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20 Best Places to Visit in Alaska & Things to Do

20 Best Places to Visit in Alaska & Things to Do

If you’re looking for an adventure, look no further than Alaska. This vast and rugged state is home to some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in North America. From Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, to Denali, which is home to North America’s tallest mountain, there are plenty of places to visit in this incredible state.

Alaska is a land of extreme landscapes and unique wildlife, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. No matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, Alaska has something to offer.

Nature lovers will find glaciers, forests, and wildlife all over the state, while adventure seekers can enjoy activities like hiking, biking, and kayaking. And with small towns scattered throughout the state, there are plenty of opportunities to relax and take in the stunning scenery.

It was always my goal to travel to Alaska, and in the summer of 2019, my dreams became a reality. My girlfriend and I took a trip to Juneau, Alaska last summer to visit where she grew up. I instantly fell in love.

There is nothing quite like Alaska, in the rest of the world, really. They don’t call it “The Last Frontier” for no reason.

As you read through the list of best places to travel in Alaska, I want to encourage each and everyone reading this to not hesitate to visit Alaska at least once, if not multiple times in your life.

You surely will not regret it. This list will help you navigate some of the best places to travel to in Alaska. There are so many sights to see plenty of which will leave you speechless, and wanting more of Alaska.

With many mountain ranges, ocean and lake views, and plenty of camping spots all around the state, Alaska will never leave you disenchanted.

Best Places to Visit in Alaska

If you’re planning a trip to Alaska, be sure to add these amazing places to your Alaskan itinerary.

Kodiak

Kodiak Alaska

The second biggest island in the United States, and Alaska’s biggest island, Kodiak boasts several exciting features, making this one of the top cities to visit in Alaska.

Also known as the Emerald Isle, Kodiak Island holds a number of incredible scenic areas that nature enthusiasts flock to. Kodiak is a waterfront harbor town, as the Alaskan Marine Highway ferries, dock right next to downtown.

The best-known attraction is the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge which encircles two-thirds of Kodiak Island. This park is 2,812 square miles of diverse habitat. Kodiak Island includes scenes of mountain tops, alpine meadows, wetlands, spruce forests, and grasslands.

Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is home to around 3,500 brown bears that normally weigh between 800 pounds, but are known to tip the scales at 1,500 pounds. This would put a bear on its hind legs at about ten feet tall! Since it is a fishing port, this is obviously a favorite activity of both locals and tourists.

All five species of salmon, along with halibut, rockfish, cod, and trout. If you are into catching big game fish, check this site out. Renowned captains and fishermen take you on an experience of a lifetime, catching all fish that are listed above.

Homer

Homer Alaska

Homer, also known as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World” is home to some of the best sportfishing you can experience in Alaska. This quaint town was originally built in the coal mining industry. It’s one of the best places to visit in Alaska for a very good reason.

There are still an estimated 400 million tons of raw coal deposits in the area today. Halibut and salmon sport fishing is now considered the dominant industry leader.

Commercial fishing and tourism are a close second in industry-leading revenue for the community. This small town offers many different adventures depending on what you are looking for. The town itself is surrounded by both open water and vast Alaskan wilderness.

It is world-renowned for sportfishing, but you can experience loads of other adventures while visiting Homer. Kayaking, bear viewing tours, and destination weddings are a few that top the list and make the list of awesome Alaskan destinations.

This town is also very rich in both food and art culture, community members and tourists alike take pride in sharing experiences that both food and art can bring.

The picturesque area is considered one of “America’s Best Small Art Towns”. Take a trip to one, or any of the twelve beautiful galleries around Homer. Besides sportfishing, Homer is also well-known for its fine dining experiences.

This is a list of fine dining restaurants in town that will top everyone’s dining expectations. The small bay town is definitely considered by locals and tourists as one of the best places to travel in Alaska.

See Related: Best Winter Travel Clothing for Cold Climates

Destination Weddings and the “City of Peonies”

Wedding couple

Homer also holds the name “City of Peonies”.  Boasting 22 hours of sunlight in Homer during the summer season; peony flowers grow lush and full throughout the town.

Declared in 2018, the “City of Peonies” is one of the few places in the world to get peonies cut at the exact time they mature. Making these flowers rare and sought after by florists in the lower 48 states.

