24 Amazing Places To Visit In Alaska In 2024 (+ Map!)

Are you looking for the best places to visit in Alaska? This is a guide to the most beautiful destinations in Alaska, from cities to National Parks.

Alaska is by far the largest state in America and home to some of the most immaculate wilderness in the world. It is teeming with wildlife, forests, glaciers, fjords, and giant mountains that eventually give way to the Arctic tundra.

Best places to visit in Alaska
Best places to visit in Alaska

The state is split into four regions, the Inside Passage, South Central & Interior, Southwest, and Arctic. Given the vastness of the country, visiting more than one region can be challenging, unless you have several weeks to spend traveling through the state.

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Getting around Alaska

Given its size and challenging terrain, travelling around Alaska can be a little challenging, and different methods of transport may be needed.

Car

There is a road network that covers large parts of Alaska. For example, there is a road network connecting Anchorage in the south with Prudhoe Bay in the North.

Dalton Highway crossing Alaska
Driving the Dalton Highway is one of the best road trips in the world!

This mammoth drive covers 1,374 km (854 mi) in distance and will take you through some of the best scenery Alaska has. However, other areas in the state along the coast are not accessible by car.

Train

There is a small train network that connects Fairbanks to Seward. The 775.7 km (482 mi) rail network passes through amazing places such as Denali, Anchorage, and Portage.

Train hugging a cliff
Train journeys in Alaska are mind blowing

The train is a great way to travel through this small area of Alaska as you can sit and enjoy the scenery as it passes by. It operates year-round. However, during the winter the schedule is vastly reduced compared to the summer.

Boat

There are plenty of Alaskan cruises that cruise up and down the coast of the state. These cruises provide a great way to visit.

cruise shop docked at port
Cruises are an easy way to visit a large number of settlements on the Alaskan coast

Alternatively, you can use scheduled ferries to navigate between more remote towns along the coast.

Plane

Air travel is the most convenient way to travel between places in Alaska. Nearly all towns have an airstrip that will be served by scheduled aircraft or chartered planes.

When planning your trip to Alaska, always check flight options as flying is the quickest and most convenient way to cover the state.

In this guide, I have listed 24 of the best places to visit in Alaska. If you feel I have missed a place, please feel free to comment below with your suggestion!

Best places to visit in Alaska

1. Anchorage

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and best known as the gateway to an Alaskan adventure. The city is home to impressive Alaskan wildlife, glaciers, hikes, and traditional local cultures.

When you’re not out exploring the picturesque Alaskan landscape that surrounds the city, you’ll find yourself getting to know Anchorage. In summer, you can travel along the 32 km (19 mi) Moose Loop by bike or on foot in search of moose and bears.

View of Anchorage
Anchorage is the most populous city in Alaska

Learn more about Alaskan plant life at the Alaska Botanical Garden, I always love to visit botanical gardens when I travel. For a more unique experience, arrive in Anchorage in time to watch the annual Slam’n Salm’n Derby.

You can also pan for gold at Indian Valley Mine National Historic Site and cruise along Portage Lake to get up close and personal with the region’s glaciers.

In winter, you can escape the cold and learn more about the traditional Dena’ina Athabascan people by visiting local attractions like the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where you’ll find examples of traditional crafts, dances, and dwellings.

2. Denali National Park and Preserve

Offering more than 6 million acres of Alaskan wilderness to explore, your days in Denali National Park will be filled with hiking and wildlife watching.

In winter, explore the snowy peaks and tundra by ski, bike, and snowshoe. Visit the Murie Science and Learning Center to borrow snow equipment and learn more about the park through films and small displays.

Sign to Denali National Park
Denali is one of the best places to visit in Alaska

The Roadside Bike Trail is a popular place to ski and ride bikes in winter, while Denali Sled Dog Kennels offers one-of-a-kind dog sledding excursions in the park. You might spot caribou, black bears, and wolves, so keep your eyes peeled.

In summer, hiking is more popular, with lots of travelers hiking towards Denali, which at 6,190m (20,310 ft) is the tallest peak in North America.

