11 Best Day Trips From Anchorage, Alaska

Humpback whale breaching

Day trips from Anchorage are one of the best strategies for seeing the best of Alaska.

Anchorage is a beautiful, modern city on the edge of this incredible wilderness. Here, you’ll find accommodations from modest to luxurious.

The dining options are limitless, with restaurants serving local favorites made with fresh ingredients and others with award-winning, chef-driven dishes.

So don’t think you must be a hard-core adventurer with a week’s worth of supplies on your back and a change of dry socks in your pockets to enjoy Alaska.

Anchorage surrounded by ice

You can sit, eat, sip, and sleep in a cradle of comfort in Anchorage. Then, plan to hit the roads, trails, and train tracks outside Anchorage’s door to see Alaska.

For luxury Alaskan accommodations, we recommend the famous Hotel Captain Cook located downtown and seven blocks from the Anchorage Museum.

Enjoy French/American cuisine and excellent wines in their fine dining restaurant, the Crows Nest. It’s a wonderfully relaxing retreat for couples. Most tours and day trips from Anchorage are best done from May to September. June and July are the warmest months, with highs in the 60s to 80s.

Anchorage surrounded by green and brown forest.

Winter months are fine times to visit, too, although mountain passes and trails may be closed due to snow and bad weather.

But Anchorage has a beautiful Christmas lights display, and there are plenty of winter festivals and the northern lights to keep you entertained. We’ve covered day trips from Anchorage in winter, too.

The weather is much more of an issue, so we highly recommend trip interruption insurance from Travelex. Now for these day trips from Anchorage, you’d likely only need a day pack to keep your essentials comfortable and secure on your back.

The Venture Pal 40L is a lightweight hiking daypack that comes in a variety of colors and is highly rated.

VenturePack daypack in orange

Something else we’d like to recommend is to visit the travel insurance marketplace VisitorsCoverage. This handy website gives you updated information on travel insurance products. These days, it’s important to protect your plans from interruptions.

Particularly if you’re flying in from the lower 48. Many flights into Anchorage will have you go through Seattle. Seattle is another uber-cool city with much to do and see. If you need to layover there–and we think you should!–purchase a Seattle CityPASS.

The CityPASS allows you to buy tickets in one purchase and store them conveniently and safely on your phone. With this one ticket app, you save a ton on admission to these top attractions:

  • Space Needle
  • Seattle Aquarium
  • Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour
  • Museum of Pop Culture
  • Woodland Park Zoo
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass

Visit them in any order you like over nine days. After you have a blast exploring Seattle, get some rest on your flight to Anchorage. Because when you land you’ll need to buckle up again for an adventure of a lifetime with these day trips from Anchorage.

Day trip to Seward from Anchorage 

Boats in the harbor at Seward

Take some of the best day trips from Anchorage to see the remote beauty of Seward and its surroundings.

The port city of Seward is a two-and-a-half-hour drive on AK-1 South and is on an inlet of the Kenai Peninsula. From here, you’ll see glaciers flowing from the Harding Icefield into fjords, which are narrow strips of the sea surrounded by cliffs and formed by retreating glaciers.

This is an experience not to be missed. The cliffs are so high and magnificent and the water is pristine, cold, and deep. Wildlife is everywhere, from otters playing along the shore to enormous bald eagles soaring from one cliff wall to the other.

The fjords are also filled with pods of orcas who like to come alongside the boats and pop up to make eye contact. It’s as if they’re checking out who’s here to visit.

It’s an incredible area–the Rockies on steroids. Big adventures like these need big coverage, check with TravelInsurance.com about their activity insurance.

1. Fjord National Park Catamaran Cruise

Humpback whale breaching

So I cannot recommend the Kenai Fjords National Park 6-Hour Cruise enough. I also cannot guarantee you’ll see the bazillions of orcas I did. Even our boat captain was pretty astonished. But you won’t see them at all if you don’t go to where they hang.

