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Tourist Places To Visit In Alaska
Alaska is a beautiful paradox of seasons, a land of 24-hour day summers and bleak sun during winter. With such a contrasting way of life that nature has bestowed upon it, rows and rows of glaciers and mountains covered in alpine forests, Alaska has been one of the most coveted tourist attractions recently. From Denali National Park to Anchorage to Fairbanks and Santa’s home - North Pole, Alaska has some great tourist places to visit. Already packing your bags? Read on to make your itinerary.
The largest and most prominent city of the state of Alaska, Anchorage is located in the south-central region on the Cook Inlet. Suffused with cultural delights like the Alaska Native Heritage Centre (stage dance performances, traditional handicrafts, replicas of native dwellings and homes etc), Anchorage makes for a very educational tour. You can also visit the Cyrano's Theatre Company, Anchorage Museum and take nearby wilderness expeditions to Talkeetna, Portage Glacier and Chugach State Park. Visiting Indian Valley, Crow Creek and seeing the midnight sun in summer here make for other interesting things to do.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park has been the poster boy of Alaskan Tourism for the longest time. It is one of the largest of its kind in all of America and is home to America’s highest mountain Mt. McKinley, traditionally called Denali. The park boasts of 6 million acres of alpine ranges, glacier mountains, lush river valleys, and a lot of wild fauna and flora. Only approved vehicles and buses are permitted inside the national park, especially across River Savage. You can spot grizzly bears out of hibernation in summer here, along with reindeer, elk, wolves and local birds.
Seward is a town south of Anchorage but makes for a stunning tourist attraction. The journey to Seward itself is a scenic one, taken along the Seward Highway, along the shoreline of Turnagain Arm. You must visit Chugach State Park and take a train ride on the Alaska Railroad for its breath-taking sceneries. Another highlight is the Alaska SeaLife Center located in the town, along with Exit Glacier and other fjords in the Kenai Peninsula region. Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge is another park that should be visitd by nature lovers, especially for rare animals and the Kodiak bear.
The best place to see Northern Lights in winter, Fairbanks is a city that believes in home rule, the largest city in the interior region of the state. Here is also the spot to see the midnight sun, one that pirouettes and dances almost 24 hours a day during the peak of summer. You can attend concerts, visit art galleries, rummage through museums for native and historic Alaskan culture as well as pack your bags up to the North Pole nearby for Santa Claus’ house whenever you feel like. One very coveted attraction here is the Aurora Ice Museum, a one of its kind in the world, that houses carvings of fantasy scenes in ice and is open all year round.
The place of every child’s dream, the town where all our childhood fantasies and dreams live, North Pole or Santa Claus’ home is a small town north of Fairbanks. It has a small close-knit community of 2200 people that live in perpetual Christmas spirit all year round. The homestead built here in 1944 has given it the North Pole charm and the couple that started it all back then have still continued the tradition of replying to as many letters as they can from children all over the world. December is the best time to visit North Pole, what with its Christmas In Ice Contest, Winter Festivals, Fireworks, Christmas carols in Saint Nicolas’ House and fairy lights illuminating the market. You must visit the Santa Claus House, the Post Office on Santa Clause Lane and the Lady of the Lake wreckage.
Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and the second largest city in America, area wise. It houses some great wilderness, open to fishing, hiking, glacier walking and sightseeing. Whale watching is supposed to be the best in Juneau’s Tracy’s Arm Fjord, while bears can be spotted at the Admiralty Island. You can also go Zip-lining on Douglas Island, hike up the West Glacier Trail or Mt. Roberts and visit the mystical Mendenhall Ice Caves. If you are not the mud and dirt kinds then hop on a plane and take a flight across Taku Glacier Lodge for awesome sites of the landscape.
Barrow, a city in northern Alaska, is also known as Utqiaġvik. It is a haven for adventure and has one of the biggest settlements of Eskimos in the state. You can head to the Iñupiat Heritage Center to discover more native lore or check out Whale Bone Arch to understand the long standing relationship that this town has with whales. This city, being at the northernmost tip of Alaska receives 24 hours of daylight in summer months from May to August and hence is a marvel in itself. The natives here still go hunting and gathering, catching whales, walruses, ducks and seals. You can also make your stay here interesting by going for Artic Ocean visits.
Homer is a city tucked by the Kachemak Bay. The central hub of this city is the Homer Spit, a long strip of art galleries, shops, seafood diners and stunning beaches. There is also Pratt Museum showcasing local art as well as the Oceans Visitor Centre with its wildlife exhibits here. Some interesting things to do in Homer include Bear viewing at Katmai National Park, sea kayaking in Kachemak Bay, hiking through glaciers and alpine hills and fishing in the estuaries. If you are a fan of small hamlets and fairytale settings then do explore Halibut Cove. It looks right out of a Hallmark movie.
Glacier Bay National Park
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is located in the south of Alaska and makes for a very outdoorsy, adventurous tourist spot. It is usually reached by cruises or other buoyant vessels as it lies on a coast and has the nearest town of Gustavus as a hosting area. Wildlife spotting in Glacier Bay includes cute puffins and humpback whales; you can also go saltwater fishing in Icy Strait, hike up the Glacier Bay mountains or enjoy a picnic outside Bartlett Cove. Adventure sports indulged in include kayaking, whale-watching, bear watching, Skagway train ride and flight-seeng.
Ketchikan is another popular city in Alaska that lies on the cruise route along the southeastern coast. It is renowned for its many native American totem poles that can be seen at the Totem Heritage Center as well as Totem Bight State Park. The city is not only about history but has some beautiful geography as well - with waterfalls, tall mountains and alpine meadows prowled by wolves, black bears and circled by bald eagles. Probably the best place to see American bald eagles gliding gloriously in the sky. You can also go fishing, salmon being a top catch along with visiting the Guard Island Lighthouse and Misty Fjords National Monument.