Things to do in Alaska

Things to do in  Alaska

Northern lights, camera, action!

Known as America's Last Frontier, Alaska magnetizes travelers with untamed wilderness and the promise of solitude. A region of extremes, Alaska swings between warm summers and demanding winters (when the Yukon River freezes solid); from bustling port cities to outdoor expanses. Fairbanks serves as a gateway to Chena Hot Springs and the Arctic Circle's Northern Lights, while cruises past abundant marine wildlife in Kenai Fjords National Park are best accessed from Seward. Dogsled and pan for gold on the Skagway section of the Yukon River; go white-water rafting on rapids that flow from the Mendenhall Glacier; soar over Denali National Park on a flightseeing tour; or feast on salmon and enjoy easy access to Mt. Roberts from Juneau's historic downtown. If you're looking to cover the highlights of the vast state, take the scenic Alaska Railroad route to popular visitor stops such as Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Whittier, or delve into Gold Rush-era history on a journey to White Pass Summit. At Ketchikan's zipline adventure park, kids and adults alike will love flying over the Alaskan rain forest and observing black bears. With opportunity for adventure at every turn, you're sure to submit to the call of the wild during your time in Alaska.

Top 15 attractions in Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park

Encompassing 1,047 square miles (2,711 square kilometers), Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park is named after its numerous glacial-carved fjords—beautiful ice valleys that sit below sea level. The fjords run down the mountains into the iconic Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States with 40 tidewater glaciers flowing into it. The stunning landscape is also a wildlife-watcher’s dream, thanks to its abundant marine animals, birds, and other native wildlife.More

Tongass National Forest

Encompassing some 17 million acres (70,000 square kilometers of Southeast Alaska, the Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the US and the world’s largest temperate rain forest. Named after the Tongass clan of the Tlingit Indians, the park is home to the Alaskan capital (Juneau as well as the Mendenhall Glacier.More

Mt. Roberts Tramway

Rising 1,800 feet (550 meters) above sea level from the Juneau waterfront up Mt. Roberts, the Mt. Roberts Tramway is a favorite for those visiting the Alaska state capital. The ride itself provides views of Chilkat Range, Gastineau Channel, downtown Juneau, and Douglas Island, while the summit area features outdoorsy and cultural things to do.More

Saxman Native Village

Saxman Native Village celebrates all things Alaskan and Tlingit—totem poles, folklore and dance, lumberjack exploits, and woodcarvers. The native village introduces visitors to the customs and culture of Alaska’s indigenous inhabitants and features the largest collection of totems you’re likely to see.More

Fortress of the Bear

Black and brown bears are the main attraction at this wildlife rescue site. Here, animals that are unable to return to the wild have free access to playgrounds and open space to roam. It’s one of the best places in Alaska to safely see a black bear or grizzly from a short distance away.More

Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula—dotted with glistening glaciers, majestic fjords, and secluded coves set against a backdrop of snowy mountains and dramatic fog—is a haven for those who enjoy striking landscapes. Not only is this pristine wilderness beautiful, it’s also filled with opportunities for outdoors recreation.More

Chena Hot Springs Resort

An hour’s drive from Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs Resort is renowned for its natural hot-springs lake, year-round ice museum, and Northern Lights viewing opportunities. Discovered over a hundred years ago by gold miners who saw steam rising from the Chena River Valley, the curative waters have been soothing weary travelers ever since.More

Mendenhall Glacier

No visit to Juneau is complete without a close-up look at the Mendenhall Glacier, one of Alaska’s most popular attractions. The 13-mile-long (19-kilometer-long) glacier ends at Mendenhall Lake and is easily viewed from the historic Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The glacier is beautiful on sunny days but arguably even more impressive on cloudy, drizzly afternoons when the ice takes on a deeper shade of blue.More

Denali National Park and Preserve

The tallest peak in North America at 20,310 feet (6,190 meters), Denali, formerly known as Mt. McKinley, is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve in south-central Alaska, an enormous area covering 6 million acres (2.5 million hectares). Founded in 1917, the park protects the native animals who roam free in its remote alpine tundra wilderness.More

Sitka National Historical Park

Created in 1910 to commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka between the native Tlingit people and the Russian colonists, the Sitka National Historical Park is Alaska’s oldest cultural and historic park. The park’s highlights include the traditional totem poles that line the trails throughout the park and the Russian Bishop’s House, one of the few remaining examples of Russian colonial architecture.More

Trans-Alaska Pipeline Viewpoint

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline traverses 800 miles (1,287 kilometers) through the Alaska wilderness from the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay to Valdez where it is shipped to refineries. Built between 1974 and 1977 and requiring over 28,000 people to build, the pipeline is considered one of the world’s most amazing engineering marvels and the viewpoint outside of Fairbanks is one of the best places to view it.More