Bus tours are also popular as they offer an easy way to explore without having to hike. If you want to stay in Denali overnight, there are various campgrounds found throughout the reserve.

3. Kaktovik

Kaktovik is a small village in North Slope Borough with a population of approximately 300 people. Due to the city’s isolation, it is still well-known for its Inupiat traditions. However, tourists travel to the city in search of polar bears.

The best time to spot polar bears near Kaktovik is between August and October when they can be seen along the coast of Barter Island. Kaktovik Tours runs fascinating boat tours that allow tourists to see polar bears in their natural habitat.

Polar bears hanging out on the shore
Kaktovik is one of the best places to see polar bears

If you’re lucky, you might get to see polar bear cubs playing!

In Kaktovik, almost 7 out of 8 residents are partly or wholly Alaska Native Inupiat, so spend time getting to know them.

4. Fairbanks

If you love all things history, you need to visit Fairbanks. Here, you’ll find a wide range of attractions that explain Alaskan traditions and historical events.

It doesn’t matter if you visit in winter or summer- you’ll spend most of your time in the museums and heritage centers. The Museum of the North houses exhibits that date back to the Arctic dinosaurs, while the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum displays luxury cars from the Gold Rush period.

Fairbanks skyline reflecting in water
No visit to Alaska’s interior is complete without a trip to Fairbanks

If like me, you’d prefer to spend more time outside, Pioneer Park is a great place to visit. Here, you’ll find countless walking trails and historical landmarks like the S.S. Nenana Sternwheeler Riverboat.

In summer, the Chena Riverwalk is a must if you seek a scenic walk by the river. After a busy day, settle down by the river at The Pump House Restaurant, where you can enjoy traditional Alaskan dishes using locally sourced ingredients.

5. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

If you’ve always dreamed of exploring Alaska’s epic landscapes, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is perfect. This park is part of a 25-million-acre World Heritage Site that features rugged snow-capped mountains, towering glaciers, wild coastlines, and deep fjords.

Activities in the national park are as diverse as the park itself. In winter, you can explore the park on skis and you have an increased chance of spotting Sitka black-tailed deer and river otters.

A glacier in Glacier Bay National Park
There are few things in this world more awe-inspiring than glaciers

In summer, the opportunities are endless when it comes to hiking and boating. In Bartlett Cove, you’ll find several hiking trails that allow you to explore the Alaskan wilderness. The Forest Loop Trail is one of my favorites!

If you stay at Glacier Bay Lodge, you can head out on a boat trip that visits the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers and searches for puffins, eagles, and polar bears.

6. Ketchikan

Ketchikan is a gorgeous Alaskan city that sits over the water facing the Inside Passage. The city is home to a variety of historic attractions, while its surroundings consist of fjords, glaciers, and waterfalls.

One of the most unique attractions is the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. The show takes place several times a day and showcases the impressive talents of local lumberjacks.

Take the time to visit the Totem Heritage Center, where you can learn about the history of Totem Poles and Indigenous art. The center has a large collection of Totem Poles that were provided by the Haida, Tlingit and Tsimshian peoples.

colorful buildings on the Ketchikan water front
The wooden walkways of Ketchikan are stunning!

Outdoor enthusiasts will want to head out in search of the best views, wildlife, and hiking trails. In summer, I recommend hiking the Deer Mountain Trail. This 7.7 km (4.8 mi) trail leads through the countryside, offering impressive views of the city from above.

Alternatively, you could head out on a Misty Fjords boat expedition to visit the nearby glaciers and waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for eagles, moose, and wolverines!

7. Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is most famous for the Harding Icefield, an area of extreme beauty. More than 40 glaciers flow from the icefield, creating mindblowing landscapes that are best explored on foot or by boat.

You’ll likely spend most of your time hiking and boating. A Kenai Fjords boat tour is my favorite way to explore the fjord network.

An orca jumping out of the sea in Kenai fjords
If you are lucky you might get to witness an orca hunt in Kenai Fjords National Park

Available all year, highlights of the boat tour include Resurrection Bay and its glaciers, and the potential sightings of humpback whales. In summer and winter, you can also hike to Exit Glacier.

