10 Items for Your Alaska Bucket List

In July of 2019, as part of my 50 before 50, I headed to Alaska. The state is so vast, it was hard to narrow down where to concentrate my time and money on my visit. To help plan my trip I did a lot of research. I have spoken to all my friends who live in Alaska or have recently visited and asked for their recommendations on what to do in Alaska. Continue reading for the most recommended sights and activities in Alaska to make your own Alaskan bucket list.

Alaska is the largest US state but has the lowest population density. It has our highest mountain, Denali, which is found in Denali National Park. It actually contains 17 of our top 20 highest mountains.

Take an Alaskan Cruise

Alaska has more coastline than all the other US states combined (34,000 miles). There are not always roads connecting towns. It is logical to visit by boat. The first thing I booked for my trip was my cruise on Royal Caribbean. I picked one that ended in Seward so that I could spend time experiencing Alaska by land after our voyage. On our cruise we even spent a day traveling into Glacier Bay to see Mendenhall Glacier! A cruise is an easy way to see some of the best Alaska has to offer. Our trip was as epic as I had hoped. Read our Alaskan itinerary here.

Visit Glacier Bay

from Heather at Trimm Travels

things to see on an Alaskan cruise

By far, one of the highlights of my Alaska trip was the jaw-dropping views of Glacier Bay. Since I didn’t get to see it on my first trip to Alaska, I made sure to see it on my second!
Glacier Bay’s serene beauty is just astounding. It’s an all-encompassing dream view representing Alaska’s majestic landscapes. The glaciers and mountains in the water’s reflection give off such a calming reassurance!
I would never have known that I was on a cruise ship. As the ship turned a full 360-degrees, ensuring everyone saw the views from every angle, I realized all of a sudden that the silence was deafening. I remember thinking how powerful the site in front of me was to bring a hush over so many people!
TIP: Keep your eyes peeled for bears walking the shoreline. We got to see a grizzly bear hunting for salmon!
Read more of my Alaska adventures including inspirational photos and why you should tour this beautiful state by land and sea!

Explore Alaska’s Rivers

There are over 3,000 rivers in Alaska.

A Scenic River Float in Skagway

from Margie at DQ Family Travel

Best family Alaska cruise activities

Our family went on an Alaskan cruise and enjoyed a scenic river float in Skagway. Our children were 5 and 3, so we chose an activity that was unique yet suitable for younger kids. We all enjoyed the peaceful river float and saw beaver, eagles, and birds frequently. Tucked between mountains, this river float was truly scenic and idyllic.

Our guide taught us about the history of the river valley, the animals that inhabit the lands and how the gold rush impacted the growth of Alaska. This river float was a perfect introduction to the Alaskan wilderness for young children and my mother in law who accompanied us on the ride. I highly recommend a river float in Alaska for families with smaller children and anyone looking for serene natural beauty and some wildlife spotting.

things to do in Alaska

Visit Alaska’s Capital, Juneau

Juneau is the only US capital city not accessible by the highway system.

While there, see the city from the Mount Roberts Tramway

from Sue at Travel Tales of Life

Things to do in Juneau Alaska

For more information on what to do in Juneau read Travel Tales of Life Five Tips for Visiting Juneau.

Take a Hike in Alaska

Hiking Reeds Lake

from Cydny at Goal Traveler

Alaska Bucket List

You can expect a variety of adventurous activities in Alaska, why not take part in the free ones. Alaska is known for being picturesque and I believe it’s best to explore the land by foot. One of my favorite hikes is Reeds Lake in Fishhook, about an hour out of Anchorage. This is a moderate level hike that is 8.7 miles with a 2200 elevation gain. It provides everything you would want on a hike, starts off flat and easy and leads into a strong uphill gain followed by some light scrambling. Your first milestone is getting to the first of three lakes, each one getting bigger and bluer as you trek out. You’ll walk past a waterfall, scramble across a river, and hear plenty of marmots whistling throughout. Pack a lunch, fill up the water bottle, and get out there!

Take an Alaskan Road Trip

Travel Alaska’s Highway System

from Dashin’ Ash

road trips in Alaska

In my opinion, the best part of traveling Alaska is the actual traveling. I recommend taking a road trip, because the scenery is breathtaking. My favorite routes include the Denali Highway, the McCarthy Road, and the Sterling Highway. Each offer picturesque, but unique, landscapes. In Alaska, as long as you can safely park on the side of the road, you can short term camp pretty much anywhere. Even if you find yourself in more formal campgrounds, hostels, or hotels, having the ability to pull over, just to take in the beauty that surrounds you, was the highlight of my trip. There are also plenty of places to hike alongside these highways.

The Denali Highway is surrounded by mountains, and it offers the best views of the Alaskan Range, crossing the state East to West. The McCarthy Road traverses McCarthy St. Elias National Park, ending in the small town of McCarthy. This road is also surrounded by mountains, along with rivers, and abundant wildlife. Finally, the Sterling Highway is much less mountainous than the former highways, but the views are no less interesting. It runs South into the Kenai Peninsula, along the cook inlet.

Read more about the Highways of Alaska.

Visit Chicken, Alaska

by Ben from Horizon Unknown

things to do in Alaska

Alaska is a beautiful road trip destination, so many amazing sights, one tiny little town called Chicken took me completely by surprise and became an unexpected highlight.
Driving from Dawson City in northern Canada, Chicken is right on the highway just after crossing the United States border. Sure, this tiny town hasn’t got much going on in the offseason, but the unique status and the laid-back sense of humor around the town made it so memorable.
You can’t miss that giant Chicken, created from old school lockers, it sure is a unique mascot for the small town. For a bit of a unique souvenir, “I got laid in Chicken” pins and badges are available from the tiny shop in town.
For a short yet memorable experience in Alaska, don’t just drive passed Chicken!

Experience Dog Mushing, Alaska’s State Sport and Visit a Glacier

Over half of the world’s glaciers are in Alaska.

My friend, Michelle, inspired my trip to Alaska. She is well-traveled and thinks it is one of the most stunning spots in the world. Her highlight was a helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier where they met sled dogs and took a ride across the glacier.

Book a glacier/dog sled tour from Juneau here.

Kayak to an Alaskan Island

from Rowena at A Nomad on the Loose

kayaking in Alaska

One of my favorite memories from our family trip to Alaska was sea kayaking to Eagle Island near Ketchikan.

Water sports aren’t the first thing most of us think about when thinking about Alaska, but sea kayaking is the perfect family activity alternative to land-based excursions. The water around Eagle Island is super calm, and the kayaking is at a relaxed pace.
The area between Ketchikan and Eagle Island is also filled with gorgeous nature and wildlife spotting. Perhaps the most surprising element to me was that there were whales so close to land.
I was the only solo kayaker in the group and was the last to get my kayak, so I wasn’t on the water when it happened — but a whale breached right there within 200 yards of everyone. I’m super jealous I didn’t personally get to see it, but it was pretty amazing to know that you can see whales near Eagle Island!

See the Arctic Ocean and a Polar Bear!

Alaskan bucket list

Read on about my trip to Barrow, Alaska, which was one of our favorite Alaskan destinations.

Get more Alaskan inspiration by reading about how my epic 16-Day Alaskan Adventure played out.

Book Your Alaska Tours Here- Just scroll down to Destination Links!

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