The peony flower is the number one choice for brides, making this town a special place for couples looking for a destination wedding. There are approximately 25 different peony farms around the area and the flowers also line the streets leading into downtown.

If you and your loved one are looking for a destination wedding with gorgeous flowers and views alike, you should consider Homer!

See Related: Outdoorsy Review

Denali National Park and Preserve

Moon over Denali National Park

Denali National Park and Preserve as well as Mt. Denali (Mount McKinley as its former name) is home to North America’s highest mountain peak. This natural landmark alone should make it one of your top places to see in Alaska. 

With a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level, this makes for an awesome Alaskan destination (not that you would want to climb that high). Denali is considered the centerpiece of the Denali National Park and Preserve.

Before visiting, it is important to know the details of Denali National Park. The summer season (May 20th-mid September) is the choice of people visiting the park. During the winter season, the peaks and parks surrounding them are known for their extremely cold weather.

Temperatures have been recorded at -100 degrees Fahrenheit! Summer days, however, are picture-perfect. Visiting Denali National Park is a great way to see one of the best scenic places in Alaska.

It is important to be prepared ahead of time, due to the fact that Denali National Park and Preserve only has one road and only one road entrance. This road is 92 miles long and runs east to west across the park.

Vehicles are allowed to drive the first fifteen miles of the road into the park, but from there narrated and non-narrated bus tours are run by the park. 

These are considered the safest way to see the true beauty of the landscape and wildlife of Denali National Park and Preserve. The park is around 6 million acres.

There are tours that prevent people that are unfamiliar with the area from getting lost in such a vast landscape. There are a total of six campgrounds and hiking opportunities near the entrance. For hikers looking for more of an off-trail adventure, click here!

If you need a place to stay, check out these top hotels in Denali.

Motor Vehicle Adventures in Denali

4x4 motorcycle

For the people who are interested in seeing Denali from a motor vehicle, check out these great tours you can book from GetYourGuide.com.

  1. ATV Tour
  2. ATV Wilderness Adventure
  3. Denali Jeep Excursion

See Related: Best Restaurants in Fairbanks

Nome

Alaska

Nome is home to one of the most famous dog sled stories in the world. A trek across the interior of Alaska to the town of Nome in 1925. This was called 1925 serum run to Nome.

The mission was a dog sled relay across 674 miles in just five and a half days.

The mission was to deliver an antitoxin known to treat diphtheria. This infection was about to become an epidemic in the town of Nome and the surrounding communities.

The relay consisted of twenty dog sled mushers and around 150 sled dogs. Balto was then named the most famous canine in the world, traveling the rest of the relay 55 miles to the town of Nome.

In the early 1900s, Nome was well known for the gold rush. Today, Nome is rich with adventure. People from all over the world come to Nome to experience true Alaskan living, while still enjoying the amenities of the modern-day world.

When visiting Nome, you experience the Alaskan Native culture, rugged Alaskan scenery, and world-renowned outdoor sporting events. Every March, people from across the world come to visit Nome to see the end of the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.

The 1,049-mile trek through the raw Alaskan wilderness is nothing short of an amazing feat. Nome’s population grows by nearly 1,000 people each year in March.

Some locals have even been known to call it the “Mardi Gras of the North”! If you are interested in other events that are happening while the Iditarod is in town click here.

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Anchorage

Anchorage Skyline

As the largest city in Alaska, downtown Anchorage is the perfect place to start your Alaskan adventure and is by far one of the best cities to visit in Alaska. This vibrant city is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and museums, as well as plenty of outdoor activities.

Visitors can explore the Chugach Mountains, go for a hike in the beautiful Alaska Range, or take a scenic drive along the Seward Highway.

Anchorage holds the most citizens in all of Alaska, containing nearly 40 percent of the state’s population. This city is considered a major hub for almost all international travel and commercial business.

The location of Anchorage is what is known as “equidistant” meaning from Tokyo or New York, it lies about nine and a half hours from a flight in either direction. An international hub city makes Anchorage one of the best places to travel in Alaska. Due to the fact that it is accessible to about 90% of the industrialized world in a less than ten-hour flight.

