Top 20 Alaska Attractions You Will Never Forget

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Nikki Jain

Do you have a trip to Alaska on your bucket list of destinations to visit yet? If not, we guarantee that you’ll soon want to add it to the top of the list. Visiting Alaska will be one of the most memorable trips you’ve ever taken. There are many things to do in Alaska that allow you to experience the picturesque natural landscape, learn about the native heritage of Alaskan tribes, and have incredible outdoor adventures. Alaska is a place that you don’t want to miss.

Whether you’re taking a cruise or flying to your destination, there are tons of fun vacation spots in Alaska. You’ll find amazing tourist attractions across the entire state. It can be a challenge to see everything at once due to its size. Before you visit, be sure to plan out the top things you want to see during your trip. Let’s take a look at the best Alaska attractions to add to your itinerary.

Things To Do in Alaska

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1: Denali National Park & Preserve

Denali National Park & Preserve

Alaska is home to some of the best national parks in the US. Denali National Park & Preserve is a popular park named for the Denali Mountain – the highest peak in North America. The park showcases a diverse landscape with famous natural attractions, sightseeing wildlife, and outdoor recreation.

Denali National Park is a massive park covering more than six million acres of the interior region. It's predominantly wilderness with an untouched landscape. You'll see everything from glaciers to forests to valleys.

Keep an eye out to spot animals. It has abundant wildlife, including bears, moose, Dall sheep, and more.

There are several ways to experience the national park. Visitors can take overview tours on a shuttle bus, boat, or plane. For a more immersive experience, there are plenty of hiking trails, glacier treks, and backpacking.

For adventurous travelers, you can hike up to the peak of the Denali summit. It’s just as pleasurable enjoying the sights of the snow-capped mountain while driving through the park.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Denali National Park

Address: George Parks Hwy, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK

Also Read: The Best Things To Do In Denali National Park

2: Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park
Flickr/Kimberly Vardeman

It’s a surreal experience seeing large ice blocks floating past you while cruising through Glacier Bay National Park. It’s one of Alaska’s most visited parks, with over a half-million visitors arriving in search of outdoor adventure.

Glacier Bay National Park consists of a vast wilderness. The glacier-covered landscape is home to the famous Johns Hopkins Glacier, one of the many glaciers still moving. Other natural landmarks include Glacier Park and Brady Icefield.

The most common way to explore the national park is via a cruise ship tour. You’ll cruise through the icy bay for spectacular views of glaciers towering on either side of the ship.

Be sure to bring binoculars to spot wildlife, including seals, bears, and mountain goats on the shore. You’ll even have whales appearing alongside the ship.

Other top things to do in Glacier Bay National Park include hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. Hunting is only permitted in designated areas of the preserve.

Address: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, AK

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3: Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier is one of the easiest accessible glaciers near Juneau. With just a short drive, you’ll arrive at the landmark which continues to shape the valley. The site has a visitor center for learning more about the glacier and a broader recreational area.

The entire scenery is picturesque, with views of the Mendenhall Valley and Mendenhall Lake, each carved out by the historic glacier. When you arrive, stop by the visitor center for more information about the glacier, its formation, and see exhibitions about the region’s wildlife. It features an observation deck for one of the best views.

Mendenhall Glacier is more than 13-miles long. It’s a retreating glacier that’s accessible to the public to hike. For a unique viewpoint of the glacier, take a helicopter tour where you’ll land on the summit.

The recreational area has plenty of fun activities for all ages. Hike the Nugget Falls Trail to reach a must-see waterfall and spot wildlife.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Juneau

Address: 6000 Glacier Spur Rd, Juneau, AK 99801

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Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Juneau, Alaska

4: Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park
NPS / Kaitlin Thoreson

Located on the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai Fjords National Park is home to Alaska’s largest ice fields. Go on an adventurous trek through one of the top Alaska tourist attractions to see the surrounding glaciers, wildlife, and more.