It is one of the most accessible valley glaciers in Alaska and is an important example of glacier regression.

If you seek a bigger challenge, the 13 km (8.2 mi) Harding Icefield Trail leaves Exit Glacier and climbs 304m (1000 ft) to offer breathtaking views of the Icefield.

8. Kodiak

Kodiak is the main city on Kodiak Island, a large island found on the south coast of Alaska. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in Kodiak, no matter what they like to do.

Animal lovers will enjoy exploring the island on a Kodiak Island Expedition.

In spring and summer, bear viewing tours head out in search of the great brown bear. In winter, tours travel by dog sled and snowmobile in search of caribou and red foxes on the way to the isolated Rainy Pass Lodge.

Kodiak bear cub with its mother
Kodiak Bears are a subspecies of the brown bear

During a winter tour, you might even spot the aurora borealis!

In Kodiak, there are several attractions open all year round. The Alutiiq Museum houses more than 250,000 artifacts from the last 7,500 years, while the Kodiak History Museum features exhibits from past and present Kodiak.

I recommend taking on the Termination Point 8 km (4.97 mi) hike during your time in Kodiak too!

9. Skagway

Skagway is a much smaller city in southeast Alaska. A popular cruise destination in the Inside Passage, this city is best known for its Gold Rush history and lush gardens.

In Skagway, you’ll find preserved Gold Rush-era buildings, the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, and the famous Chilkoot Trail.

The Chilkoot Trail is a big hit with hikers and it can be accessed all year. This trail is a 53 km (33 mi) recreational route that features sweeping mountain views, river boardwalks, and relics from the Gold Rush.

To experience the scenery in more comfort, book your spot on the White Pass Summit Excursion, which operates in summer. You’ll experience the unique railroad and pass some of Alaska’s most iconic sights.

In Skagway, stop by the Gold Rush Cemetery and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Museum to learn more about the area’s mining history. At night, enjoy a unique experience and a refreshing beer at the historic Red Onion Saloon.

10. Seward

The port city of Seward can be found on an inlet on the Kenai Peninsula in Southern Alaska. Adventurous travelers make their way to the city to hike the breathtaking trails, experience Alaskan wildlife, get up close to the vast glaciers, and explore the historical community.

In summer, adrenaline junkies can race through the forests on a zipline at Stoney Creek Canopy Adventures, explore the fjords on a kayak tour, and take to the skies on a flightseeing tour. A plane or helicopter tour will offer a unique perspective of the glaciers and Mt. Marathon.

Fresh-caught fish hanging off a sign
Seward is an amazing place to try your hand at fishing

Boat tours are popular too, with this Seward boat tour visiting multiple glaciers and offering tourists the chance to spot humpback whales and orcas.

Keen hikers will enjoy the Ptarmigan Lake trail from Seward, while skiing lovers will enjoy tackling the groomed trails around Seward in winter.

In Seward, be sure to visit the Alaska Sea Life Center to learn more about Alaskan wildlife.

11. Talkeetna

If you hope to visit Mt Denali, consider staying in Talkeetna, an area famous for its mountaineering and artsy community.

Close to downtown Talkeetna sits Talkeetna Riverfront Park. At the park, you can walk to where 3 swift glacial rivers meet and take in awesome views of the Alaskan Range and Mt Denali. In summer, the looped trail is popular with hikers.

In winter, the trails are a popular skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding destination.

aerial shot of Talkeetna
Aerial shot of Talkeetna

From Talkeetna, you can also jump on a flightseeing tour of Mt Denali. Running all year, this flight tour provides a unique perspective of the Alaskan wilderness.

You could also head out on a wilderness excursion with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures, which offers thrilling tours of Devil’s Canyon.

In summer and winter, the Hurricane Turn Train leaves Talkeetna too. The hop-on, hop-off train service offers impressive views of the Alaskan backcountry.

12. Valdez

Tourists flock to Valdez every year to enjoy the region’s breathtaking natural beauty.

