I’m a born-and-raised Alaska local who’s created the ultimate guide on things to do in Alaska!
This round-up highlights 49 epic experiences in the 49th state. It overviews several of the best places to visit in Alaska for a variety of interests. Discover destinations for outdoor adventures, cultural and historical insights, and even free activities. I also share several hidden gems and expert tips to make the most of your visit to “The Great Land.”
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49 Best Things to Do in Alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve
Take in the epic sights of Interior Alaska at the most popular national park in the state.
Denali National Park is the place to witness the epic grandeur only found in the Last Frontier. Denali is also one of the best places to stay in Alaska. Accommodations range from luxury resorts to spartan camping spots.
Hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing are popular activities at Denali. The Husky Homestead is another can’t-miss attraction, especially for dog lovers and those traveling with children. It raises and trains sled dogs and provides mushing demonstrations.
Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve
Cruise alongside some of Alaska’s most famous wildlife in these majestic fjords.
Kenai Fjords National Park is second only to Denali. You can see the best of coastal Alaska at this park south of Seward. Long, narrow fjords reach far inland, surrounded by lofty mountains and dense spruce forests.
Kenai Fjords National Park is a prime place for wildlife viewing, one of the best things to do in Alaska. Here, you can see humpback whales, bald eagles, and many more famous Alaskan animals. Cruise tours offer up-close glimpses of these diverse animals and their stunning natural habitat.
Visitors can also access a smaller landside part of the park around the Exit Glacier. The exit for the Exit Glacier lies just north of town on the Seward Scenic Highway.
Learn all about Alaska at this museum in downtown Anchorage.
📍 Google Maps | Phone:(907) 929-9200 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily (May-Sept); 10 am – 6 pm Tue – Thu, 12 – 6 pm Fri, 10 am – 9 pm Sat, Closed Sun & Mon (Oct-Apr) | Entrance: $20 adults, $15 seniors (65+) & students with ID (13-17), $10 ages 6-12
Visiting the Anchorage Museum is one of the best things to do in Anchorage. Here, you can learn about all aspects of life in Alaska and the people who have called it home. The museum’s permanent collection of artifacts tells the story of the native tribes of Alaska and their culture.
The Anchorage Museum also has plenty of info on the scientific side of Alaska. The Discovery Center is a great place to bring the kids to learn about nature in Alaska. The Thomas Planetarium tells all about outer space, featuring both general programs as well as presentations about Alaska’s night skies.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Dive deeper into the fascinating world of Alaska Native history and culture at this museum in northeast Anchorage.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is another must-see museum in Anchorage. Here, you can learn more about the five main cultural groups of Alaska’s native peoples. The reconstructions of villages offer a fascinating look at how the different tribes adapted to the different climates within Alaska.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center hosts cultural events and workshops throughout the year, especially in summer. These events range from traditional dance performances to hands-on classes in art and handicrafts. The center also has one of the best gift shops for those looking for authentic Alaskan gifts.
📚 Related Reading: Many attractions reduce their hours outside the summer months, but this doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting Alaska then. Read my guide on the best time to visit Alaska to learn more!
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Get an up-close look at the most spectacular glaciers in southeast Alaska.
Glacier Bay National Park is one of the best attractions in southeastern Alaska. Massive rivers of ice wind their way out of the mountains. The seas and skies teem with abundant wildlife. Epic beauty abounds at every corner.
Glacier Bay National Park can only be accessed by sea or by air, but the extra effort is worth it. There are landside sections of the park, but a cruise tour is the best way to see Glacier Bay. A visit doesn’t have to break the bank though. Consider a voyage aboard a state ferry to the town of Gustavus, the gateway to Glacier Bay, if you’re traveling on a budget.
See the best of coastal Alaska, from the lush, forested east to the remote, wind-swept islands out west.
An Alaskan cruise is one of the easiest ways to see the natural wonders along the coastline. Many itineraries stop at the above-mentioned destinations and more, saving you the time and effort required to see them all on your own. Cruises of the southeastern and southcentral regions are the most popular, but there’s more to Alaska than that.
