Romantic Alaska

Original open uri20160815 3469 1r5sqj7?1471300370?ixlib=rails 0.3
Romantic Alaska
What's more romantic than cozying up by the fire in a private lodge? If your answer is "canoeing through a fjord into the sunset" or "relaxing in a natural hot spring," then Alaska is the perfect destination for you.
Photo courtesy of Justin Frazier/Simon & Seafort's
  • 1 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1r5sqj7?1471300370?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Dine Like a Local
    Fresh seafood is the traditional sustenance of the north: Try Alaska Gulf cod and shrimp, fresh halibut cheeks, pan-seared wild Alaska salmon, and king crab legs. Juicy cuts of reindeer or moose steak are also traditional comfort foods for the Central Yupik and Inupiat tribes. Simon & Seafort's and Sullivan's Steakhouse, both in downtown Anchorage, are popular for their fresh meats. Cap off the meal by sampling Eskimo ice cream, known as akutaq, a traditional dish of whipped animal fat mixed with wild berries, dried meat, and roots found in mouse dens. It tastes better than it sounds.
    Photo courtesy of Justin Frazier/Simon & Seafort's
  • 2 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 t46tnk?1471300375?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Raise a Pint
    While craft beer has grown from niche to mainstream in the rest of the States, the trend has always been respected in Alaska, where dozens of brewers compete with hundreds of seasonal beers each year. Swing by Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage for popular and hearty brews like the highly-rated Berserker Stout, Kodiak Brown Ale, or Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter. Glacier Brewhouse also offers a wide seasonal selection of IPAs and stouts, while Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse boasts the largest selection of draft beers in the state. If you want a more exotic brew, try a pint of Alaskan barley wine, a hoppy and richly colored ale made from specialized local malts.
    Photo by Christian Handl/age fotostock
  • 3 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 26n5bx?1471300379?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Hot Springs and Spas
    There's nothing more magical (or, perhaps, absurd) than sitting in your bathing suit, submerged in steaming hot mineral water on a snowy winter night, hypnotized by the myriad stars above. After a full day of outdoor activities, it's the best remedy for sore muscles; plus, there's the obvious romance factor. There are a few popular springs near Fairbanks, like Chena Hot Springs Resort, a nearly two-hour drive through the mountainous wild. Couples looking for the truest solace and seclusion should try the almost-unbelievable Tolovana, accessible only by hiking at least 10 miles, canoeing down a river, or hiring a private plane.
    Photo courtesy of Brian Adams/State of Alaska Tourism Office
  • 4 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1pejts0?1471300383?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Traditional Alaskan Breakfast
    Alaskans believe in hearty morning meals, so indulge along with them and order a reindeer sausage omelette, crab cake Benedict, and fresh sourdough bread; alternatively, opt for Belgian waffles and heavy pancakes topped with whipped cream and fresh wild berries. Most breakfast joints serve breakfast any time of the day, but expect long morning lines at some of Anchorage's most popular restaurants, like Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant, or at artisan shops like Snow City Cafe and Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop. The latter is a contemporary bakery with old-style charm, famous for its buckwheat cinnamon rolls and quirky twists on traditional sourdough. Be careful, though: Alaskan-sized portions are nearly as big as the state itself.
    Photo courtesy of Snow City Cafe
  • 5 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 r9tvm5?1471300387?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Stay Cozy on a Cruise Ship
    One of the most popular ways to get to Alaska is by cruise ship from Seattle or Vancouver, Canada. Cruise season runs from April to September, when the weather is mild and clear and eagles fly in groups overhead. Relax on a pristine patio deck with the Pacific Ocean waving before you while you sip on a refreshing cocktail. Your every need will be taken care of, as the ship's captain steers you toward each major Alaskan sight, from Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier through Resurrection Bay to Seward's snow-tipped peaks. You'll have plenty of time to explore the wilderness on your own, safe in the knowledge that your comfortable ride home is waiting for you.
    Photo by Jake Stangel
  • 6 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 tbami5?1471300392?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Beguiling Sculpture and Jewelry
    Most Alaskan jewelry is crafted from gold and silver, reminders of the state's mining history as the country's gold rush capital. Many jewelers sell real penny-sized gold nuggets, raw or transformed into earrings, necklaces, pendants, and wedding bands. Nephrite jade and musky black argillite are more commonly used for smooth traditional animal statues, but colorful accessories are also becoming popular. For something less flashy, check out native Tlingit artists, who work mostly with silver and cedar, making engravings of spiritual animals like bears and eagles.
    Photo courtesy of Ryan Romer/Alaska Native Arts Foundation
  • 7 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 7kflie?1471300396?ixlib=rails 0.3
    A Land of Picture-Perfect Sunsets
    In the summer months, most of Alaska sees around 18 hours of sunlight per 24-hour period, much of which is a prolonged state of twilight, with the sun dangling tauntingly over the horizon. For true eternal sunlight, make the long trip out to Barrow, on the tip of the far north, where darkness approaches but never really settles in. This ongoing sunset is good for two things: incomparably gorgeous photo ops, and a nearly manic Alaskan population, noticeably livelier than during the cold winter. Try to visit near the summer solstice, around June 21, to experience the longest day of your life in Anchorage before the sun sets near midnight.
    Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan/State of Alaska Tourism Office
  • 8 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 2bem3n?1471300400?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Stop and Smell the Flowers
    Spend an afternoon in Anchorage exploring one of its many quiet urban parks. Rent a city bike to glide through Kincaid Park on the western tip and enjoy a private picnic overlooking Turnagain Arm and the distant Fire Island, beautifully set up when the sun sets in the distance. Alternately, head north to the coastal Earthquake Park for a peaceful pass through memorials of the 75 homes destroyed by the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964. To the east lie the Alaska Botanical Garden; in mid-summer months, they're lush with greenery and splashes of peonies, delphinium, meconopsis, and Himalayan blue poppies.
    Photo courtesy of Frank Flavin/State of Alaska Tourism Office
  • 9 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 t4eqz4?1471300405?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Catch a Show
    There's a show going on every week in Anchorage, the state's cultural capital. Explore the rich cultural heritage of Alaska's indigenous Inupiaq, Aleut, and Tlingit tribes, whose ancient form of musical storytelling is defined by stomping feet, colorful headdresses, and the waving of wide circular Yupik fans woven with grass, wood, and feathers. Later, you can head to popular bar venues like Koot's or The Paddleboat Cafe to enjoy a pint of local craft beer and the tunes of Alaska's up-and-coming rock scene, which birthed artists like Jewel, Portugal. The Man, and Pamyua.
    Photo by Bernd Römmelt/age fotostock
  • 10 / 10
    Original open uri20160815 3469 148rnff?1471300409?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Romantic Lodge Getaways
    Alaska's rustic scenery is perfect for a romantic escape from downtown Anchorage or Juneau. Forget about shopping and just relax and enjoy being in the wilderness on its own merits. Rent a car and drive south from Anchorage to Summit Lake or Upper Trail Lake on the Kenai Peninsula. Here, truly isolated waterside cabins are protected by stands of skinny balsam poplars and delicate paper birches. Alternatively, drive north from Juneau to Mendenhall Lake, where a smattering of spread-out getaway lodges sit within a stone's throw of the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier.
    Photo courtesy of CIRI Alaska Tourism