Super useful & totally free Alaska travel guides, written by locals who love Alaska

View of the Cruise ship passengers viewing the Margerie Glacier in winter
Cruise ship passengers viewing Margerie Glacier

Why We Love Alaska: Alaska has the perfect combination of untamed nature and modern comforts. Breathtaking natural beauty awaits you at every turn in Alaska. Mountains, glaciers, and tranquil evergreen forests provide visitors relief from modern urban life. And who could forget the majestic northern lights? Alaska’s cities have everything you could want: trendy restaurants, hip breweries, fascinating museums, and more. There are lots of reasons that “the Great Land” is truly great!

Best of Alaska

🏙️ Alaska Destinations

View of a man standing at the cliff at Denali National Park
Denali National Park

Enjoy wilderness adventures, frontier history, and urban comforts. Alaska’s best destinations include:

  • Anchorage – Alaska’s largest city is the best hub for an Alaskan adventure. Check out its gift shops and craft breweries. 
  • Denali National Park – Home to Mt. Denali and iconic Alaskan wildlife. The fall colors of the tundra rival New England!
  • Fairbanks – The best of inland Alaska! Come here for the northern lights, hot springs, and frontier history.
  • Juneau – Explore the forested islands, mountains, and glaciers around Alaska’s capital city.
  • Ketchikan -The best place for salmon fishing and for learning more about Alaska’s iconic totem poles.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park – Take a boat tour of Alaska’s massive glaciers. This is a great place for whale watching, too!
  • Kodiak – Hiking trails, salmon, and bears abound near this island town. Also a must-see for Alaska history buffs.
  • The Alaska Highway – The ultimate Alaskan road trip! This highway connects Alaska with Canada and the Lower 48.

👉 Explore all places to visit in Alaska.

✨ Things to Do

Alaska combines epic beauty, iconic wildlife, and rustic charm like no other state:

  • Glacier Cruises – Behold Alaska’s majestic rivers of ice. Chances are good you’ll see Alaska’s famous marine life, too.
  • Day Hikes – Get out and explore Alaska’s awe-inspiring nature and unwind at a fine local establishment afterward.
  • Northern Lights Viewing – Gaze in wonder as shimmering ribbons of light dance across the night sky.
  • Bear Viewing – Get a look at Alaska’s most famous furry residents from either land or sky.
  • Pan for Gold – There’s still gold in Alaska’s rivers and beaches. You may not strike it rich, but it’s still fun to try!
  • Hit the Slopes – Ski or snowboard at Alyeska Resort, Alaska’s premier ski locale. There are great slopes across the state, too.
  • Go Fishing – Alaska is an angler’s paradise! Charter companies and sporting goods stores can “hook you up” with the right gear.
A man viewing the Aurora Northern Lights Night Sky
Viewing the northern lights outside Fairbanks

🗺️ Where to Stay

View of the waterfront Juneau downtown with Juneau Mountain in the background
The Juneau waterfront

The Last Frontier is a huge place! Thankfully, Alaska’s cities and towns are great places to set up a home base:

  • Anchorage – Anchorage has the most options for lodging, shopping, and dining. Many start their Alaskan expeditions here.
  • Fairbanks – The best place for the northern lights and hot springs. Also a great hub for exploring Interior Alaska.
  • Juneau – Alaska’s state capital is the best place to experience the Inside Passage.
  • Ketchikan – Excellent salmon fishing and tons of totem poles set Ketchikan apart from the crowd.
  • Homer – Alaska’s artsiest town lies near the majestic beauty of Kachemak Bay. Also one of the best places to fish for halibut.
  • Kodiak – A cozy fishing town with tons of great day hikes and wildlife viewing opportunities.

👉 Read the complete guide on where to stay in Alaska.

🛎️ Best Hotels

From luxurious resorts to rustic lodges, Alaska has a motherlode of accommodations: 

  • Hotel Captain Cook – Anchorage’s top hotel combines luxurious rooms, fine dining, and specialized gift shops.
  • Alyeska Resort – Alaska’s premier ski resort also offers spa services and several restaurants.
  • Denali Cabins – These cabins combine rustic charm with modern amenities such as saunas and a gastropub. 
  • Chena Hot Springs Resort – Alaska’s best hot springs resort offers several cozy rooms and cabins, as well as a spa and on-site dining. 
  • Alaskan Hotel and Bar – Experience the old-fashioned atmosphere of Alaska’s oldest operating hotel in downtown Juneau.
Aerial view of the Alyeska ski resort in summer from the chairlift
Alyeska in summer (photo: FOTOADICTA / Shutterstock)

🚗 Best Road Trips

View of the moose crossing the highway with the mountain views in the background
Moose X-ing!

Alaska has fewer roads than other states, but no shortage of sights to see along the way:

  • Anchorage to Denali – Experience the grandeur of Alaska’s Interior and the charm of its tiny towns on the way to America’s tallest peak!
  • Anchorage to Homer – This 5-hour drive is packed with beautiful scenery, cozy towns, and rural Alaskan character.
  • The Glenn Highway – See the Matanuska Glacier on your way to Glennallen, AK. From there, head south for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
  • The Dalton Highway – This trucking route connects the North Slope with the rest of the state. There are no services, so stock up!
  • The Alaska Highway – Venture into the vastness of Alaska and Canada on the road connecting them with the Lower 48. Adventure is guaranteed!

