Alaska Bucket List: 22 Must-Dos for Adventure Seekers

Are you an outdoorsy type of person looking for your next adventure? Look no further than the Last Frontier – Alaska!

This beautiful and wild state offers more bucket list activities than you can imagine.

Take a ride on an Alaskan railcar for incomparable views that will take your breath away, or change up the pace and cruise around on a sea kayak to explore ancient glaciers and find distant wildlife.

No matter what kind of explorer you are, there’s something majestic waiting for you in Alaska.

We can’t contain the excitement any longer; let’s explore the best things to add to your Alaska bucket list!

1. Helicopter Tour & Dog Sledding

If you’re looking for a truly unique and unforgettable adventure in Alaska, a helicopter tour and dog sledding on a glacier is a must-do on your bucket list.

You’ll fly over incredible blue glaciers and take in stunning views of the Alaskan wilderness.

Once you land on the glacier, you’ll meet the huskies and the mushers who will guide you on your sled ride.

Feel the power of the dogs as they pull you across the snow, and take in the breathtaking scenery as you glide across the glacier!

Prices vary depending on the length of the tour and the number of people in your group, but most tours last around 1.5 hours and cost approximately $600 per person.

Keep in mind that this experience is weather-dependent, so it’s a good idea to book your tour for the beginning of your trip in case it needs to be rescheduled due to inclement weather.

And be sure to dress warmly, as temperatures on the glacier can be quite chilly!

dog sledding with huskies
dog sledding with huskies

2. Watch Lumberjacks in Action

The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show is a four-hour experience held in Ketchikan and features some of the best lumberjacks in the world competing in a variety of events.

During the show, you’ll witness lumberjacks competing in events like log rolling, climbing, and axing their way around trees like it’s child’s play.

The show is action-packed and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Afterwards, fill up on an all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab feast with a variety of sides and desserts that’ll make you go back for seconds (or thirds).

Clearly, this is one outdoor spectacle that even Bear Grylls would give his seal of approval to.

3. Mendenhall Glacier & the Ice Cave

Juneau’s natural beauty tops the list of many travelers bucket list, and what better way to experience it than at the Mendenhall Glacier?

Seemingly from a fairytale, this glacier is one of Juneau’s most accessible attractions.
Take your explorations to a whole new level with this Mendenhall adventure tour!

Canoe your way around Mendenhall Lake, seeing luminescent blue icebergs and soaring waterfalls, then step onto the glacier with trekking poles in hand.

The glacier is a massive, gorgeous sight to behold, but the real magic happens when you hike to the ice cave (weather permitting).

The cave is formed by the melting of the glacier, and it’s a beautiful blue hue that is sure to take your breath away.

Even if you’ve never done this before don’t worry – a guide is there to prepare you for each step of the journey, and to steer you away from hungry grizzlies.

With personalized attention on a limited small-group tour, it’s close quarters for some serious wildlife sightings!

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4. Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park is a part of a 24.3 million-acre World Heritage Site and is home to over 1,000 glaciers, boasting a breathtaking array of natural wonders.

The best way to get the full experience is on a cruise ship – Holland America, Norwegian, and Princess Cruises all making stops here.

Spend the day enjoying incredible vistas from your own balcony stateroom or on the upper decks.

With such majestic sights, it’s no wonder that Glacier Bay National Park is one of Alaska’s most treasured destinations.

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska

5. White Pass Railway

You simply can’t miss The White Pass, one of the most scenic train rides in the world. It’s also one of the most popular shore excursions for many cruise ships that stop in Skagway.

This narrow-gauge railroad runs from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon, and offers breathtaking views of glaciers, mountains, and waterfalls.

The train has large windows, so you can take pictures and enjoy the scenery without missing a thing.

The journey takes about five hours one-way and covers a distance of 67.5 miles. Along the way, you’ll see stunning landscapes, including the White Pass Summit, which stands at an elevation of 2,888 feet.

During the ride, you’ll learn about the history of the Klondike Gold Rush and the construction of the railway, which was completed in 1900.

You’ll also see Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and the Dead Horse Gulch, which is named after the horses that perished during the gold rush.