There is only one road leading through the national park. It’s best accessed via boat or hiking. Local companies also offer airplane tours.

The highlight of the national park is the Harding Icefield. Visitors can hike the Harding Icefield Trail (HIT) for an incredible experience. It’s not the easiest hike, but the views make it worthwhile.

Day cruises are a common way to explore the national park. The tours cruise through the bay for sightseeing the landscape and seeing wildlife.

Whale-watching is one of the most popular tours to spot humpback whales and killer whales. Other wildlife in the park includes bears, moose, seals, and otters.

Check out the other well-known destinations like hiking Exit Glacier or take a boat to Fox Island.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Kenai Fjords National Park

Address: Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, AK 99664

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Also Read: Essential Things To Pack When Visiting National Parks

5: Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park
Flickr/Ian Collins

Visiting Chugach State Park is great in any season. So whether you're looking forward to seeing the beautiful winter landscape or the colorful flora in the spring, plan a trip to the park on your next trip to Alaska.

Chugach State Park is one of the largest in Alaska, covering nearly 500,000 acres. It’s nearby Anchorage, making it a popular destination for tourists. The park is known for its scenic landscape, and there are plenty of hikes to explore the region.

The state park has over 50 trails extending for hundreds of miles through the landscape. It has several natural landmarks, such as the Chugach Mountains and the Chugach National Forest. Visitors can go hiking or biking – some of the trails are multi-day treks.

The Flattop Mountain is a frequent hike to reach a panoramic view of the park. The Eklutna Lake offers whitewater rafting, fishing, and kayaking. You can also go for a scenic drive.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Anchorage

Address: 18620 Seward Hwy, Anchorage, AK 99516

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Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Anchorage, Alaska

6: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

Anchorage is one of the main attractions in Alaska to learn about history, art, and culture. The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is one of the best places to visit in Alaska to learn all about the state. The large museum exhibits the art, history, science, and geology of Alaska.

Ever since opening in 1968, the museum showcases some of the best exhibitions about Alaska. It has permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Visit the art galleries to see artworks made by local Alaskan artists: other exhibits highlight native tribes and display historical artifacts, clothing, and more.

You can easily spend a few hours exploring everything on display in the museum. It’s a fun attraction for all ages – it includes interactive exhibitions for kids.

Many bones and fossils of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals are on display as well. Geological exhibits, as well as exhibits detailing the landscape's current flora and fauna, make this museum an essential companion to exploring the region itself.

In addition to the exhibits, the building has a planetarium and a science center. It’s a place that combines education with fun.

The museum offers free admission to all visitors on the first Friday of every month.

Address: 625 C St, Anchorage, AK 99501

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Also Read: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Anchorage, Alaska

7: Alaska SeaLife Center

Alaska SeaLife Center

If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter sea creatures in the wild, but an alternative is visiting the Alaska SeaLife Center to guarantee you’ll see your favorite marine animals. The aquarium is one of the popular things to do in Alaska to learn all about the local marine life.

Alaska SeaLife Center is the best aquarium in Alaska to see the diverse marine life in the state. It also operates as a marine mammal rehabilitation facility and conducts research for preserving the animals’ natural habitat.

The aquarium collection includes seals, octopuses, sea lions, otters, and crabs. You can see live animals swimming in the tanks and also view exhibition displays to learn about them.

Additionally, the aquarium has a touch tank where you can pet sea stars and sea urchins. Walk into the aviary to explore the Alaskan sea birds.

The experience is self-guided, and you’re sure to learn a lot. It’s a fun place to visit for all ages.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Seward

Address: 301 Railway Ave, Seward, AK 99664

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Also Read: 10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in Alaska

8: Museum of the North UAF

Museum of the North UAF
Flickr/faunggs photos

The Museum of the North is one of the top Alaska attractions for visitors to learn more about the amazing state. It’s located in Fairbanks on the University of Alaska main campus. It explores the cultural and natural heritage of Alaska.

