Named “The Last Frontier” because of its vast areas of unpopulated wilderness, Alaska is the perfect location for travelers to step outside of their normal routines and experience the raw unfiltered beauty of the world. From high mountain peaks to low-lying mudflats and the dazzling beautiful Northern Lights, each new experience will leave you craving the open air and experiencing a daring side to yourself. Growing up with family in various cities throughout Alaska, I became very accustomed to the close-knit community and slow-moving lifestyle of the inhabitants. However, as with every state, there is variation. Therefore cities like Ketchikan and Anchorage are larger tourist destinations that offer a more bustling and activity-filled experience, while places such as Petersburg cater to a more local feel. I guarantee with this list of the best places to visit in Alaska you are sure to find something to grab your attention.

 explore to the fullest while traveling in alaska
Me with my beautiful dogs going sledding in the snow.

The Best Places To Visit In Alaska


there are many things to do in alaska
Ketchikan is the biggest cruise port in the state.

Starting off the list of the best places to visit in Alaska is Ketchikan. I’m a little biased because I have family that lives here, however, that is not the only reason that this town is at the top of my list. As the biggest cruise port in the state, Ketchikan is host to a plethora of shops, cafes, and restaurants tucked inside of brightly colored buildings on stilts, that are sure to make you feel like you’re in a storybook land.

Ketchikan is also home to the largest collection of Totem poles in the world, which stand as a symbol of the rich indigenous cultures that are still alive in Alaska today. With an average rainfall of 160+ inches of rain a year, this beautiful town resides in a rainforest which results in some of the most incredible hiking trails in the state. Close by, Misty Fjords National Monument offers tourists the opportunity to stand on top of a glacier and even has the option of riding on a dog sled!


best places to visit in alaska
The largest and most beautiful city in Alaska.

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska which also makes it its business epicenter. While this might not initially strike someone as being one of the best places to visit in Alaska, this bustling town is not without its own fair share of activities and natural wonders which make it an essential stop during your trip. From locally owned shops and restaurants to museums, theaters, and the University of Anchorage, this bustling city offers the perfect blend of a quaint local feel with the high energy of any major city. Stunning natural wonders like Katmai National Park are easily accessible by a float plane from Lake Hood, the world’s busiest seaplane base. Whenever I’m in town I love to go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to check out the wild animals that they are caring for. 


great places to visit in alaska for adventure seekers
Best place for people who are looking for an adventure.

This city throws all of your preconceived notions about what a state’s capital should look like out the window. With 99% of its square footage uninhabited, this is the ultimate location for people who are looking for an adventure-filled experience while also having the option to lodge comfortably in a hotel at night. Mendenhall Glacier is one of the best and easiest attractions to visit. Accessible by foot, kayak, boat, and helicopter, this one-of-a-kind experience allows you to witness this ice formation up close and personal. (If you choose the helicopter option, you are even able to ride a sled dog at the top!)

Haines and Skagway 

Even though both of these towns are only 14 miles apart from each other, there is no direct road that links them. Therefore the fastest way to go is by plane or boat. I’m sure you’re thinking, is the trek worth it? Should they be on the list of the best places to travel to in Alaska? Well, the short answer is yes. Located in the north of the Southeast Alaska Panhandle, Skagway is nestled within the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and Haines is close to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Both of these offer tremendous opportunities to become face to face with wildlife and their numerous lakes and inlets are the perfect places to hone your fishing skills. From Skagway, you’re also able to ride the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad to see more of the country from the comfort of a train car. 


watching the skies is great activities in alaska to do
colorful skies in the cold winter nights of Alaska.

When you think of Fairbanks, the first thing to come to your mind should be the Aurora Borealis. Positioned close to the Arctic Circle, this magical town provides tourists with the opportunity to see the breathtaking Lights during the winter time, and the ever-present sun in the summer. Hop aboard a plane for a flightseeing tour of this one-of-a-kind landscape, or visit Georgeson Botanical Garden to learn about Alaskan native plant species. The Tanana River that Fairbanks sits on is the location for the ultimate boat cruise complete with a guided walking tour of the Chena Village, a bush pilot demonstration, and a dog mushing demonstration! 