If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife, such as bears, eagles, and moose, along the way!

6. Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park is located west of Seward on the Kenai Peninsula and is known for its glaciers and abundant marine wildlife.

Here, you can take a boat tour to see the glaciers up close and spot whales, sea otters, and puffins.

The park also offers hiking trails for those who want to explore the park on foot.

7. Local Cocktail Specialty

Alaskan nights can get chilly, but there’s one surefire way to warm up – seek out the ever-popular Duck Fart.

This is Alaska’s very own invented cocktail – a mix of Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, and Canadian Whiskey.

Those traveling through The Last Frontier should give it a try…if for no other reason than its witty name!

Despite the alias, the Duck Fart will likely become your new favorite tipple during your travels in Alaska – its smooth blend of flavors will be enough to convince you to sip it slowly instead.

If you find yourself in Alaska, seek out this drink and enjoy it responsibly!

Polar Bears in Alaska
Polar Bears in Alaska

8. See Polar Bears

Kaktovik is known as the polar bear capital of North America, so don’t let this chance pass.

From late August to early September, many polar bears head to this village in search of food before the sea ice forms.

The best way to see the polar bears is by taking a guided tour. These tours are led by experienced guides who know how to keep you safe while providing you with a close-up view of the bears.

Kaktovik is not just home to polar bears; you can also spot other wildlife such as Arctic foxes, muskoxen, and migratory birds.

And if you are visiting Kaktovik in the winter months, you just might get treated to a show of Northern Lights too!

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9. Go on an Alaska Cruise

One of the most popular ways to see Alaska is by taking a cruise through the Inside Passage, where you can witness the stunning natural beauty of the glaciers and wildlife.

Some of the top cruise lines that offer Alaskan cruises include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Not only will you get breathtaking views of glaciers, mountains, and fjords, but if you keep your eyes peeled you may spot some cool wildlife too, like whales, sea lions and bald eagles!

But wait, there’s more: shore excursions offer even more amazing adventures such as glacier climbing, salmon fishing, and dog sledding.

Remember to pack up those layers – Alaska weather can be really unpredictable – and try to snag yourself a balcony room…because nothing beats enjoying the stunning views from the cozy comfort of your own private room.

10. Feast on Alaskan Specialties

Sure, the salmon might be legendary here, and rightly so, but you can also order up something truly unique.

Ever tried reindeer sausage? If not, you’re missing out on something special! Some say it has a gamey flavor, but it makes for a great breakfast sausage or sandwich.

And when we say king crab is a delicacy in these parts, we mean it. Boiled or steamed with butter, it can’t be beat.

Also consider moose stew if you’re looking for something hearty and filling – after all, cold Alaskan evenings call for comfort food.

11. Skagway Salmon Bake

If there was one activity to define Alaskan experiences, it’ll be the salmon bake. Fish, fire and fun – what could be better?

Roast salmon over an open BBQ and compliment it with some tasty side dishes like potato salad, rice and salad.

For extra entertainment, there’s even live music and marshmallow roasting!
So move over spaghetti bolognese – in Alaska, it’s all about the Skagway Salmon Bake.

12. Visit Grizzly Bears

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, visiting Fortress of the Bear in Sitka is a must-do on your Alaska bucket list.

This non-profit organization rescues orphaned and injured brown bears and provides them with a safe and natural environment.

Get ready to witness these majestic creatures up close and personal without upsetting their natural habitat.

The tour guides are sure to keep you entertained with their rich knowledge and unparalleled passion for their cause – turning the entire experience into a highly educational one.

It’s not every day that you get such a detailed insight into wild animal behavior!
The organization relies on donations and volunteers to continue their work, so your visit can make a huge difference.

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13. Denali National Park

Denali National Park is home to the tallest mountain in North America, Denali or “The Great One,” which stands at 20,310 feet.

The park covers over 6 million acres of wilderness and is home to a variety of wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves, and moose.

Looking for a unique way to explore Denali National Park? Try biking the Denali Park Road!

This 92-mile road offers stunning views of the park’s mountains, valleys, and wildlife. Keep an eye out for grizzly bears, caribou, and moose.

