8 Best Vacation Spots in Alaska, the Last Frontier. Discover Alaska, Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka, Fairbanks, Ketchikan
For your trips and travels, one of the best vacation spots is Alaska. Alaska, the Last Frontier, satisfies your spirit of adventure. There are mountain peaks no one has climbed and valleys no one has explored. Many places have no roads, much less tourist shops. Alaska vacation spots offer awe-inspiring mountains and glaciers, grizzly-bear watching, and fishing for salmon and rainbow trout. You can hike meadows of tundra, or take a wildlife tour along the coast.
Half of all visitors travel to Alaska by cruise ship. But you can also make the trip by ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway System year-round. This is the best vacation spot for Alaskan wildlife, because it provides views of whales, seals, sea lions, walruses, sea otters and birds in their native environment. On your travels, you will probably see grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, moose and sheep.
Take a look at these best vacation spots in Alaska for travels and trips, like Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka, Fairbanks and Ketchikan.
Best Vacation Spots in the Panhandle of Alaska
Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan
- Southeast Alaska, called the Panhandle, is the most popular and possibly the best vacation spot. It includes the state capital Juneau and Sitka. Glacier Bay National Park gets you close to massive tidewater glaciers. Its pure waters are perfect for sea kayaking out to the Beardslees Islands, where you can go camping. Kayaking is a popular sport in Alaska. After all, it was the Aleut natives who invented the kayak, and made it more stable and more portable than canoes. The Alaska Chikat Bald Eagle Preserve in the Haines area is the winter home to 4,000 of these birds. You'll see long fjords, mountains, timber slopes, rocky shores and lots of marine life.
- Juneau can only be reached by boat or plane because it is surrounded by ice and water. The giant Mendenhall Glacier is only 13 miles outside the city. The tramway up the side of Mt. Roberts is another of the best vacation spots. The Alaska State Museum has a unique collection of arts, crafts and artifacts of the Native Alaskans. The Red Dog Saloon and the Alaskan Hotel in Juneau are famous bars where everyone has good time. South Franklin Street is an interesting place for a walk past old buildings and shops. Juneau has a tradition as a gold town, where you can go panning for gold like the old-time prospectors. While you are here, take a ferry trip anlong the Inside Passage, the longest, deepest fjord in North America, The trip will take you from Juneau to Skagway, and show you hundreds of waterfalls spilling from the tall peaks. You are likely to see whales and dolphins close to the ferry.
- The town of Ketchikan is the best vacation spot for cruise ships, with curious houses, the wild salmon falls, and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center. The Inter-Island Ferry will take you out to Prince of Wales Island.
- Sitka, formerly a fur trading center and Russian outpost, is another stop on Alaska cruises. Vacation spots in Sitka are St. Michael's Cathedral, Sheldon Jackson Museum, Castle Hill, Sitka National Historical Park and the Alaska Raptor Center.
Best Vacation Spots in Anchorage and South Central Alaska
Travel to Anchorage, the Alaska's largest city, home for half of all Alaskans. They call it the "Seattle of the North" because it has lots of vacation spots, trendy restaurants, art museums, history museums, and the scenic Alaska Railroad.
On your trip, you'll see the occasional moose ambling down a bike trail and fish for king salmon downtown in Ship Creek. The Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Heritage Museum have exhibits of native village life and native artworks and a 46 ounce gold nugget. The Native Heritage Center will introduce you to the life of the Eskimos and Native Peoples. Anchorage is also a good home base for your travels out into the winderness of south-central Alaska.
- South Central Alaska has great outdoor adventures, sport fishing, hiking, rafting, birdwatching and wildlife sightings. The towns to visit are Seward and Home on the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak in the Gulf of Alaska for its Kodiak brown bears and green carpeted mountains. It's best to travel with a charter outfit to get to remote wilderness spots.
- One of the best vacation spots in Alaska is Denali National Park, a wonderful scenic travel destinatiion for camping out or renting a cabin. Denali National Park has Mount McKinley, at 20,000 feet, the highest mountain in North America. Denali covers 6 million acres of the best wildlife, scenery and adventures.
- For tourists who want to view the snow covered peaks of Mount McKinley, there are many viewing points between Anchorqage and Fairbanks.
- Seward is home of the Mt. Marathon Race on the 4th of July, a popular race 1 and a half miles straight up Mt. Marathon and down again.
Best Vacation Spots in the Alaskan Interior and the Alaska Bush
The Alaskan Interior lies between the Brooks Range and the Alaska Range The major city is Fairbanks, from where you can make a trip to for the towns of the Arctic, the Bering Coast and Canada's Yukon Territory.
The Alaska Bush is the area of tundra and western coastline. Vacation spots for your trip are Prudhoe Bay, Katmai National Park, and Nome. The 1890 gold rush brought adventurers on a 3-month hike on the arduous trip to reach Dawson City. People still prospect for gold in Nome. Except for Nome, this area is essentially roadless, the real Alaska. Inupiaq people live here. Prudhoe Bay is famous for its oil fields. If you want to see lots of brown bears, visit Katmai National Park.