Consider a cruise along the Aleutian Chain if you want to get off the beaten path. Heading out west shows a different aspect of coastal Alaska. The beauty is of a more austere, remote kind here. Lush forests give way to lonely, mist-shrouded islands. A few small settlements dot these islands, the largest town being Unalaska (aka Dutch Harbor).
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Learn about Alaska’s most iconic animals at this center south of Anchorage.
Alaska’s wildlife can be elusive at times. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center offers visitors of all ages an up-close look at some of the most famous local wildlife. The center began as a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned animals. It’s now one of the more popular attractions in the Anchorage area.
Alaska Sealife Center
Come face to face with sea creatures in Seward.
This aquarium in Seward is a great complement to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Here, you can find many of the most famous sea creatures that call Alaska’s waters home. The center also offers a wealth of information on the diverse marine life that dwells in Alaska’s waters.
A visit here is one of the top things to do in Alaska for families with children or anyone who loves animals. After a trip to the Sealife Center, there are plenty of other things to do in Seward, one of the best towns in Alaska.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Wander the wilds of America’s largest national park in eastern Alaska.
Few places besides Denali can rival the vastness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The park measures a massive 13.2 million square miles, dwarfing other parks and even entire states. This is the place to go if you want epic excursions in the backcountry.
You can also visit the Kennecott Mine, one of Alaska’s few ghost towns. An on-site museum tells the tale of the copper mining boom and bust of the early 1900s. The park lies about five hours east of Anchorage along the Richardson Highway.
The Alaska Railroad
Ride in style to destinations north and south of Anchorage aboard Alaska’s railways.
The Alaska Railroad is one of the classiest ways to get around the Great Land. Routes take you as far north as Fairbanks and as far south as Seward, with several stops along the way in either direction. The Spencer Glacier south of Anchorage is one highlight, unavailable by any other mode of transportation.
Several tiers of fares are available. Basics begin with the ticket price, but upgrades include more luxurious seating and meal service. A ride on the Alaska Railroad remains one of the best things to do in Alaska, regardless of what level you choose.
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Gaze in wonder at the shimmering ribbons of light in the Alaskan night sky.
Watching the aurora borealis is one of the best things to do in Alaska on those long winter nights. “Aurora season” lasts from late August to mid-April, while the night skies are darker.
The best places to see the northern lights are further from urban light pollution. At the same time, the more spectacular aurora borealis shows are visible from almost anywhere.
Also, the further north you are, the better your chances for seeing the northern lights. Fairbanks is considered one of the best places for northern lights viewing tours.
Staying in Anchorage on your trip? Consider rental accommodations in the suburbs of south Anchorage or Eagle River. Both provide a good chance of seeing the lights.
Sites & Attractions in Alaska
Chena Hot Springs Resort
Chase away the winter chills in these natural hot springs outside Fairbanks.
While in Fairbanks, why not unwind in the natural hot springs at the Chena Hot Springs Resort? This resort an hour east of town is a great place for a little R&R any time of the year. Here, you’ll find soaking pools, overnight accommodations, and the Aurora Ice Museum.
The Aurora Ice Museum stays frozen year-round and is the largest attraction of its kind in the world. It features a variety of ice sculptures as well as an ice bar, which is the perfect place to chill (horrible pun intended) for a while. Parkas are available free of charge.
Hit the trails Alaska-style aboard a dog-sled tour near Fairbanks.
Riding a dog sled has to be one of the most Alaskan things to do in Alaska! Fairbanks is a great place for dog-sled tours, even during the summer (wheels are attached to the sleds).
Dog-sledding tours are available at many other locations throughout the state, too. You could even traverse a glacier near Seward with an intrepid team of huskies and a skilled guide.
Any dog-sledding tour is well worth it, even if the destination is not as epic as that, though. There’s simply no excuse not to book one of these tours, especially if you love dogs!
Experience the frontier charm of the Last Frontier’s northernmost city.
While in Fairbanks, check out some of the other attractions that make it one of the best cities in Alaska! Auto enthusiasts can’t afford to pass up the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. It’s also a great place for vintage vibes and local history if you’re not really into cars.
The yearly Midnight Sun Festival is the largest single-day event in the state. It takes place around the summer solstice and features food booths, music, and much more. The festival lasts from noon to midnight and you might be surprised how little the light diminishes as the evening wears on.