You may also see humpback whales, sea lions, puffins, porpoises, seals, and a glacier calving where chunks break into the water. Lunch and a tour guide are included. Dress in layers with a rain jacket and wear rubber-soled shoes appropriate for boating.

See Related: Family Vacation Ideas in Alaska

2. Helicopter Glacier Tour and Dog Sledding

Wooden sign with Alaska Iditarod and husky

Another of the best one-of-a-kind day trips from Anchorage, Alaska, is dog sledding on the glaciers near Seward.

A team of huskies and mushers will take you along the Godwin Glacier. How do you get to the sled?

By helicopter from Seward of course. Soak in Alaska’s amazing, snowy views during this thrilling 15-minute ride to the mushers’ camp.

There you’ll learn more about Alaska’s culture and the state sport of dog sledding and the competitions that take place to find the best teams.

The entire tour includes the helicopter ride, a 90-minute dog sled ride, and playtime with husky puppies. Be still my dog-loving heart.

3. Seward: Self-Guided Audio Tour

If you’re more content walking around town, check out this self-paced tour of this beautiful city. The audio tour of Seward includes maps that will take you to the Old Alaska Railroad Depot, the Seward Community Library, Seward Museum, and many other highlights.

Katmai Day Trip from Anchorage 

This day trip from Anchorage is famous for the bears. Katmai National Park is the site of Brooks Falls and the fishing grounds for Alaska’s brown bears.

4. Brown Bears At Brooks Falls

Brown bear swipes at salmon in Katmai.

The brown bears are close cousins to grizzlies, but due to their rich diet of salmon and clams, they are larger than the average grizzly bear. Brooks Falls is where brown bears gather starting in July to catch all the salmon they can eat to get ready for their winter hibernation.

Most people like to fly to King Salmon, close to Katmai, from Anchorage. Skyscanner lists flights operated by Alaska Airlines.

Then air taxis take visitors the rest of the way into Brooks Camp inside Katmai. There are no entry fees or permits to visit. But you’ll need to sign up for the bear viewing platforms to watch the giant bears ignore you for juicy, fat, ruby-colored salmon they catch by the claw-full.

In this concentration of them at Brooks Falls, there may be anywhere from 40 to 60 bears feeding at the falls and roaming the forest. The elevated platforms are half a mile from Brooks Camp. There is no guided tour but rangers are on hand for traffic control.

The platforms and trails are not accessible by those with limited mobility. However, no one has to miss out as the falls are definitely not the only place that has bears in Alaska! They eat clams and fish along the Pacific coast all summer.

Remote fishing is also available at Brooks, Kulik, and Grosvenor Lodges.

See Related: What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Day Trips from Anchorage to Denali

Seeing the majesty of Denali on a day trip from Anchorage is not impossible but it is a five-hour drive each way.

The park is largely closed to vehicle traffic too. From town, you can see its snowcapped peak on a walk on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

You can also see it from a hike on Flattop. But the most thrilling of day trips from Anchorage to Denali is by flight-seeing.

5. Talkeetna: Mountain Voyager with Optional Glacier Landing

Alaska Range covered in snow

If you drive the two hours north to Talkeetna, then you can see the face of Denali on this Mountain Voyager with Optional Glacier Landing flight.

You’ll take a single-engine, high-wing plane for a one-hour and 15-minute flight tour of the Alaska Range.

See the peaks of Hunter, Foraker, and, most amazing of all, Denali. Your pilot will be your expert guide as he takes you along glacier paths.

You’ll fly to the 45-mile-long Kahiltna Glacier, Denali National Park’s longest glacier.

The optional glacier landing takes you into Alaska Range for a unique view of the surrounding peaks.

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

Day Trips from Anchorage in winter

Alaska day trips from Anchorage are even more exhilarating in winter. At Christmastime, Anchorage is decorated and twinkling. Making Anchorage a festive home base for these winter day trips.

Before you plan to visit Alaska in the winter, compare travel insurance plans and see which one will protect you best in case of cancellations.

