Alaska: An Undiscovered Vacation Destination for Tourists

When you think of the most-visited destinations in the United States, your mind may not immediately summon thoughts of Alaska. It’s OK, we forgive you. But did you know that tourism is one of the driving forces in our state’s economy?

In 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2.26 million people visited Alaska between May and September alone! Much like places around the world, the impact of lockdowns and restrictions on travel have since skewed these numbers.

But the good news is that Alaska is back on the road to becoming the vacation destination it deserves to be! As the first and only providers of Anchorage guided food tours, and born-and-raised Alaskans, we’re perfectly placed to share with you the unique factors that make our state so special.

Scroll down to discover why Alaska deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. If you have any questions for the Alaskan Sights & Bites team, please feel free to contact us.

alaska mountain landscape

Alaska’s Scenery is Truly Spectacular

Alaska’s scenery is like nowhere else in the United States. There’s seemingly a jaw-dropping landscape around every corner. Of course, Alaska is huge, so let’s use our home of Anchorage as the perfect example.

The Chugach Mountains (part of Chugach State Park) rise majestically at the eastern edge of our city. Within this mountain range, you’ll find the imposing Matanuska Glacier, the largest glacier in the US accessible by car. Covering a huge part of this area and beyond is the 6,908,540-acre natural wonderland of Chugach National Forest.

To the south of Anchorage, there’s the raw beauty of Turnagain Arm and the incredible vistas it provides. And further south, around a 2.5-hour drive, is the stunning Kenai Fjords National Park, whose icy blue waters and calving glaciers will leave you spellbound.

Then there’s Kincaid Park at our city’s western edge and Denali National Park—home to North America’s tallest peak— less than a 4.5-hour drive to the north.

All of this scenery provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor adventures, be it hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. And remember, all the above are only the highlights surrounding our city! We’ve barely scratched the surface here.

bear in alaska

Witness Alaska’s Majestic Wildlife

Get ready for encounters with iconic wildlife! Here in Anchorage, you can see a moose or two within the city limits. Point Woronzoff Park and Kincaid Park are hotspots for these giant creatures as they love the terrain in these areas.

And moose sightings are only the beginning! Anchorage is in the heart of bear country, so it’s relatively simple to spot numerous species, including brown and black bears. Some of the best spots are a short floatplane ride away, such as Lake Clark and Katmai national parks and Brooks Falls.

Chugach State Park has a large bear population too, but it’s important to note that bears roam in different areas throughout the year, following their food sources across the seasons before hibernating in the winter.

Look to the sky for glimpses of soaring bald eagles, and watch the water for whales! Beluga whales cruise the waters at the city’s edge. One of the best places to spot these distinctive white whales is the appropriately named Beluga Point, south of the city.

If you do spot wild animals on your visit to Alaska, please remember that you are in their natural habitat. Never approach them and always treat them with respect. For the ultimate peace of mind, our Anchorage Wildlife Tour offers a unique opportunity to witness our state’s extraordinary animals in the company of a local guide.

If you’re starting to wonder when to time your trip, we think you’ll appreciate our blog What is the Best Season to Visit Alaska?

alaska winter northern lights

Alaska is Famous for the Northern Lights and Midnight Sun!

When it comes to natural phenomena, Alaska experiences two of the very best. The lack of sunlight hours in winter sets the stage for the captivating Northern Lights. Seeing the mesmerizing green lights dance across the sky is utterly enchanting. The in-person experience is beyond anything a photograph can capture.

Conversely, the summer months see almost no darkness at all! Here in Anchorage, we see between 16 and 19+ hours of daylight from May to July. Around the summer solstice, we have 22 hours of functional daylight.

The Midnight Sun isn’t just an incredible experience, it’s also great for fitting in more outdoor adventures and sightseeing!

