Alaska Trip Guide

 

Alaska truly sets the bar high with its staggering natural beauty. One day you’re trekking through the vast, pristine wilderness of Denali, the next you’re exploring the rugged terrains of Hatchers Pass.  Cozy B&Bs dot the landscape, offering warm, inviting retreats after days spent bear watching in Katmai National Park or whale watching on the chilly Alaskan waters. No matter how long your visit, it seems fleeting against the backdrop of Alaska’s timeless splendor.

Quick Guide

  • Suggested Time: 8-14 Days
  • Best Time to Go: June-Aug
  • Other good times to go: 1st Week of March ( Iditarod & Northern Lights)
  • Highlights: Bear Watching Trip at Katmai & Drive to Hatchers Pass
Denali National Park

B&Bs and Hotels

Alaska is the kind of place where ditching the big hotel chains in favor of quaint bed and breakfasts and lodges really pays off. Tucked away in incredible locations, these spots offer a charm all their own. It’s about more than just a place to stay—it’s about connecting with local owners and fellow travelers from around the globe:

  • Anchorage – Deals Bed and Breakfast Inn: A spacious room with a sprawling balcony. Now pair that with some seriously good breakfast each morning. That’s Deals for you; it’s the perfect launchpad for your Alaskan adventures.
  • Homer – Juneberry Lodge: Of all the BnBs we’ve checked out, Juneberry takes the cake. Not only is the building itself an eye-catcher, but the common areas are welcoming and the views are simply staggering. Oh, and did I mention the breakfast is top-notch?
  • Seward – Alaska Creekside Cabins: These super cute cabins by the creek are an Alaskan dream come true. Our son was thrilled watching the salmon run right by our doorstep. Staying here, you’re not just visiting Alaska; you’re living it.

  • Denali – Denali Park Hotel: In Denali, we opted for the Denali Park Hotel instead of a B&B. It was a decent choice with great prices and an excellent location, providing a convenient base for exploring the park.

Alaska Hotels with Credit Card Points

In Alaska, the options for booking hotels with points are a bit sparse outside of the main hubs. Anchorage and Fairbanks, however, do offer some solid choices for those looking to cash in their loyalty rewards. Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG— they all have properties here where you can make the most of your points for a cozy stay. There’s also a neat spot in Juneau, the Four Points by Sheraton, part of the Marriott family.

 

*We didn’t get a chance to test these out extensively ourselves, as we were charmed by the local BnBs throughout most of our trip. But if you’re looking to put those points to good use in the Last Frontier, these spots in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau are your best bet.

Flights

When planning your flight to Alaska, we recommend using Google Flights for a comprehensive view of your options. Always aim to book direct for the simplest travel experience:

  • Most travelers bound for Alaska typically fly into Anchorage (ANC), the state’s main gateway. However, if you’re aiming to explore the northern regions or have different travel plans, Fairbanks (FAI) is another solid entry point. For those interested in venturing into southeastern Alaska, Juneau (JNU) offers another great option.

*For our trip, we booked direct flights with Alaska Airlines and chose to pay cash. We found that the point redemption options didn’t offer great value, so paying outright seemed like the better choice for us this time around.

Alaska Eats: Restaurant Recommendations

Anchorage – Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria: This is the place to go if you’re craving killer pizzas paired with an impressive lineup of beers. 

Denali – 49th State Brewing Co: Not only does this spot boast excellent beers, but the food is also top-notch.

Denali – Prospectors Pizzeria and Alehouse: Another gem for pizza lovers in Denali.

Homer – Two Sisters Bakery: This charming bakery is a delightful stop for anyone visiting Homer.

Seward – Woody’s Thai Kitchen: When in Seward, don’t miss out on Woody’s for some of the best Thai food around. 

Itinerary for Alaska

Alaska Adventure: A 12-Day Journey Through the Wild

Days 0-1: Our Alaskan odyssey kicked off with a red-eye flight, landing us in the early hours. After checking into our cozy BnB and catching a quick nap (and pizza!), we hit the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail for some refreshing hiking.

Day 2: We set our sights on Denali National Park, making a pit stop at Thunderbird Falls—an easy hike with stunning waterfall views. The drive to Denali was punctuated with scenic stops, and we wrapped the day relaxing by Otto Lake’s serene waters.

Day 3: Denali’s rules limit car access beyond Savage River Campground, so we opted out of the lengthy shuttle tour. Driving up to Savage River, we were thrilled to spot caribou and even a moose up close! That evening, the 3.3-mile Horseshoe Lake Trail offered lush views, curious mushrooms, and beaver-engineered dams—a nature-packed day!

Day 4: Another drive into Denali brought us to a charming sled dog demonstration, showcasing Alaska’s unique canine heritage.

Day 5: The drive back to Anchorage via Hatcher’s Pass was a trip highlight, with endless breathtaking vistas and a stunning stop at Summit Lake. Bald eagles graced our journey, adding to the spectacle.

Day 6: The scenic drive from Anchorage to Homer included a visit to the Alaska Conservation Center, though our son was more entertained by simple joys like stones and dirt than the wildlife.

Day 7: Relaxing at Homer Spit offered magnificent views and a fun marine tour with the Center of Alaska Coastal Studies, where we got up close with sea anemones and starfish.

Day 8: The highlight of our adventure was undoubtedly the bear-watching tour with Sasquatch Alaska Adventure Co. at Katmai National Park, home to about 2200 brown bears. The journey began with a thrilling small plane ride, landing on a remote beach—quite the entrance! Trekking through tall grass, we spotted numerous bears in their natural habitat, from lazy loungers to active salmon hunters. The proximity to these magnificent creatures was exhilarating and a bit nerve-wracking, but it was an incredible experience surrounded by the park’s stunning scenery. Post-tour, we hit the road to Seward, still buzzing from the day’s encounters.

Day 9: Our plans took an unexpected turn due to two major wildfires in the area, which led to the cancellation of our whale watching cruise with Major Marine Tours because of heavy smoke. Instead, we redirected our adventure to Exit Glacier, where we explored the Exit Glacier View and Overlook Loop, embracing the rugged beauty of this icy landscape.

Day 10: On our final day, we embarked on an early morning kayak tour with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking. The serene waters were alive with wildlife; we spotted sea otters, bald eagles, harbor porpoises, and harbor seals—a fitting farewell to Alaska’s wild side. With our spirits high from the morning’s encounters, we drove back to Anchorage, ready to head home but already missing the raw, untamed beauty of Alaska.

 

*Along our Alaskan route, there were a few adventures we didn’t manage to squeeze in, but they come highly recommended and are definitely on our list for next time: Glacier Landing Tours via Heli in Talkeetna, Matanuska Glacier Trekking & Kayaking in Valdez

 

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