For all that, Fairbanks is not above the Arctic Circle. Several tours out of Fairbanks can, however, take you above it!
Get a taste of Christmas year-round in Fairbanks’ most famous suburb.
Fairbanks is also famous for this festive suburb to the southeast of town. It’s Christmas all year-round here and a must-see for anyone visiting with a family. The Santa Claus House offers kids the chance to meet Santa, no matter the time of year.
Even the street signs reflect the Christmas theme, with names like Santa Claus Lane and Mistletoe Drive. Come wintertime, North Pole swings into full gear with Christmas lights adorning the buildings and various festivities celebrating the season.
See the best of urban Alaska in Alaska’s biggest city.
Anchorage is one of the best places to use as a base while visiting Alaska. It also has plenty of great attractions aside from the ones listed above. It’s a cultural center for Alaska being the biggest city and, as such, has tons of great breweries and restaurants.
Between big adventures, a simple stroll in the park is one of the best things to do in Alaska. There are plenty of great walking trails around town, especially the Tony Knowles Coast Trail. Anchorage also has several scenic parks such as Kincaid Park and the Far North Bicentennial Park. You could also buy gear for a hike in the nearby Chugach State Park.
Alaska Wild Berry Products
Get a taste of some of Alaska’s best treasures at this shop in central Anchorage.
Alaska has more treasures than gold. The state has a large variety of wild berries, which are perfect for berry picking on a stroll in the woods. Alaska Wild Berry Products cached in on this treasure trove. Its thriving business combines these berries with chocolate and other sweets.
The main store in central Anchorage features an array of delicious products, along with the world’s largest chocolate waterfall. Anyone with a sweet tooth needs to add this to their Anchorage itinerary.
See coastal Alaska on a budget with the “working-class cruise ships” of the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Phone: (800) 642-0066 | Website
Looking for a travel hack to see coastal Alaska and save some money? Look no further than the Alaska Marine Highway System! The ferries of the AMHS connect coastal communities such as Kodiak, Juneau, Ketchikan, and several others. They offer foot passengers and drivers alike a way to get around.
Accommodations are basic, but it’s a great way to meet locals and fellow budget travelers. It’s also one of my favorite ways to get around Alaska. You can book a cabin or save even more money by crashing in one of the overnight ferries’ seating lounges. You can also pack your camping essentials and set up a tent on the sun deck.
Hit the road for a one-of-a-kind Alaska adventure!
Taking a road trip in Alaska is one of my favorite things to do in Alaska. The roads may be limited, but the possibilities for adventure are endless.
I lived on an island, but my friends and I would load our cars onto the ferry, sail to the mainland, and hit the road. The drive between Homer and Anchorage is, in my opinion, one of the best out of several possible Alaska road trips. Along the way, you’ll see epic landscapes, cozy communities, and maybe even moose!
The epic drive from Alaska to the Lower 48 via the “Al-Can” highway is the number-one Alaska road trip. Be well prepared for this auto-odyssey, though. Some stretches of the highway run through the wilderness where the nearest settlements are over 100 miles apart!
Katmai National Park
Get a good long look at Alaska’s famous bears at this national park in southwestern Alaska.
Brown bears are one of the most iconic creatures in Alaska. Katmai National Park is one of the best places to see them in the wild. The national park is best reached by air from Anchorage aboard a charter flight. Although, flights take off from other towns such as Kodiak, too.
When visiting Katmai, you have the option of making it a day trip or staying for a while to explore the park. Besides bears, there are several stunning sites such as Mt. Katmai itself and the Valley of 10,000 Smokes. Fishing is good here, but you may find yourself competing with the bears!
🐻 Pro Tip: Brown bears and grizzly bears are the same species! The different terms refer to where they live. “Brown bears” live by the coast where food (such as fish) is more plentiful. Grizzly bears dwell further inland where food is less abundant and so they are often leaner.
Chugach State Park
Explore the backcountry in Anchorage’s backyard at this scenic state park!
Exploring the Chugach Mountains outside Anchorage is one of the best things to do in Alaska if you love hiking. Flattop Mountain is one of the most accessible trails. It’s located right outside town and is a great day trip destination.