Since the city is so large compared to a lot of other Alaskan cities, the options for tourists are endless.

Check out their website for an expansive list of options and activities for all age groups. This beautiful city offers some of the best scenic places to visit in Alaska, from guided tours to wildlife adventures, the possibilities in Anchorage are endless.

If you are interested in visiting, or maybe even relocating to Anchorage, ask a local to get detailed information about visiting or living there.

Like what you are hearing? Check out these best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska.

See Related: Best Things to do in Icy Strait Point, Alaska

Fairbanks

Frozen river

Fairbanks is the second-largest city in Alaska and is located in the interior of the state. The city is a popular starting point for trips to the Arctic Circle, spotting the northern lights, and is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Fairbanks is the perfect place to experience Alaska’s stunning landscapes. This small city is located in Alaska’s interior region and is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as attractions like the University of Alaska Museum of the North and the Gold Dredge 8.

Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and canoeing in the nearby Chena River State Recreation Area. Fairbanks is known to be the capital of the northern lights so that fact alone makes it one of the best places to visit in the world to spot the aurora borealis.

They also have some great craft breweries in Fairbanks if you’re looking for a chance to relax, unwind, and enjoy a cold beer after exploring the Last Frontier.

See Related: Best Family Vacations in Alaska

Sitka

City of Sitka

According to the US Census Bureau, Sitka has a total square mileage area (including water) of 4,811 square miles, making this the largest city-borough in North America. It is the largest incorporated city in the U.S, with its square mileage equaling about four times the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Sitka is unique since there are no roads leading in or out of Sitka, the only way to reach the city is by boat or plane. Like many other Alaskan cities and towns, Sitka prides itself on many things Alaskan.

Catching fish from the ocean, hiking a mountain from your backyard, or learning about the rich history and culture of Sitka. The city is also flowing with arts and food culture, and many outdoor activities to fit all different kinds of tourism.

Being outdoors is a commonality of Sitka residents and tourists alike. Kayaking on the ocean, or catching fresh halibut off a charter are some of the day-to-day activities of Sitka.

Sitka Fine Arts Camp

Residents and surrounding community members also pride themselves on heavy art influences, from Alaskan Native culture to the beauty of the outdoors that surround them.

Sitka Fine Arts Camp is a renowned art camp for both students and adults alike. This camp is home to many classes and experiences for young artists, conferences, and retreats for adults. It is recognized as a nationally acclaimed program and center for the arts, serving approximately 1,000 students and adults each year.

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Juneau

Juneau Alaska

Now, I may be a bit biased towards Juneau since I’ve lived here; but Juneau is (in my opinion) the best place to travel in Alaska. Visiting for the first time last summer, I immediately fell for the charm and laid-back lifestyle of Juneau.

Nothing beats being able to go outside in your backyard, and twenty minutes-sometimes less, any direction will land you at the base of a mountain. Like Sitka, Juneau is an island with no roads leading in or out. This majestic city is only accessible by boat or plane.

The capital city is home to the Tongass National Forest which is the largest national forest in the U.S. Measuring a whopping 16.7 million acres, the Tongass National Forest is considered one of the last remaining intact temperate rainforests in the world. 

This national forest hosts some of the rarest and endangered species of flora and fauna in the world. Since it is the capital city, Juneau boasts many artistic and cultural values. Along with food, art, and history culture in the city runs deep.

Alaskan Natives landed in Southeast Alaska nearly 10,000 years ago, claiming the territories and Tongass National Forest, so Juneau is not shy about history. Some consider the state’s capital to be the most scenic capital in all of the U.S. Juneau is rich in cultural history, art, and food.

This city is an outdoor adventurers haven, with many opportunities to be outside and experience everything the sprawling city of Juneau has to offer. Check out these many things to do in Juneau. For many outdoor adventure ideas, click here.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is a stunning national park located in Seward, Alaska. The Kenai Fjords are home to the beautiful Harding Icefield, which is accessible via the Harding Icefield Trail.

This trail is one of the most popular attractions in the Kenai Fjords National Park, as it offers visitors stunning views of the glaciers and rich marine life. In addition to the Harding Icefield, there are also forty other glaciers located within the Kenai Fjords National Park.