⛱️ Best Beaches

View of the calm ocean from the greenspace in Kodiak’s Pasagshak Beach
Kodiak’s Pasagshak Beach

Alaska’s not known for its beaches, but that makes them a best-kept secret! You’ll be surprised at how pleasant they can be:

  • Pasagshak Beach, Kodiak – A long beach of black sands lies at the end of Kodiak’s road system. A favorite of locals on summer days.
  • Cannon Beach, Yakutat – The best waves in Alaska roll ashore here. If you’re looking to surf Alaska, head to Cannon Beach.
  • Jewel Lake Beach – The best beach to visit with kids! This tranquil lake in south Anchorage is great for picnics and beach volleyball.
  • The Homer Spit – Homer’s beachfront offers an eclectic collection of gift shops, eateries, and accommodations.
  • Petroglyph Beach – Spot ancient petroglyphs carved on the rocks at this beach in Wrangell, Alaska.

⛰️ Best Mountains

A woman enjoying the view from the edge of Flattop Mountain
View from Flattop Mountain

Alaska is home to the tallest peak in America, as well as more manageable summits that are incredible day hikes:

  • Denali – North America’s tallest peak is perfect for photography, fly-by tours, and, for the truly adventurous, ascending!
  • Mount Roberts – This mountain towers over Juneau, Alaska. For a scenic ascent, take the tramway to the top!
  • Deer Mountain – Climb the forested path to this 3001’ peak in Ketchikan. The hike is steep, but the views at the top are worth it!
  • Flattop Mountain – A perfect day hike with a stunning view of Anchorage. On clear days, Denali is visible from the top, too.  
  • Mount Marathon – On July 4th, Seward hosts a race up and down this 3022’ peak. It’s also fine for more casual hikes.

⛷️ Best Ski Resorts

View of the chairlifts at Alyeska Ski Resort on a sunny winter day
A chairlift at Alyeska

Whether you’re looking for world-class skiing or more down-to-earth local slopes, Alaska has you covered:

  • Alyeska Ski Resort – Experience the best slopes in the state. Alyeska has the longest double black diamond run in the world.
  • Eagle Crest Ski Area – The “best kept secret” of Alaska lies outside Juneau. Skiers of all levels will find plenty of space to ski here.
  • Ski Land Ski Area – These slopes outside Fairbanks are open Friday-Monday. It’s home to North America’s northernmost chair lift!
  • Hilltop Ski Area -This non-profit ski resort in Anchorage is perfect for beginners or families on a budget. 
  • Mt. Eyak Ski Area – The slopes here see 350” of snowfall each year! Lift tickets range from $15-30 and gear from $5-15.

♨️ Best Hot Springs

View of the people enjoying the hot spring in Chena Hot Springs during winter
Chena Hot Springs in winter

Many of Alaska’s hot springs are remote, but that adds to the magic as you soak in their warm waters:

  • Chena Hot Springs – This resort is the perfect place to pass the daylight hours while waiting for the northern lights.
  • Manley Hot Springs – Another Fairbanks-area option, these springs sit inside a greenhouse growing exotic fruits and flowers.
  • Goddard Hot Springs – You need to take a boat or plane to get to these springs south of Sitka. The scenic bathhouses are worth the effort!
  • Serpentine Hot Springs – Though remote, these springs north of Nome are surrounded by the haunting beauty of the Alaskan tundra.
  • Chief Shakes Hot Springs – 28 miles up the Stikine River from Wrangell, these springs are very popular on weekends and holidays.

🖼️ Best Museums

View of the displayed native masks at the Anchorage Museum
Native masks on display at the Anchorage Museum (photo: Robert Szymanski / Shutterstock)

Alaskans are proud of the unique culture and history of their state. Learn about Alaska’s heritage at these museums:

  • The Anchorage Museum – Permanent displays here describe Alaska’s native tribes, as well as other aspects of life in Alaska.
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center – Learn more about Alaska’s native tribes and keep an eye out for special cultural events here.
  • Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum – This museum houses a collection of antique cars and vintage fashions from Fairbanks’ boom days.
  • Museum of the North – This museum in Fairbanks combines cultural, historical, and scientific exhibits. A great place for family trips!
  • Totem Heritage Center – Learn all about Alaska’s iconic totem poles and the tribes that built them at this museum in Ketchikan.

Alaska Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

There’s always something to do in Alaska! Here are some of each season’s highlights:

  • 🍂 Fall – See fall colors in the forests and on the tundra, and get an early glimpse of the northern lights.
  • 🌞 Summer –  This is the best time for wildlife viewing, glacier cruises, and hiking Alaska’s many trails.
  • ❄️ Winter –  Spend winter days skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. At night, gaze in wonder at the northern lights.
  • 🌼 Spring –  Though not as warm as summer, prices tend to be lower for the same activities and tours.

