I spent over 10 years living in a small town in Alaska, but it is still one of my favorite places to visit (and it’s not just because most of my family is there, but I’ll admit that’s a huge part of it!).
Alaska is CRAZY beautiful–so beautiful that it cannot be described. Since I’ve been living outside of Alaska for several years now, my trips back home have become more “touristy.” I want to see and experience everything while I have the chance.
The only bad thing about Alaska is that because it is bigger than Texas (that’s right Texas… I said it!) and has wild, winding, and weathered terrain, you cannot see the entire state and experience what “Alaskan” really means in one trip (more reason to keep coming back!)
Here a few of my favorite things to do and places to see in order to get my fill on all things Alaskan while I’m back home:
Go fishing. It should be illegal to visit Alaska and not stick a pole in the water! This is a huge industry in Alaska and the main reason people come to visit. There are many places in the state to fish, and many methods for catching ’em. For halibut or salmon shark, you’ll probably be doing more deep sea fishing, where as with salmon you will stay in more protected waters or fish from the shore or riverbank. (I get sick in open waters so halibut fishing is a no-go for me) Hiring a charter company is probably going to be your best bet if you’ve never fished before. The charterers are experienced locals who know the fishing holes, the tides, and how to get the fish on your line. They will also help you bait your hooks, clean and fillet your fish that you catch, and are always interesting people to get to know!
You might not be successful on your fishing trip. Just like the weather, conditions and fish activity can change in an instant. Relax, enjoy the trip, the company, the sights, and let nature do the rest.
Go sightseeing. No matter where you go, you’ll have plenty to feast your eyes on. But doing a specialty tour might help you get the most out of your time and see the major attractions such as glaciers, villages, the pipeline, national parks, etc. This includes taking a train trip along the coast, do some hiking, take a day cruise (my favorite), or taking the bus to see Denali National Park.
Get off the beaten path…but not too far! 😉 Ok, so you want to see the big, famous stuff, but you also want to get away from the large groups and see the “wild” Alaska. [Small caveat, please remember to be safe as Alaska is very wild and conditions can quickly change, and animals that look adorable can become fierce] Some ways to accomplish this:
- Ask locals about their favorite spots and the good times to go. Usually, if tourist activity is low, the animal activity is high. This might mean getting up earlier or staying out a little later, but it will be worth it!
- Stay at a local Bed and Breakfast or rented room instead of a hotel. Not only do you get to experience more of a “local” feel, but you’re more likely to encounter wildlife. If you stay outside of the city, you can hear the owls and wolves talking up a storm! Some moose might even join you for breakfast.
Enjoy delicious coffee. No joke, Alaska has about a million drive-thru coffee stands. The Pacific Northwest does coffee roasting and brewing right. I’m sure that you’ll be able to skip Starbucks for the duration of your trip because you will fall in love with the local coffee. For starters, check out Kaladi Brothers. Some of the smaller towns won’t have a Kaladis Brothers store but will still carry their beans. Again, ask a local about their favorite coffee place. You will not be disappointed.
Enjoy the food. Try all the things. Yes, Reindeer sausage sounds weird (and if you have kids, maybe drop the “Reindeer” and just call it sausage instead) but it is my personal favorite. You can also order moose burgers, salmonberry jams and jellies, and, of course, all types of seafood dishes. Give it a try! You might only come to Alaska once.