Top 50 Things to Do and to See in Alaska, USA

Alaska Glacier

Alaska is one of the biggest states as well as one of the least populated areas in the US. It is a place, which can easily be referred to as a “special” place in this world. Here you can find glacier-carved valleys, striking wildlife, rocky coastline and wonderful mountains. The following are 50 things that you can enjoy with your family or friends in Alaska.

1. Anchorage

If you are a first time Alaska visitor then the best place to begin with is Anchorage because of many top things to do in Anchorage and lot of opportunities for day trips.

Anchorage is home to some of the interesting places to visit in Alaska and it is a good place to learn more about Alaskan culture and heritage. Anchorage is home to many museums such as: Alaska Heritage, Alaska Museum of Natural History Anchorage Museum, Alaska Trooper Museum, Museum, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska and Aviation Heritage Museum. You can also go on walking tours of different villages where you can interact with native Alaskans and watch traditional dance demonstrations.

2. Denali National Park and Preserve

One of the most popular places to visit in Alaska is Denali National Park and Preserve as it’s simply an outdoor enthusiast’s most interesting place and a paradise.

If your intention to visit Alaska is exclusively for backpacking trips and nature excursions, enjoying wildlife, glacier sightings and fall foliage tours, then Denali Park offers all of these activities in countless numbers. It is very much through out the year destination, but, the summer season which comes here May through early September is the best time to visit Denali Park as the park’s rangers arrange nature tours that take you along cliffs and mountain passes in an effective way.

3. Kantishna Roadhouse

It’s at lodge located at the end of the Denali Park Road. Kantishna Roadhouse is an eco-friendly, authentic Alaskan lodge. Here you can experience the magnificent landscapes full with wildlife of Denali Park and witness firsthand the history and culture of the area. You can go for hiking on Mt. McKinley or visit Wonder Lake and Reflection Pond. Sparkling clean and Cold Moose Creek runs through this area and the beautiful grounds offer quiet settings for solitude and relaxation. You can also fish here for arctic grayling.

4. Seward

Seward is situated within the Kenai Fjords National Park Seward which makes it a perfect day trip from Anchorage if you want to getaway from the crowds to a more peaceful place. You can go to Seward from Anchorage on a scenic cruise, coach transfer or bus shuttle service, though the train journey is perhaps the best and enjoyable way to go to Seward as it offers the best opportunity for wildlife spotting and marveling at breathtaking scenery around.

5. Juneau

Juneau is on of the best place to be in during a visit, it’s surrounded by Glacier Bay Park and Wilderness and it’s close to the British Columbia-Canada border. If you are planning to go to Juneau, you should allow at least a couple of days to explore all the town’s attractions. This site is among one of the best places to enjoy and adore Alaska’s pristine scenery, enjoy fun attractions and also a bit of outdoor life and learning about the cultural heritage of Alaska. Here you can enjoy whale tours and hiking excursions on top of Mt. Roberts, visit the famed tree and Totem pole carvings.

6. Fairbanks

Fairbanks is situated to the north of Denali Park. It is home to the University of Alaska Museum, which is one of the best museums in the state and a great destination for the entire family to enjoy a fun day out. The museum includes some of the interesting exhibits and interesting films such as the one about the enigmatic Aurora Borealis. Fairbanks is one the best places to learn about Alaskan history. In Fairbanks, you can also visit the Ice Museum to check out the ice-made sculptures and watch ice craftsmen at work and the Pioneer Air Museum which has exhibited an interesting range of WWII fighter planes.

7. Kenai Fjords National Park day cruise

Kenai Fjords day cruise offers you a wide range of marine life, which Denali National Park doesn’t have in it. In Kenai Fjords you can get lucky to watch Bald eagles, Sea stars, Otters, Puffins, Harbor seals, Dall, Orcas and Minke whales are a few in the list. Here you can also watch stunning mountain sceneries, as well as hanging and tidewater glaciers. The Kenai Fjords National Park cruises go from Seward, Alaska.

8. Sitka National Historical Park

Alaska’s oldest national park is Sitka National Historical Park, situated on the east side of Sitka, a famous port of call for Inside Passage cruises. Starting from the park’s visitor center, tourist will explore exhibits on historic and modern totem poles, Russian and Native artifacts, and moderate rain forest and beaches. Visitors also get an preface to the Battle of 1804 between local Tlingit Indians and Russian colonists, the event that Sitka National Historical Park interprets and conserve.

9. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

The 1898 Klondike Gold Rush was a colorful yet somber affair in North American history. With units scattered throughout Alaska – and even one in Seattle – the major visitor center for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is located in Skagway. The visitor center presents a fascinating film covering the terrible hardships and rare triumphs of the men and women who were part of the great rush, with a focus on those who passed through Skagway on their way over the Chilkoot Pass. This Historic Park offers films, exhibits, book shop at the visitor center, ranger-led tour of downtown Skagway and its many historic Gold-Rush-era buildings.

10. Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum at Rasmussen Center gives you an impression of being at several museums in one location; it is together covering Alaska’s art, history, and science. Tourist can view modern and traditional art, know about the state’s history and native peoples, view incredible presentations at the Thomas Planetarium, and participate in hands-on actions. The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, a collection on loan from the Smithsonian, is a particularly fascinating display of artifacts from Native Alaskan and other Arctic cultures. Children among visitors will love the Imaginaries Science Discovery Center, which moved into the Anchorage Museum in 2010.

11. Alaska State Museum

The Alaska State Museum, situated in the capital city Juneau, is the official museum of the capital. Tourist will find exhibits on a range of topics associated to Alaska history and traditions. Their presentation of Native Alaskan culture which includes the Aleut, Athabaskan, Eskimo, and Northwest Coast people, is very excellent. Early Russian, European, and American settlement, as well as gold rush and mining history, are the other interesting subjects illuminated by items in the museum’s permanent collection.

12. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Many people go to Glacier Bay as part of an Alaska inside Passage cruise. Day-long boat visits are also available. There are many ways to experience Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. When you make the chill and quiet journey through the fingers and inlets of Glacier Bay, you can have the chance to see several major tidewater glaciers as well as a variety of wildlife. The area around the town of Gustavus, is home to most of the amenities for the visitors, which include the park headquarters, visitor center, and lodges.

13. Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks

When you come out of Fairbanks, the grand Riverboat Discovery takes you the tour of the Chena and Tanana Rivers which is a scenic visit. On the way you can learn about the contemporary and traditional ways of life in Alaska. An Athabaskan fish camp is stop to visit, where can learn about the harvest, preparation, smoking, and storage of salmon. You can stop in front of the home and kennels of the late Susan Butcher and find out about the sled dogs. The features of the trip is the Chena Indian Village, here you can get off the Riverboat Discovery and explore an Athabaskan village and get an up-close look at the gear, animals, and dwellings that are a part of their culture.

14. Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau

This glacier is situated just outside of Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier fills Mendenhall Valley just before ending into and forming Mendenhall Lake. Overlooking the glacier is the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, which provides warm and sheltered viewing opportunities. At the visitor center exhibits and films are available to learn more about the science and history of Mendenhall Glacier and about glaciers and the process of glacier formation in general. Many trail, most of which start near the visitor center, permits you to view the glaciers, landscape, and wildlife.

15. Matanuska Glacie

Matanuska Glacier is on the crest of a hill at around 100 Mile of the winding Glenn Highway, Matanuska Glacier dominates the landscape north of Palmer. Just pull over to look down at the roadside wonder and walk the Edge Nature Trail for a closer look. You can pay a small fee at Glacier Park Resort to drive to a terminal moraine where you can walk on the ice and rock in the icy wind.

16. Childs Glacier

The Childs Glacier, along a road outside Cordova, fulfills your dream, about every 15 minutes in the summer to witness a calving glacier. The falling ice here can send a 10-15 foot wave across the river and onto the opposite shore. During the course you can check for that Salmon that might have been splashed up into the forest. This one Glacier that’s something you list down in your itinerary.

17. Ruth Glacier

The country of glaciers Alaska, offers another glaciers for you that’s Ruth Granite Glaciers this cliff towers 5,000 feet above aqua-colored ice peeking from beneath snow on this glacier, and it drops more than 2,000 feet across 10 miles. If you catch a flight above the ice from Talkeetna you can witness some of the best scenes of nature in this Alaska glacier.

18. Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass, north of Palmer, is a popular tourist destination for many tourists. It passes you through the twisting and turning as it follows the Little Susitna River, and Palmer-Fishhook Road which is equally dramatic in winter and summer. The popular activities which you can undertake here include snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling destination in winter and a great place to hike or pick berries in summer.

19. El Capitan Cave

El Capitan Cave, on Prince of Wales Island, is the largest known till date cave in Alaska with more than 13,000 feet of passageways, and it is one of the longest found caves in the Americas. Black-bear skeletons found in 1990 in a newly discovered passage were dated at almost 12,300 years old. Freely guided tours are available by reservation during summer. A guide is required to go beyond 200 feet to a locked gate.

20. Cape St. Elias Lighthouse

Cape St. Elias Lighthouse was built in 1916 that is located at the tip of 20-mile-long, one-mile-wide, uninhabited and inhospitable Kayak Island, which is 62 miles southeast in Cordova. The lighthouse and the light keeper’s residence are unsafe, but the boathouse has a wood stove, propane oven, water tank, blankets and bunks to accommodate up to 10 visitors. For reserving a seat there you need to contact the Cape St. Elias Lightkeepers Association.

21. Eldred Rock Lighthouse

This is another light house in Alaska, it was first lighted June 1, 1906, and this is one of the most remote lighthouses in North America and the oldest original lighthouse building in Alaska. It’s an octagonal Lighthouse that was built after several shipwrecks during the 1898 Gold Rush and when Lynn Canal was full of steamships bringing miners to Skagway for their climb over the Chilkoot Pass.

22. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve has an area larger than Rhode Island and Vermont combined together. The park is named after the two mountain ranges that form its backbone. There are only two roads that lead to the park, which also contains the largest reserved wilderness area, nearly 10 million acres, in the National Park System.

23. Barrow city

Barrow city is the largest city of the North Slope Borough, Alaska. Here you can see the Midnight Sun or dip your fingers in the Arctic Ocean or learn about Inupiat culture. It is America’s most northern city. It is a very small town, which is actually a flat desert that almost doesn’t receive snow. Some of the activities that you can perform here include the following:

  • Fresh water lake
  • Palm trees at shooting station
  • Whalebones
  • Point Barrow
  • NARL / DEW line relics
  • Satcom Array

24. Kennicott and McCarthy

The deserted Kennecott Mine and ghost town of Kennicott are not to miss in your tour of Alaska. They’re just after the town of McCarthy, where around 42 people live, at the end of a footbridge. These historically-rich communities’ house calls you to take a peek into our Ken and Mcs past and present much surrounding land are privately owned. Many of these same people provide the tourists with a variety of lodging and accommodations. Here you can experience river rafting, meals, gift shops, and guiding.

25. Kachemak Bay State Park

To witness beautiful wildlife, scenery and solitude, Kachemak Bay State Park is among the best parks of Alaska. This park usually attracts a few visitors, compared to many of Alaska’s popular state parks, as it can be accessed only by water or air, but it offers you different options for the serious backcountry adventurer and for the upscale and local tourists.

26. Shuyak Island

Shuyak Island is located off the north tip of Kodiak Island, it is spread over 47,000 acre island and is mostly state park land covered by huge Sitka spruce and grassy meadows. Here you can enjoy kayak its craggy coastline, hike its forests and cast for salmon in its many streams.

27. Pribilof Islands

The two Island of St. Paul and St. George are the largest of the Pribilof Islands, popular as a top spot for birders and for the largest congregation of Northern fur seals anywhere. St. Paul is also home to the harbor entrance and it has a vast variety of birds.

28. Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island is the second largest islands in the United States, Kodiak is mountainous and heavily forested on the north and east but it is fairly treeless on the south. Kodiak is peppered with small native communities, the island’s many deep, ice-free bays provide sheltered anchorages, and with just less than 100 miles of roads, the island is ripe for exploring Alaska and its beauty.

29. The Kuskokwim River ice road

The Kuskokwim River ice road is almost100 miles in some winters, depending on ice conditions. There are around 15,328 miles of roads in Alaska but only in summer. However, in winter that number swells as state road crews clear and maintain ice roads on major waterways. Summer time is the only time of year you can drive in or out of Bethel and its surrounding villages. Taxis also run on this river road, a road to see while in Alaska.

