22 Adventurous Alaska Bucket List Ideas & Food

Updated

Alaska is known as “The Last Frontier.” It’s a land filled with pristine national parks, wildlife, culture, tradition, and heritage. You can’t go to Alaska and walk away untouched by the land, the locals, or the incredible experiences enjoyed there.

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If Alaska is on your bucket list of places to visit, then keep on reading for local-approved places to see, things to do, and food to eat. 

Alaska Bucket List Trip Destinations

If Alaska is on your bucket list, you won’t want to miss these awe-inspiring destinations.

1. Denali National Park

If there is only one thing you do or one place you go, let it be Denali National Park and Denali. There are loads of activities to take advantage of in and around the national park including hiking, camping, and more.

The best way to see Denali National Park is via a National Park Bus Tour. There are three options including a 4-hour, 8-hour, and 12-hour ride. The longest ride takes you as far as visitors are permitted to go—a whopping 62 miles into the interior of the park.

Pro tip: Keep your eyes peeled! While on the tour, you just might see a few of Alaska’s “Big Five”: moose, grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, and caribou.

2. Kenai Fjords National Park

If seeing fjords and glaciers is a must-do for you, then you won’t want to miss Kenai Fjords National Park. Depending on how far you want to go, various parts of the park are accessible by car, foot, plane, and kayak. You’ll find an endless number of things to do, from hiking the park’s interior to kayaking the expansive waterways to watching the abundant wildlife that calls the national park home.

3. Glacier Bay National Park

Take in awe-inspiring views, vistas, natural scenery, and wildlife as you hike, walk, and traverse the wild country that is Glacier Bay National Park. Made up of 3.3 million acres, this stunningly preserved nature area can’t be covered in a day or a week, but you can see more than you think possible while you’re there.

Stunning mountains and exquisite scenery await you everywhere you look. And, if you keep a watchful eye out, you might just see humpback whales, too! 

Pro tip: Humpback whales can be spotted during spring, summer, and fall months.

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for Alaska

No travel bucket list would be complete without opportunities for hikes and adventures you’ll talk about for years to come.

4. Hike Denali

Denali inspires awe and wonder in everyone who sees it. Whether you take your sense of awe to the next level by hiking the highest mountain in North America or enjoying a day trip to a lookout point, you’ll be glad you included a stop to view the stunning scenery and impressive display of natural beauty. 

5. Spot grizzly bears catching salmon

Have you ever seen a National Geographic show that documents grizzly bears catching salmon as they swim upstream? If so, you won’t want to miss seeing it for yourself! Getting a glimpse of these majestic animals catching their lunch is best done with the help of local tour guides who can guide you to the right spot in the safest way possible.

6. Visit the northernmost tip of the USA

Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow, is the northernmost point in the United States. Home to the Iñupiat people, the area has been continuously inhabited since 800 CE.

Visit in the summer months, and local tour guides can take you for an awe-inspiring journey to see polar bears and snowy owls.

7. Take a hike on the Chilkoot Trail

This one is for the hiker extraordinaire and shouldn’t be attempted by the faint of heart. Back in the gold rush days of the late 1800s, prospectors flooded Alaska looking for gold. Part of the passage into the Klondike area was the Chilkoot Trail. 

Today, the 33-mile trail can be traversed in part or in total, depending on your adventure level. Try a short portion as a day hike. If hiking hard trails is your thing, carve out three days to tackle the 3,525 feet of elevation gain that takes you from Skagway to the Chilkoot Pass and into Bennet, B.C.

8. Kayak around Mendenhall Glacier

Glaciers are iconic in Alaska, and one of the most beloved and most visited of them all is Mendenhall Glacier. Not only can you get an up-close view of this impressive natural feature, but you can also hike near it and kayak right up to it starting at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

Spring and Summer Alaska Bucket List Ideas

One of the best ways to make a travel bucket list is by breaking down activities into options for warmer months and colder months. Here are the best things to do during the warmer months in Alaska.

9. See Alaska by air

There’s nothing quite like flightseeing when you visit Alaska. Since so much of Alaska is preserved territory and set apart as a National Park, road access is incredibly limited. The best way to get to pristine, remote locations is by floatplane. These can take off and land on the water, enabling you to visit incredible out-of-the-way places.