You’ll find even more adventures further back in the Chugach Mountains. Summer is the best time to visit, offering the warmest weather and thousands of wildflowers in bloom. There’s no shortage of trails, whether you’re up for a longer day hike or a several-day trek.
Note that you may encounter moose while in the backcountry — or even downtown Anchorage, for that matter! They can be dangerous when provoked, even though they’re herbivores. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has some useful information on staying safe around moose.
Explore the ice caves of this magnificent glacier north of Juneau.
This ice river north of Juneau seems like something out of a fantasy world. Mendenhall Glacier is a great destination whether you want to observe from a distance or take the experience to another level. The otherworldliness only increases once you venture into the Mendenhall Ice Caves.
Access to the caves can be tricky. Glaciers shift, causing the caves to change as they move. One cave may close while another opens up. For this reason, it’s best to book a tour led by an experienced guide.
Tracy Arm Fjord
Set sail for one of the most epic corners of southeastern Alaska.
Southeast Alaska has more awe-inspiring landscapes. The Tracy Arm Fjord to the southeast of Juneau is one such place. Make sure to add a cruise here to your itinerary for Alaska if you want to see the best of southeastern Alaska.
Waterfalls cascade down the mountainsides. Icebergs calve off from the Sawyer Glacier. Whales, otters, and many other Alaskan animals thrive in the waters, peaking their heads out from time to time for a breath and a look around.
Step back in time to the height of the Klondike gold rush in this town in southeast Alaska.
This tiny town is one of the best places to learn about Alaska’s Klondike gold rush days. Skagway once served as the gateway for prospectors on their way from America to the Yukon Territory in their quest for the precious metal. Today, the town has an old-timey feel, honoring and preserving its proud past.
Chilkoot Pass was once a steep, punishing ascent, but can now be traversed in comfort aboard a train. You can opt to go on foot, too. Modern developments have made the climb much less rigorous. You can also retrace the journeys of the prospectors by road on a Skagway shore excursion. But be sure to bring your passport, as the route runs through Canada.
See why exploring the state capital is a capital idea!
There are plenty of things to do in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Hike or ride up Mt. Roberts on the tram for the best views in town. Explore local museums to learn about the history of the city and area. Pan for gold at a local creek. All of this and more awaits visitors to Alaska’s third-largest city.
Wind down with a pint at Alaska’s most famous brewery, the Alaska Brewing Company, once you’re done adventuring for the day. There’s also a thriving foodie scene and no shortage of great eateries, so you may find yourself thinking of settling down to live in Alaska.
Juneau is also a great hub for exploring the surrounding area. Juneau tours and experiences span land, sea, and air!
Learn about totem poles and the Haida tribe who carved them in this southernmost city of Alaska.
Totem poles are an Alaskan icon. Ketchikan is the best place to see them, although they’re found throughout southeast Alaska. Local tours visit several sites in and around town where these fascinating structures are preserved, offering information regarding their significance in the local Haida tribe’s culture.
Ketchikan is also one of the most popular cruise ship ports and it’s well worth visiting on your own time, too. You can fish for salmon right off the boardwalk in the charming downtown district. There are also a few great hikes in the area around town if you want to get a little exercise in.
Tongass National Forest
Hike trails that take you through the northernmost rainforest in the world.
The Tongass National Forest covers much of southeastern Alaska. It has the distinction of being the world’s northernmost (temperate) rainforest. The grounds are accessible from several communities throughout the region. But you may want to venture out into the further reaches of the forest if you’re up for adventure.
Pristine beauty awaits you wherever you choose to go in the Tongass, though. A casual day hike outside Juneau offers a breath of fresh air after the urban, concrete vibes. A camping trip on a remote island transports you back in time or to a land that almost seems enchanted. You don’t need to worry about fairies or goblins, but do keep an eye out for bears!
Come see what makes Sitka the “Paris of the Pacific.”
Sitka was inhabited for centuries by the Tlingit tribe. It later served as the capital for the Russian Empire’s territories in America. Several buildings around town bear witness to this heritage, most notably St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Sitka. Needless to say, the town has a long, rich history and several other landmarks worth exploring — solo, or on a guided tour.
