The Best Things to Do in Alaska
Collected by Jenna Schnuer , AFAR Local Expert
Alaska's 663,000 square miles, nearly 7,000 miles of coastline, and eight National Parks offer a nearly overwhelming number of great things to do. This around-the-state list would take weeks--or even months--to complete. So put it to use to dream, to figure out an epic trip, or to plan your next several adventures around the 49th state. Whether you crave adrenaline-pumping adventure, tales from history, a road trip to beat all road trips, or the chance to take photos of creatures great and small, Alaska is ready for you. Watch grizzlies amble by from the comfort of a tour bus in Denali National Park. Listen to the snap and crash of a calving glacier while in Kenai Fjords National Park. Paddle around icebergs on Mendenhall Lake. And see art inspired by Alaska at the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Museum of the North.
Kenai River, Kenai, AK, USA
One of Alaska’s quintessential experiences is fishing for salmon. Whether you’re a first-timer or an expert angler, casting a line into the Kenai River will induce plenty of delight. And, fingers crossed, plenty of salmon, too. Fishing the Kenai...
Talkeetna, AK 99676, USA
There are several small towns around Alaska that make visitors of years past smile. Talkeetna sits pretty high atop that list. Agood stopping point between Anchorage and Denali National Park, the town is at once ahistory stop, arty spot, beer...
625 C St, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
Though the Anchorage Museum has a hyperlocal focus on Alaska, the curators understand that, thanks to climate change and the Arctic (not to mention reality TV), the rest of the world is also very focused on the state. A recent expansion and...
1962 Yukon Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
Located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Museum of the North houses 11 categories of collections, including archaeology, earth sciences and fine arts. Highlights range from the state’s most comprehensive display of gold, a...
There are no guarantees the northern lights will start dancing on the night you look skyward, but it's so worth taking the chance. One of the great rewards for hanging out in Alaska once the dark and cold settle over the state, the northern lights...
Nearly 40 glaciers flow from lofty peaks down to the sea here, blanketing half the park in ice. But the rugged terrain isn’t the only draw. Orca whales and sea otters often cavort alongside the dayboats (far and away the best way to explore Kenai...
3820 University Ave S, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA
Get way off the usual tour route most visitors take when wandering Alaska by road. The Northern Alaska Tour Company, located in the already rather north city of Fairbanks, gives visitors the chance to hit the road all the way beyond the Arctic...
23264 Gold Cord Rd, Palmer, AK 99645, USA
While Independence Mine State Historical Park is officially open only during the summer months, Alaskans know that the best time to check out the former mine buildings is after there’s plenty of snow on the ground. It’s a golden (pun...
Glenn Hwy, Sutton, AK 99674, USA
The Matanuska Glacier is one of the easiest to reach from Anchorage, and the largest one in the state accessible by car. The 229-acre recreation site is best for learning all about the science of glaciers. (You can also just go to a pullout on the...
09 Chilkat Ave, Haines, AK 99827, USA
In recent years, in search of a way to revitalize their dying village, the Chilkat people of Klukwan (near Haines) built the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center. The center brought jobs back to Klukwan, providing good reason for people who had moved to...
Blackstone Bay, Alaska, USA
Gather up a bunch of people. Get in a car (with camping equipment, food, Frisbees, firewood, bug repellent, whatever else). Head to the town of Whittier. Rent kayaks from a local company. Get a water taxi to drop you, your friends, the gear, the...
4031 S Tongass Hwy, Ketchikan, AK 99901, USA
Upend your idea of what you thought you would do on a trip to Alaska. It’s not just bears and whales, you know. There’s plenty of sea life if you gaze down into the water. Sign on with Snorkel Alaska for an outing at Mountain Point, where the...
Kenai Peninsula Borough, Homer, AK 99603, USA
When Kirsten and Carl Dixon, owners of Within the Wild adventure lodges, bought Tutka Bay Lodge, they were surprised to find that it came complete with an old boat. A very old boat. The Widgeon II carried troops during World War II. Now? The boat...
Mendenhall Lake, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
Both beginner and experienced kayakers will have fun on this leisurely (and super-easy) paddle across Mendenhall Lake. (Both guided and unguided options are available.) The paddling is, really, just 10 percent of the fun—maybe 25 percent. As...
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