One of the biggest draws to the city is Valdez Glacier Lake. This 32 km (20 mi) valley glacier is located in the Chugach Mountains and ends in Valdez.

In summer, companies like Stan Stephens Cruises run boat tours from Valdez Glacier Lake to Prince William Sound.

On a boat tour, you’ll get closer to the glacier and you might spot orcas.

Kayaker in front of a glacier
Take the water on a kayak to see glaciers from a unique perspective

In winter, it is even possible to ice skate, snowshoe, and ski across the frozen lake. Cross-country skiing and snowboarding in the Chugach Mountains are popular in winter too.

In summer, many travelers head to Valdez to hike. For beginners, the Dock Point Trail is an easy option, while more experienced hikers can take on the Soloman Gulch Trail.

After a busy day of exploring, visit The Potato for some classic Alaskan comfort food. I highly recommend the curly fries with sausage gravy! The restaurant is only open between May and September.

13. North Pole

Alaska is home to its very own North Pole, and it’s just as cool as you would expect. The North Pole is famous for its year-round Christmas decorations and candy cane-striped street lights.

The main attraction in the North Pole is Santa Claus House, which is open all year round. Perfect for children and big kids.

Santa Claus House is home to live reindeer, the largest Santa statue in the world, multiple gift shops, and of course, Santa himself. North Pole, does face stiff competition from Rovaniemi, Finland for the true home of Santa Claus!

Santas sleigh waiting in North Pole, Alaska
Santa’s sleigh waiting outside his North American home

In December, things are taken to another level with the Winterfest & Holiday Bazaar – an event filled with Christmas activities, firework displays, and local vendors.

Other points of interest include Chena Lake Recreation Area and Arctic Harvest Farm Distillery. In winter, the recreation area is a popular ice-fishing spot. In summer, the paved trails are perfect for biking and hiking.

At the distillery, you can learn how spirits are made and sample the good stuff!

14. Juneau

Juneau is one of the best places to visit in Alaska for whale watching. There are various boat tours and kayaking tours that allow you to get closer to humpback whales. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see a pod of whales feeding.

When you’re not looking for whales, you’ll find yourself exploring Mendenhall Glacier, which can be done on foot or by boat.

This Ice Adventure Tour includes a van ride through Tongass National Forest and a kayaking trip to Mendenhall Lake, where you’ll see the impressive Nugget Falls and icebergs that have calved off from the glacier.

Statue of a whale breaching
This bronze statue of a humpback whale breaching looks incredibly life like!

Alternatively, you can hike along the East Glacier Loop. This 4.8 km (5 mi) loop takes you to an epic icefield viewpoint.

In winter, dogsledding is a popular activity in Juneau. This helicopter and dogsledding tour stops by Tongass National Forest and Juneau Icefield.

For some luxury in Juneau, stay at Beachside Villa. The location is stunning and you can occasionally spot seals.

15. Sitka

Most travelers who make their way to Sitka do so to hike in Sitka National Park, which happens to be the oldest national park in Alaska and the site of Russia’s defeat of the indigenous Tlingit people.

In winter and summer, you can hike along the Totem Trail, which is arguably the most popular trail in Sitka. This trail features 20 tall totem poles and is 1.6 km (1 mi) long. The trail is mobility accessible with a paved walkway, dedicated parking places, and accessible bathrooms.

A view of Sitka, Alaska
Sitka and its beautiful backdrop reflecting in the water of an inlet

The trail that leaves the visitor center is an excellent alternative option too, as it leads through lush coastal forest and past several interesting memorial sites.

Other popular hiking trails include the Indian River Trail and the Mt. Verstovia Trail. In winter, snowboarding and skiing can be done at Bear Mountain too.

When it comes to grabbing something to eat, be sure to tuck into some freshly caught seafood at Beak Restaurant.

16. Homer

Homer is a small city on Kachemak Bay in the Kenai Peninsula. The main focal point in Homer is a long strip of land with art galleries, shops, seafood restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

I recommend checking out the artwork and Alaskan ivory crafts for sale in the Art Shop Gallery and visiting Fat Olives for a delicious steak or seafood dinner and a refreshing beer.