The best time to bike the Denali Park Road is during the summer months, from late May to early September.

During this time, the road is open to cyclists and the weather is mild. Keep in mind that the road can be busy with tourist traffic, so plan accordingly.

14. Chena Hot Springs

Located in a resort with the same name, Chena Hot Springs is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Alaska.

Just 57 miles away from Fairbanks, this natural hot springs resort offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. But the main attraction, of course, is the hot springs themselves.

The mineral-rich water is said to have healing properties and can help ease sore muscles and joints.

But Chena Hot Springs isn’t just about soaking! There are plenty of other activities to enjoy, including fishing, hiking, and even visiting a year-round ice museum.

And if you’re interested in renewable energy, be sure to take the tour of the resort’s facilities, which are powered by geothermal energy.

15. Spot Beluga Whales

For travelers making their way from Anchorage to Seward, Turnagain Arm is a must-see destination along the Seward Highway.

Just 20 miles south of Anchorage, Beluga Point is a scenic overlook that lets you spot belugas swimming in Turnagain Arm’s shallow waters.

The best time to see these majestic creatures is during the summer months, from mid-July to August when they migrate to the area to feed on salmon.

So don’t be afraid to break your journey and stay a while – we guarantee it’ll be worth it!

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16. Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum is a great place to learn about Alaska’s history and culture. The museum has exhibits on everything from the state’s early history to its modern art scene.

One of the museum’s most popular exhibits is the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, which features artifacts and artwork from Alaska Native cultures.

17. See The Northern Lights

Are you ready to witness one of the most spectacular natural phenomena on earth?

Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis.

Fairbanks is known as the “aurora capital of the world” and has some of the best viewing opportunities!

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is from August to April, when the nights are longer and darker.

To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, it’s best to go on this venture with experienced guides.

Keep in mind that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and are never guaranteed.

But even if you don’t see the lights, the experience of being in Alaska and enjoying the stunning natural beauty is worth the trip.

18. Go Fishing

Fishing throughout Alaska has been an ancient tradition and remains one of the best ways to get connected with nature.

From fly-fishing in remote lakes to chartering a boat off the coast of Homer, there are plenty of ways to join in on the fun.

Do more than simply observe Alaska’s beauty – make it part of your dinner plans!

19. Fly Above the Misty Fjords

There’s truly no better way to appreciate the beauty of Ketchikan than a small plane tour of the Misty Fjords National Monument – an untouched wilderness area that can only be accessed by air and sea.

The water landing experience adds an extra layer of adventure and gives you the chance to say you’ve been places most others haven’t – feeling like Tom Hanks in Castaway.

Misty Fjords Seaplane Tour Ketchikan
Misty Fjords Seaplane Tour Ketchikan Photo by Viator

20. Spot Bald Eagles

Alaska is home to one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the world, and spotting these majestic birds in their natural habitat is naturally, a must-do on any bucket list!

Here are some of the best places to spot bald eagles in Alaska:

  • In Ketchikanak, take a guided tour or rent a kayak to explore the area’s waterways and look for eagles perched in trees or soaring overhead.
  • The Homer Spit is also a popular spot for eagle watching. Take a boat tour or hike along the beach to see eagles fishing in the bay or perched on nearby cliffs.
  • Sitka is a historic town located on Baranof Island, and it’s a great place to spot bald eagles.The
  • Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is located near Haines, and it’s one of the best places in Alaska to see bald eagles.

21. Whale Watching

It’s no secret that Alaska is the place to be for whale watching. Whether you have a taste for humpbacks, orcas, or its infamous grays, there’s something for everyone in the Last Frontier.

Even if you’re not a whale connoisseur, Alaskan waters provide ample opportunity to witness some of nature’s most elusive creatures up close and personal.

22. Native Alaskan Heritage Center

The Native Alaskan Heritage Center in Anchorage is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about Alaska’s indigenous cultures.

The center features exhibits, performances, and workshops highlighting the traditions and customs of the state’s many Native tribes.

Visitors can watch dance performances and see traditional crafts being made.