If you’re enjoying these local insights, we think you’ll love our blog 10 Alaska Travel Tips to Enhance Your Adventure. It’s filled with useful information for planning an unforgettable trip.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Alaska Has a Unique Cultural Heritage

Alaska’s heritage is rich and diverse, steeped in indigenous cultures that have thrived for centuries. Anchorage’s Alaska Native Heritage Center provides a glimpse into the traditions of the region’s first people. 

This fascinating place showcases the traditions and history of our state’s 11 major cultural groups, with exhibits on dance, music, and traditional crafts. Demonstrations and hands-on workshops are also fantastic for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Alaska’s rich native cultural heritage.

Eklutna Village Historical Park, located around 25 miles northeast of Anchorage, is another example of Alaska’s unique cultural tapestry. The park dates back to 1650 and is the oldest settlement continuously inhabited by the Athabaskan people in the Anchorage area.

Eklutna spirit houses

Russian Orthodox missionaries then arrived here in the early 19th century, with the two cultures co-existing for some time. St Nicholas Church, the oldest building in the greater Anchorage area still standing, is a testament to this time.

We included both the Alaska Native Heritage Center and Eklutna Village Historical Park in our list of the best attractions to see and visit in Anchorage, Alaska.

For cultural experiences in Southeast Alaska, consider visiting the Totem Bight State Historical Park or the Alaska State Museum, both of which offer more insights into our state’s history, art, and cultural diversity.

Alaskan Sights & Bites would like to add the following land acknowledgment:

A land acknowledgment is a formal statement recognizing the Indigenous people of a place. 

It is a public gesture of appreciation for the past and present Indigenous stewardship of the lands that we now occupy. 

It is an actionable statement that marks our collective movement toward decolonization and equity.

Alaskan Sights & Bites would like to acknowledge that Anchorage is located on the traditional lands of the Dena’ina Athabascans. 

For thousands of years, the Dena’ina have been and continue to be the stewards of this land. 

It is with gratitude and respect that we recognize the contributions, innovations, and contemporary perspectives of the upper Cook Inlet Dena’ina.

Chugach National forest

Alaska is a Haven for Outdoor Adventures

The diverse landscapes we mentioned earlier make the perfect environment for an array of outdoor activities. When outdoor lovers set foot in Alaska for the first time, they wonder why it took them so long!

There really is so much to do in our state’s great outdoors, so we can only cover some of the highlights here, including:

  • Hiking through serene mountain forests
  • Mountain biking on world-famous trails
  • Walking or cycling along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
  • Whale-watching and glacier boat tours
  • Matanuska Glacier hikes and tours
  • Ice and river fishing experiences
  • Canoeing or kayaking on Eklutna Lake
  • Skiing and snowboarding at Mount Aleyska
  • Riding a snowmobile through a wintry scene
  • Dog sledding adventures

With an introduction this good, it’s no wonder why Alaska attracts outdoor enthusiasts from near and far.

For even more gems off the beaten track, read our picks for some of Alaska’s best-kept secrets.

Tacos

Alaska’s Booming Culinary Scene is Foodie Heaven

You need plenty of fuel for adventures in Alaska—luckily, our food scene has witnessed a boom in the last decade! If you want to see the best of our city’s own culinary scene, look no further than our Anchorage guided food tours! We can show you around our favorite local spots to set you up for the rest of your stay.

Our blog 5 Dishes That You Have to Eat in Alaska is a fantastic introduction to the kind of hearty, honest, and mouthwatering meals you can expect to enjoy here. 

From fresh seafood to reindeer sausage, and wild berries to birch syrup, our local ingredients and the meals they create appeal to all kinds of palettes.

Tour

Immerse Yourself in Alaska with Our Anchorage Guided Food Tours

That’s all we have time for today, but we hope we’ve convinced you that Alaska is an undiscovered vacation destination for tourists. We can’t wait to welcome you and show you around the place we call home.

If you have any questions about our small-group Anchorage day tours or private Anchorage tours, please get in touch. Alaskan Sights & Bites is here to help however we can.