These glaciers are home to a variety of marine animals, including whales, seals, and sea lions. Moose and bears are also common sights on the trails within the Kenai Fjords National Park. Visitors can explore the Kenai Fjords National Park via kayak or boat tours, which depart from Seward on a daily basis.

Ketchikan

Ketchikan town

Ketchikan is a small town located in southeastern Alaska and is the gateway to Misty Fjords National Monument. The town is a popular destination for fishing, kayaking, and wildlife watching.

Ketchikan is accessible by plane and ferry and has a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Creek Street Historic District, a popular attraction that features a variety of Victorian-era buildings. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, and hiking in the nearby Tongass National Forest.

Ketchikan is an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy the outdoors and experience the Alaskan culture.

Glacier Bay National Park

View of the mountain alaska

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Alaska, and for good reason. This park is home to some of the most stunning glaciers in the world, as well as a variety of different wildlife. You can explore the park by boat, kayak, or on foot, and there are plenty of trails to Glacier Bay National Park.

It sits near the North American and Pacific Plates collides with and the coast mountain ranges, three km high, continue to rise. Glacier Bay is one of Alaska’s best destinations. The landscape changes constantly; the glaciers continue advancing and receding, dramatically altering the coastline.

And of course, no visit to Glacier Bay would be complete without seeing some of the amazing wildlife that calls this place home. Whales, seals, otters, eagles, and bears are just a few of the animals you might see while visiting Glacier Bay National Park.

If you’re looking for a breathtaking destination that has something for everyone, Glacier Bay National Park should be at the top of your list.

Valdez

Port town with mountains behind

Valdez is a small town located in south-central Alaska that is surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Valdez is the perfect place to get away from it all and enjoy the great outdoors.

The town is home to the Valdez Museum, which chronicles the history of the area, as well as the Prince William Sound College. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and kayaking in the surrounding areas.

Valdez is a beautiful place to visit and has something for everyone. So come on up and check it out!

Seward

Seward lake

Seward is a small town in south-central Alaska. This charming town is located on the Kenai Peninsula, home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Alaska SeaLife Center, a marine research facility. This is also one of the best places to take the iconic Alaska railroad to explore the gorgeous landscape of these majestic mountains in style and the right form.

Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, and hiking in the nearby Kenai Fjords National Park along the coastal mountains that you can’t find anywhere else.

Seward is the perfect place to experience all that Alaska has to offer. From its stunning natural beauty to its abundance of wildlife, Seward is a must-visit for any traveler. So pack your bags and head to Seward for an unforgettable adventure.

Girdwood

Snow mountains

Girdwood is a small town located just outside of Anchorage in south-central Alaska. This picturesque town is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Alyeska Resort, a popular ski destination.

Girdwood is a beautiful mountain village in Alaska that is perfect for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. There are seven permanent glaciers and old-growth forests in the area, making it a stunning place to explore. Girdwood is also home to a number of fantastic recreation areas, including a Nordic ski resort, dog sledding trails, snowmobiling trails, fishing spots, hiking trails, and biking trails.

In addition, the area is known for its abundant wildlife, making it a great place for bird watching and wildlife photography. Rafting is also popular in Girdwood, and there are several companies that offer guided tours.

Finally, be sure to visit Chugach Snow Guides for an unforgettable experience snowcat skiing or Alyeska Resort for the chance to ride the aerial tramway to view the hanging glaciers in the mountains.

Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and camping in the nearby Chugach State Park.

Talkeetna

Talkeetna downtown sign

Talkeetna is a small town located in central Alaska, and is the base camp for Denali National Park and Preserve. Talkeetna is a popular destination for flightseeing, mountain climbing, and dog sledding.

Talkeetna is located in the heart of Talkeetna State Park, offering visitors stunning views of surrounding mountains, glaciers, and wildlife.

The town is also home to Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, the only full-service lodge in the park. Talkeetna offers a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as a number of bed & breakfast inns.

Visitors can also enjoy dog sledding, snowmobiling, and ice fishing in the winter months. Talkeetna is a beautiful place to visit any time of year.

