Where to Stay in Alaska (Best Places & Areas in 2023)
Having grown up in Alaska, I can tell you exactly where to stay in Alaska for every preferred experience!
This guide will point you to the best places to visit in Alaska for whale watching, northern lights viewing, glacier hikes, and more popular attractions. I’ll also let you in on local secrets, like where to stay in Alaska for the most authentic experience.
Be sure to read to the end, where I share key travel tips to help ensure you have a safe, enjoyable trip.
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Stay in Alaska
- 9 Best Areas to Stay in Alaska
- Denali National Park
- South-Central Alaska
- Kodiak Island
- Southeast Alaska
- Rural Alaska
- Tips for Staying in Alaska
- FAQs about Where to Stay in Alaska
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Best Places to Stay in Alaska
Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in Alaska? Here are my top picks:
- ⚓ Best in Anchorage – The Hotel Captain Cook
- ⛏️ Best in Fairbanks – Chena Hot Spring Resort
- ⛰️ Best in Denali National Park – The McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge
- 🎣 Best in South-Central Alaska – Land’s End Resort
- 🐻 Best on Kodiak Island – Best Western Kodiak Inn
- 🏛️ Best in Juneau – Best Western Country Lane Inn
- 🌲 Best in Southeast Alaska – The Landing Hotel
- ❄️ Best in Rural Alaska – Iditarod Trail Roadhouse
Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best places and areas in Alaska:
9 Best Areas to Stay in Alaska
I’ve divided the 49th state into 9 sections based on popularity and available attractions. Some are easier to access than others, but all have something unique and unforgettable to experience. Whether you want to climb Denali, cruise the Inside Passage, or lounge about in the lodge at Alyeska, you’ll find something to suit your taste.
👉 Best Place for Urban Attractions | ✨ Best Anchorage Hotels: The Hotel Captain Cook • Alyeska Resort • Aloft Anchorage
Anchorage is a fantastic location to begin your Alaskan expedition with easy access to rental car offices, railroads, and air connections to the rest of the state.
By far, it’s one of the best cities in Alaska for restaurants, breweries, museums, and the like. Some of the best urban attractions include the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, and the Moose’s Tooth TheaterPub.
Nearby hiking trails offer a little relief from the cityscape and, for the more adventurous, you can take to the trails in the nearby Chugach Mountains. There are also lots of great opportunities for day trips from Anchorage.
Many of the hotels in downtown Anchorage have mountain views from the rooms on their higher floors. One of the best stays is the city’s premier luxury hotel, the Hotel Captain Cook. Along with cozy rooms and great views, the Hotel Captain Cook offers a pool, a hot tub, and five different restaurants.
Pro of Staying in Anchorage
- Plenty of options for shopping, dining, and sleeping
- Central location for further travels
- Great mountain views around town
Cons of Staying in Anchorage
- Hotels can be expensive in peak months
📚 Anchorage Mini-Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay in Alaska for Urban Attractions
- ✨ Best Hotels – The Hotel Captain Cook • Alyeska Resort • Aloft Anchorage
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Anchorage
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Glacier Brewhouse ($$$), Snow City Cafe ($$), Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – 49th State Brewery, Darwin’s Theory, The Avenue Bar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
👉 Best Area to Stay for the Northern Lights | ✨ Best Fairbanks Hotels: Chena Hot Springs • River’s Edge Resort • Billie’s Backpackers Hostel
If you want to see the northern lights, Fairbanks is the place to go! Fairbanks is also a great place to experience Alaska’s famous midnight sun in summer.
The Museum of the North has an extensive collection of everything from dinosaur bones to contemporary Native Alaskan art. It’s a great place for families to visit while in Fairbanks.
The Fountainhead Auto Museum is a must for fans of antique cars and old-timey vibes.
There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities in and around Fairbanks, too! One of the best and most “Alaskan” of them is taking a dog sledding tour.
A dip in the waters of the nearby Chena Hot Springs Resort makes a great end to a day of walking the local hiking trails. The resort also offers cabins and rooms if you want to stay the night there.