Misty Fjords National Monument

Just 22 miles (35 kilometers) outside of Ketchikan lies the vast and remote Misty Fjords National Monument—a collection of sea cliffs, deep-cut fjords, glacial valleys, thick rainforests, and roaring waterfalls. Accessible only by boat or floatplane, Misty Fjords is an outdoor playground for hikers, kayakers, and day cruisers.More

Yukon Territory

The Yukon is the smallest, westernmost, and perhaps wildest of Canada’s northern territories. Its remote mountain landscapes, untamed rivers, and glacier-fed lakes attract casual sightseers and hardcore adventurers alike. Visitors can witness the Northern Lights, hike, snowshoe, or fish in the wilderness, and explore Canada’s First Nations traditions at cultural centers and festivals across the Yukon.More

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Alaska is known for its wildlife, and at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center you can see an array of Alaskan species—bears, bison, moose, elk, musk oxen, and lynx among them—all in one place. Learn about each animal species from knowledgeable staff at this center that works to rehabilitate animals and reintroduce them to life in the wild.More

Creek Street

During Alaska’s pioneering days, every gold rush town had a red light district; in Ketchikan, it was Creek Street. Prostitution wasn’t outlawed here until 1954, and it was legal as long as business wasn’t transacted on dry land. This explains why Creek Street isn’t a street at all, but an elevated boardwalk built on wooden pilings above Ketchikan Creek.More

Top activities in Alaska

Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching
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Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching

Juneau Wildlife Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier
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Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise from Seward
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Juneau's Premier Whale Watching! - More time on the water!
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Mendenhall Glacier Lake Canoe Tour
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Mendenhall Glacier Lake Canoe Tour

Alaska Railroad Anchorage to Seward Round-Trip Same Day Return
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Ketchikan All In One

Ketchikan All In One

Arctic Circle and Northern Lights Tour from Fairbanks
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Hoonah Whale-Watching Cruise
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Hoonah Whale-Watching Cruise

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All about Alaska

When to visit

Late May to early September is a safe bet throughout all of Alaska: restaurants, parks, tours, and services will be open or operating, and the weather will be largely temperate and enjoyable. Outside of those months, you may run into more “closed for the season” signs, but you’ll also nab discounts, run into fewer crowds, witness wildlife coming into or out of their slumber, and, with a bit of luck, you’ll catch the northern lights.

Getting around

Southeastern Alaska is the only portion of the state that has an extensive road network. Still, considering the size of the state—larger than Texas, Montana, and California combined—having access to your own wheels is helpful if you want to bounce from one spot to the next or drive the Dalton Highway. Otherwise, many visitors utilize the Alaska Railroad to get to spots like Denali National Park, and seaplanes, bush planes, or ferries will be necessary to go anywhere further off-grid.

Traveler tips

Keep your itinerary open and simple—you’ll be surprised how often you want to stop when you’re on the road. There are incredible roadside hikes (Lion’s Head on the Glenn Highway in the Mat-Su Valley), scenic viewpoints (Wrangell-St. Elias from the Richardson Highway), and you might even have to stop for muskox, reindeer, bears, and wood bison (especially on Seward Highway). Pick up a copy of The Milepost paper travel guide for mile-by-mile highlights of wherever you’re exploring.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
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People Also Ask

What is the number one attraction in Alaska?

By many accounts, Denali National Park and Preserve is the number one attraction in Alaska—it usually receives around 500,000 visitors a year, and it’s by far the most popular Alaska national park by the numbers. Beyond the state’s big-ticket parks, riding the Alaska Railroad is another popular attraction.

Is Alaska always cold?

No, Alaska is not always cold. In fact, even Fairbanks—the main hub of the colder Interior region—experiences temperate summers, with sunny days and temperatures around 70°F (21°C). While Alaska does win the “coldest state” contest, northern states such as Minnesota and North Dakota are sometimes colder than Alaska in winter.

What should I not miss Alaska?

What you shouldn’t miss in Alaska depends on your interests. Most visitors prioritize seeing wildlife (like bears), catching the northern lights (seasonal), relaxing in nature, learning about Indigenous history, and visiting national parks. Tours are good for seeing a lot in a short amount of time—and for eliminating transportation hassles.

What do people go to Alaska for?

People go to Alaska for all sorts of reasons. Some go to experience wild nature—in particular, Denali National Park. Some go for Indigenous or gold rush-era history; some go for the local cuisine and scenic small towns; and some for the hot springs and to take in the northern lights.

What should you avoid in Alaska?

As a visitor, avoid the urge to pack too much into one trip. Even if you feel like this is your one chance to see Alaska once, take your time. You’ll want to travel slowly—like via the Alaska Railroad—see the national parks, and enjoy time spent with Mother Nature.

What 3 things is Alaska famous for?

Many people know Alaska as home to the Iditarod, a world-famous long-distance sled dog race, held yearly in March. Two other things the 49th state is also known for is the Klondike Gold Rush in 1896 and for having much of the United States’ most untrammeled swaths of old-growth wilderness.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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