The best Alaska memories originate from the amazing experiences our visitors discover up North. Each Alaska visitor, whether they take an Alaska cruise, drive north on a AK roadtrip or travel around via the Alaska Railroad, is often touched in very personal ways by their unique encounters up in our scenic state. Good thing there are numerous ways to extend those magical moments, remind yourself of those special times, and even share these with others once you return home! When you travel to Alaska, you’ll pack in the fun, so you will also want to pack up some major Alaska souvenirs and keepsakes to bring home with you. Here are a few ways to keep the spirit of your Alaska adventures alive long after your visit ends…
With everyone having a camera of some sort these days even if it is only on your phone, photographs can provide the most personal and accessible travel keepsakes, whether you capture every step of your Alaska adventure or choose only the most special moments for snapshots. You can share your favorites and track your Alaska trips in real time via social media (on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest) – eat your heart out, friends and family! And every passing year, when that fantastic photo from your bear-viewing adventure or a striking image from your Denali flightseeing tour pops up in your social media timeline as an anniversary memory, you’ll feel the thrills and chills all over again – and maybe also the urge to race immediately to book another Alaska trip! When you get home, you’ve got many more options for your photos: print some impressive images to decorate your home and workplace, and use an online service (Snapfish, Shutterfly, SmugMug) to create a custom photo album that you can always open up to relive your journey. Less confident in your own photo skills? Many adventure guides also offer photos for free, for purchase, or for sharing on social media. There are also incredible professional photographers across Alaska who capture and sell frame-worthy images of the state’s most memorable action, animals and landscapes. And of course, we love it when our guests send us their Flickr feeds like Rinkie and Ronn did (that’s their bear pic above and then here’s another):
One keepsake category that is as vast, unique and inspiring as the state itself is Alaska artwork. Many people are drawn to Alaska Native artwork, as the state’s cultural roots come through in a variety of forms. There are wood carvings of totems and paddles so large they’ll need to be shipped home individually, and handcrafted jade and ivory pieces so small they can fit in your palm. There’s also an array of jewelry, traditional masks and drums, and, of course, paintings and prints with both old-style touches and modern, abstract approaches. The same can be said for the assembly of talented Alaska artists spread across the state whose perspectives on life and landscapes in the big state are poured into a range of artwork, especially paintings, prints and even stickers. Whatever your price point, there’s an Alaska art piece for you to treasure.
Few items grab attention or glow with Alaska history as much as gold. Across Alaska, there are plenty of purveyors who sell everything from a few flakes to a series of small nuggets set into a watch to a nice nugget at the heart of a one-of-a-kind jewelry piece. You can strike your own modest motherload and create your own modern Gold Rush story by panning for gold at one of Alaska’s many historic mining areas that welcome visitors, provide tours, and teaching panning techniques. Almost all ‘panners come away with some flecks of the color that Gold Rush dreams were made of.
Nothing says “I love Alaska!” louder and clearer than a T-shirt that literally says, “I love Alaska!” But fun and funky novelty T-shirts are just the start of the seemingly endless ensemble of Alaska clothing you can bring home. Of course, there are plenty of the expected screened fares and wears displaying Alaska animal faces and interesting places sold at gift shops and popular adventure outfitters and restaurants/bars. But the best of Alaska’s articles are cut from a different creative cloth. There are designers and brands that offer artistic and durable approaches to Alaska clothing and cover folks from head (baseball hats and winter caps) to torso (shirts and hoodies) to toe (hand-sewn Alaska Native mukluks and waterproof boots with warm and artsy linings). A true testament to this fashion forward approach is that many brands are proudly worn – and worn out – by Alaskans. One of the best and warmest Alaska accessories are Qiviut scarves, handcrafted and hand-knit to reflect Alaska Native culture and regions from the surprisingly fine fur of the state’s wooly musk ox.
The whole thing about keepsakes is that they are something you can hold on to for a very long time, if not a lifetime. But one short-term memento that will fill you and your family and friends with lasting Far North flavors are Alaska foods. Bring home a box of fresh Alaska salmon, halibut, shrimp and/or King crab, prepare a seafood feast for those most important to you, and you’ll be crowned royalty. You might even purchase an extra luggage piece for Alaska treats, from smoked salmon to reindeer sausage, maple syrup, honey and jams, chocolates and coffees, and even Alaska-caught salmon snacks for your pooch or pet pack. And then there are the dozens of delicious Alaska-made beers that you’ll fall in love with and want a sampling pack for home. Visit as many farmers markets or fairs as you can and you’ll be sure to find something tantalizing and tasty.
Other assorted Alaska gifts and goodies go far beyond the usual postcards and refrigerator magnets. Maps of Alaska and special areas within the state (Denali National Park, the Chugach Mountain Range, Southeast, etc.) are keepsakes that keep on giving – you can use them retrace your steps and plan your future travels. Then there’s the silly stuff like wooden bear claw salad servers, animal-shaped candy dispensers, and even moose nugget drink swizzles. You can even bring home a bear, caribou, puffin or eagle, so long as they are plush versions! And of course, there’s the ubiquitous ulu, the traditional and versatile rounded cutting tool used by Alaska Native people for generations. Ulus can be purchased for everyday carving kitchen use, but more often, are souvenir models meant for display. An Alaska yo-yo is sure to charm, and potentially flummox, even the most coordinated kiddos and kids at heart. Bring one home to remember all the fun you had up in the 49th state!