Haines

Eagle in the roots

If you’re looking for a truly unique Alaska experience, put Haines on your list of places to visit. This small town, located in southeastern Alaska, is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Fort William H. Seward Historic Site. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, and hiking in the nearby Chilkoot State Park.

And with its scenic location on the Lynn Canal, Haines is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of Alaska. So whether you’re looking for history, adventure, or simply a beautiful place to visit, Haines has something to offer everyone.

Skagway

Ferry in the lake

Skagway is a small town located in southeastern Alaska. This charming town is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, which chronicles the history of the area. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and canoeing in the nearby Taiya Inlet.

Skagway is located in southeastern Alaska and can be reached by car, bus, or train. The town is also home to the Skagway Airport, which offers flights to Anchorage, Juneau, and other Alaskan towns.

Mendenhall Glacier

Glaciar

Mendenhall Glacier is a world-famous tourist destination located in Alaska. The glacier is 12 miles long and runs from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. It is about a mile wide, with ice depths of 300 to 1,800 feet.

The glacier has cooled for two miles since the early 1800s, at a rate of It possesses a brilliant blue color due to the crystal structure of its ice, which affects the refraction and reflected energy of water.

Mendenhall Glacier is a brilliant blue because of the crystal structure of its ice, which affects how water reflects and refracts light. You can see the Mendenhall Glacier from kayaks or helicopters on the cliff face. Ice climbing and ice cave exploration are among Mendenhall Glacier’s most commonly used activities.

Mendenhall Glacier also has some good hiking trails. Mendenhall Glacier is a world-famous tourist destination located in Alaska that offers many different activities for tourists such as kayaking, helicopter tours, ice climbing, and hiking.

Check out the Mendenhall Glacier visitor center to learn more about this key area and heart beat of our world.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

View of the lake

The last stop on our list of the best places to visit in Alaska is Wrangell-Elias National Park. This national park is massive, encompassing over 13 million acres of land and it’s the largest national park in the United States.

This fact alone makes it one the best places to visit in Alaska for good reason, especially if you love the pure, raw natural habitat. It is home to an array of different landscapes, including glaciers, mountains, forests, and tundra.

The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, caribou, moose, and wolves. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking in the park.

Wrangell-Elias National Park is a must-see for anyone visiting Alaska. With its stunning landscapes and abundance of wildlife, it is an unforgettable place to experience all that Alaska has to offer.

Katmai National Park

Bear in the lake

Katmai National Park is one of the best Alaska destinations you can visit for pure beauty. This amazing park is located in southwest Alaska and it’s known for its dramatic landscape and volcanoes.

The park is home to Mount Katmai, an active volcano, as well as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a site of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred in 1912. 

When in Katmai National Park, visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking. There are also opportunities to see bears, as the park is home to one of the largest populations of brown bears in the world. 

All in all, Katmai National Park is a must-see for anyone visiting Alaska so be sure to add it to your list.

See Related: Best Vacation Destinations in the United States

Final Thoughts

Alaska is a land of extreme landscapes and unique wildlife, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Whether you’re looking to relax in a small town or get your heart pumping with some outdoor activities, Alaska is the place for you.

FAQs

What is the most beautiful city in Alaska?

The most beautiful city in Alaska is definitely Anchorage. It’s the largest city in the state, and it’s home to some of the most stunning scenery you’ll ever see. From the rugged mountains to the pristine glaciers, Anchorage is a nature lover’s paradise. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions here, making it the perfect place to spend your vacation.

Which part of Alaska should I visit?

There are many great places to visit in Alaska, but Denali is one of the best. This park is huge and has a lot to offer, like the tallest mountain in North America, Denali, as well as glaciers, forests, and wildlife. If you’re looking for an adventure, there’s plenty to do here including hiking, camping, and fishing.
Or if you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, visit one of the small towns in the area and enjoy the views. No matter what you choose to do in Denali, you’re sure to have a great time.

What are the best places to visit in Alaska?

Alaska is a land of many different and beautiful attractions. There are plenty of places to visit in Alaska, from the largest city-Anchorage to Denali which is home to North America’s tallest mountain. You’ll find glaciers, forests, and wildlife all over the state, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. So whether you’re looking to relax in a small town or get your heart pumping with some outdoor activities, Alaska is the place for you.

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