Alaska, known as America’s Last Frontier, is an epic travel destination for anyone who loves outdoor exploration, mind-blowing scenery, and dogs, lots of dogs. Alaska is a top tourist destination for cruise ships but is also frequented by hunters, anglers, and adventure seekers looking to experience untouched, natural beauty.
Embrace the quintessential Alaskan experience by choosing from an array of exceptional places to stay. Anchorage and Girdwood stand out as Alaska’s premiere locations for skiing and snowboarding, offering access to world-class slopes. Fairbanks offers cozy lodgings amidst the captivating night skies to witness the enchanting Northern Lights. For hiking and camping enthusiasts, Seward and Soldotna provide comfortable accommodations near stunning trails and serene campsites.
Juneau invites you to immerse yourself in dog mushing culture, with charming lodging options and time spent cuddling sled dogs. Anglers and hunters can find their haven in Ketchikan and Homer, where lodges cater to fishing and hunting adventures. In Kodiak, revel in bear and whale watching from the comfort of remarkable lodgings. Whatever your Alaskan passion, these destinations offer the perfect places to stay while indulging in unforgettable experiences.
Best places to stay in Alaska For Skiing and Snowboarding
Located in Southcentral Alaska, Anchorage is the state's largest and most populated city. Nestled between the Cook Inlet, Knik Arm, and the Turnagain Arm, it provides easy access to the Arctic Valley Ski Area as well as the Hilltop Ski Area.
Arctic Valley is a family-friendly mountain located just 30 minutes outside of Anchorage and is open to skiers and snowboarders. The mountain offers terrain for any skill level as well as the opportunity to hike out of bounds to create your own lines. There are 2 chair lifts, a rope tow, and a T-bar. The top of the mountain provides endless views of the Chugach Mountain Range with fresh powder all the way down.
Hilltop Ski Area is only 20 minutes from Anchorage and provides skiers and snowboarders with beginner, intermediate, and expert trails along with a terrain park. There is a triple chairlift, a beginner rope tow, and a surface platter lift.
Girdwood is a classic, small mountain town located about an hour outside of Anchorage. This cozy town is home to Alaska’s premier ski resort, Aleyseka.
The mountain features an aerial tram, 6 chair lifts, and 2 magic carpets. There is a mini pipe as well as 3 terrain parks and more than 75 named trails that suit all ability levels. Alyeska is known to have the longest continuous double-black diamond run in North America.
Another unique feature about Alyeska is that it's the only mountain in North America where you can enjoy mountain, glacier, and ocean views. It’s also the only mountain that allows night riding.
Best places to stay in Alaska To View the Northern Lights
Viewing the colorful Northern Lights whirling and swirling across the black sky is at the top of many people’s bucket lists. While nothing in nature is guaranteed, Fairbanks gives you one of the best chances to view them. Fairbanks sits under the "Aurora Oval, " an oval-shaped zone where aurora activity is concentrated. The best months for viewing the Northern Lights are late August to late April with March being the peak month.
Fairbanks is landlocked which helps to keep precipitation down leading to clear skies and better viewing opportunities. The region is also sparsely populated, keeping the light pollution down.
The more nights you can spend in Fairbanks, the better your chances of experiencing the dancing lights. Chena Hot Springs Resort is a fairly popular tourist destination but when the lights are out, you can see them from anywhere in Fairbanks and the surrounding area.
Best places to stay in Alaska For Hiking / Camping
Seward sits in the South of Alaska and features stunning natural scenery like glaciers, snow-capped mountains, staggering fjords, and an abundance of wildlife both on the land and in the sea. One of the best ways to experience the wonders of Seward is to camp and hike.
Known as the “Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park”, Seward is home to magnificent creatures like caribou, grizzly bears, musk ox, beluga whales, humpback whales, walrus, sea lions, seals, king crabs, and so much more.
There are opportunities to take guided hikes and trips or you can set out on your own as long as you have the right equipment and enough outdoor experience. There are established campgrounds and trails as well as backcountry options.
Nestled into the banks of the Kenai River, Soldotna is famous for its hiking trails, wildlife viewing, camping, and salmon fishing. Soldotna is home to the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, one of the most biodiverse areas of Alaska.
Within the refuge, you can find the tundra, glaciers, wetlands, coastal rainforest, boreal forests, and ice fields. With so many different habitats, it's no surprise that Soldotna is also home to rarely-seen animals such as moose, brown and black bears, lynx, and wolves.
There are remote cabins you can book, various travel groups you can join, and of course plenty of campsites and hiking trails to enjoy the stunning beauty of Soldotna.
Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and sits in the Alaskan panhandle. It is part of the largest wilderness areas in the United States and is only reachable by air or boat, there are no roads to or from Juneau.
There are various outdoor activities to partake in like flightseeing, animal viewing, fishing trips, whale watching, and exploring the Tongass National Forest. One of the most compelling adventures you can find in Juneau is going musing.
Sled dogs have a long and important history in Alaska and dog teams are still used throughout the state for work, sport, and pleasure. Excursions are available all year long with most tours expanding on the importance of sled dogs, the relationship between the dogs and their handlers as well as opportunities to ride in the sled and spend time with the dogs.
There are several tours in Juneau that combine a helicopter ride to a glacier for sled dog tours, making for an even extra special tour.
Best places to stay in Alaska For Fishing and Hunting
Ketchikan is a small village that rests along Alaska’s notorious Inside Passage. Surrounded by a thick, lush forest splintered apart by pristine waterways, Ketchikan is known as the Salmon Capital of the World.
Anglers come from all over the world for the chance at a record-breaking salmon catch or just a chance to catch all 5 salmon species in one trip. There are numerous tour guides, fishing charters, and outfitters to suit all your fishing needs.
Hunting is also popular in Ketchikan because of the thick forests mentioned earlier. These old-growth forests are flush with big game like Sitka black-tailed deer, mountain goats, black bears, moose, and even wolves.
You can find the charming seaside town of Homer, 200 miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. Homer is known for its world-class Halibut fishing, lovingly called the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.
Not only is Homer known for fishing, but you can also go blacktail deer and bear hunting. Many people book fishing charters or guided hunts to ensure they get the best results possible.
Other than fishing and hunting, Homer is also known for its mouth-watering, fresh seafood restaurants, art galleries, wildlife viewing, adventure tours to untouched mountains, kayaking through the local marine life, and horseback riding.
Best places to stay in Alaska For Bear and Whale Watching
One of the most undeniably gorgeous parts of Alaska is Kodiak Island. Most of the island and its surrounding islets remain untouched and pristine creating a safe haven for a diverse range of marine and land animals.
Unsurprisingly, Kodiak Island is the only home of the Kodiak Brown Bear. The Kodiak Bear is larger than a grizzly and has been steadily increasing in population to more than 3,000. Katmai National Park is a short seaplane ride from Kodiak Island and has the largest protected population of the Kodiak Bear. A guide is required to accompany you to Katmai in order to keep you and the bears safe. As you fly to and from Katmai, keep your eyes down to the water looking for pods of whales.
If you want to see whales a little bit closer, taking a whale-watching tour is a must. The waters around Kodiak are thriving with marine life. Hopping on a boat and getting out on the water can bring you *safely* up close and personal with harbor seals, steller sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, orcas, minke whales, sei whales, and gray whales!