of the time on your Alaska itinerary will be spent on simply getting around, but there are several options for doing this. Renting a car is the best way to see the sights at your own pace and have the freedom to visit harder-to-reach destinations. Nothing beats a good Alaska road trip!
The Alaska Railroad is a great option for traveling around southcentral Alaska and to Denali National Park. The northern end of the line terminates at Fairbanks and the southern end of the route stops at Seward. The Alaska Railroad is also the only way to visit the majestic Spencer Glacier.
The Alaska Marine Highway System connects many communities along the southern coast of the state. All of the ferries can take vehicles as well as foot passengers. The larger ferries also have basic cabins for longer or overnight voyages.
Alaska Airlines and a few smaller local companies fly throughout the state. Anchorage is the main hub for most flights, but Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan also have connections to the “Lower 48.” A small prop plane is often the only way to get to some of Alaska’s remote communities and national parks.
Alaska Itinerary Planning Tips
Tip 1 – Be Flexible
Having some flexibility is vital for any Alaska itinerary. Adverse weather in Alaska can affect flights, delaying or even canceling them. This tends to be more of an issue for coastal communities which often see fog or high winds, especially outside summer. Blizzards can also ground flights, even in larger Alaskan airports like those in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Tip 2 – Arrive the Night Before
Arrive in Anchorage the night before or early in the morning (if, unlike me, you can sleep on planes!). This will give you more time to see the sights and not feel as rushed as you follow your Alaska itinerary. There are plenty of evening flights to Anchorage out of Seattle, which is your best hub for connecting to Alaska.
Tip 3 – Pack Layers
Temperatures in Alaska tend to be cooler than elsewhere in the country, even in summer. It’s always a good idea to bring another layer, such as a fleece jacket, whenever you visit Alaska.
This is also an important factor to remember if you go hiking in the mountains. The higher altitudes will be more exposed to Alaska’s often fickle weather, so be sure to have an extra layer in your backpack.
Tip 4 – Pack Rain Gear
Pack a rain jacket along with that extra layer. Coastal Alaska gets a lot of rain regardless of the time of year. Waterproof hiking boots or shoes are a good idea, too. They’re a must if you plan on taking any longer hikes.
You could also buy rain gear as you visit Alaska. Alaskans have a thing for Grundens and XtraTuf boots, which are the unofficial “traditional attire” of many Alaskans. Umbrellas can be useful, but the umbrella may prove redundant if there’s any wind (which there often is in coastal Alaska).
Tip 5 – Add or Subtract From This Alaska Itinerary As You Like
Alaska is a huge place and the ultimate Alaska itinerary would be measured in years and not days. Feel free to stay for a little longer at any of the above-mentioned destinations. You could also skip some or save them for a future Alaska itinerary. The more remote areas of the state also hold unique secrets and surprises for only the more adventurous travelers.
Tip 6- See Southeast Alaska on a Cruise Ship
Southeast Alaska is a world unto itself, with tons of amazing attractions. It can be hard to get around, though, especially if the weather is bad. A cruise ship is slower than flying but less restricted by bad weather. Consider a separate, future voyage from this Alaska itinerary
to see more of this stunning region.
Tip 7 – Save Money by Taking the Ferry
The Alaska Marine Highway System is a budget-friendly alternative to a cruise ship. Prices are lower, even if the facilities are less luxurious. Cabins can be booked (as mentioned above) and several ferries have onboard dining facilities and vending machines. The ferries are also great places to meet locals and fellow budget travelers.
Tip 8 – Know the Seasons
Many of the main attractions close or have limited hours in winter, but there’s always something going on in Alaska. Anchorage springs to life in late February and early March with events such as the Iditarod and Fur Rondy. Alaska swings into full festivity between Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Plan your Alaska itinerary accordingly.
Tip 9 – Bring Binoculars
A pair of binoculars will only improve your wildlife viewing experience. You may see little white dots moving around on distance slopes when out on the trail (or parked by the roadside). You’ll be able to get a closer look and see whether they’re Dall sheep or mountain goats if you’ve brought binoculars.
Tip 10 – Fuel Up
Keep your car well-fueled if you are on an Alaska road trip. Towns in Alaska tend to be few and far between, especially north and east of the greater Anchorage area. The last thing you want is to run out of fuel somewhere along the highway with dozens of miles to the nearest gas station. Be sure to note the nearest gas stations while making your road trip plans.
FAQs About Alaska Itinerary Planning
How many days should I spend in Alaska?
What month is best for an Alaska trip?
September is the best month for an Alaska trip, especially towards the beginning of the month. Tours and attractions remain open, prices begin to go down, and the weather is still relatively warm (for Alaska). The northern lights begin to become visible after mid-August, so you may be able to see them before winter sets in.
I hope you’ve gotten some inspiring ideas for your perfect Alaska itinerary. Safe travels and have an amazing trip!
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