This unique small town is easily one of the best places to visit in Alaska. Situated on Baranof Island on the Alaskan Panhandle, it was formerly a Russian territory and the site of one of the last major conflicts between European forces and the Native Americans. As such, Sitka is filled with tributes to the Tlingit tribe through artifacts, totem poles, and preserved forts. There are a plethora of nearby islands able to be explored through hikes and walking tours. Sitka itself is only one mile from end to end but attractions such as the Sitka Science Center and Sitka Historic Museum will keep you both informed and entertained during your stay. The Fortress of the Bear Rescue Center rehabilitates rescued bears and educates visitors on their specific features while giving them an up-close view of them. 


While this town is not typically found in a top spot on the list of the best places to visit in Alaska, its charm and rich history make it more than deserving of one. This Norwegian fishing town celebrates its culture by hosting multiple festivals every year. During Christmas time, their Julebukking festival occurs where businesses set out food and locals walk around eating and interacting with one another.

Petersburg is home to the largest Sons of Norway clubs in Alaska that spend their time celebrating their Norwegian heritage through demonstrations and cultural events throughout the year. Petersburg has always predominantly been a fishing town and their traditions are still vibrant today. I have extremely fond memories of Petersburg because I would come here as a kid and distinctly remember my grandpa picking up my family from the docks and driving us in his skiff to a nearby island where he and my grandma lived in a log cabin. 

Denali National Park 

tourism in alaska is great because of great views all over
Denali National Park consists of six million acres of untouched land.

Last but far from least on the list, this wonder-filled national park is definitely one of the best places to visit in Alaska as it consists of six million acres of untouched land. The topography ranges from the low-situated taiga forest to the high elevation of the alpine tundra which hosts Mount Denali, the tallest peak in North America. Hiking, camping, and climbing are among the most popular activities to do out in this stunning backcountry. Wildlife roam as they please, without fences or enclosures to keep them in any one particular area. Therefore it’s important to read about bear safety before you visit so that you are well-prepared should you encounter any danger: 

Best Activities In Alaska


Alaska has some of the best hiking trails in the world. For an easier hiking experience, and my personal favorite, you can check out Perseverance Trail in Juneau. It’s a 4.6-mile round trip and will lead you through rainforests to waterfalls and along rivers. The elevation stays relatively the same throughout the hike which makes it perfect for the more inexperienced hiker. I recommend trying out Ketchikan’s Deer Mountain Trail which takes you above the clouds at 3,000 ft. (Make sure to wear lots of bug spray because the mosquitos and deer flies can be intense).

For hikers looking for something more rigorous and advanced, Bonanza Mine Trail in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park will not disappoint. A nine-mile round trip with an elevation of 3800 ft. makes this one of the hardest hikes in Alaska. If you want to grab your snow gear and face the elements you can also try Harding Icefield Trail in the Kenai Fjord. This hike climbs an elevation of 1,000 each mile, and hikers should allot 6-8 hours for the entire journey. However if you can make it through the threat of avalanches along with temperature and terrain changes, the breathtaking view of the Exit Glacier is your final reward. 


Depending on your preference, you can do salt, freshwater, or ice fishing throughout the state. Many tour packages for saltwater fishing offer full-day or half-day excursions with charter fishermen and women that will take you to remote locations for the best chance of catching Salmon and Halibut. I have done many trips out on my Grandfather’s boat in Ketchikan where we have been able to catch crab, shrimp, halibut, and salmon. You will not want to miss out on an excursion like this one as it is definitely a fantastic choice when thinking about what to do in Alaska. 

For a freshwater experience, take a tour along a river or lake and fish for Rainbow, Dolly Varden, Steelhead, or Cutthroat trout. Some locations will have lodging options so you can make your fishing excursion a multiple-day endeavor. 

In cities like Fairbanks during the winter time, ice fishing becomes a very popular option. Rent your own gear and try it out for yourself or join a tour and have a guide show you the ropes!

