Happy New Year! If your big 2020 New Year’s resolution is visiting Alaska, we’re thrilled!
To get you excited about your upcoming adventure, here are 10 Alaska-inspired ideas for your travels to the 49th state in 2020 (or beyond). And don’t worry, you don’t have to do all of these in just one trip north!
- Exercise more … by taking one of Alaska’s countless hikes. Hiking is one of the best ways to explore the state and appreciate its natural beauty, breathe in some fresh northern air, and get the grandest views – from wildlife to mountains to unbelievable vistas and even cityscapes. Whether you want to bag a big peak or take a nice mellow walk, hike every day or take one special stroll, there are trails for all fitness levels and adventurous ambitions.
- Explore your wild side … with a wildlife viewing adventure. When it comes to thrilling Alaska experiences, few match the goose-bump-inducing moments of seeing the state’s unique and wooly wildlife. That can be done by visiting the Alaska Zoo, the Alaska SeaLife Center or the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It can also happen randomly when you see a moose or two while strolling along a downtown street. Or you could go big and take a once-in-a-lifetime fly-in bear-viewing trip to a popular feeding area, where you’ll get so close you can hear the big bears grunt.
- Focus on history … by learning about Alaska’s Gold Rush era. One of the state’s most famous – and infamous – boom-and-bust periods created a few instant millionaires, countless broken dreamers, and bonanza of exciting, tragic and downright strange artifacts, stories and songs. Pieces of them all are displayed and waiting to be explored at many Alaska museums and monuments, and in books and songs. You’ll understand what the lure and lore was all about when you see a dazzling gold nugget the size of a fist.
- Get more culture in your life … at an Alaska Native cultural center or event. To truly appreciate Alaska’s rich history and its rugged, live-off-the-land lifestyles, visitors must spend some time being immersed in Alaska Native culture. There are plenty of opportunities to learn about the past with extensive collection of artifacts and storytelling at museums. You can also experience the past meeting the present at The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, cultural centers in most cities and towns, at annual dancing and drumming events around the state, and at special sporting events like the World Eskimo Indian Olympics and the Native Youth Games, and lots more.
- Keep life in perspective … by getting close to Denali. Not all Alaska vacations revolve around visiting Denali National Park, but every trip here should at least include a few moments of taking in the Great One. Because the closer you get to North America’s largest peak, the more majestic and massive it gets, and the smaller and insignificant you feel. You can admire Denali from afar – on a clear day, you can see it from Fairbanks and Anchorage, looming large in the middle of the large state – travel near (Talkeetna) or into the park to get really close, or take an Alaska flightseeing trip and literally circle around its peak and admire in awe.
- Bring out your inner cool … by going on a glacier cruise. It’s easy to get some big and bright, large and white Alaska glacier action – just hop on a boat and let your guides take to you directly to a series of grand glaciers. Sometimes you can get so close, you’ll feel cold radiating from the glaciers. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience a calving glacier making a loud crack followed by a large splash that will send your heart pounding. Up for icy adventure? Hire a guide and hike on a glacier!
- Treat yourself like royalty … with a feast of King Crab, King salmon, and other Alaska seafood sensations. Alaska’s natural bounty of seafood is world-renowned and spectacular. It doesn’t get much better than cracking open the shell of a big King Crab leg and digging into the sweet, delicate meat. Dip a chunk of it into some melted butter and you’ll have an out of body dining experience. Some would say the same about Alaska’s fish, especially its fatty red and king salmon and its flaky, flavorful halibut. Oh, then there are the fresh prawns, oysters, clams and mussels that can be prepared a million different ways, yet all garner the same response: Yum!
- Let your smile shine bright … under Alaska’s famous northern lights. There’s something seemingly magical about the northern lights, those big colorful bands of dancing lights that illuminate Alaska’s dark winter nights. Experience them and you’ll hardly believe your eyes or keep a smile off of your face. You’ll remember, and tell stories of, these night lights for the rest of your life.
- Be present and live in the moment … by going ocean kayaking. Want to get away from it all? Put the phone on airplane mode, then hop inside a kayak for a tour along Alaska’s massive and spectacular shorelines. The only distractions out here are of the good kind – the crunching of an otter munching on a shellfish or a puffin’s wings smacking against the water as it takes flight. Look out for whales and porpoises, jumping fish and a bevy of ocean birds. Float out near glaciers or into coves where you pull ashore and have a peaceful lunch or even a nap. Guides are ready to gear you up and lead you on half-day, full-day, overnight and multiday journeys for all experience levels.
- Make a memory … and bring an Alaska keepsake home. Your Alaska visit will no doubt be filled with unforgettable moments, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grab something (or many things) to always remember Alaska by. Whether it’s a hooded sweatshirt, muskox wool hat or any kind of assorted Alaska-branded garment, a piece of Alaska Native art or jewelry, a Denali Park coffee mug or a traditional ulu, these keepsakes will bring you back to Alaska and even help transport your friends and family there, too. (Oh, you can also bring home a box of salmon filets and King crab if you really want to treat the people in your life to a taste of Alaska.)