What's the Best Time for a Vacation to Alaska
As you would expect, summer is tourist season in this northern state. May through September are prime months to travel. From June 15 to August 15, tourists flock to Alaska. The whales return to Alaska, too, during the summer, so you can watch the humpback, gray and orca whales. In summer the bears come out of hibernation, geese and terns migrate north to Alaska and the salmon spawn. But even summer is chilly. If you make the trip to Alaska by ferry, cruise ship or car, you need a passport to cross the Canadian Border. Bring your camera, your binoculars and lots of bug spray to deter the mosquitoes.
- There's plenty to do in Alaska on a winter vacation, too. To endure the dark winter days, Alaskans plan special events and sports. Skiing, sledding, ice-skating, dog mushing, and ice fishing are popular. Snowmobiles are called snow machines in Alaska. Take a guided tour on a snow machine to rtavel out into the snowy wilderness, what Alaskans call a snow safari. Ski parks in Anchorage and Fairbanks light up the ski trails 24 hours a day. People go ice fishing round the clock. Ski events where everyone wears costumes are popular with locals. There are no major sports league teams, but Alaskans are enthusiastic fans of college hockey and the minor league hockey team Alaska Aces.
- Travel to Alaska in winter to see the aurora borealis, the stunning colored lights in the northern sky. It's hard to predict when the northern lights will appear, and luck is a factor. Fairbanks is likely to have the right conditions for the light show, along with mountain viewing and hot thermal springs for soaking.
- Farther north at the top of the state, the Arctic Circle is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun. Travel here in summertime to experience 82 days of days of constant sunlight, with no night at all. But in winter on the Arctic Circle, it's dark for 60 days straight. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge covers 19 million acres in the northeast corner of Alaska, the last great wilderness. With no roads for your trip, access is only possible by a small bush plane. Living here undisturbed are 45 species of land and marine mammals, 36 species of fish and 180 species of birds.
Best Vacation Events in Alaska
Travelers to Alaska enjoy these events on vacation:
- Anchorage Fur Rondy Rendezvous in February
- Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in March from Anchorage to Nome
- Juneau's Alaska Folk Festival in April
- World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in Fairbanks in July
- October Alaska Day festival in Sitka
- Mt. Marathon Race on the Fourth of July in Seward
The Native People of Alaska
Many of the vacation spots in Alaska have exhibits of native arts and crafts. Alaska is the home of over 200 native tribes, like the Inuit, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Haida and Aleut. They create traditional arts and crafts, and maintain the old lifestyle. Take a trip to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where you'll see the exhibits and demonstrations of these skills. The crafts of Alaska's Natives are carved totem poles, baskets and carved figures, made from local rye grass or cedar trees. The Inuit are know for ivory carvings, spirit masks, dance fans, baleen baskets and jewelry. Mukluks are boots made from the skin of a seal or a reindeer. The Tlingit of Southeast Alaska make totem poles, baskets and hats woven from spruce root and cedar bark. The Haida Indians are basket makers and carvers. Athabascans use birch park, decorated fur clothing and beadwork. The Aleut in the southwest are famous for grass baskets, along with other crafts.
Local Food and Drink at Vacation Spots in Alaska
On your trip to Alaska, visit the local restaurants to sample a rare feast of seafood: fresh-caught Alaskan fish, halibut, salmon, crab, shrimp shrive here along with edible abalone, sear urchin, herring and sea cucumbers. Sourdough bread and sourdough pancakes are a local favorite that dates back to the goldrush prospectors who carried sourdough starter in their pack. The native state drink, a cocktail called the Duck Fart, is made of Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream and Crown Royal. In many places the bars stay open all night long. Alaska is famous for its blueberries, and you can go wild blueberry picking in mid-summer.
Unique Challenges for a Vacation in Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the nation. How did Alaska become part of the United States? In 1867 Secretary of State William H. Seward authorized the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, at the time the deal was called Seward's Folly Alaska became the 49th state in the nation in 1959, although it is separated from mainland United States. Alaska is has unique wildlife and natural resources like oil, gold and copper. There are millions of lakes, little pollution and lots of opportunity for adventure. Alaska is a hotbed of political controversy between conservationists and developers. More than 75% of Alaska revenue comes from the oil industry. Every Alaskan receives a yearly check of $1,00 or more from the oil revenues. There is relatively little farming or manufacturing in the state.
Alaskans know the effects of global warming firsthand. They see the melting icebergs that have displaced the polar bears. The warming seas are attracting predators like the Humboldt giant squid. And the melting permafrost undermines the villages of indigenous native tribes in the Arctic region.
I hope you have an exciting trip.
I wish you a very happy day.
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