Pros of Staying in Fairbanks
- Cozy small-city atmosphere with “frontier” vibes
- Long daylight hours in summer allow lots of time to explore
- Excellent northern lights viewing in winter months
Cons of Staying in Fairbanks
- Far from other Alaska attractions
- Long daylight hours in summer can make getting to sleep difficult
📚 Fairbanks Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for The Northern Lights
- ✨ Best Hotels – Chena Hot Springs Resort • River’s Edge Resort • Billie’s Backpackers Hostel
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Fairbanks
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Pump House ($$$), Jazz Bistro on 4th ($$), Brewsters Restaurant ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – HooDoo Brewing Company, Malemute Saloon, Lavelle’s Taphouse
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Chena Hot Springs, northern lights tours, Aurora Ice Museum, dog sledding tours, the Museum of the North
Denali National Park
👉 Best Place for Incredible Views | ✨ Best Denali Hotels: McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge • Grande Denali Lodge • Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
If you want to experience the epic scale of Alaska, this is the best place to go. Denali looms into the sky, standing a majestic 20,310’ tall! On a clear day, you can even see it from certain places in Anchorage. The other peaks here are also quite impressive, even if not as tall as Denali.
Denali National Park is a great place to see Alaskan wildlife such as caribou, grizzly bears, foxes, and more. In autumn, the tundra vegetation turns to a fiery array of reds, yellows, and oranges. In some ways, it even gives New England a run for its money.
Options for staying here include prestigious lodges such as the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge or private cabins, many of which have modern amenities. Several locations along the Denali Park Road offer visitors basic campsites for those who’d rather rough it. Other options include sites in towns close to the park, such as the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge in Talkeetna.
Pros of Staying in Denali National Park
- Breathtaking views
- Lodgings combine remote feeling with great amenities
- The best place for Alaskan fall colors
Cons of Staying in Denali National Park
- Some lodging options are seasonal
- Some dining/drinking options are far from the park itself
📚 Denali National Park Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for Incredible Views
- ✨ Best Hotels – McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge • Grande Denali Lodge • Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Denali National Park
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Moose-AKa’s ($$), McKinley Creekside Cafe & Bakery ($$), The Overlook Restaurant ($$$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Denali Park Salmon Bake, 49th State Brewery in Healy, Denali Brewpub in Talkeetna
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Mt. Denali, the Alaska Range, Denali Sled Dog Kennels
👉 Best Place for Wildlife Viewing | ✨ Best South-Central Alaska Hotels: Land’s End Resort (Homer) • Summit Lake Lodge (Summit Lake) • Resurrection Lodge on the Bay (Seward)
South-Central Alaska is the best place to see Alaska’s wildlife, whether on land, sea, or air. Bears, moose, and foxes roam the Kenai Mountains and forests. Eagles soar through the skies. Gray whales, humpback whales, and orcas make for unforgettable whale-watching excursions.
Tours of the Kenai Fjords National Park offer visitors one of the best places to see these creatures and their beautiful habitats. Homer lives up to its name as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World” with nearly two dozen fishing charter companies! The Kenai River offers some of the best salmon fishing in the state. Even if fishing isn’t your thing, the beauty of the area is well worth a trip.
Seward is another one of the Alaskan towns you’ll find in this region. It’s a great base for exploring Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound. It also has the Alaska SeaLife Center, an aquarium featuring local marine wildlife. It’s a must for family trips to Alaska. Cordova is a great place to see sea otters in the wild.
Pros of Staying in South-Central Alaska
- Small-town atmosphere
- Great fishing
- Tons of great tours
Cons of Staying in South-Central Alaska
- Possible long drives between destinations
📚 South-Central Alaska Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for Wildlife Viewing
- ✨ Best Hotels – Land’s End Resort (Homer) • Summit Lake Lodge (Summit Lake) • Resurrection Lodge on the Bay (Seward)
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Kenai Peninsula Rentals
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Chartroom Restaurant in Homer ($$$), The Flats Bistro in Kenai ($$), Chinooks Restaurant in Seward ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer, Yukon Bar in Seward, The Reluctant Fisherman Bar & Grill in Cordova
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Kenai Fjords National Park, Prince William Sound, The Homer Spit, The Alaska SeaLife Center
👉 Best Place for Day Hikes | ✨ Best Kodiak Hotels: Best Western Kodiak Inn • Kodiak Compass Suites • Aquamarine Suites
Kodiak Island is just a ferry ride away from the mainland of south-central Alaska. The mountains here are smaller than on the mainland, but that makes them much more accommodating for casual day hikes. The local forests hide excellent trails under their boughs, too.
Kodiak is a fishing town and a few members of its fleet gained fame in The Deadliest Catch. Take a tour of the town’s two harbors to learn all about Kodiak’s maritime traditions. Kodiak’s St. Herman’s Bay Harbor is a great place to see sea lions lounging in the sun.
There are several great places to stay in Kodiak, including the local Best Western. It offers great accommodations including a hot tub suite and an on-site restaurant, The Chartroom. In fact, Kodiak has several great restaurants and bars where you can wrap up the day and get to know the locals.
