Top 10 Things to Do in Alaska – not on a cruise
Alaska is huge, amazing and best seen and experienced not on a cruise. Here are the best things to do in the Summer from amazing national parks to world class fishing (for both novice or expert) and flightseeing the Alaska Range to museums of Alaskan culture and arts.
Kenai Fjords National Park
At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords’ crowning feature.
Most people explore the KFNP by tour boat, but I decided to hike to the Exit Glacier, the only part accessible by road then foot. I hiked to the overlook, about a 2 mile hike and had amazing views, mostly to my self. there are sign posts indicating the retreat of the glacier through thee years, dating back to the 19th century.
see video here
Alaska has world class fly fishing for trout, salmon, arctic graylings. While there are vast rivers and streams full of trout and char, hiring a fishing guide is the way to go. There is excellent fishing just about everywhere in the state and no need to go to a $2,000+ a night lodge. Most guides will set you pack $500 bucks for a full day of fishing and will provide the gear and expertise to land a fish of a lifetime.
Homer, the self-proclaimed halibut capital of the world. is a fishing town; both commercial and sport fishing. Homer looks, sounds and smells like a fishing town and is at the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula. Skip the Salty Dawg (tourist trap) and visit more authentic seafood restaurants and bars on the Homer Spit.
Flightseeing is an amazing way to see different parts of Alaska. I did two flight torus including one to Denali where we also landed on a glacier with amazing views of the summit. see th video for thrilling close ups of North America’s highest peak and a very cool a glacier landing.
Talkeetna is small town nestled at the base of North America’s tallest peak, Mt. Denali and the Susitna River or Big Su.
Talkeetna is a a day-trip from Anchorage via train to see the Alaska Range, visit Denali National Park or shop its quaint boutiques on Main Street.
Talkeetna is a great basecamp for exploring the region, there are plenty of accommodations for every budget, restaurants, bars, shops and boutiques line Main Street, and there is world class fishing all around, as well as plenty of tours from ATVs, to river rafts, horseback riding to flight seeing the Alaska Range.
- See more posts on Talkeetna here
Denali National Park
Denali National Park and Preserve is a little smaller than Belgium and bigger than the US state of Connecticut.
I was able to see and experience Denali NP from the air, from the water and from the land. All in all I spent five days in the Denali area around Talkeetna of which three days were within the park.
See Denali Posts here
My trip to Alaska wasn’t all fishing and exploring, mostly, but not entirely. I did take some time to visit a few museums and to enjoy native Alaskan art, culture and history. Alaska is rich in native culture and art and every city has a local museum dedicated to their unique native cultures and peoples.
Worth a visit are the Anchorage Museum and the Museum of the North in Fairbanks. See my museum reviews and photos here.
Festivals: Celebrating the Summer Solstice
I planned my trip around being in Fairbanks for the Midnight Sun Festival (Summer Solstice).
The summer solstice festival is part music festival, part art fair, part food trucks and all fun under the midnight sun in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Held in downtown Fairbanks, with a population of around 30,000, this festival is like the whole town comes out for a party, to celebrate the midnight sun. Teenagers and young families. Old people and military personal from the nearby bases. Everyone seems to know someone they run into for the first time since the winter.
See video here
During my Alaska trip, I drove more than 3,000 miles, with more than half of that on dirt, gravel or rock roads. Even got stuck and had to self-recovery the truck out of a jam. So if you have or rent a 4×4 you can have a lot of fun in Alaska.
Made famous by the TV show Ice Road Truckers, the Dalton Highway is not for the fain of heart but is a thrilling, if not long lonely road through the Arctic. Worth stopping at:
- Yukon River
- Arctic Circle Sign
- ColdFoot Camp
- Atigun Pass
See all Arctic Roadtrip Adventures here
Seward / Sterling Highway
One of the most picturesque and accessible roadtrips in Alaska just south of Anchorage has many nice overlooks and stops along the way. If one has time it is worth going to both Seward and Homer, if not, choose Homer, less tourists and no cruise ships.
While it’s a sign marking a geographical line (Arctic Circle) it is also a very cool place to stop.
A day trip north on the Dalton Highway is the Arctic Circle. It’s a great stopping point along the Dalton or it can make a day trip out of it from Fairbanks. Along the way you will drive on the famous Beaver Slide and pass over the only bridge crossing the mighty Yukon River.
Musk Ox Farm
I normally don’t go to these types of places, but I was intrigued and very happy I idid!
These prehistoric Ice Age giants were once nearly extinct and they are now thriving both at the Musk Ox farm as well as in the wilds of the Arctic plains. You can only see them by taking a walking tour of the farm, which is abut 45 minutes. The tour is fun and educational and you get to see a lot of the Musk Ox.
Bonus: Hang with Locals
A huge bonus is to either have friends in Alaska or just to meet some locals at a park, bar or restaurant that is not on the touristy trek (again, avoid Salty Dawg in Homer!)
I had the good fortune of being able to visit two Navy buddies who live in Alaska as well as meeting many locals throughout my travels I the state. The local knowledge on where to go (and avoid) can make or break a trip.