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Alaska scenic ocean
Photo Credit: ATIA, Mark Kelley
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Experience It All

Experience It All

Ok, there's no way to experience it all on one trip or even a lifetime exploring Alaska. But, this fast-paced 14-day itinerary gives you a taste of some of the most iconic sights and experiences in Alaska, stopping in the state's three biggest cities and visiting top destinations including Kenai Fjords National Park, Katmai National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, and Denali National Park

Day 1: Anchorage

Begin your journey by sampling the rich culture and history of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. Don’t miss a chance to visit Anchorage’s Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum, and the Alaska Aviation Museum, which gives fascinating insights into how aviation still serves as a lifeline for transport and exploration in this enormous, sparsely populated state. You can also enjoy fine dining and shopping downtown without having to pay a sales tax, and cap the evening off with a walking tour before you turn in for the night at your Anchorage hotel or bed and breakfast.

Day 2: Seward

Rent a car and make the scenic, two-and-a-half-hour drive south to Seward. You'll enjoy spectacular scenery on the entire trip, from fast-moving ocean tides in the Turnagain Arm to steep, forested cliffs and mountains to wildlife including beluga whales, Dall sheep, moose, and eagles. Once you reach Seward, spend the day exploring the coastline of Kenai Fjords National Park on a day cruise. You’ll see glaciers, a few crumbling World War II artifacts, and an abundance of marine wildlife including Steller sea lions, sea otters, humpback whales, orcas, and a variety of birds. Spend the evening at the Alaska SeaLife Center or take a short hike to the face of Exit Glacier before returning to your lodgings in Seward for the night.

Day 3: Homer

Get up early and make the three-and-a-half-hour drive to Homer, on the far side of the Kenai Peninsula. Along the way you’ll see the famous turquoise waters of the Kenai River and panoramic views of four active volcanoes on the other side of the inlet. Once in Homer, make sure to visit the Alaska Islands and Oceans Center, which doubles as a visitor center, along with the small but excellent Pratt Museum. End your day by strolling the Homer Spit — a four-mile finger of land that stretches into Kachemak Bay and is lined with some of the state’s best gift shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Spend the night in Homer, which is famous for its many excellent B&Bs.

Day 4: Homer

Enjoy breakfast at one of Homer's bakeries and then choose your adventure from one of the many tour options available from town: take a flightseeing trip for bear viewing in Lake Clark National Park, book a kayak outing, reel in a trophy salmon or halibut on a fishing trip, or take a water taxi across the bay to Kachemak Bay State Park to access miles of hiking trails.

Day 5: Homer to Anchorage

Today you will drive 220 miles back to Anchorage, and while the driving time is about four-and-a-half hours, you can easily spend the entire day taking in the sights on your journey back. Highlights along the way include the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can view Alaska wildlife like bears, wolves, moose, and lynx; a visit to the Portage Glacier Area with family-friendly hiking trails and a short cruise out to the face of Portage Glacier; a stop in the resort town of Girdwood for a scenic ride on the aerial tram up Mt. Alyeska followed by a mountain-top meal or drink; or a walk along the raised platforms above Potter Marsh at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge to view birds, fish, and sometimes moose against a backdrop of the Chugach Mountains. Settle in to your accommodations in Anchorage and enjoy an amazing seafood dinner at one of the city's many excellent restaurants. 

Day 6: Kodiak

Return your rental car to the airport and then hop on a plane to the massive island of Kodiak. Learn about Kodiak’s Alaska Native history in the tiny but exquisitely curated Alutiiq Museum, then discover its more recent Russian history at the Kodiak History Museum and the oldest Russian Orthodox parish in Alaska. Go to bed early; tomorrow is going to be a big day.

Day 7: Kodiak

Start the day early with your choice of big adventures: either fly out to a remote lodge for an unparalleled day of fishing, or hop on a small plane bound for bear viewing opportunities in Katmai National Park or Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. If either of these trips represent your grandest life’s dream, you might want to skip the rest of the itinerary and stay in Kodiak. Otherwise, cap your evening off with a gourmet dinner cruise, then head back to your accommodations for one last night in Kodiak.

Day 8: Juneau

Depart Kodiak and fly to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, via Anchorage. Two of the city’s biggest sights involve ice: the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier is just a short shuttle bus ride from downtown Juneau, or you can take a helicopter flightseeing tour to go trekking or dog sledding on a nearby glacier. You can also stick close to downtown and visit the Alaska State Museum, then ride the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts, which rises steeply above the cruise ship docks, for an bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area. End the evening with a relaxing dinner at one Juneau’s fine restaurants before retiring to your accommodations for the night.

Day 9: Gustavus

Take a small plane from Juneau to Gustavus, a small island community that serves as the gateway to the vast Glacier Bay National Park. The dramatic landscape and rich wildlife are the main draws here. Explore the island via mountain bike or on a guided hiking tour, or go sea kayaking, fishing, or whale watching in the surrounding waters. Gustavus offers a number of places to stay the night.

Day 10: Glacier Bay National Park

Transfer to Bartlett Cove in the morning and take a full-day cruise up Glacier Bay aboard a multi-deck catamaran. Have your camera ready to capture images of the many glaciers you’ll see, and keep an eye out for humpback whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, and sea otters in the bay. You might also see wildlife on the shore: look for mountain goats, black bears, brown bears, moose, and abundant bird life, including puffins. Upon your return to the dock, you will be transferred to Gustavus for your flight back to Juneau, which makes a good travel hub for either continuing your Alaska adventure or heading back home.

Day 11: Fairbanks

If you've decided to continue on, the last leg of your journey takes you to Interior Alaska to experience mountain landscapes, rolling tundra, and the tallest mountain in North America – Denali. Take a morning flight from Juneau to Fairbanks, connecting through Anchorage, and spend the afternoon exploring Alaska’s Golden Heart City. The activity options in Fairbanks are endless – from dog sledding tours to gold panning to hiking, hot springs, local breweries, and museums – and if you’re in the area from August to April, Fairbanks is one of the best places in the state to view the northern lights. Settle in for the night at one of the many hotels, B&Bs, lodges, and cabins in Fairbanks.

Day 12: Fairbanks to Denali National Park

Catch the Alaska Railroad Denali Star Train in the morning for a scenic four hour train ride to Denali National Park & Preserve, home of the tallest mountain in North America and unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities. Spend the afternoon exploring the activities near the entrance to the park including hiking, exploring the Visitor Center, or visiting to the Denali National Park Sled Dog Kennels, and then settle in for the night at one of the hotels and lodges located near the entrance to the park.

Day 13: Denali National Park

Today you will spend the day experiencing Denali National Park & Preserve, either by bus or one of the many other tour options available in the area. Book a bus tour to travel into the park to view the sprawling landscape and wildlife including Alaska’s “Big 5” – bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves. If the weather cooperates you will be treated to views of the snow-covered Denali, towering 20,310 feet tall. For those looking for even more adventure, try white water rafting, ATV tours, dog sledding, flightseeing, and guided hiking tours that all depart from the Denali Park area. Spend another night at a nearby hotel or lodge.

Day 14: Fairbanks or Anchorage

You have two options for your last day before you journey home: spend the morning and afternoon exploring more of Denali before taking the four hour train trip north back to Fairbanks, or take the seven-and-a-half hour train ride south to Anchorage. Either way, you will get to your destination in the evening and you can fly out that night or take a morning flight the next day, having completed an epic 14-day itinerary to some of Alaska's most iconic places.

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