The Perfect Week in South-Central Alaska
Collected by Jenna Schnuer , AFAR Local Expert
Food, fishing, and miles of hike-worthy trails make it easy to fill a week exploring South-central Alaska. Stretching from the Copper River Valley across the Mat-Su Valley, down to Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, and Homer, and then all across Prince William Sound, South-central makes up a sizable portion of the state. If you're going to road trip around Alaska, this is where you do it (though nobody would question your decision to add a trip up to Fairbanks to your itinerary). Explore Kenai Fjords National Park, Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark, and bear viewing in Katmai National Park.
1343 G St, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
Fire Island, in the heart of South Addition, one of Anchorage’s oldest neighborhoods, handcrafts an astonishingly delicious array of baked goods, breads, sandwiches, and savory delights that keep locals lining up for more. The bakery uses as much...
320 3rd Ave, Seward, AK 99664, USA
Starting a day in Seward without a walk around town and a stop—a long stop—at Resurrect Art Coffee House would be simply ridiculous. The baristas are religious about serving excellent espresso drinks in this former church, a...
27635 Seward Hwy, Anchorage, AK 99540, USA
Don’t blast past this easy-to-drive-by restaurant on the Seward Highway. Open since June 2017, Froth & Forage looks like an unassuming sandwich joint. And it does serve some sandwiches. But you’re not going to get, say, a ham and...
4460 Homer Spit Rd, Homer, AK 99603, USA
The Homer Spit is home to, for the most part, summer-only businesses that cater to tourists, fishermen, and weekend adventurers aplenty. So there’s long been an emphasis on fried halibut and other related goodies. The Spit’s food cred...
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. A good stopping point between Anchorage and Denali National Park, the town is at once a history stop, arty...
1 West Ishmailof, Halibut Cove, AK 99603, USA
The Slow Food people could learn a thing or two from The Saltry when it comes to really stretching out the pacing of a meal: This restaurant sits a beautiful one-hour ride away on the Danny J ferry (one of the cutest ferries ever), across...
429 E St, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
Take your place in line, check the street sign to see what the flavors of the week are (or send somebody up to the shop door to take a peek), and start planning your order. Most of Wild Scoops' ice creams are made with locally sourced ingredients....
939 W 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
In 1964, a 9.2-magnitude earthquake—the second most powerful ever recorded—ripped through the south coast of Alaska, devastating much of downtown Anchorage. After surveying the damage, real-estate developer Walter J. Hickel, who would...
35 Richardson Hwy, Valdez, AK 99686, USA
Dreaming of chasing fresh, untrammeled powder? Then Tsaina Lodge, widely regarded as the birthplace of the Alaskan freeskiing scene, is for you. Its location on Thompson Pass, a gap in the Chugach Mountains known for its record-setting snowfalls...
1034 W 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
My first day in downtown Anchorage, I took in lunch at Snow City Cafe. As soon as I entered, I knew I was going to love this place. The ambience is created by an eclectic mix of part diner, part espresso bar, part bakery. The walls are covered...
194 Olympic Mountain Loop, Girdwood, AK 99587, USA
Most people visiting Girdwood are there to ski at Alyeska or hike the trails in the summertime. When I lived in Alaska, these were common activities for me as well, but during the months I was in Girdwood, I also never missed an chance to hit The...
1411 Lake Shore Dr, Homer, AK 99603, USA
Homer Brewing Company is no Johnny-Come-Lately to the craft beer craze, as they've been crafting brew since 1996. Pop into their tasting room for a flight of beer samples and then decide which you want to take home in a growler. Plenty of...
3300 Old Seward Hwy, Anchorage, AK 99503, USA
This pizza-and-beer joint is a favorite after a long day of hiking. Besides salads, sandwiches and Korean-style chicken wings, there are more than 35 gourmet pizza options, spanning from vegetarian to Santa’s Little Helper with red peppers,...
171 Lindblad Ave, Girdwood, AK 99587, USA
Family-friendly Chair 5 Restaurant lures visitors with its gourmet burgers and pizzas, including pies with unique toppings (try its Thai Chicken pizza), as well as deep-dish options. Originally opened in 1983 at another location, the restaurant...
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...
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...
1201 E Whitney Rd, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA
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...
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...
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...
301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664, USA
Steller sea lions steal the show at this research facility, which doubles as a terrific educational attraction and also the state’s only permanent marine-mammal rehab site. The Steller males can top out at 3.3 meters (11 feet) in length and over...
Seward, AK 99664, USA
Paddle offshore on a short excursion or load into a water taxi for a day trip exploring Caines Head, Fox Island or the Aialik Glacier. Bald eagles often soar overhead: Listen for their distinctive cackle (the majestic shrill associated with...
Old Glenn Hwy, Chugiak, AK 99567, USA
Located in Chugach State Park, this trail which is just under two kilometers goes uphill to a viewing deck overlooking the 60-meter Thunderbird Falls and Eklutna Canyon. This is a relatively easy hike. Though some might find the uphill climb...
The family-friendly Glacier Lake Trail weaves among spruce and cottonwood stands before emerging onto broad beaches. This relatively flat stroll yields big results with glorious vistas of the ice and surrounding peaks. Most visitors prefer to hike...
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