10. See Alaska by boat

You practically can’t go to Alaska without taking advantage of the many cruise liners that make Alaska’s famous Inside Passage their home. Not only will you be awed by the phenomenal scenery that surrounds you, but you’ll also get to see Glacier National Park up close and personal.

Even better is the fact that cruise liners often stop at ports of call to refuel, refresh, and provide time for passengers to explore ashore. Typical ports of call include destinations like Sitka, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau.

11. See Alaska by car

Road trip anybody? Next to the Alaska Railroad, the Alaska and Canada Highway is the best way to see as much of Alaska as possible. The highway traverses a whopping 1,390 miles and goes all the way from Anchorage to the Yukon Territory in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.

The AlCan highway is open year-round and is paved from start to finish.

12. See Alaska by rail

While there are certainly other modes of transportation to view the Alaskan wonderland, there might not be anything quite as spectacular as riding the Alaska Railroad. Travel through stunning scenery, view glacial lakes, and watch the wildlife out your window as you ride the rails on the Alaska Railroad. 

Go from Seward to Fairbanks and take in stops along the way like Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali. This is a must-do for your trip!

13. Go to the Girdwood Forest Fair

This annual celebration of music and art happens every June when daylight grows longer and the weather warms up. All in one location, you’ll gain access to local artists and artisans, an excellent lineup of entertainment, locally made crafts, and some of the best exotic Alaskan food around. If that wasn’t enough to entice you, entry is free!

14. Experience 24 hours of daylight

Come to Alaska during the summer, and you’ll enjoy extended daylight. From May through July, the sky never goes dark in Barrow. While the sun does dip below the horizon, it never fully sets. 

Fall and Winter Alaska Bucket List Ideas

It may get dark, but there is plenty to do during the fall and winter months!

15. Attend the Iditarod

Visit in the winter and catch the start of the Iditarod race. Teams composed of one musher and 14 sled dogs start the race in downtown Anchorage before officially beginning their 8–15 day trek just outside of town, away from the crowds and fanfare. 

Pro tip: Races are typically held in March of each year, but check the official calendar before you plan your trip.

16. Try out dog sledding

Once you’ve seen a dog sled in action, you might not be able to resist the urge to try it for yourself. And in Alaska, you can! Book a tour with a local guide and you’ll have the chance to sit in the basket or even the back of the sled!

17. Experience 24 hours of darkness

Head to the northernmost tip of the US, Barrow, and you’ll get to experience two months of darkness from November to January. 

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Alaska

We’d be remiss if we didn’t add a food bucket list when you visit Alaska. Here are some of the best mouthwatering stops in “The Last Frontier.”

18. Sample reindeer sausage

As weird as it may sound, for Alaskans, reindeer are seen as a regular meat source, similarly to the way the rest of the US views beef. Head to Tia’s in Anchorage and try one of their famous reindeer sausage dogs.

19. Try Alaskan king crab

In Juneau? Head to Tracy’s Crab Shack and feast on some freshly caught and boiled crab legs. The line might be wrapped around the block, but it’ll be worth it!

20. Order Alaska’s best pizza

Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage is touted by the locals as the best pizza in Alaska. The brewpub/pizzeria is known across the state for its beer, rootbeer floats, and one-of-a-kind pies.

Fairbanks Bucket List Ideas

Fairbanks is the largest city in the interior of Alaska and has a ton of fun things to do. Here are a few notable items to put on your list.

21. Watch the Northern Lights

Catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights is one of the most awe-inspiring things you’ll ever do. And there’s no better place to do it than in Fairbanks. 

Fairbanks is located in the interior of Alaska and provides the best spot to view the undulating, magical dancing lights. Light pollution is non-existent, so the sky is dark and the lights shine as brightly as possible. 

22. Take a dip in the Chena hot springs

Soak your muscles after a strenuous hike, or simply luxuriate in the warmth of natural hot springs just outside of Fairbanks. Open year-round, this is a must-do no matter when you visit.

Explore and Discover Alaska

Alaska has something for everyone, from hiking and climbing to flying and boating. Whether you want to see the stunning glaciers or watch wildlife in its pristine and natural habitat, you won’t walk away from Alaska without a story to tell.

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