Pros of Staying in Kodiak
- Major attractions are within walking distance
- Tons of great day hike options
- Great local bear-viewing tour options
- Cozy small-town feeling
Cons of Staying in Kodiak
- Bad weather can delay flights
- Hotels can be pricey in summer
📚 Kodiak Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for Day Hikes
- ✨ Best Hotels – Best Western Kodiak Inn • Kodiak Compass Suites • Aquamarine Suites
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Kodiak
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Henry’s Great Alaskan Restaurant ($$), Kodiak Hana ($$$), The Rendezvous Bar & Grill ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Kodiak Island Brewing Company, Tony’s Bar, Village Bar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Bear-viewing, day hikes, Kodiak History Museum, Alutiiq Museum
👉 Best Place for Glaciers | ✨ Best Juneau Hotels: Juneau Hotel • Silverbow Inn Hotel & Suites • Best Western Country Lane Inn
The state capital offers visitors a great mix of southeastern Alaskan beauty and creature comforts. There are a ton of incredible experiences in and around Juneau! Beer fans will know Juneau as the HQ of the Alaskan Brewing Company. For great views of the area, head up Mt. Roberts on foot or by tram.
One of the main attractions here is the Mendenhall Glacier north of town. It’s easy to access by road, being just 12 miles away. If you want to get a good look at an Alaskan glacier without committing to a cruise, this is one of the best places to do it. If you want to venture out onto the ice, glacier hiking tours are also available.
This is only the tip of the Juneau iceberg, though. Learn more by reading our things to do in Juneau guide!
Additionally, Alaska’s capital city serves as a great jumping-off point for exploring the rest of southeastern Alaska. Flights from the airport travel daily to outlying towns. The ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway System offer a great alternative to cruise ships for travelers on a budget.
Pros of Staying in Juneau
- Easy access to the stunning Mendenhall Glacier
- Gorgeous scenery
- A good variety of accommodations and dining options
Cons of Staying in Juneau
- No roads lead to Juneau; you need to fly or sail here
📚 Juneau Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for Glaciers
- ✨ Best Hotels – Juneau Hotel • Silverbow Inn Hotel & Suites • Best Western Country Lane Inn
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Juneau
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Hangar on the Wharf ($$), Sandpiper Cafe ($$), SALT ($$$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Alaskan Bar, Alaskan Brewing Company, Devil’s Club Brewing
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Mendenhall Glacier, Mt. Roberts Tramway, whale watching tours, AJ Mine Gastineau Mill
👉 Best Place for Small-Town Vibes | ✨ Best Southeast Alaska Hotels: Historic Skagway Inn (Skagway) • The Landing Hotel (Ketchikan) • Longliner Lodge & Suites (Sitka)
Southeast Alaska is one of the coziest places in the state and a treasure trove of Alaskan history. The sheltered waters of the Inside Passage harbor a wide variety of marine life. The warm, wet climate allows thick spruce forests to grow. The fjords and mountains funnel massive glaciers down to the sea.
Some of Alaska’s most charming communities lie along the shores of southeast Alaska. Sitka, once known as “the Paris of the Pacific” preserves much of its rich Native Alaskan and Russian heritage. The charming town of Skagway and its historic buildings offer visitors a glimpse back in time to Alaska’s gold rush days. Ketchikan has a remarkable collection of totem poles.
The lush Tongass National Forest harbors a wide variety of plant and animal life. The milder climate makes Southeast Alaska great for camping in the summer. Goddard Hot Springs, on an island near Sitka, offers a natural “hot tub” in a secluded setting, perfect for getting away from it all.
Pros of Staying in Southeast Alaska
- Charming towns
- Stunning beauty
- World-class fishing
Cons of Staying in Southeast Alaska
- Some establishments are only open seasonally
- Hotels can be pricey during peak seasons
📚 Southeast Alaska Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for Small-Town Vibes
- ✨ Best Hotels – Historic Skagway Inn (Skagway) • The Landing Hotel (Ketchikan) • Longliner Lodge & Suites (Sitka)
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Southeast Alaska Rentals
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Annabelle’s Famous Keg and Chowder House in Ketchikan ($$), Nugget Restaurant in Sitka ($$), The Station Bar & Grill in Skagway ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Asylum in Ketchikan, Bayview Pub in Sitka, Bonanza Bar & Grill in Skagway
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Tongass National Forest, glaciers, whale watching, St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka, Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan
👉 Best Place for A Truly Alaskan Experience | ✨ Best Rural Alaska Hotels: Iditarod Trail Roadhouse (McGrath) • Wrangell Mountains Wilderness Lodge (Wrangell-St. Elias Natl Park) • Brooks Camp (Prudhoe Bay)
Alaska itself is already a remote location in many people’s minds. For the truly adventurous, though, the towns and cities may seem too crowded. If you’re willing to forego all the amenities of “civilization,” or at least most of them, a world of experiences available only in Alaska awaits you!