The Museum of the North opened in 1917 and has amassed an extensive collection of artifacts, artwork, specimens, and more. It has more than 2.5-million items that it displays via rotating and permanent exhibits.

You’ll first notice the beautiful building that houses the museum – it’s a work of art in itself that offers stunning mountain views while you browse the exhibitions.

The award-winning exhibits focus on native culture, natural history and landmarks, and Alaskan wildlife. Everything that you see on display is collected from around the state. Some of the objects date millions of years.

The museum is open to the public and always welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in Alaska’s heritage.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Fairbanks

Address: 907 Yukon Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99775

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9: Sitka National Historic Park

Sitka National Historic Park

Established in 1972, Sitka National Historic Park is the first park in Alaska. It’s also the smallest, but rest assured that you’ll have plenty of things to see and do during your visit.

The beautiful scenery and historical sites are more than enough to attract over 100,000 visitors annually to the park.

Before you begin exploring, stop by the park’s visitor center. You’ll get to see a short documentary about the park’s history and see exhibitions of Tlingit art and other artifacts. You can learn more about the Tlingit culture at the culture center, which features working artisans.

Guided tours are available, or explore on your own to see the popular attractions in Sitka National Historic Park.

One of the highlights is the site of the Battle of 1804 between the Russians and Tlingit. It’s an open field where you’ll learn about the battle and see a plaque marking the site of the Tlingit Fort.

Hike the Totem Trail to see 20 totem poles showcased in the World Fair and relocated here to represent the native culture.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Sitka

Address: 103 Monastery Street, Sitka, AK 99835

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10: Alaska Inside Passage

Alaska Inside Passage

Experience the breathtaking Alaska landscape by cruising through the Alaska Inside Passage. The passage is a famous route for ships navigating the Southeast Alaska region. It’s one of the main regions for Alaska cruises and boat tours.

Many of the top cruise lines like Holland America Line and local operators host tours through the region. You’ll cruise through the Gulf of Alaska and Puget Sound to witness an extensive coastline and over 1,000 islands.

The massive Tongass National Forest covered a big part of the coastline. You’ll see beautiful glaciers that shaped the region’s landscape. It’s common to spot lots of wildlife, including whales, sea lions, and more. Don’t forget to look up to see eagles soaring overhead.

Cruises in the Alaska Inside Passage have different itineraries. Some include stops at popular towns like Juneau, the capital, and Skagway, a gold rush town. There are lots to experience in this bustling region of Alaska.

Address: Inside Passage, Alaska

11: Alaska Native Heritage Center

Alaska Native Heritage Center

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is one of the best places to visit in Alaska to learn about the native cultures. Located in Anchorage, it helps provide education and sharing the local culture for awareness and conservation.

The cultural institute opened in 1999 to spotlight 11 native cultural groups in Alaska. The exhibitions help preserve details, including the heritage, language, way of life, and more. Inside the center, you will see artifact displays and film screenings.

Check the calendar when you visit for a chance to see live demonstrations of dancing and singing that happen daily. You can meet the natives and attend lectures in the presentation hall.

After browsing the inside exhibits, head outdoors for the designated walking trails. You’ll navigate a wooded area to see authentic native dwellings that give insight into the natives’ lifestyle.

The center includes a gift shop selling traditional handicrafts to take home.

Address: 8800 Heritage Center Dr, Anchorage, AK 99504

12: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
Dreamstime/Galyna Andrushko

The picturesque landscape of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park will be one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see when you visit Alaska. It’s a unique place to see contrasting volcanoes and glaciers coexisting in a vast wilderness region.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest national park in the United States. It covers 13.2-million acres – a majority of it is an untouched wilderness area.

On a clear day, you can see to the top of Mount St. Elias, Alaska’s second-highest peak. It has the state’s largest volcanoes and the highest concentration of glaciers.