🚌 Getting In & Around

Driving a vehicle is the best way to see Alaska, but there are a lot of other great options, too:

  • ✈️ Airports – Most flights land in Anchorage (ANC). Fairbanks (FAI) and Juneau (JNU) also offer connections to the Lower 48.
  • 🚗 Driving – Renting a car is the best way to get a full taste of all Alaska has to offer.
  • 🚆 Rail – The Alaska railroad connects Seward and Fairbanks with several stops along the way.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau have bus systems. Outside these cities, public transit tends to be limited.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft operate throughout the state. You can find them even in smaller cities.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Alaska’s a great place for bikes! Whether it’s trails, highways, or cities, bikes add to the adventure.
  • 🛴 Scooters – A few places rent scooters. Given the long distances in Alaska, they’re best for getting around a city.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – The downtowns of Alaska’s cities are walkable. If you like long walks, other areas are, too.
  • 🛳️ Cruise Ships – Major cruise lines offer luxurious tours all across southern Alaska. Small local cruises offer simpler, up-close tours.
  • ⛴️ Ferries – The Alaska Marine Highway system connects communities throughout southern Alaska.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🐻 – Be Bear Aware! – Bear attacks are rare, but be sure to read up on best practices in case of an encounter. 
  • 🔥 – Be Responsible with Fires – Alaska has had its share of forest fires. Check out local regulations and bans to keep it safe.
  • 🦌 – Mind the Moose – Despite being herbivores, moose can be aggressive. Also, keep an eye out while driving. They’ll put more than a dent in your car!
  • 🌧️ – Watch the Weather – Weather can change quickly, especially in coastal regions. Bring appropriate attire.
  • 📆 – Be Flexible – The weather can ground flights, especially outside Anchorage. This tends to be more of an issue outside of summer.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🌧️ – Rainjacket and waterproof shoes – It rains a lot in coastal Alaska, so always have water-resistant clothes at hand.
  • 🧥 – Layers – Even in summer, temperatures in Alaska are cooler than most places in the Lower 48. Have layers ready, just in case.
  • 💤 – Sleeping Mask – The Midnight Sun makes getting to sleep hard, even for locals. Bring a mask to help block out the late-night daylight.
  • 🥾 – Hiking Boots – There’s no shortage of great hiking trails in Alaska. Many of them get steep, so good ankle support is a must.
  • 🦟 – Bug Spray – Mosquitoes come out in the summer, especially in wetter, coastal areas. Keep them at bay with a good insect repellent.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 732,673
  • Capital – Juneau
  • Largest Metro Areas – Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau
  • Time Zone – Alaska Time (UTC -9:00 / UTC -8:00 during daylight savings); Aleutian-Hawaiian Time (UTC -10:00/ UTC -9:00 during daylight savings)
  • Airports – Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC), Fairbanks International Airport (FAI), Juneau International Airport (JNU)
  • Colleges & Universities – University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Nickname – The Last Frontier, the Great Land, The Land of the Midnight Sun
  • Demonynm – Alaskans
  • USPS Abbreviation – AK
  • Governor – Mike Dunleavey (Republican)
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • MERIC Cost of Living State Rank – 47th most affordable
  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $150-350+/night (depends on season)
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $95-275+/night
  • Rental Car – $100-140+/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2-5
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $25-35
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $50-80
  • Draft Beer – $6

FAQs About Visiting Alaska

Is Alaska safe for tourists?

Alaska is safe for tourists. You’ll need to exercise proper caution around wildlife, but that is the only “danger” you are likely to face. Anchorage has gained somewhat of a bad reputation, but if you exercise common sense, you should be fine.

Where can I see polar bears in Alaska?

You can see polar bears in Alaska in the Arctic Circle region. But, unless you’re willing to travel to a remote town or village, the best place to see them is the Anchorage Zoo.

How many days should I take to visit Alaska?

You should take 7-10 days to visit Alaska. This length of time will allow you to see many of the state’s attractions without feeling rushed.

Do I need a license to fish in Alaska?

You need a license to fish in Alaska if you are a non-resident over the age of 16. These can be obtained online or at many stores selling fishing gear state-wide.

Can I bring home the fish I catch in Alaska?

You can bring home the fish you catch in Alaska. Most fishing lodges and charter services offer processing services. Some local companies in Anchorage also offer processing and shipping services if you are fishing on your own.

Can I see the northern lights from Anchorage?

You can see the northern lights from Anchorage, as well as destinations all across the state. A good rule of thumb is that the further north you are, the better your chances of seeing them.

Meet Our Alaska Travel Expert

Matthew Reppond

Matthew Reppond is a freelance writer and history nerd from Alaska, currently residing in eastern Washington. When not road-tripping around the western United States, he’s probably enjoying some lively Irish tunes in a Dublin pub or wandering the winding streets of Old Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia.

👉 Read Matthew’s Articles

📰 Alaska Travel Guides

Check out our other guides to the cities and towns of Alaska! Also, get advice on the best time to visit the state, safety tips, and so much more.

🗺️ Alaska Map