Did you know Alaska is considered “bear country”? There is an estimate of 30,000 brown bears in Alaska, 98% of the total U.S. population! No wonder it’s called bear country! Alaska has been on my bucket list for many years and I finally got a chance to visit! The state is known for its diverse terrain, mountains, wildlife and amazing glaciers! You’re able to even see the Northern Lights from Alaska too! There is so much to do in Alaska, it’s difficult to see it all in one trip. If you’re visiting for the first time, here’s the ultimate Alaska travel guide you only need! This guide is for Anchorage, Girdwood and Seward.
Tips Before Your Visit
- Best time to visit is the summer or shoulder season (May & September)
- Rent a car: you will be going on road trips
- Book tours 3-4 weeks out
- What to pack: I visited in early September and Anchorage was mostly in the 70s! I mostly wore comfortable hiking clothes and during any glacier tours I wore synthetic clothing with layers. Check out this list of What to Buy & What You Don’t Need.
Where To Stay
The Hilton Downtown Anchorage was perfect! The location is right in downtown which made it convenient for many reasons. The Alaska Railroad Station was only a 5 minute walk which makes it easy if you do not plan on renting a car. We did use the train during our trip to Spencer Glacier. The hotel is very clean and had great views of the water. it is also a block or two away from the main road with many bars, restaurants and shopping. My accommodation was through Last Minute Travel. The site offers great discounts on hotels! They also offer a Last Minute Travel Club which provides additional benefits such as earning points for free future travel. The membership fee is $50 but if you sign up now with my code “TOURDELUST” the membership will be free! Feel free to check it out and it doesn’t hurt to sign up. Click here for the membership link to join and read about the benefits.
What To Do
Hike A Glacier – Matanuska or Spencer Glacier. We hiked Spencer Glacier with Ascending Path. We chose Spencer Glacier because it offered kayaking through the glaciers and it’s not as much of a tourist trap. We were the only ones hiking the glacier the entire day!
Hatchers Pass – About an hour and a half north of Anchorage, Hatchers Pass provides a scenic drive and some great trails for beautiful hikes. It is located in the Talkeetna Mountains between the towns of Willow and Palmer.
Reed Lakes Trail & Bomber Glacier – Go on a nice hike! You may also look for Bomber Glacier which I heard is a tough climb. You will find an old wreckage crash on this glacier.
Coastal Trail – The coastal trail in Anchorage was only 3-4 blocks from the Hilton hotel! It was so convenient since we were able to reserve bikes and bike into the trail. If you’re looking for wildlife or Moose sighting this is the place! In total we biked 14 miles but the trail is over 20 miles long roundtrip. On our way back we spotted a Moose and it was such an awesome experience watching her! I did get nervous she might come charging at me.
Bike Ride & Watch a Sunset – Find a place to watch a beautiful sunset. This sunset was from our bike ride at the Coastal Trail.
If you’re into cycling, take a look at Cycling the Haul Road in Alaska for really useful information!
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – What I like about this place is that it really does save the animals. The bears had unique stories where they were found as cubs and have been removed from their mother since she was no where in sight. They had porcupine spikes in their face, and they were very skinny. Founders called AWCC to come rescue them!
Whittier – A stop in Whittier is a must when on your way to Seward. All the glacier cruises to Prince William Sound also departs here so if you have plans to visit then you will already get to see this great area.
Seven Glaciers – Seven Glaciers is a restaurant on top of a mountain at the Alyeska Ski Resort. It has 7 glaciers surrounding the property which gives outstanding views! Come here for the food or come here just for the view! You do not need to have reservations to enjoy the view but I highly suggest dining here. The food was amazing and for the price you get it was worth it! You can read about my dining experience here.
Pull over To Take Epic Scenic Photos – There are many scenic opportunities throughout your drive in Alaska. Pull over as many times as you can to take epic photos!
Kayak to a Tide Water Glacier – Head south for a day or two in Seward. There is plenty to do here but we decided to see a tide water glacier, Aialik Glacier. We did a full day kayaking tour with Liquid Adventures and it was awesome watching the glaciers calve off! It sounds like thunder! The weather wasn’t the best but it did not stop us!
Prince William Sound – Cruise ship from Whittier to Prince William Sound to see tide water glaciers
Day Trip to Homer from Seward – Great for fishing
Ressurrection Bay – A bay on the Kenai Peninsula. Take a cruise tour to see wildlife and a glimpse of Bear Glacier
What To Eat
Eat Reindeer!! Most restaurants will serve reindeer and it was really good! I had reindeer tacos at the street fair.
Moose’s Tooth – A local recommended this place and I was so glad I went! Hands down best pizza in town or all of Alaska probably…. it’s worth the wait, you will not regret it! Address: 3300 Old Seward Hwy, Anchorage
Glacier Brewhouse – Another great restaurant with great seafood. Address: 737 W 5th Ave Ste 110, Anchorage
Seven Glaciers – A must do for dinner! As mentioned above it has amazing views of seven glaciers and has awesome food! A post on my experience coming soon. Address: 1000 Girdwood, Anchorage
Have you been to Alaska? Which is your favorite place to visit?