Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

Alaska Overview

Alaska at a Glance
Alaska Overview
Alaska’s natural mystique has always drawn travelers looking for a good hike, but the modern state is more than the sum of its peaks. From sleek architecture to rich indigenous heritage, Alaska offers something for every adventurous traveler.
By AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
Photo courtesy of Tim Rains/Denali NPS
  • 1 / 5
    Alaska at a Glance
    Alaska at a Glance
    No one can appreciate the beauty of the north until they visit: It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to cruise into Seward by boat, hike through Denali National Park, or stay up until midnight watching the sun set. Because Alaska is America’s largest state, you won’t see everything in one visit. Start in Anchorage and explore the ultramodern Anchorage Museum, then head to the secluded Kenai Fjords or magnificent Chugach National Forest. If there’s time, swing down by Juneau (and make time for the Hammer Museum) or north to Fairbanks to hike atop a glacier, canoe along a misty river, visit the quirky Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, or find a lodge and just relax.
    Photo courtesy of Tim Rains/Denali NPS
  • 2 / 5
    Alaskan Culture, Old and New
    Alaskan Culture, Old and New
    Alaska has a rich American heritage, and appreciation in the state is strong for the indigenous tribes that have long made it their home: You can catch a traditional dance at Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center, shop for delicate golden Aleut jewelry, or head to the Stika National Historic Park to pay your respects to the Natives who lost their lives here. You can also tour a real old-fashioned Klondike-era gold mine, witness Anchorage's historical Earthquake Park, enjoy the small-town flavors of Talkeetna (make sure you find the https://www.afar.com/places/talkeetna-spinach-bread-talkeetnahttps://www.afar.com/places/talkeetna-spinach-bread-talkeetna), Hyder, Hope, and Petersberg, and, if you’re visiting in winter, gawk at the impossibly sophisticated ice art that draws international attention to Fairbanks each year.


    Photo by Sunny K. Awazahura/age fotostock
  • 3 / 5
    The Greatest of Outdoors
    The Greatest of Outdoors
    Your Alaskan experience will depend hugely on the time of year you visit. Summer sees cyclists touring the Kenai Peninsula, rife with caribou, bald eagles, and moose; hikers trekking Juneau’s luminous baby-blue Mendenhall Glacier, or heading to Wrangall to watch bears at the Anan Creek Wildlife Viewing Site; bird-watchers tracking down puffins at Kodiak; cruise ships exploring the awe-inspiring Tracy Arm Fjord; and kayakers pushing between unspoiled mountains surrounding Prince William Sound. But Alaska in winter is a whole other story. You can fly down Alyeska’s gargantuan ski slopes or cozy up in a secluded lodge, watching the heavenly northern lights flicker outside your window. Whether you rough it by the campfire or book a few nights in a comfortable, warm lodge, there are accommodations for every type of traveler.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 4 / 5
    Hearty Alaskan Delicacies
    Hearty Alaskan Delicacies
    Alaskan meals are characterized by hearty fare: It’s all about fresh fish and thick slabs of meat in belt-loosening portions. At breakfast, try the state’s famous gourmet reindeer sausages seasoned with white pepper and coriander, or crab cakes doused in creamy Benedict sauce. Break off a piece of fresh sourdough bread from any local artisan bakery, a historic staple for natives of the Arctic climate. For dinner, indulge in fresh Pacific fish, such as pan-seared cod, smoked salmon, or fresh halibut cheeks sprinkled with lemon and cilantro. If you still have room, complete your meal with akutaq—Eskimo ice cream—and one of Alaska’s one-of-a-kind craft beers or barley wines.
    Photo by Carmen Troesser/age fotostock
  • 5 / 5
    Essential Information
    Essential Information
    Alaska almost seems like two different states, split between summer and winter. Anchorage in July sees sunrise near 4:30 a.m. and sunset just before midnight, while winter is mostly dark, with daylight between around 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Winter temperatures hover around 5 degrees in South-Central, though the Inside Passage around Juneau is significantly warmer at 20 degrees. Summer is warmer than most visitors believe, often in the mid-60s and quite green. Most flights arrive at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage. The best option to get around is to rent a car or RV. If you plan on camping outdoors alone, basic survival skills and bear spray canisters are crucial.
    Photo courtesy of Brian Adams/State of Alaska Tourism Office