Experience the Iditarod dog sledding race first-hand at one of the race’s checkpoints in the village of McGrath. Get a taste of life on the edge of the Arctic in the town of Nome. Wander through mountains and valleys in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness at the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Learn more about Alaska’s Yup’ik tribe in Bethel, Alaska.
If you do venture out to the villages, you may find yourself faring on authentic Alaskan cuisine, and I don’t mean what’s available at most restaurants! In my travels, I’ve tasted seal, sea lion, and whale! Definitely all acquired tastes, but perfect for foodie bragging rights!
For a more accessible excursion into the wild, visit the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park east of Anchorage. Other national parks, such as Lake Clark, also offer lodging amidst the unbeatable natural beauty of rural Alaska.
Pros of Staying in Rural Alaska
- A one-of-a-kind experience
- Some of the most beautiful sights in Alaska
- Never crowded
Cons of Staying in Rural Alaska
- Very limited conveniences
- Getting there can be involved and expensive
📚 Rural Alaska Mini-Guide 📚
Best Place to Stay in Alaska for A Truly Alaskan Experience
- ✨ Best Hotels – Iditarod Trail Roadhouse (McGrath), Wrangell Mountains Wilderness Lodge (Wrangell-St. Elias Natl Park), Brooks Camp (Prudhoe Bay)
- 🏠 Best Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Rural Alaska
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Milano’s Pizza in Nome ($$), Coldfoot Camp Restaurant in Coldfoot ($$), Old Town Copper Center Inn & Restaurant in Copper Center ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Many places in rural Alaska prohibit the sale of alcohol. You may need to bring your own.
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Gates of the Arctic National Park, Serpentine Hot Springs, Iditarod relay stations, aurora borealis
Tips for Staying in Alaska
Alaska’s weather can sometimes delay flights. Getting to and from Anchorage from the Lower 48 is rarely a problem outside the occasional winter blizzard. Smaller places, especially coastal communities, though, can be trickier.
I’ve been fogged out of (or in) Kodiak several times myself, so it’s always good to have some flexibility. In general, fall and winter have worse weather in coastal Alaska, but it’s not unheard of for the weather to delay flights in summer, too.
Along with knowing what the weather’s doing, it’s a good idea to think about what you want to see in Alaska. The state’s midnight sun makes viewing the aurora borealis all but impossible in summer. The extended daylight hours also make it hard for some people to sleep. Pack a sleep mask, just in case.
Traveling in midsummer months tends to be more expensive. Buffer seasons in May and September often offer the same attractions at discounted prices. Winters are harsh, but there are unique attractions like the Fur Rondy and Iditarod in February and March.
Our guide on “The Best Time to Visit Alaska” will help figure out what time works best for your plans!
Bring Bug Spray
Mosquitos live throughout the state and come out in the spring and summer. It’s always a good idea to bring some insect repellent to keep the pesky creatures at bay, especially if you plan on getting out in nature. They also prefer wetter places, so if there are bodies of water where you’re going, expect more mosquitos.
Alaska’s summers are warm but cooler than what many people are used to. This is especially true if you’ll be out on the ocean. Make sure to pack an extra layer or two.
Including a rain jacket and waterproof shoes is also a good idea. Early spring tends to be a soggy time of year. You can also bring an umbrella, but in places like Kodiak where wind and rain go hand in hand, a rain jacket is much better.
FAQs about Where to Stay in Alaska
What is the best town to stay in in Alaska?
The best town to stay in in Alaska is Homer, in my opinion. Ketchikan, Sitka, and Skagway are great, too, having tons of cultural attractions and natural beauty. Kodiak is another worthwhile destination, and is hard to beat for scenic day hikes on a sunny day.
Is it better to stay in Anchorage or Fairbanks?
What is the nicest part of Alaska to visit?
The nicest part of Alaska to visit is southeast Alaska, in my opinion. It has the best combination of natural beauty, attractions, and charming small towns to make it the most pleasant place for an Alaska trip.
I hope you’ve gotten some good ideas for where to stay in Alaska! Whatever your tastes, you’re sure to find something you’ll love in the Last Frontier.
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