Northern Lights

While seeing the Lights depends on a lot of factors, the best shot you have of getting a glimpse of these natural wonders is between late August and mid-April, with the best viewing location in/ near the Arctic Circle. Fly into Fairbanks which is located just below the main Aurora Belt and travel for about an hour to get into a prime viewing location. The best time to see them is between 11 pm and 2 am when it’s darkest and the colors will appear most vibrant. Of course, there will be days where the weather just won’t cooperate and it will be too cloudy to see them (this is what happened to me and my family in Talkeetna one time) so have a flexible attitude, and make sure you check weather reports!

Some of the best tourism in Alaska is centered around viewing the Northern Lights. It is the best and easiest way to increase your chances of optimal viewing. Tour groups such as Northern Alaska Tour Company, Iniakuk Lake Wilderness Lodge, and Godwana Eco Tours are all great options for your visit and vary depending on the type of experience you are looking for. 

Also Read: All You Need To Know About The Northern Lights In Alaska

Dog Sledding 

Dog sledging is one of the best activities in alaska
Alaska offers dog sled rides for tourists.

A must-see while in Alaska is the Iditarod! This long-distance sled dog competition is held annually at the beginning of March and its course runs from Anchorage to Nome. Spectators line up at the start, finish, and along various parts throughout the race to cheer on the sled dogs and their mushers. 

There are also many different places throughout Alaska that offer dog sled rides for tourists. AK Sled Dog Tours located in Trapper Creek just outside of Talkeetna allows visitors to mush their own sled dog team and end the experience by playing with sled dog puppies. Enjoy traversing through a winter wonderland between November and April, or mix it up by doing a dry land run between May and October. (I had the opportunity to do this during December one year, and it is still one of the greatest highlights of my life – just check out the photos below!)

Other options for sled dog tours include Susitna Sled Dog Adventures also in Talkeetna (Offered in the winter, with dog walks and kennel tours offered in the summer), Coastal Helicopters Inc which begins the tour with a helicopter ride to Herbert Glacier in Juneau where you then meet up with the sled dogs for a ride of a lifetime (Offered May-August), and Alaska Mushing School outside of Anchorage that provides tours both during the day and at night in the wintertime. If you choose the nighttime option there’s a chance you’ll get to see the Northern Lights during your ride!

Flight Seeing 

One of the best ways to fully experience the beauty and wonders of Alaska is from the sky. From up in the air, you are able to have a different perspective on all the great places to visit in Alaska such as on a helicopter ride over Denali National Forest. Or splurge for a 6-day adventure to fly from Homer to the Alaska Bear Camp to get the best-viewing potential of Alaska’s beautiful Brown Bears. I did a flight-seeing tour in Ketchikan that took us into the Misty Fjords National Monument and from the air we were also able to see New Eddy Stone rock and large parts of the Tongass National Forest which made the experience so much fun. 

Trail Ridge Air Inc, and Regal Air Bear Viewing are other companies that provide fly-in access to popular spots where bears frequent. You won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see these elusive creatures in their natural habitat. 

What To Know Before You Go

Indigenous Tribes in Alaska

beautiful alaska
indigenous tribes have resided in Alaska for thousands of years.

It is essential for travelers into Alaska to be knowledgeable about the indigenous tribes that have resided there for thousands of years. There are 228 federally recognized tribes in the state, about half of the tribes in the Nation. The first recordings of people in Alaska trace back 15,000 years ago when a land bridge connected Siberia to the eastern region of the state. 

There are 11 cultures grouped into 5 different areas of the state: in the Arctic resides the Iñupiat and St. Lawrence Island Yup’ik; further inland in south-central Alaska is the Athabascan tribe; southwest Alaska has both the Yup’ik and Cup’ik groups; in south-central and the Aleutian Islands live the Unangax̂ and Sugpiaq (Alutiiq); and in the Inside Passage are the Eyak, Haida Tsimshian, and Tlingit peoples. 

Today, the coastally situated tribes rely heavily on fishing for food. The 2021 documentary, “Alaskan Nets” focuses on the Tsimshian Natives of Metlakatla– the only Indian Reserve in Alaska– and talks about the cultural connection of the town to both fishing and basketball. Other tribes, like the Yup’ik and Iñupiat tribes, participate also in subsistence Bowhead whale hunting on top of regular fishing, which provides their main source of food and a large part of their culture. 