When it comes to exploring, start at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, where you can learn more about marine life and the best hikes.

A sea otter chilling in a kelp forest
A sea otter hanging out in a kelp forest

My favorite hike is the Grewingk Glacier Lake Trail in Kachemak Bay State Park. This 4.8 km (3 mi) trail is super easy and it offers one-of-a-kind views of the glacier. You might also see eagles and small hawks hunting.

In the summer, you can take a cruise of Kachemak Bay or explore the glacier lake on a paddle board tour – a super unique way to explore the area.

17. Prudhoe Bay

One of Prudhoe Bay’s main attractions is the journey to get there. Doable all year round, you can reach Prudhoe by driving along the famous Dalton Highway – a 666 km (414 mi) highway and one of the most northern roads in the world.

Prudhoe Bay is largely an oil town and home to the largest oil field in North America. Due to this, parts of Prudhoe are challenging to visit or inaccessible due to the security needs of the oil field.

A caribou on the Arctic tundra
Caribou grazing on the tundra outside Prudhoe Bay

Prudhoe Bay is also the unofficial end of the Pan American Highway – a 30,000 km (19,000 mile) network of roads stretching across the Americas. You can find the Northern Terminus of the Pan-American Highway on Google Maps.

It is worth noting, though, that some parts of the Pan American Highway near Prudhoe Bay can only be accessed by a pre-booked tour.

Aside from that, most tourists travel to Prudhoe Bay for wildlife watching and to dip their toes in the Arctic Ocean.

18. Utqiagvik

Utqiagvik is the northernmost town in the United States and it’s best known for its Inupiat culture, which can still be seen all over the town and its surroundings.

During summer, you can experience Indigenous Alaskan traditions at the Nalukataq festival, which usually takes place every June.

If you aren’t visiting Utqiagvik in summer, you can learn all about Inupiat history at the Inupiat Heritage Center, which presents arts and crafts from past and present Inupiat people.

Whale bone arch in Utqiagvik
Whale bone arch in Utqiagvik

Those who enjoy walking will love the Utqiagvik self-guided walking tour. This trail is accessible in summer and winter and it visits all the points of interest in the town, including the Will Rogers & Wiley Post Monument, Mound 44 Ukkuqsi Archeological Site, and the original settlement.

Make sure you take a photograph of Whale Bone Arch along the route!

If you visit in the summer, you could also join a Point Barrow tour to see the northernmost point in the United States.

19. Katmai National Park

Most tourists flock to Katmai National Park to see the resident bears. Between May and July is when bear viewing is at its best.

During this time of year, bears can be easily spotted feeding on salmon at Brook Falls, where you’ll find several awesome viewpoints and hikes.

The 2 km (1.2 mi) Brooks Fall Trail is one of the best hikes. It leads through dense boreal forest and offers wonderful bear viewing opportunities. The 2.4 km (1.5 mi) Dumpling Mountain Trail is great too!

A bear catching migrating salmon in Katmai
Katmai is one of the most famous places to see bears hunting during the salmon run

You can also see the bears in Katmai on a flight or boat tour. I recommend taking the Katmai Brooks Falls Bear Experience tour.

On this tour, you will be flown into the heart of the park where bears can commonly be found catching salmon in the river. The bear-watching tour lasts from June until early August, with a late summer tour replacing those arriving during the rest of the month.

If you want to spend the night in Katmai, you can stay at the cozy Brooks Lodge or camp between July and September. Katmai is open in winter, but you’ll have to plan your trip carefully because the weather can make things challenging.

20. Girdwood

Girdwood is a resort town in southern Alaska that offers tourists a huge range of outdoor activities and attractions. The town is home to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center, the Alyeska Aerial Tram, and countless hiking trails.

The wildlife conservation center houses more than 200 animal enclosures and is dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife. You’ll see brown bears, wolves, lynx, and wood bison during your visit.

Historic gold mine just outside of Gridwood
Historic gold mine just outside of Gridwood

The Alyeska Aerial Tram carries visitors to Alyeska Resort at the top of Mt. Alyeska (701 meters/2,300 feet). The views are exceptional and the tram operates all year. However, it is most popular in winter, when tourists can ski at the resort.

