Being stuck inside and only being able to dream of travel has been borderline maddening. We get that.
That’s why we’ve done our research through our own quarantine so you can plan an amazing Alaskan getaway.
From whale watching to climbing a glacier, we’ve got plenty of vacation ideas to make this your best getaway yet. All there is to do is plan your trip, pack your bags, and travel safely!
How to Travel Safely During Your Vacation
Being safe should always be your number one priority. Especially when you head to a remote region like Alaska make sure that you know all of the possible dangers before going anywhere. There are predators here that you won’t find elsewhere and although the snow covered peaks look amazing they can be dangerous as well.
Make sure that someone always knows where you’re going before you go hiking or climbing anywhere and make sure you have a map of some sort.
To avoid getting lost, it’s also smart to have a compass and an emergency phone.
If you’ve taken all the proper precautions and are ready to start your planning, let’s move along to the best Alaskan vacation ideas!
1. Denali National Park
The very first place that you absolutely have to visit is Denali National Park.
The park and preserve are teeming with wildlife and breathtaking sights to see. From ranger-led programs to hiking one of the many trails, this area has something for everyone.
If you decide to visit, make sure you set aside a couple of days. The task of simply getting to the park can take more than half a day, and that’s before you’ve even seen anything.
It’s best to visit during the summer when the single road in Denali is open to drivers.
There are activities that are recommended for everyone, even those looking to take it easy.
A few must-see places in the park include visiting Savage River. This river is open 24 hours a day, with restrictions on camping. It’s a great spot to look for Aurora!
It can be reached by car, foot, and even bus! Just keep in mind that the bus services only run from early to mid-May to mid-September.
And if it’s your first time visiting the park, before you go hiking and animal watching you should stop by the Visitor Center.
At the center, you’ll be able to grab a bite to eat at the restaurant, get a trinket at the gift shop, and watch a 20-minute film all about the park.
All in all, it’s an amazing place to see, and should definitely be one of your summer vacation destinations.
2. Glacier Bay National Park
This next stop is another National Park that is well worth the trip and will leave you with memories that will stick with you forever.
If cruises are still up and running by the time you set out, you should definitely take one.
On your cruise, you’ve got a good chance to see huge, hulking glaciers, as well as amazing aquatic wildlife. You’re likely to see sea lions or even a humpback whale!
But the larger-than-life experiences don’t stop there. You’ll be able to see the entirety of the park from the deck of a big cruise ship, which is great because they don’t dock or let passengers off.
If you’re itching to set foot on the park’s soil, you should take a smaller cruise to spend the night in Glacier Bay.
If you do happen to find yourself in the park and off of a ship, you’ll be able to hike trails to various other sights, like quiet, peaceful lakes.
You can even rent kayaks, too! You can rent them and either go off on your own or sign up for a tour. Just be sure to have your camera at the ready for when a whale makes a splash!
Whether you’re on a large or small cruise ship, you’ll be seeing huge 250-foot glaciers that have been there for the last 200 years.
And when night falls, you’ll be able to stargaze and get a look at the clear night sky from your ship. The park’s elegance and beauty is unmatched, and everyone should get a chance to see it in person.
Related Read: Popular Alaska Cruise Routes And How To Choose The Best One For You
3. Matanuska Glacier
Another place you absolutely must travel to at least once is Matanuska Glacier, where you can climb up the ice yourself in the adventure of a lifetime!
Ice climbing can sound like a challenge, but it’s really well worth the effort! Professionals have been guiding and teaching beginners since 1999, so you know you’re in good hands.
You’ll start with hiking over glaciers and loose rocks to get to deep crevasses, canyons, and moulins.
Make sure you rest up before you set off because when we say you’ll be climbing for hours, we mean it!
This glacier is the largest in the country that can be accessed by car, and the achievement of climbing it is enough of a reward — the views are just icing on the cake. Or icing on the ice.
4. City of Fairbanks
Are you in love with the sky? Its colors? Its mystery? Every star and cloud that hangs above your head? Us too! That’s why seeing the Northern Lights is high up on our travel to-do list.
In the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, you’ll find yourself in the best area to observe the Northern Lights.
If you’re looking to go and see the lights, the best time to go is between late August and late April. The sky will be dark and clear, and if the weather permits it, you should see the lights yourself.
And the activities aren’t limited to the Northern Lights.
There are museums and restaurants to check out while you’re in town that will seriously impress you. One place we recommend visiting is Fountainhead Auto Museum, even if you’re not that into cars.
And if you’d rather relax instead of ditty-bopping around town, you can take a chunk of your day out to visit Chena Hot Springs, located an hour and a half away from the city.
