Of all the places to visit in Alaska, this is our list of the absolute top ten best places to visit in Alaska!
1. Wrangell Saint-Elias National Park:
Wrangell-St. Elias is a land of superlatives. Here, you’ll find nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the United States, including the mighty Mount St. Elias, standing at an impressive 18,008 feet. Glaciers sprawl across the landscape, with the Malaspina Glacier covering an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. For outdoor enthusiasts, Wrangell-St. Elias is a playground of endless possibilities. Hiking trails wind through alpine meadows, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks. Experienced mountaineers can tackle challenging ascents, and river rafting opportunities abound on the park’s pristine waterways. The McCarthy Road, an adventure in itself, leads to the historic town of McCarthy, providing a gateway to the park’s interior.
Accessible by car from Anchorage (about 6 hours) or Fairbanks (about 7-8 hours). Visitors can also take a bush plane charter from Anchorage in about 1-2 hours.
What is it like:
Well, a picture is worth a thousand words. Check out the video below to get some views of the park. Please note, as with many places in Alaska, to experience the most beautiful and remote parts, you will need to travel by bushplane rather than by car or on foot.
2. DC-6 Airplane House:
- Details: This 1956 Douglas DC-6 flew the skies of Alaska for decades carrying supplies and fuel to remote villages and tribes in the Alaskan wilderness. She made her final landing at the FLY8MA Pilot Lodge in Big Lake, Alaska and now serves as a historical AirBNB accommodation as a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom vacation rental. You can still sit in the cockpit, take the controls, and sip a cocktail while looking out at the mountain view, imagining what it would be like to soar at 20,000′ over the Alaskan tundra.
- Where to go: An easy drive from Anchorage of an hour via the highway north, or a quick 15-minute flight by bushplane. The airplane home is located alongside a 2,000′ private airstrip accessible by all of Alaska’s rugged bushplanes. Charter flights to the DC-6 Airplane house are also available, as well as glacier tours and bear tours departing from the private airstrip at the Pilot Lodge.
What is it like:
3. Kenai Fjords National Park:
- Details: This park features stunning fjords, glaciers, and diverse marine wildlife along the Kenai Peninsula. Expect to see whales, glaciers, and maybe even catch a few fish while you are in the area. Tours include day cruises to see glaciers and wildlife (whales), as well as overnight fishing trips, and of course helicopter and airplane tours of the Harding Ice Field that feeds the glaciers around Seward and the Kenai Peninsula.
- Getting There: Seward serves as the gateway. Travel by car from Anchorage (about 2.5 hours) or take the Alaska Railroad. Tours and cruises depart from Seward’s harbor.
- What’s it like? Expect a small Alaskan fishing village that gets hit with 5,000-10,000 tourists at a time in the summer. Seward is even a favorite of local Alaskans when the reds and silver salmon are running. There are several easy hikes in the area as well to get a good view of the glaciers if getting on a boat is not your cup of tea.
4. Denali National Park:
- Details: Denali National Park, encompassing over six million acres, is known for its vast wilderness and the iconic Denali peak.
- Getting There: Accessible by car from Anchorage (about 4-5 hours) or Fairbanks (about 2 hours). Visitors can also take the Alaska Railroad to the park’s entrance.
Questions about the best places in Alaska to visit?
You can reach out to some of our local pilots and AirBNB hosts here at the FLY8MA Pilot Lodge who would be happy to guide you through all that Alaska has to offer by sea and by air. You can reach them directly at 907-268-3100. Or by email at email@example.com
- Details: Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, is a cultural hub with museums, parks, and a thriving culinary scene. If you’re looking for a good meal while in Alaska, you’ll find it in Anchorage and not anywhere else. The remote nature of the rest of Alaska makes it difficult to procure fresh produce and ingredients for meals and restaurants. The one exception to this of course, is if you stay at a remote wilderness lodge that grows their own vegetables and prepares wild fish and game for you during your stay.
- Getting There: Major airlines offer flights to Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad connects Anchorage to Denali and Fairbanks.
- What’s it like? In this author’s opinion, its another city (yes, I think all cities are dirty) with a few homeless drunks wandering downtown and too many tourists confused on where to go next or how to get to their next destination. If you are looking to experience the beauty and wilderness of Alaska you can skip Anchorage altogether. If you want to pick up a nice meal and a touristy t-shirt to remember your trip, then it would be worth a stop in “the big city” of Alaska.