Even today, the town honors the day that America bought Alaska from Russia in 1867. A historical re-enactment takes place in Sitka along with a period costume ball every October 18th. Stop by Sitka on Alaska Day if you want a touch of class while visiting Alaska!
Try your luck at hooking a record-breaking catch in Alaska’s rivers and oceans.
Alaska is home to a wide variety of fish, but the most popular are halibut and the five species of salmon. Although, Alaskans can be quite opinionated as to which salmon are best!
Charter companies can take you to their best fishing holes, but you can also go on your own. The Kenai River and Ketchikan are some of the best destinations for salmon fishing. Homer, Alaska has the well-deserved title of “The Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.”
You’ll need a fishing license if visiting from out of state. These are available at local sporting goods and department stores. There are also several companies throughout the state that can prepare, package, and ship your cache of fish home for you.
Discover the hidden gem that is Alaska’s Emerald Isle!
Don’t let the small size of the town fool you — there are a lot of things to do in Kodiak! Fishing is one of the most popular summer activities and there are a surprising amount of great hikes in Kodiak. Local museums, such as the Baranov Museum, tell the story of Kodiak and the men and women who shaped the community into what it is today.
Whale-watching tours take place in spring and summer. Kodiak is also home to the largest brown bears, which are a subspecies of the ones found on mainland Alaska. Bird-watchers will love the Kodiak Archipelago, which is home to more than 250 species of our feathered friends!
See the “real” Alaska firsthand in the more remote communities.
Consider visiting rural Alaska if you really want a unique experience and are up for some adventure. Larger rural communities like Nome, Bethel, and Unalaska serve as hubs for the most remote settlements. Each region of rural Alaska also has its own unique character and can feel more like another world.
You could gaze towards the horizon atop a remote island of the Aleutian Chain. You could drive along the “seasonal roads” (frozen rivers) in the interior tundra. You could also visit the sand dunes outside Kotzebue in Kobuk Valley, one of the least visited US national parks.
You may find yourself pushing the boundaries of your culinary experience, too. Let’s just say seal meat is an acquired taste.
Gates of the Arctic National Park
Step into another world in this national park north of the Arctic Circle.
Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of the least visited national parks in America. Visiting it is one of the best things to do in Alaska if you’re a serious adventure traveler, though! You’ll experience the remote grandeur of Alaska in a way that simply isn’t available anywhere else.
It can snow heavily for 8-9 months out of the year here, and only seasoned experts would want to visit the park outside summer. Spring comes late also, and snow and ice can last well into May. Fairbanks is the best jumping-off point for exploring this austere, but beautiful place.
Set sail for one of the easiest-to-get-to glaciers south of Anchorage.
Portage Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. The glacier is best accessed by a short cruise from the roadside shore of Portage Lake. The glacier was once visible from the road but has since retreated.
There is a hiking trail that leads to the glacier, but it begins in Whittier and is moderately difficult, so not everyone will want to take that route. It’s well worth it if you’re in good shape or don’t mind huffing and puffing a bit. The payoff is well worth the effort!
Visit one of the most unique towns in Alaska, where everyone lives in the same building.
Alaska has a knack for novelty. Few places, though, take it to the degree this town in southcentral Alaska does. In Whittier, everyone lives in one big apartment building. Put Whittier on your bucket list if you’re into interesting and quirky destinations.
Whitter also serves as a port for the Alaska Marine Highway System. The town is a great jumping-off point for exploring Prince William Sound. Glacier-viewing cruises also depart from here.
Gaze out over the Arctic Ocean from the northernmost point of America.
Only a fraction of the state’s population lives above the Arctic Circle, even if Alaska has a reputation for remoteness and northerly climes. The northernmost point in the United States sits just north of the community of Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow) and 350 miles above the Arctic Circle.
Looking into the far reaches of the Arctic is well worth it for those who love venturing off the beaten path. Be advised, though — this is one of the places that actually gets months of daylight or darkness, depending on the time of year.
Venture out onto one of the most accessible roadside glaciers in Alaska.