Visit the rugged landscape for outdoor recreation. It’s a year-round destination, but keep in mind that the winters get very cold. If you can tough out the weather, you’ll discover incredible sights.

Take a shuttle from the visitor center to hike on the Hubbard Glacier or visit a historic mine. There are plenty of hiking trails through mountain passes or cycling the paved roads.

Address: Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway, Copper Center, AK 99573

13: Iditarod National Historic Trail

Iditarod National Historic Trail
Flickr/Bob Wick, BLM.

The Iditarod National Historic Trail will forever be a part of Alaska’s history. It was used from the time of natives to early settlement and is now preserved as a historical site. It hosts several sporting events and has many landmarks for visitors to see.

Iditarod National Historic Trail is a network of routes. The main route extends for approximately 1,000-miles from Seward to Nome. Other routes extend from the main path to other destinations.

The route was developed by native Alaskans who navigated it for commerce. Thanks to its popularity, several villages, camps, and trading posts were established to support frequent travelers. It was later used as a route during the gold rush era.

Visitors can take tours of the historic trail to see many of the historical landmarks. One of the most notable events that occur on the route is an annual sled dog race.

Also Read: 15 Best Things To Do in Seward, Alaska

14: Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park

Alaska attracted lots of early settlers during the 1890s gold rush for people hoping to strike it rich. What’s now known as Skagway was one of the most prominent towns during the period.

The Skagway historic district and more than 20 other towns make up the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Visitors will have an immersive experience when visiting Skagway’s historic district, Alaska’s leading site for the park, and where you’ll find the visitor center. Other sections of the park are located in Seattle and Canada.

The visitor center is a great starting point to learn about the gold rush. It displays old photos, and you can check out a documentary film. It also hosts ranger talks.

Walk the small town to see preserved buildings that now operate as museums, shops, and saloons. It feels like walking through history as you spend time in the district.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Skagway

Address: 291 Broadway, Skagway, AK 99840

15: Totem Bight State Historical Park

Totem Bight State Historical Park
Dreamstime/Daniel Shumny

Going for a hike in Totem Bight State Historical Park is one of the best things to see in Alaska to get to know a bit of native history. You’ll discover native landmarks preserved from the 19th century that represent the heritage and folklore.

Totem Bight State Historical Park is a former fishing camp on the coast near Ketchikan. It was abandoned by natives who relocated to other communities and left behind the iconic totem poles. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park features 15 totem poles restored to the original state. The poles depict human figures and spirit animals set in the ground. The site also includes a native clan house.

Visitors can hike through the forested region to all of the totem poles. Take time to read the information plaques to learn about each totem and the natives’ history.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Ketchikan

Address: 9883 N Tongass Hwy, Ketchikan, AK 99901

16: Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier
Dreamstime/Lawrence Weslowski Jr

Listening to the crackling sounds of the Hubbard Glacier as it continues to progress towards the Gulf of Alaska will make you feel tiny. It’s one of the most unbelievable sights to see in Alaska, with captivating vistas of the glacial blue hues.

Hubbard Glacier is a massive structure more than 75-miles long and has parts located in two countries. It’s located in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in the US and the Kluane National Park in Canada.

It’s the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent. The size of the glacier makes it hard to believe that it’s still moving.

There are a few ways that you can experience the glacier. The most popular method is to take a glacier cruise in the bay. You’ll cruise past icebergs from the glacier reach heights of multiple stories.

It’s also accessible via the national park. It provides shuttle buses for visitors to trek on top of the glacier.

17: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
Flickr/Ronald D. Karpilo Jr.

Visit one of the last frontiers in the world at the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. There’s not another park like it where the landscape and wildlife rule. It’s entirely located above the Arctic Circle, making it the northernmost national park in the US.

Because of its remote location and frigid climate, it’s the least-visited park in the US, although it’s the 2nd largest park. In fact, it’s only accessible by plane or hiking from Fairbanks since there are no roads in the park.

