The Alaskan capital, Juneau has a tangible sense of history and contemporary charm.
Explore the waterfront on your first day in Juneau, taking a stroll past the historic clapboard buildings lining Franklin Street. Drop into a seafood restaurant to taste the flavours of the sea, or shop for Native American artworks and artefacts in the town’s souvenir and craft stores. For insights into the boom-era town, visit the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, or discover brewing history and lip-smacking ales at the Alaskan Brewing Company’s headquarters in Juneau.
You know you’re in Alaska when you visit Glacier Bay National Park. Tidewater glaciers spill down from the surrounding snow-clad mountains, icebergs dot the lakes, and hiking trails wind their way past forests of spruce. Kayaking, wildlife-watching and wildflower trails are other highlights of a visit to Glacier Bay.
For the most stunning views imaginable, arrive at Glacier Bay by helicopter.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is home to an array of worthwhile attractions, especially for those interested in learning about nature and culture. First there is the Georgeson Botanical Garden. North America's northernmost botanical garden, the attraction focuses on researching and showcasing high-latitude flora.
Learn about Eskimos and Indigenous cultures at the Alaska Native Museum; view aircrafts and aviation memorabilia at the Pioneer Air Museum; enjoy fresh local salmon at Salmon Bake; or take in a live performance about Fairbanks at the Palace Theatre. There are more than 30 attractions in all, so you can easily spend all day roaming around here.
No trip to Alaska would be complete without exploring the beauty of its wilderness. Luckily, there are many opportunities to do this when in Fairbanks. One popular stop is the Chena River Recreation Area and Chena Hot Springs, which encompasses 254,080 acres of beautiful scenery and outdoor recreation.
If you’re just flying in, it’s best to get yourself settled and understand all that lies upon your doorstep. Look out any window and see the foothills of the Chugach State Park, the towering mountain of Denali off in the distance, and the rivers and streams that trickle down into downtown Anchorage. With so many outdoor activities to indulge in, consider spending your first day getting to know the history of your host town. Transportation is easy and readily available in bus or taxi form, and most first-timers like to spend their time walking the historic downtown district, starting at the northwestern tip of the picturesque Anchorage waterfront. Spend half the day here, learning about Anchorage’s roots as a rail-road town, the great earthquake of ’64, and grabbing breakfast and a light lunch. Then head over to West Anchorage, directly southwest of Anchorage where you can learn about the historic Bootleggers Cove and Turnagain residential areas.
Make Skagway your base to follow in the footsteps of the Tlingit people and the gold prospectors who headed off from the port to the Yukon in the roaring days of the 1890s.
Get to know this former frontier port by taking a stroll around the downtown Skagway Historic District and its collection of 100-year-old wooden buildings.
Scratch the surface and Skagway’s pioneering and prospecting days don’t seem so far away. Photographs and artifacts bring the past alive at the Skagway Museum, revealing just how harsh life was on the goldfields.
Gold and Tlingit history surround Skagway, so get a taste by traveling to the White Pass summit from the port, stopping en route at the Skagway Overlook for panoramic views over the town and waterway. White Pass was one route prospectors used to travel to the Yukon; the other was the Chilkoot Trail, a walking route taking up to five days that’s not for the fainthearted or unprepared.
If you can only do one thing when you’re in Seward, make it exploring Kenai Fjord National Park. Encompassing 1,047 square miles (2,711 square kilometers), the park is littered with glacial-carved fjords. Within the park, make sure to visit Harding Icefield, an enormous ice field with 40 glaciers flowing into it. Take an aerial tour over the park for a unique vantage point, kayak through the fjords and explore the trails around Exit Glacier.
Seward gives you access to one of Alaska’s most scenic drives: The Seward Highway. This National Scenic Byway runs 125 miles (201 kilometers) from Seward to Anchorage, passing through some of the state’s most scenic areas, like the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Turnagain Arm and Kenai Mountains. Although you never leave Alaska, you’ll feel like you’re crossing borders as the landscape switches between alpine meadows, retreating glaciers, majestic fjords, mirror lakes and rugged peaks.