Alaska is such a special place to me. For three straight years, I spent a ton of time just outside Anchorage learning how to fly planes and perform aircraft maintenance — and I got to help out with Bible camps north of the Arctic Circle. I miss Alaska every single day, and I really hope I can drag Dave away from his warm-weather pursuits for a trip to the Last Frontier. It’s been a hot minute and a half since I’ve been to Alaska, so some of my recommendations will be types of things to do rather than specific things, but I hope it’s just as helpful all the same!
Best Times to Visit:
- I’m going to step away from my usual “travel over Christmas” cadence and highly encourage a summer trip to Alaska, right over the solstice. 24 hours of daylight is pretty dang cool, and totally worth messing up your sleep schedule. Plus, the weather in Anchorage is actually pretty nice in the summer. Usually ranging in the 50s to 70s, so it’s still a nice chance to escape the normal summer heat without having to freeze.
- The fall is also an awesome time to visit. You get more normal daylight hours, and the temperatures drop much closer to chilly so folks that really hate the heat will probably enjoy it a lot. Plus just seeing everything changing colors and going wild in the fall is pretty spectacular.
- Alyeska Resort. Alyeska is one of my favorite places to stay in Alaska just because it is situated in SUCH a pretty spot. The mountains, the ponds, the towers trees. Every time you glance outside you get that ultimate “oh my gosh I’m in Alaska!” feeling. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and the indoor pool is great for relaxing after a long day of hiking and exploring. They have five awesome dining options, a wonderful spa, and a ridiculous amount of activities regardless of the season.
- Alaska House of Jade Bed and Breakfast. I love House of Jade because it feels like you are staying with family or friends at their home in Alaska. It helps make Alaska feel more like home as a whole. It’s very cute and comfy, and the provided breakfast is always delicious. It’s such a fun experience staying there.
Since it’s been so long since I’ve been to Anchorage, I figured I’d just share some food items to try, rather than trying to recommend a specific restaurant.
- Fresh halibut and salmon. There is nothing better than a hot serving of fish that was caught fresh that very day. I’ve never had salmon like fresh Alaskan salmon, and I’ve certainly never had halibut as delicious as the stuff served in Alaska. I love both salmon and halibut pan seared with a squirt of lemon — but halibut fish and chips will put any fish or chips (including the stuff in London ) to absolute shame.
- Reindeer sausage and Caribou chili. Reindeer sausage is SO dang good, it’s like a zestier and sweeter version of pork sausage. And you can find it most places, even at McDonalds and Burgers King. Caribou chili is also grand. You can find it at a lot of different places, and it puts beef chili to shame.
- Caviar. I’m a huge caviar person — from the fancy stuff in Las Vegas to the fresh stuff in Virginia Beach, I eat it all. And yet none of it comes close to fresh Alaskan caviar. Salmon caviar is the best — the eggs are larger than what you think, more in line with those little juice pearls you can get on your frozen yogurt. And they are salty and briny and exploding with flavor. My favorite way to eat them is on a buttery piece of garlic toast.
- Hiking the Matanuska Glacier. The Matanuska is the largest glacier in the world accessible by car, and it’s absolutely fabulous to hike. It’s like a frozen forest with hills and valleys and likes and random frozen foliage and insects. It obviously changes on a regular basis, but one year we made our way out to a giant glacial lake, and that was stunning to behold.
- Alaska by Rail. The railroad is what gave Anchorage its start, and first linked broad stretches of Alaska together. The city is still the starting point for rail travel in Alaska, with trains departing daily in the summer. Glass top train cars are my favorite — they are noisy as all get out, but the views are unbeatable.
- Flightseeing. Of course I would be remiss not to recommend experiencing Alaska by air. There are so many places to catch a Cessna tour, and helicopter tours to boot. There is nothing like flying around the mountains and low over the glaciers. You can see so much, including all sorts of wildlife you’d never want to see up close.