- Details: Known for the Northern Lights, Fairbanks offers a blend of history, science, and outdoor adventures. The main things to see in Fairbanks is the Gold Mines, the Northern Lights (although much of Alaska from Anchorage north can offer terrific views of the aurora borealis), and of course, the state bird, the Mosquito. If you visit from May to September, bring your bug spray. The midnight sun is nearly as endless as the bugs.
- Getting There: Accessible by air, road, or rail. Fairbanks International Airport serves as a major gateway. The Alaska Railroad provides scenic train rides. The drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks is about 5-6 hours, Big Lake and Talkeetna are popular places for folks to stop along the way between the two cities to break up the trip.
- What’s it like? A town of about 50,000, Fairbanks is like many small cities throughout the United States. Expect all of your regular fast food and big box stores, mixed in with the rugged group of folks getting ready to head out to the Gold Mines or North Slope (oil fields) or just returning from a long stint at work.
- Details: Talkeetna is a quirky town with stunning views of Denali and a vibrant arts community. There’s a rich history in Talkeetna, as it was the main jumping-off point for many decades to access Denali National Park. Much of the original air exploration was done by Don Sheldon and the still-operational Sheldon Air Service. The best sites in Talkeetna to view Denali (Mt. Mckinley) are the Riverfront Park, the scenic overlook from the highway about 1 mile prior to town, and the Alaskan Lodge.
- Getting There: Accessible by car from Anchorage (about 2.5 hours). The Alaska Railroad also connects Talkeetna to Anchorage and Denali.
- What’s it like? A quaint downtown with a beautiful view of Denali on the right day. Interestingly enough, you can expect the best views of Denali in the late summer evenings just before sunset (around 10pm-11pm). The clouds clear often just enough that time of day to grab a quick glimpse of the 20,320′ tall monster.
- Details: Seward, a coastal town, offers access to Kenai Fjords National Park and features a bustling harbor. Great for beginning your journey through Kenai Fjords National Park. This is one of the “iconic” towns when folks think of the best places to visit in Alaska. You can see “Kenai Fjords National Park” above for more information. Nearly everyone who comes to see the Fjords passes through Seward.
- Getting There: Drive from Anchorage (about 2.5 hours) or take the Alaska Railroad. Cruise ships frequently dock in Seward’s port.
- What to Expect: You’ll find plenty of good food at touristy restaurants with lots of seafood options. Expect high-quality seafood, with long wait times in the summer. When cruise ships are in port, this is one of the places in Alaska that can get very full very fast.
- Details: Known for its fishing and artistic community, Homer offers stunning views of Kachemak Bay.
- Getting There: Accessible by car from Anchorage (about 4.5 hours) or by scheduled flights. The Homer Spit is a popular destination for visitors.
- What to Expect: Not all that different from Seward, but a slightly scaled-down version. The farther you get from Anchorage, the higher the prices are (a gallon of milk runs about $6.50 here, compared to $4 in Anchorage). You’ll find plenty of small gift shops, dining, and bars. Many of the businesses in Homer are only open in the summer season, with a year-round population just under 6,000. The views from the Homer Spit are spectacular, bested only by traveling across the bay into the mountains that you can see from the Homer Spit. That brings us to our last and arguably best destination, Seldovia, just across the bay from Homer (15 air miles).
- Details: When most folks think of where to go in Alaska, they are really thinking of where can they experience the “true Alaska”, free from the influence of tourism and development. Seldovia is that hidden gem, or as this author likes to think of it, “The Key West of Alaska”. Although a bit colder than the Key West in Florida you may have visited before, Seldovia is a charming coastal village known for its boardwalk, historic sites, and tranquility. The year-round population of 300 hardworking fishermen, teachers, carpenters, and bartenders will welcome you with a warmth that offsets even the coldest rainy day in south-central Alaska.
- Getting There: Reachable by ferry from Homer or by small plane from Anchorage. The ferry ride provides scenic views of Kachemak Bay. The ferry is the most cost-effective and only an hour ride each way to Homer. The air taxi while still affordable at under $100 per seat, is about a 12-minute flight.
- What to expect: While you can expect that this may be one of your favorite places to visit in Alaska. When you arrive via ferry to the harbor, downtown is about a minute’s walk. Given it is a town of 300 people, there is no need to walk on the sidewalk as you stroll down main street (and no, there is not a sidewalk). You can walk from one end of town to the other in about 5 minutes. You can expect beautiful scenery, crisp fresh air, and a full belly from the local bar and restaurant (the only one in town, luckily open 7 days/week).