Pristine, nearly untouched, expansive, and gorgeous wilderness, that’s what you’ll find in the snowy state of Alaska. You’ll also find a unique and vibrant culture, amazing outdoor recreational opportunities, and really delicious foods! You’ll be able to sleep under the northern lights and see what it’s like in a land filled with mountains and glaciers, you may even spot a whale or two!
Alaska is the largest and most sparsely populated state within the U.S., known for its extremely dramatic and diverse wide-open spaces, mountains, forests, wildlife, and local culture. For many, Alaska is an exciting adventure waiting to happen, which is why we’ve put together a helpful list of what we consider to be the Top 10 Things to Do in Alaska!
Okay, deep breath, here we go:
- Watch a Glacier Fall - There is nothing quite as majestic and awe-inspiring as watching a massive tidewater glacier crash into the ocean, a booming memorable experience to anyone who has witnessed it. Visit Glacier Bay National Park, Prince William Sound, Mendenhall, or our personal favorite, Tracy Arm Fjord, to spot some glaciers!
- Ride the Alaska Railroad - It’s almost sacrilegious to come to Alaska and not experience the railroad, truly the most memorable way to get around the expansive snowy state. Climb aboard the official Alaska Railroad and partake in various tours, sightseeing opportunities, local town visits, photography, or just use it for transportation! This train will take you from Seward/Whittier to Fairbanks, passing through Anchorage, Denali, and Talkeetna!
- Sleep Beneath the Midnight Sun - One of the most amazing natural phenomenons that occur in Alaska is perhaps the midnight sun, the timezone and late sunset time affected by daylight savings time. In places like Fairbanks, along the arctic circle, you can see the sunset around 12:45-50 am at times, an occurrence due to the 360-degree slanted circle path of the sun in the sky at this point.
- Meet the Locals - There is no better way to truly experience Alaska than to immerse yourself into the culture and meet the locals. Here you will find new customs and lifestyles based upon old traditions, a friendly group of people with a truly rich heritage. We suggest you visit the National Heritage Center, Klondike Gold Rush Heritage Park, or spend an evening with a local host family!
- Don’t Sightsee, Flightsee - What’s better than a land tour of this vast gorgeous wilderness? A flight tour, of course! In Alaska you can charter a helicopter, bush plane, or even a pilot-for-a-day trip and see the majestic mountains from the top of their peaks, you can even opt for a mountain top landing and experience unique hiking or dog mushing opportunities from the top of the world (almost).
- Skip the Whales, Find the Bears - It is a quintessential Alaska thing to do to spot a whale while you are here, but honestly, it’s kind of easy! We suggest you opt for a bear viewing tour instead. Several unspoiled territories that had been off-limits to people are filled with Kodiak brown bears but now offer rare and really safe glimpses of their behavior and lifestyle. Truly a sight to see, some places even offer overnight stays near the creatures for more up-close observation.
- Roadtrip the Alaska Highway - The Alaska Highway is a truly epic 35,000-mile highway connecting an area in British Columbia by the ironic name of Dawson's Creek, through the Yukon all the way to Fairbanks. This was originally a military road created in 1942, today a highly important means of statewide access and a favorite recreational drive by many. There are 30-50 mile interval stops, but all in all this scenic roadway will truly give you a sense of that "Alaska Factor," that sense of endlessness you get to the beautiful rugged state.
- See the Northern Lights - Speaking of beautiful, how complete would your Alaska visit be without spotting the Northern Lights for yourself? The Aurora Borealis is visible across the state every September through April, especially on cold, clear winter nights. This phenomenon is seen most dynamically after midnight, the time when you can best see the solar particles in the earth’s magnetic field.
- Explore the Wilderness - There are so many great national park areas within Alaska that are mostly untouched, pristine, and wildlife-filled, making really excellent Alaskan must-stops. A couple of our favorite areas include Wrangell St. Elias, the largest, glacier and lake-filled U.S. national park, filled with 9 of the 16 highest American peaks. We also recommend Denali National Park, the park holding the absolute highest peak in America, Mt. Denali, as well as six million acres of the valley, river, tundra, grizzly bears and mountains.
- Catch a Fish - While in Alaska you can get some serious fishing done, the area being a sort of angler's dream come true. The entire state holds some of the most incredible fishing in the world, providing several different rivers, lakes, and ocean access points. Catch record-breaking Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, Halibut, or King Salmon on any provided guided tours or fishing shore excursions! Not only is catching the fish fun and memorable, but eating them is too! You will find several popular restaurants alongside small hole-in-the-wall joints with some of the freshest and most delicious fish you’ve ever had!