Alaska’s glaciers are often remote, coming down out of inaccessible peaks directly into the sea. But this doesn’t apply to the Matanuska Glacier! This landlocked glacier 95 miles northeast of Anchorage can be driven to, making it one of the more popular attractions in the area.
Anyone can visit the glacier or the nearby state recreation center for great views. A guided tour is required to go out onto the glacier itself. For many people, this is the easiest glacier to visit in the state (at least in terms of accessibility).
Raft down one of Alaska’s 12,000+ rivers!
Alaska has no shortage of lakes and rivers, several of which offer great rafting tours. There’s something for you here whether you like whitewater rafting or prefer a more leisurely float.
The Kenai Peninsula has some of the most convenient rivers for rafting, being only a few hours south of Anchorage. The Kenai River offers Class II rapids as well as more mellow stretches. The vivid light-blue hue of the water caused by glacial sediment is one of the most remarkable things about this river.
The Nenana River just outside Denali National Park is another rafting destination. This tour of the Canyon Wave promises an unforgettable experience.
Alaska Museums and Culture
Museum of the North
Uncover a gold mine of information on the science and history of the Alaskan far north at this Fairbanks museum.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (907) 474-7505 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 7 pm daily (May 21-Aug 19); 10 am – 5:30 pm daily (Aug 20-March 30) | Entrance: $16 adults (13-65), $14 seniors, $9 under 13, free 4 and under | 👉 Suggested Museum Tour on Viator
Fairbanks has an excellent museum showcasing the best of Alaska. This museum on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks houses a vast collection of artifacts. These cover nearly every field of anthropology and science. Here, you can find Native Alaskan artifacts, dinosaur bones, artwork by Alaskan artists, and much more!
Kodiak History Museum (formerly the Baranov Museum)
Take a look back through time at Kodiak’s history at this historical museum.
Kodiak has a rich history for a rather small, out-of-the-way town. The Kodiak History Museum (still often referred to as the Baranov Museum) is a great place to learn about this unique corner of America. Native, Russian, Scandinavian, and Pacific Islander cultures met and mingled here.
Artifacts from Native and Russian times stand alongside testimonials of locals who lived through the 1964 earthquake and tsunami, and the crab-fishing boom that helped rebuild the town. The heyday of crab fishing also made Kodiak a sort of last hurrah of the Wild West. Though, the best place to hear about that may be from learned locals at the various watering holes around town.
The Alaska Zoo
See Alaska’s most famous creatures, as well as several from around the world in this zoo in south Anchorage.
The Alaska Zoo is one of the best places to visit in Anchorage if you’re traveling with children. Here, you can find a wide variety of local Alaskan wildlife and even a few species from around the world. It’s also the only place south of the Arctic Circle to see polar bears.
A visit to the zoo is also a great travel hack for seeing wildlife on a time or money budget. Travelers wishing to see bears, but too nervous to venture out into the wild, will also appreciate a visit here to see them in a more controlled environment.
Things to Do in Alaska in Winter
Chase away the winter gloom at this one-of-a-kind festival in Anchorage.
Alaskans never let little things like long hours of darkness and sub-zero temperatures get in the way of good times. This festival at the end of February breaks up the monotony of the winter with all kinds of activities. There’s something for everyone at Fur Rondy, from carnival rides to concerts to races for both two and four-footed athletes.
The uniquely Alaskan twist to Spain’s running of the bulls is one of the most interesting races. Humans try to keep pace with reindeer in the Running of the Reindeer event! The event is carefully regulated. The humans follow the reindeer, not vice versa, ensuring the safety of all participants. Proceeds are given to the Toys for Tots charity.
Witness the beginning of “The Last Great Race” in downtown Anchorage.
This race is another highlight of the long, dark winter months and certainly less unorthodox than the Running of the Reindeer. The race begins in Anchorage on the first Saturday of March and traces its way to Nome far to the northwest. Along the way, mushers and their dog teams rest at checkpoints in remote villages.
The beginning of the race is the easiest event to attend for most visitors. The more adventurous may choose to wait for the first arrivals in Nome or even somewhere along the way.
Take part in an Alaskan-style Christmas.