If you want to try something different in Girdwood, you could pan for gold at Crow Creek Gold Mine, or ride the Glacier Discovery Train to Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, where you’ll find an impressive icefield.

21. Willow

Willow is the perfect destination if you want to experience a wider range of Alaskan attractions such as dog sledding, salmon fishing, canoeing, and hiking.

Dog sledding can be done with Alaskan Husky Adventures. In winter, this tour company offers exhilarating Christmas excursions that include dog sled rides, kennel tours, and time to play with the dogs.

Dog sledding race in Willow, Alaska
Willow is one of the best places in Alaska for dog sledding

In July and August, keen fisherman can try their luck for salmon at Willow Creek State Recreation Area. There are plenty of designated fishing spots to choose from so you won’t be short of options.

Summer is also a good time to visit Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, where you can hire a canoe and take to the water for a couple of hours.

Alternatively, you could head to Hatcher Pass and hike to Independence Mine (only accessible between July and September).

22. Haines

If you love wildlife and photography, you have to visit Haines, a lively town near Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The town itself is a great place to take photographs because it sits on the water and has a breathtaking mountain backdrop.

However, on a Haines photography tour, you can visit several stunning photo spots with a local expert. You’ll photograph traditional totem poles, sweeping vistas, vast glaciers, and Chilkhoot State Park.

A lighthouse off the coast of Haines
The Eldred Rock Lighthouse sits just off the coast of Haines

You should visit the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve during your visit to Haines. Up to 400 bald eagles call the 48,000-acre preserve home all year round, so there’s a good chance you’ll spot some.

If you’d prefer to do something more exhilarating, you could explore Haines on an ATV tour. Best in spring and summer, you’ll ride along the Takshanuk trail in search of cascading waterfalls and snow-capped mountains.

To learn more about Haines’s history, visit the Sheldon Museum.

23. Nome

Nome is a bigger Alaskan city with a population of approximately 3,500. You’ll spend most of your time in Nome exploring the city, taking in local cultures, and hiking in Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

One of the main attractions in the city is the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum. This museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing the history, culture, and artistry of the Bering Strait from its humble beginnings as a tent town to the lively city it is today.

The welcome to Nome sign
The welcome to Nome sign

Other notable historic locations in Nome include Swanberg Dredge and Anvil City Square. If you visit Nome in March, you’ll be able to catch the end of the historic Iditarod – a 1,688 km (1,049 mi) dog sled race that finishes in Nome.

If you visit Nome in summer, I recommend hiking to Serpentine Hot Springs to enjoy a relaxed afternoon in the tundra.

Winter poses a great time in Nome to spot the northern lights so keep your eyes peeled!

24. Gates of the Arctic National Park

Gates of the Arctic National Park is the second-largest national park service wilderness area in the United States, and arguably the best place in Alaska for outdoor adventure.

You can explore the park in winter and summer, but it is easier to visit in summer. You’ll spend your time in the park hiking and looking for wildlife.

Gates of the Arctic National Park
Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of the most challenging National Parks to visit!

Six designated rivers can be explored by raft or kayak too, so I highly recommend booking a rafting tour.

The best hiking destination in the park is the Oolah Pass Packback. Nestled in the Brooks Range between the vil­lage of Anak­tu­vuk Pass and the Dal­ton High­way, this trail offers 104.6 km (65 mi) of untamed off-trail hiking routes.

Aside from epic mountain views, you might also see grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, moose, caribou, and wolverines as you hike.

Amazing places to visit in Alaska (on a map!)

🗺️  HOW TO USE THIS MAP: You can use your fingers/mouse to zoom in and out. To get more info about a place, simply touch/click the icons. Want to save this map for later use? Click the ‘⭐’ by the map title and it will add it to your Google Maps account (Saved > Maps or ‘Your Places’).

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best places to visit in Alaska. If you have any comments or suggestions of amazing places to visit in Alaska that you think I have missed, please comment below!

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