The vast landscape will greet you upon arriving at the park. The huge mountains and vast open fields are home to lots of wildlife, including caribou, wolverines, bears, and more.

Travelers tough enough to bear the conditions will find it one of the best places to go in Alaska to be fully immersed in nature.

Hiking, backpacking, and camping are permitted in the park but only advised for self-sufficient visitors.

Address: Airport Road, Fairbanks, AK 99701

18: Alaska Railroad

Alaska Railroad
Dreamstime/Eq Roy

Alaska is the largest state in the United States, so it’s nearly impossible to explore all of it in just one trip. Luckily, you can get an overview of the beautiful landscape by riding on the Alaska Railroad. It’s one of the best things to do in Alaska for sightseeing in the diverse state.

Alaska Railroad is a historical company founded in 1903 in Anchorage. Its routes support the movement of passengers and freight cargo around the state. It has stops in popular cities and destinations like Anchorage, Seward, Fairbanks, and more.

Tourism is popular on the Alaska Railroad. Many tour operators offer train journeys for sightseeing and travel between destinations. It’s a fun tour to experience Alaska in a new way.

One of the most popular treks is on the Denali Star. It’s a 12-hour trip between Anchorage and Fairbanks with a stop at Denali National Park. You can ride in private cars or coach cars.

Address: Anchorage, Alaska

Also Read: 30 Best Railway Museums in the US

19: Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
Flickr/Amy Meredith

Get a glimpse of the past when you visit the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum in Fairbanks. It's one of the fun attractions in Alaska for everyone, especially car enthusiasts. No other museum in the region has a collection, as you'll see at this attraction.

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum showcases cars that transported settlers around the state. Its collection is over 95 vintage vehicles dating back before WWII. It stages most of the cars and rotates others into the exhibitions throughout the year.

The vintage cars on display are all refurbished in their original appearance. To accompany the vehicles, you’ll get to see model fashion from the era. As you walk around the displays, you’ll see multimedia, including videos and photos of the vehicles.

Visitors can take guided tours of the museum to learn about all of the different cars and their history.

Address: 212 Wedgewood Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99701

Also Read: Best Car Museums in The US

20: Alaska Raptor Center

Alaska Raptor Center
Dreamstime/Linda Harms

Alaska is home to many bird species. While birdwatching is a popular pastime in nature, you have the opportunity to see your favorite birds up close at the Alaska Raptor Center.

It’s one of the must-visit Alaska attractions that help preserve essential birds to the regional ecosystem.

Alaska Raptor Center is a campus near Sitka dedicated to animal rehabilitation. It’s used for preserving bird populations, education, and research. Aside from these functions, it’s a popular tourist destination with lots of fun activities for all ages.

The center is home to eagles, falcons, owls, hawks, and more. Most animals were rescued from the wild. They are kept at the center until ready to be re-released or relocated to zoos.

Visitors can see flying demonstrations in a large field and sit in on lectures to learn about bird species. It’s an excellent stop to add to your itinerary in case you can’t make it out into the wild to see the birds in their natural habitat.

Address: 1000 Raptor Way, Sitka, AK 99835

Plan your trip to these Alaska attractions soon!

The great state of Alaska is one that you don’t want to miss. Immerse yourself in the untouched landscape to connect with nature and the native cultures. It’s a year-round destination where you’ll always find things to do in Alaska. You’ll be surprised at how nice it can get during the summer and how much fun you can have outdoors even during the winter.

Alaska is divided into five different regions. You can easily spend the entire time within one region, but there are plenty of Alaska attractions in each to keep your interest. South Central Alaska allows you to explore the peaks in Denali State Park or visit the capital, Juneau, in the Southeast region. And you’ll have the ultimate remote experience in the Far North, where you’ll have an incredible view of the Northern Lights.

Visit Alaska to experience one of the most unique states in the United States.

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