You can’t take the city out of the girl, but you can take the girl out of the city. Every once in a while I like to venture out of my comfort zone and go somewhere unexpected. My husband and I recently traveled to Alaska for his daughter’s high school graduation, and it was an eye-opening experience. From unbelievable glacier views to the majestic mountains surrounding the landscape, a trip to Alaska offers a picturesque backdrop like no other. If you have ever thought about traveling to the Land of the Midnight Sun, I highly recommend it. Alaska is truly a breathtaking destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
When to Travel
Unless you are a fan of frigid weather, I would cross the winter months off your travel calendar. Summer is the best time to see Alaska without the chance of frostbite. If you desire highs between 60–80°F, anytime from June to August is ideal. During the summer months, the sun barely sets, offering ample amounts of daylight even throughout the night. Most hotels utilize blackout curtains, but just to be on the safe side, I always travel with my Sleep Swag eye mask!
To get the full experience, I would recommend at least five days—if not more—to really explore the state. We thought it would be only fitting to fly Alaska Airlines to Anchorage from LAX, and we enjoyed the flight immensely. If you are on the West Coast, Alaska Airlines offers several flight options and a quick check-in process, and the extra legroom and friendly staff made our five hours of flight time literally fly by.
Before going into finance, my husband grew up in Anchorage. A little-known fact: he worked as a commercial fisherman and on the oil rigs in Prudhoe Bay, so it was nice to visit his hometown and spend time with family. Anchorage is a small city of just 300,000, but surprisingly it has a lot to offer travelers in search of entertainment beyond the great outdoors. There is a wide selection of restaurants featuring many different cuisines, a local shopping experience including its very own Nordstrom, and a vibrant bar scene where one can drink the winter months away!
Dining & Bar Recommendations
Snow City Cafe (1034 West 4th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501 | (907) 272-2489)
The best breakfast/brunch in town, with large portions to fuel your day! Recommendations: pretty much anything on the menu, but be ready for a wait!
Crow’s Nest at the Hotel Captain Cook (939 West 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK | (907) 276-6000)
Fine dining with amazing handcrafted cocktails. Recommendations: Foie Gras Semifreddo and any of their seasonal cocktails.
Kincaid Grill (6700 Jewel Lake Road, Anchorage, AK 99502 | (907) 243-0507)
Upscale restaurant with an impressive wine list where I dined on my birthday. Recommendations: Cioppino (seafood stew) and the Roasted Beet Salad.
Moose’s Tooth (3300 Old Seward Highway, Anchorage, AK 99503 | (907) 258-2537)
Some of the best specialty pizzas I’ve had! Recommendations: Fiesta Shrimp or Chipotle Steak.
Williwaw Rooftop Bar (601 F Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 | (907) 868-2000)
Great stop to grab a drink under the midnight sun of Alaska. Recommendations: Go into one of the old-school phone booths and ask Cliff for entrance to the secret speakeasy within the complex!
There are so many outdoor activities to enjoy in Alaska, you could literally spend the entire summer salmon and halibut fishing, camping throughout the state, renting ATVs for off-roading adventures, or horseback riding among the mountains. Per my husband’s recommendation, we decided to take a trip to Whittier, where there are many picturesque points of interest to stop at along the way.
Along the Seward Highway on the way to Whittier, stop at McHugh Creek to enjoy a hike or casual nature walk. Lush greenery and trees line the area surrounding the creek.
Continue to head south until you reach Beluga Point, so named for the beluga whale-watching you can enjoy there. As one of the first native habitations in Alaska, this beautiful area is home to breathtaking views.
Before arriving in Whittier, our next stop was Portage Glacier, where we basked in the mountainous glory and my husband dared to embark on an iceberg plunge with his daughters in tow (yes, the water is freezing)! Located in Chugach National Forest, this area is a perfect place for a short boat cruise to get up close to the glacier.
The smallest town ever, boasting a full-time population of just 214 people, Whittier was named after poet John Greenleaf Whittier. It housed a military facility in World War II and was once only accessible by train or boat. In fact, my husband was actually part of the mining crew that widened the tunnel—the longest in North America—to enable cars to drive to Whittier. However, feel free to take the historic Great Alaskan Railroad from Anchorage to Whittier and back, or even as far north as Denali National Park and on to Fairbanks.
With excellent hiking, kayaking, and jet-skiing opportunities, Whittier makes for a nature lover’s dream. Thanks to the town’s location, day cruises out of Whittier are among the best in Alaska. Fishing is a favorite summer activity due to the abundant supplies of halibut, salmon, and rockfish found in the area’s nearby waters. Click through my photo gallery below for highlights.
I recommend Alaska to anyone looking to escape city life and experience a refreshing dose of nature. The air is fresh, the summer sun (almost) never sets, and it’s a landscape photographer’s dream. I honestly saw some of the most majestic skies I’d ever seen, and the backdrops looked like they were Photoshopped by Mother Nature herself!
Have any questions about traveling to Alaska? Ask away—I’m sure that my husband will be able to answer them!