Best Things To Do In Alaska For An Unforgettable Trip

By Ketki Hanamshet on Mar 06, 2020
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Glaciers that define untouched wilderness, national parks that are every nature lover’s paradise, festivals that give you a taste of local culture, and museums that give you an insight into the history - all this and much more make a memorable Alaska trip. Offering a myriad of experiences, Alaska is that US state found on the top of every traveler’s bucket list. Be it skiing in Alaska, digging some gold during gold-panning tours, or witnessing the dance of Northern Lights, everything will make you want to visit Alaska again. Take a look at these best things to do in Alaska for this destination is waiting to give you unforgettable memories. 

1. National Parks - Roam through Alaska’s natural beauty 

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With a total of 8 national parks in Alaska, it isn’t surprising why this part of the United States is a stunning natural paradise. 

While the ones like Denali National Park and Kenai Fjord National Park are popular amongst everyone, others like Lake Clark National Park and Gates of the Arctic National Park also make for the best places to visit in Alaska. Right from the rolling sand dunes of the Kobuk Valley National Park to the jaw-dropping glaciers of the Glacier Bay National Park, all the Alaskan national parks are unique in their own way. Not to forget the wildlife that you may get to spot during your visit!      

2. White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad - Get aboard a scenic journey 

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It would be a sin not to ride along the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad when you visit Alaska. 

Considered to be one of the most scenic railways in the world, any excursion along this route paints breathtaking views of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, and gorges. Be it the Summit Excursion or the Bennett Scenic Journey, you will be compelled to look out the window and drink in the vistas as your ride goes over the trestles and through the tunnels. Simply relax in the vintage passenger coaches and enjoy the views as the knowledgeable guide onboard fills you in on the historic past.  

3. Glaciers  - Be in awe of Alaska’s wilderness 

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Visiting glaciers is one of the quintessential Alaskan experiences that you, absolutely, cannot miss out on while exploring this US state.

These glaciers in Alaska can be accessed in a variety of ways. Lace-up your snow boots and hike up to the Matanuska Glacier or opt for a glacier cruise and let the sight of Prince William Sound Glaciers humble you. Byron Glacier, Exit Glacier, Worthington Glacier, and Mendenhall Glacier are the best ones to drive to. For an even better experience, get a lodge from where you can enjoy the unparalleled glacier views. 

4. Northern Lights - Witness the dance of colors 

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Aurora Borealis, A.K.A The Northern Lights, is a fascinating natural phenomenon where the night sky turns into a canvas, displaying vivid colors, with pale green and pink being the most common. 

Observing this phenomenon is one of the top things to do in Alaska. The Fairbanks city in Alaska is considered to be the best place to see the Northern Lights in the United States. Visit Alaska any time from mid-September to late April, and just find yourself lucky to witness this spectacular occurrence. Being a natural phenomenon, it is quite elusive, but years of observations state that Northern Lights display is at peak during March.      

5. Festivals - Taste the culture of Alaska 

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There is no better way of basking in Alaska’s culture, traditions, and values than visiting it during one of the state’s vibrant festivals. 

Each of the Alaskan festivals celebrates an array of things. If you want to taste local food and are more of a person who loves carnivals, then attend the Alaska State Fair between August and September. The Alaskan Festival of Native Arts is a line-up of traditional music, dance, and art performances, held between February and March. Artists around the world have to attend the Alaska Folk Festival and the biennial festival called Celebration. Not to miss is the World Ice Art championship wherein sculptors from more than 30 countries showcase their skills.   

6. Skiing - Swoosh down the Alaskan snowy slopes 

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The magnificent snowclad mountains of Alaska that are marked by stunning views make it one of the best places for skiing in the United States. 

Boasting of dramatic terrains and sweeping open spaces, the skiing resorts in Alaska attract skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. If you are visiting with family then Girdwood ski resort would be ideal for you. The Alyeska Resort offers a wide range of activities and has the longest continuous double black diamond ski run in North America. Eaglecrest and Hilltop Ski Area are two other premium ski resorts in Alaska. For the highly skilled skiers, Mendenhall Glacier awaits to entertain them.    

7. Museums - Peak into Alaska’s history, art, and culture 

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Museums in Alaska give you a chance to learn about its history, culture, and art. Right from ancient civilization and the profound gold rush, to the native culture and wildlife, you get to discover Alaska by visiting them.  

The Anchorage Museum is the largest in Alaska which focuses on science, ethnography, history, ecology, and art. It has a collection of more than 26,000 objects and over 700,000 photographs and archives. Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage, Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, and Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan are a few other museums that are worth visiting. If you are interested in knowing the Alaska gold rush, then visiting the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center is your best bet.  

8. Santa Claus House - Celebrate Christmas any time of the year 

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Unlike us who welcome Santa only in the month of December, the Santa Claus House in Alaska welcomes visitors throughout the year. Step into this house, decorated in the traditional colors of white and red, and you will feel as if Christmas was never over. Here you will find an array of decor, ornaments, toys, local collectibles that tempt you to go on a shopping spree. Besides, mouth-watering chocolates, fudge, cookies, and coffee are ready to treat your taste buds. 

9. Alaska Gold Panning Tours - Shovel out some gold 

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What is an Alaska vacation without even tapping into its Gold Rush history? While a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center will give you a glimpse of it, how about opting for a gold panning tour that might get you some small pieces!

Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome, Girdwood, and a small town called Hope in the Kenai Peninsula are a few of the gold-friendly destinations to visit Alaska. You will find a number of gold-panning tours at all these places, ranging from free to 50 USD per tour. You can also decide to go on a self-guided tour by picking the right gear which includes a pan and a shovel. Just see to it that you aren’t trespassing or digging on private claims.    

10. Dog Sledding rides in Alaska - Get an exhilarating experience 

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Dog sledding is a popular sport in Alaska since a long time and today, it is one of the best things to do in Alaska. 

Book a dog sledding tour and you will be in for a memorable experience. Most of these tours are coupled with helicopter rides that fly you over breathtaking views of glaciers and land you at a secluded campsite for an adrenaline-filled dogsled ride. Rush down a snowfield as a team of Alaskan huskies pull you, and listen to the fascinating stories that the musher has to entertain you. Do not be surprised if this experience turns out to be the highlight of your Alaskan trip.    

With all these exciting things to do in Alaska, you better pack your bags and get ready to explore this wild US state. 

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