30. Serpentine Hot Springs

Serpentine Hot Springs are located in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. It consists of hot springs, Eskimo shamans gathered here to tap some of the natural the power of the natural hot springs. Nowadays, it is one of the most visited spots of the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve. Here tourists can enjoy a soak amid the soaring granites.

31. Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel

The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America and from Anchorage Whittier is 50 miles away, which is a town. While going you will find a mountain on the way, during the World War II the Army Corps of Engineers dug a 2.5-mile tunnel through the rock. Earlier it was only a railroad tunnel, but lately in July 2000, it was opened to vehicle traffic also. It has only one car width wide, so traffic switches direction every half an hour. It gets closed at night, so miss the last opening and you might get stuck in town until morning.

32. Tracy Arm

Tracy Arm is located near Juneau and it is a fjord in Alaska. It is located some 45 miles or 72 km south of Juneau off of Holkham Bay and adjacent to Stephens Passage within the Tongass National Forest. Cruising through the scenic Tracy Arm and passing through the bobbing icebergs, steep cliffs, and the face of Sawyer Glacier is a memorable event. Watch out for the harbor seals and their newborn pups as the glacier calves.

33. The Tongass National Forest 

It is the largest national forest in Alaska and the United States spread over 17 million acres around 69,000 km². It’s located in the southeastern part of Alaska. It is home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna. About 75,000 people live here and they are dependent on the land for their livelihoods. Three Alaska Natives live in the Southeast Alaska- the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

34. Bristol Bay Watershed

The Bristol Bay is located in the southwest Alaska, which is a pristine wild country stretching from the rugged snow-capped peaks of the Alaska Range, across tundra and wetlands laced with rivers that flow into the Bay. The bay provides the best of habitat to wild salmon on the Earth. Bristol Bay and its watershed are truly inspiring for their beauty and bounty of fish and wildlife. In one hand the wild salmon disappearing around the globe, but, Bristol Bay continues to produce the world’s largest sockeye salmon fisheries and one of the largest king salmon run. There’s a struggle going on to save Bristol Bay, the developers are trying to dig an open-pit gold, copper and molybdenum mine here and conservationists are trying to protect the area’s nine rivers, home to the world’s largest commercial salmon run.

35. Kenai River

The Kenai River is located in the Kenai Peninsula of south central Alaska. It is called Kahtnu in the Dena’ina language. Its length is 82 miles westward from the Kenai Lake in the Kenai Mountains, through the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Skilak Lake .For nearly six weeks beginning with mid-July, thousands of fishermen migrate to the Kenai to catch a world-famous king, red, silver or pink salmon, trophy-size rainbow or Dolly Varden. The Kenai River is the most popular for sport fishing in Alaska.

36. Chilkat River

The Chilkat River is located in the British Columbia and southeastern Alaska, which is about 50 miles long. The River flows southward from the Coast Range to the Chilkat Inlet and ultimately Lynn Canal. The Russians named the river for the Chilkat group of Tlingit who lived in the region. The meaning of the name is “salmon storehouse”. Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is located near the Chilkat River where thousands of bald eagles visit between October and February. The nearby town- Haines is one of the most common place spot to watch birds.

37. Bald Eagle

North America is the only continent that’s home to Bald Eagle. Female eagles are slightly larger than males. The distinct white head and tail of the mature bird is developed during four and six years of age. Bald eagles can fly up to 30 mph and can dive at speeds up to 100 mph. They have sharp eyesight which allows them to spot fish from a distance of up to one mile. The Chilkat Valley is through out home to between 200 and 400 eagles.

38. Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is located near the Chilkat River is located in the British Columbia and southeastern Alaska. The Preserve consists of nearly 48,000 acres of river bottom land of the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers. The preserve is home to the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat. The preserve also sustains and protects the natural salmon runs and allows for traditional uses. It’s spawning place for five species of salmon in these and other nearby streams and tributaries.

39. Yukon river

It is the longest river in Yukon & Alaska. And the third longest river in North America, flowing northwest from the Coastal Range mountains of northern British Columbia, through the Yukon Territory and Alaska to the Bering Sea. It is 3185 KM long and has some parts in Canada. During the Gold Rush of Klondike the Yukon River was one of the major means of transportation. Paddle-wheel riverboats plied the river until the 1950. River Yukon is one of the important salmon-breeding rivers in the world.