This resort has hotel rooms, a dining hall, and an airstrip for flightseeing tours.
So no matter what you do while you wait for the Northern Lights to appear, know that it’s all completely worth the trip!
Related Read: What to Expect from Alaska Seaplane Tours When You Book One
5. Girdwood, Alaska
Looking to ski on your vacation? When people think of Alaska, they envision snow-covered mountains and rolling hills and rocky, frozen terrain. Perfect for skiing, right?
If you find yourself in Girdwood, yes!
This mountain town lies in the heart of Alaska, its mountain range offering both amazing views and the perfect environment for getting out in the snow.
There are plenty of different lodges to choose from, and that means that you don’t necessarily have to be a pro to go skiing. From beginners to experienced skiers, there’s a slope here for everyone.
And when you’re not busy hitting the slopes, you can explore the town and its dining options! From bistros to dining in a quaint inn, the sky’s the limit.
And of course, there are trails for hiking if you happen to find yourself in town during warmer months.
Related Read: Girdwood Alaska Attractions – 18 Fun Things To Do
6. Juneau, Alaska
Looking forward to whale watching? you should!
Juneau is one of the best viewing spots when it comes to whale watching in all of Alaska. Every year the whales return to the waters to feed, and that makes for some stellar tours!
The glaciers around Juneau make for some very nutrient-dense waters. The humpback whales can be seen from as early as April to as late as September.
No matter which tour company you decide to go out on the water with, you know you’ll be getting out to see them in no time.
If you’re lucky, you might even see an orca or two as well. And you might find yourself on a boat with an amplified hydrophone system.
Amplified hydrophone systems allow you to listen to the whales singing beneath the waves as you ride along on your boat tour. That way if they don’t breech, you still get to experience an interaction!
7. Seward, Alaska
If you and your family are more keen on small towns, you don’t have to miss them while you’re out in Alaska.
Seward, Alaska is a charming spot that can be reached by taking the 127-mile-long Seward Highway from Anchorage. The roadside views that lay in your journey to the town are seriously underrated!
You’ll see glaciers, mountains, and even beluga whales.
You can even take the Alaska Railroad to get there, which follows the same path.
And then when you get to the town itself, you’ll have your exploring cut out for you.
Surrounding the town are amazing spots such as the Kenai Peninsula, the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, and Exit Glacier. Be sure to remember your camera!
Once you’ve arrived in Seward, you’ll be able to take a day, or even a few, to go on a cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park. You’ll be able to take private charters, too, so your trip is fully customized.
If you’d prefer to keep your feet on solid ground as you travel, that’s perfectly fine too! There are plenty of trails to hike, including one that leads right up to Exit Glacier.
And finally, there’s the SeaLife Center. It’s the perfect place to stop with your kids to get a look at Alaska’s wildlife up close and personal.
There are giant octopi, sea lions, harbor seals, and even puffins there! And by visiting, you’ll be supporting a wonderful cause, because it’s also a wildlife rehabilitation center.
No matter what you decide to do, whether you fish or go hiking, it’s certainly a place that every family should get to see at least once.
8. Mendenhall Glacier
And finally, we have a gorgeous glacier that you should absolutely travel to.
The Mendenhall Glacier spans down the side of the 1,500 mile Juneau Icefield — which is an area that has an icy shore that is sure to impress.
The trails that lead to this amazing glacier can also lead you to the shores that lie around Nugget Falls, where kayakers and rafters can be seen dotting the water.
If you want to float among the icebergs, you can join the kayakers and get up close and personal.
You’re also bound to see wildlife, too. Porcupines and beavers are a couple of wild encounters you’ll have when you’re out on the water and on the trails.
You should definitely visit between May and October. Between those months you’ll have pretty much nothing but sunshine when it comes to the weather.
But that doesn’t mean that the rain isn’t just as pleasant! Rain or shine, as long as you’re ready to get out and explore the terrain, you’re bound to have a fantastic time.
Seeing Alaska for Yourself: Time to Travel
From towering glaciers to beautiful national parks, Alaska is one of the best places to get outdoors.
There’s nothing quite like seeing the wonders of the planet one destination at a time, and now that we all know what it’s like to truly miss traveling, we all have a newfound appreciation for it.
Check out Contiki’s Grand Alaska travel package for details. Don’t forget your selfie stick and charger before you travel, because there are plenty of sights to see and photographs to take. You’re going to want to keep as many memories as possible!
We hope your trip goes well and you find yourself living a grand adventure — just remember to be safe and act responsibly!
Where will you travel first? Have you been to Alaska before?