Alaska, an American State, is less than 50 miles from Russia. Though remote, Alaska has so many things to see.
Alaska is home to more than 3,000 rivers and 3 million lakes. And it has 17 of the top 20 highest peaks in the United States. Clearly, Alaska has more than its fair share of natural beauty.
Read on for our list of top 12 things to do in Alaska.
1. Experience the Mendenhall Glacier
One of the top things to do in Alaska is to visit the Mendenhall glacier. It’s located right outside Juneau and leads to Mendenhall Lake.
There’s a visitor’s center that overlooks the glacier. You can warm up inside and have access to sheltered views of the glacier. There are tons of cool exhibits and videos that will teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about glaciers.
There are also a handful of trails that let you get a closer look at the glacier and local wildlife.
2. Go Whale Watching
If you visit Alaska between May and September, one of the best things to see is whales. Depending on when you arrive, you may see Orcas, Grey Whales, or Humpbacks and Belugas.
Read more here about taking a marine expedition in Alaska.
3. Visit Denali National Park
One of the most famous Alaska attractions is Denali national park. Denali is the highest peak in North America. It reaches an impressive 20,310 feet.
Alaska is one of the best places for animal lovers. You can take a bus tour through the park and see wolves, grizzlies, caribous, Dall sheep, mice, and more.
The tundra landscape, beautiful lakes and rivers, and geological formations are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
4. Marvel at the Northern Lights
Who hasn’t dreamed about experiencing the aurora? One of the top things to do in Alaska is to gaze up at the northern lights on a clear night.
This nighttime phenomenon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will talk endlessly about.
5. Bike the Coastal Trail
want to be active while you check out the things to see in Alaska? Then grab your bike and hit up the Coastal Trail. It winds along the pretty Cook Inlet Arm.
It’s a long trail that will take the day to complete. But it’s worth it for the views.
6. Take a Kenai Fjords Day Cruise
Come experience marine life up close and personal on a Kenai Fjords day cruise. You’ll see puffins, otters, orcas, harbor seals, Minke whales, Dall’s porpoises, and so much more.
Bring your camera to capture the incredible mountain scenes and tidewater glaciers.
7. Visit the Ghost Town of Kennicott & Wrangell St Elias National Park
Kennicott is an old mining town turned into a ghost town. Then head into the massive Wrangell St Elias National Park.
If you can, spend a few days backpacking through the park to experience the full splendor. Or fly in by helicopter for one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
8. Visit Sitka National Historical Park
Another of the best Alaska attractions is Sitka National Historical Park. this park is the oldest national park in Alaska.
The visitor center provides info on totem poles, Native artifacts, temperate rainforests, and beaches.
You’ll also learn about the Battle of 1804 between local Tlingit Indians and Russian colonists.
Next, take a walking tour of a Russian Bishop’s home and hike the Totem Trail. Then have lunch in Sitka and explore the town.
9. Aurora Ice Museum Fairbanks
All year round, you can see gorgeous ice sculptures inside the Aurora Ice Museum. It’s one of the best places to visit in Alaska.
Wear your winter gear because the museum is kept at a chilly 25ºF/-7ºC to keep the ice frozen.
There’s a nightly aurora show in their vintage theatre. Then head over to the hot springs nearby to warm up and relax.
10. Angle for Salmon
We can’t make a list of things to do in Alaska without talking about salmon fishing. Try your hard a catching your dinner from the banks of several Alaskan rivers.
You’ll need to grab a fishing license from Alaska Dept of Fish & Game if you want to fish on your own. Or you can join a salmon charter and not worry about the license.
A delicious Alaskan salmon is something you must try. And it’s better if you catch it yourself.
11. See the Shifting Sands of Kobuk Valley National Park
Sand dunes in Alaska. Yes, it’s true. It’s a little-known fact that is somewhat off the beaten path.
But it’s definitely one of the things to see in Alaska. First, make your way to the remote Kobuk Valley National Park. You’ll need to take a flight charter from Kotzebue.
Then be amazed as you get a Sahara-type experience in Alaska. If you manage to come during the caribou’s annual migration season, you’ll get to watch as the herds cross the dunes.
It’s an incredible experience you don’t want to miss.
12. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Yes, a lot of the Alaska attractions on this list are national parks. And there’s a very good reason for that.
Alaska is home to such incredible flora and fauna. Not to mention tidewater glaciers.
You can check out Glacier Bay as part of a day-long boat cruise. You’ll travel through the inlets of Glacier Bay and see a host of wildlife and glaciers.
If you want to see Glacier Bay from land, you’ll head to the town of Gustavus where you can find accommodations, the visitor center, and places to eat.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Alaska
There you have it: 12 incredible things to do in Alaska that are one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t get anywhere else.
Next, check out these travel hacks to save money on your next adventure.