Alaska is a bucket-list destination for many travelers; if it’s on your list, you should book a trip soon to enjoy all the state has to offer. Take a cruise through the inside passage, or rent a car to explore on your own. Let us build your perfect Itinerary. You can try white-water rafting near Denali National Park, have your first taste of freshly smoked salmon, or learn about Alaska’s dynamic history of native tradition and fur traders. All of these experiences and more await you in the biggest U.S. state, accessible without a passport and by cruise ship or airplane.
Exploring Southeast Alaska & the Inside Passage
For most travelers, Southeast Alaska is their primary destination. Many travelers take an Alaska cruise through Southeast Alaska, also called the Inside Passage.
Increasingly, travelers can choose between large ship cruises with companies like Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, and small ship cruises like those offered by UnCruise Adventures. These cruises offer different inclusions and staterooms, but each will allow you the chance to experience Alaska’s unique history and beauty. Larger ships typically move from larger town to town, whereas smaller ships take a shorter route and allow you to explore the fjords and waterways more closely. Read a review of small ship cruises in Alaska from travel blogger Valerie on her blog Valerie & Valise.
Cruises typically begin in cities like Seattle or Vancouver, where travelers board their ship and set sail through the Pacific Northwest. Along the way, most cruises stop in cities including Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Skagway. These cities are all small, but welcoming to travelers for a day excursion. Here are some of the most popular:
- Opt for a flightseeing tour or hike on the Mendenhall glacier tour from Juneau.
- Explore Alaska Native history by wandering through totem pole forests in Ketchikan, or viewing a traditional dance in the small town of Wrangell.
- Take a zipline through Alaska’s temperate rainforest in Sitka.
- Learn about famous Soapy Smith and the gold rush that helped put Alaska on the map from historic Skagway.
No matter which excursions you choose, you’ll soon discover Alaska is full of unique experiences.
Exploring Southcentral Alaska
Alaska cruises end in either Seward or Whittier, small waterfront towns that swell with travelers each summer season. Most travelers will strike inland from here to continue their land-based travels in the Last Frontier.
Options include visiting the Kenai Fjords National Park, or Homer the “Halibut Fishing Capital of Alaska”, or take a float plane to visit designated bear viewing opportunities. Check out our trip report here.
Anchorage one of the largest cities has national restaurant options and local flavor (literally!). If you are willing to try something new, purchase a reindeer sausage from one of the local street vendors along 4th avenue, explore the Anchorage Market and Festival each weekend, or sit down for a meal and enjoy a local libation at Humpy’s or the Glacier Brewhouse. The craft beer scene in Alaska is budding, with craft and microbreweries popping up all over town. There are a variety of towns and excursions:
- You can take the Alaska Railroad north from Seward to Anchorage, and experience the scenic vistas along Turnagain Arm, looking for beluga whales and glaciers.
- If you to ensure that you see all of the wildlife that calls Alaska home, stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to support local conservation and see moose, caribou, wolves, and bears.
- In the ski-town of Alyeska, you can take a tram ride up Alyeska mountain, or if traveling in winter, you can ski down the slopes of the state’s most famous resort.
Exploring Interior Alaska
Though many travelers just enjoy their Alaska cruise and Anchorage, you’ve traveled a long way — so don’t skip out on the chance to explore Interior Alaska and see the largest mountain in North America.
Book a trip aboard the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali. The eight-hour journey offers you the chance to see mountains and glaciers, silt flats and rivers rushing with salmon from the glass-domed carriages. Upon arriving in Denali, you can book a trip into Denali National Park, where you can see moose, caribou, and on a clear day, the park’s namesake mountain in all her glory.
After experiencing Denali National Park, continue north on the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks. This industrial town is slowly developing into a tourist destination, and is popular in the winter if you want to take a Northern Lights tour. Additionally, Chena Hot Springs is a great stop if you need some rest and relaxation after an ambitious trip throughout Alaska.
So much to do and see, let Magical Adventures help plan the perfect Alaska trip for you!