“Russian Christmas” is another unique, though lesser-known, wintertime festivity in Alaska. Many Native Alaskans, especially in the Kuskokwim region, adhere to the Russian Orthodox faith. As such, their celebration of Christmas falls on January 7th.
The Orthodox faithful celebrate for several days after (i.e. the Twelve Days of Christmas). A festive procession starts at the local Orthodox church, with a handmade “star” at the head, lighting the way to villagers’ homes.
The participants sing Christmas carols originally from Ukraine, sung in Church Slavonic (a liturgical Slavic language), Yupik, and English. Guests are welcomed with refreshments and gifts and, in some villages, the procession lasts almost all day!
Experience the best of the great outdoors and the great indoors at Alaska’s favorite resort.
This ski resort south of Anchorage is one of the most popular in-state destinations among locals. Here, you’ll find some of the best powder in the state and also some of the best creature comforts. Alyeska Resort features luxurious accommodations including a day spa and several restaurants spanning everything from pub fare to fine dining.
In summer, skiing and snowboarding give way to hiking and mountain biking. The nearby Crow Creek Gold Mine offers a glimpse into the gold rush days, as well as the chance to pan for gold in the local creek!
Go cross-country skiing in the backcountry or enjoy other winter activities a little closer to civilization.
Alaska offers an abundance of winter sports! Snowed-over trails make great cross-country skiing paths. There are several great ski hills besides Alyeska, such as Hatcher Pass. There’s also no shortage of places to go sledding, perfect if traveling with kids. Frozen lakes and rivers are often favorite local ice-skating spots, but many towns also have indoor rinks.
Free Things to Do in Alaska
Discover the hidden treasures waiting in Alaska’s forests.
Alaska is home to more than 50 different varieties of edible berries! The most popular are blueberries, raspberries, lingonberries, and salmonberries, but there are many more. Locals make jams and pies out of the many berries found in the forests and Alaskan cookbooks often include some of these recipes.
But be aware — some berries are poisonous. A rule to remember is that all white berries in Alaska aren’t fit for consumption. There’s also the aptly-named baneberry to beware of. Baneberries are white or red but will feature a black dot on the berry, denoting the deadly properties.
When in doubt, don’t. Many of the less recognizable berries in Alaska are bland or tart anyways, so it’s best to just stick to the stand-by berries mentioned above.
Walk the docks in Alaska’s coastal towns for up-close looks at the state’s fishing fleet.
Taking a walk along the docks is one of the best things to do in Alaska. You can get an up-close look at the Last Frontier’s proud fishing fleet and, depending on the port, maybe even spot one of the boats from The Deadliest Catch.
You may also see an assortment of wildlife. From time to time, you may even see a sea lion also out for a stroll. Give them plenty of space, though. These portly pinnipeds move surprisingly fast and prefer that humans keep their distance!
Soak up the sun or take a stroll on one of Alaska’s scenic beaches.
Alaska isn’t known for its beaches, but there are several hidden gems around the state! Surfer Beach, often simply called Pasagshak, was a favorite when I lived in Kodiak. Temperatures may be a bit more brisk than, say, California, but you’re guaranteed to have far fewer crowds.
Peering into tide pools is one of the best things to do in Alaska while at the beach, especially with children. Everything from hermit crabs to starfish can be found on Alaska’s beaches.
The Homer Spit
Take in the sights in one of Alaska’s favorite seaside towns.
The “Spit” in Homer is one Alaskan beach that stands out. The southernmost point of Alaska’s road system is the perfect place to just hang out for a while. The views of Kachemak Bay and the surrounding mountains make for an epic backdrop that beaches elsewhere in the country would be hard-pressed to match.
Of course, the various shops, bars, and restaurants nearby aren’t free. Taking in the atmosphere, though, doesn’t cost a thing!
FAQs About What to Do in Alaska
What activities does Alaska have?
Alaska has activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. Some of the best places for these outdoor experiences are Denali National Park and Preserve and Kenai Fjords National Park and Preserve. Alaska is also known for its cruise ships, which take visitors to the southeastern and south-central regions, including Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
What are 5 things Alaska is famous for?
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guide on things to do in Alaska! Safe travels and enjoy your experience in the Last Frontier.
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