40. Valdez

Valdez is located in Alaska, North America and it’s densely surrounded by towering mountains. Valdez gets the highest fall of snow of any sea-level community in North America. At the tidewater end of the trans-Alaska pipeline, the tankers fill up with North Slope oil bound for the Lower 48 and beyond. This one site is a good to see mountain in Alaska.

41. Eagle checkpoint

Eagle is a checkpoint for the Yukon Quest, it’s located at the end of the Taylor Highway, which is one of the coldest inhabitable areas in Alaska. It is an access point for the famous Yukon River, which stretches 1,980 miles to the Bering Sea. Eagle checkpoint is one of the oldest places of Alaska.

42. White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad

If you want to enjoy a scenic train trip which could make your visit exciting in Alaska then you must visit this place. It’s a scenic, narrow gauge railroad between Skagway and Whitehorse, Yukon which was built in the year 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. The train here climbs 3,000 feet in 20 miles, makes sharp turns around steep cliff faces and hangs precariously above deep mountain gorges making fun double.

43. Baranof Warm Springs

The tiny town of Baranof Warm Springs is located near Sitka, and there not many people who live here. There are no roads, just a boardwalk. The town has nine hot springs with temperatures from lukewarm to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s how the springs got the name ‘warm’. This tiny town attracts many visitors thanks to the warm springs.

44. Seldovia city

Seldovia city is located in Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, which has fever population? There is no road system connecting Seldovia, here you can enjoy gorgeous views of majestic mountains sitting over sparkling waters, long stretches of sandy shores and plentiful and towering spruce forests reaching from the tree line to the water’s edge. Seldovia is one of the Alaska’s most beautifully situated seaside towns where tourists always find the beauty.

45. Sitka

The City and Borough of Sitka, is a unified city-borough located on Baranof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Pacific Ocean, Alaska. The city has rich history under Tlingit, Russian and American rule. Sitka is one of the most beautiful of southeast Alaska cities. Located on the west side of Baranof Island, it is bordered on the east by majestic snow-capped mountains, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

46. Dutch Harbor

Dutch Harbor is fisheries port and lies within the city limit of Unalaska and is connected to Unalaska by a bridge. It’s a home base for the crab boats on Deadliest Catch, it’s one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports. It is one of the largest fisheries port in Alaska and the U.S. It includes Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears.

47. Metlakatla

Metlakatla is a group of people of Tsimshian citizens who followed a missionary of the Anglican Church of England, The United States Congress granted recognition to the new community in 1891 by creating the Annette Islands Reserve, a federal Indian reservation. Currently it is the only reservation in the State of Alaska. The community has prospered due to an abundance of natural and human resources. Its people exhibit a great variety and diversity of skills in numerous fields, from native art in the ancient style to advanced computer skills necessary for today’s communication requirements. The southern-most community of note in the state, Metlakatla is on Annette Island, home to a largely Tsimshian population. This place has become one of the tourist attractions.

48. Salty Dawg Saloon

It is one of the Historical places of Alaska; it was built in 1897 originally as a cabin built in Homer. It was once a railroad station, post office, grocery store, schoolhouse and coal mining office but now a bar on the Homer Spit. It has a lighthouse tower along with thousands of hats and dollar bills hanging from the ceiling. In the year 1957, it was transformed to Salty Dawg Saloon.

49. Chicken town

The town of Chicken is located in Southeast Fairbanks Census Area, Alaska. Chicken is a few surviving gold rush towns in Alaska. It’s a community founded town. It has around 17 inhabitants. You can not visit Chicken from the road, but it’s just 1/8th of a mile off the highway. Don’t cross Chicken Creek to reach Chicken. Downtown Chicken has a gift shop, bar, salmon bake and cafe. You can arrive in the morning to enjoy some of Sue’s famous Cinnamon Rolls.

50. Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve

It’s located on Alaska Peninsula (which doesn’t have road), it’s 150 miles southwest of King Salmon, it is 586,000-acre long and a monument that is home to one of the world’s largest calderas. It reminds of Alaska’s location in the volcanically active “Ring of Fire.” Inside the caldera you can find lave plugs, cinder cones, hot springs, Vent Mountain and Sunrise Lake.

What are the other things to do in Alaska with kids? Share your experience in comments!

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