Alaska On A Budget 

what to do in alaska
Happy faces while on my trip to Alaska.

Due to its remote location, Alaska, while beautiful and incredibly unique, is not exactly cheap. While there’s no sales tax in Alaska there is a bed tax which can range from 5-15% for accommodations. Cities like Ketchikan have a bed tax of 15% while Skagway and Fairbanks are around 8%. If you want to go a little off the beaten path, towns like Nome and Valdez have a tax of around 6%. To avoid these expenses, consider bringing a tent and camping out in a national or state park, or a public campground. You may also want to explore hostels and Forest Service Cabin options for a cheaper alternative. 

The main tourist season runs from May to September and during these months prices for accommodations, rental cars and attractions are going to be higher. For a comparably enjoyable experience weather-wise, you can opt to go in late April or late September for cheaper. If you are a true adventure seeker, you can visit Alaska in the winter and brave the harsh snow conditions and low temperatures. Keep in mind however that many businesses and tourist attractions may not be available. 

Finally, you can cut down on your trip costs by skipping the rental car and buying bus tickets. The Interior Alaska Bus Line runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday year-round and makes stops in Anchorage, Glennallen, Fairbanks, and Tok. Tickets are around $30 which includes two pieces of luggage free of charge. The Alaska Park Connection Motorcoach is the only same-day service between Seward and Denali National Park (with stops in Whittier, Anchorage, and Talkeetna). This service runs May-September and tickets range from $75-180. 


Subsistence hunting and harvesting are a major part of Alaskan eating habits. Fish is the principal source of food for many locals. Salmon, Halibut, Cod, Crab, Shrimp, Sea Cucumbers, and Freshwater Trout are just some examples. 

Moose, deer, elk, and caribou are also popular meat options as well as the farming of potatoes, vegetables, huckleberries, apples, and grain in the Matanuska Valley. 


I hope you enjoyed some insight into the best places to visit in Alaska. As you can see, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Alaska, and a blog post like this isn’t able to even scratch the surface of all the best places to visit in this one-of-a-kind state. Regardless of what type of adventure you choose to seek during your stay, whether it be seeing the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle or bear watching in Sitka, one thing is certain: traveling in Alaska will be an unforgettable experience to talk about for years to come. 


What clothes should you pack when visiting Alaska?

The type of clothing you should bring depends on the time of year that you’re visiting. As a general rule, always have hiking boots/ waterproof shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and or dirty. In the winter/springtime, you will definitely need snow gear such as pants, a jacket, head coverings, gloves, and (multiple) warm socks. Always have warm attire underneath such as leggings, pants, long sleeves, and sweaters. In the summer, there are days that will welcome shorts and t-shirts/ tank tops. However, for the most part, expect to wear pants (blue jeans work fine) and a sweater with layers underneath. Remember– comfort over appearance is key in a place like Alaska!

How many days do you need in Alaska?

For a well-rounded trip that doesn’t feel too jam-packed, you should alot at least a week (not including travel days). This will give you the opportunity to explore about two to three cities comfortably. The ideal time to spend is between 10 days and 2 weeks. During this time frame, you can allow yourself to explore less-touristy attractions and get to know each town for its hidden quirks and characteristics. It will also make it possible to have some days of downtime which can become coveted when the majority of your trip will be outdoors facing the elements and doing activities that are outside the ordinary. However, no matter how much time you are able to dedicate to this land, you are sure to have the time of your life.

What should you avoid in Alaska?

Don’t try to pack in too many activities in one trip. If you are only about to spend a week or less in the state, try to focus on one region and explore the areas around there instead of trying to hit everything on your bucket list. You will become exhausted too quickly and it will most likely make the trip less enjoyable overall. 
Don’t disrespect the Native Alaskans or their land. This means being mindful of how you react to certain foods and or customs you observe or participate in. Also, do not litter or overindulge in anything you hunt or gather.


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