6. Northern Light Photography Adventure

Northern Lights in the dark Alaska sky

Get picked up from your Anchorage hotel for a nighttime adventure seeking the northern lights.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, is a natural phenomenon where colorful lights are seen in the sky over the Earth’s higher latitudes.

Since it’s the darkest in winter, these tours are an excellent way to see them.

On the Northern Lights Photography Adventure, learn how to take the best photos of this special natural display from professionals.

7. Matanuska Glacier Wildlife & Wilderness Photo Tour

Two moose in the grass

Photo tours make great day trips from Anchorage in winter because the landscape is so dramatic and jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

The Matanuska Glacier Wildlife & Wilderness Photo Tour is your ticket to getting professional National Geographic-style photos of Alaska in winter.

Make stops along the way to the glacier for incredible photo opportunities. Spot moose and other exciting wildlife. Once you get to the glacier, you’ll get those up-close photos from next to and on top of the glacier.

This is a long tour–10 hours. So not good for children. But if you and your companion are shutterbugs, this is an amazing day. The tour vehicle is wheelchair accessible and service animals are allowed.

Alaska railroad day trips from Anchorage 

Day trips from Anchorage to Seward, or day glacier cruises, combined with a railroad excursion are an incredible memory-maker for the whole family.

8. Alaska Railroad to Seward

Yellow engine of Alaska Railway

The Alaska Railroad Anchorage to Seward Round-Trip takes you along the beautiful coastline of Turnagain Arm on the Coastal Classic Train.

The route is quite scenic and you’ll see the Chugach Mountains, glaciers, river canyons, and waterfalls before arriving in Seward.

Once in Seward, you’ll have the option to do a cruise to see the glaciers and spot wildlife or explore the city.

The tour is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

9. Glacier Cruise and Rail from Anchorage

Prince William Sound

The Glacier Cruise and Rail from Anchorage is a combination of a one-day cruise on Prince William Sound and a rail trip to Whittier and back.

Coffee, tea, and lunch are included.

Start in Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad along the shoreline of Turnagain Arm to the Portage Valley. Then through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel to Whittier.

Along the way, your conductor provides narration on the sites and wildlife you pass. Before you take the train on your return, enjoy a catamaran cruise to see the 26 glaciers of Prince William Sound.

This tour is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

See Related: Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska

Anchorage City Tours

You can also spend a whole day getting to know the amazing city of Anchorage with these tours with cultural highlights.

10. Anchorage Bikes and Brews

Man tends to a big vat of beer

Explore the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and Anchorage’s craft beer scene on the small group Anchorage Bike and Brewery Tour. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is paved and will take you through pretty scenery, including mountain views and Cook Inlet.

Spot wildlife, including moose, and learn about Alaska’s cultural and natural history. The ride is slow-paced with lots of stops for photos.

After your leisurely eight-mile pedal and lunch downtown on your own, get a comprehensive tour of three of the best breweries in town.

Meet the brewmasters and look behind the curtain at what goes into creating award-winning craft beers. The tour includes complimentary beer samples and appetizers, bikes, helmets, and a guide.

11. City Tour and Alaska Native Heritage Center

Exterior of Alaska Native Heritage Center

Discover Anchorage on a three-hour guided city tour that includes Earthquake Park, the port, Bootleggers Cove, and Lake Hood.

Lake Hood is the world’s busiest seaplane base and Earthquake Park holds the memorial of the disastrous earthquake of 1964 that caused a landslide into Cook Inlet.

The Anchorage City Tour with Alaska Native Heritage Center will also provide the opportunity to learn about the state’s indigenous peoples and cultures.

This famous heritage center and museum are on 26 beautiful wooded acres and houses exhibits telling of the rich indigenous culture of Alaska.

You’ll also see a life-sized replica of housing, arts and crafts, and cultural demonstrations. Strollers are accommodated.

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Jenifer Sako

Jenifer Sako

Jen is a Pittsburgh-based writer with a background in hospitality and tourism. Her specialties include sales and marketing technology and travel content. When she isn't on assignment, Jen catches up on her many newsletter subscriptions, watches nocode tutorials, and spends time with her family.