Day Trip From Anchorage

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Day Trip From Anchorage

14 Incredible Day Trips From Anchorage

If you book a guided tour, there’s a high chance that their tour bus can come to pick you up at your hotel too!

25 Best Day Trips from Anchorage (in 2023)

View of the directions to Anchorage and Seward road sign on Alaska highway with mountain views, including some of the best day trips from Anchorage

While there are so many fun things to do in Anchorage, there’s even more awaiting outside the city limits.

This guide covers many of the popular attractions in southcentral Alaska, from alpine hikes and glacier cruises to charming small towns. I also share can’t-miss hidden gems, along with key tips that will help ensure a safe and unforgettable experience.

Table of Contents

  • Best Day Trips from Anchorage
    • Denali
    • Talkeetna
    • Wasilla
    • Palmer
    • Matanuska Glacier
    • Hatcher Pass
    • Eagle River
    • Eklutna
    • Turnagain Arm
    • Alyeska
    • Hope
    • Seward
    • Kenai Fjords National Park
    • Whittier
    • Portage Glacier
    • The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
    • The Kenai River
    • Spencer Glacier
    • Chugach State Park
    • Flat Top Mountain
    • Lake Clark National Park
    • Katmai National Park
    • Homer
    • Is Denali a day trip from Anchorage?
    • Can you do a day trip to Seward from Anchorage?
    • How far are the fjords from Anchorage?

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    Best Day Trips from Anchorage

    Denali

    Alaska’s most famous mountain is doable as a day trip!

    View of the people admiring Mount Denali from Eielson Visitor Center

    Anyone who wants to see a prime example of Alaska at its most epic will want to add this to their itinerary. Without question, it’s one of the best places to visit in Alaska.

    The grandeur of this lofty mountain and its surrounding wilderness is around 240 miles from Anchorage. Though, this road trip can be accomplished within a day. The fastest route from Anchorage is the AK-3 N highway.

    Mount Denali itself is so tall that you can still catch breathtaking views of it from afar, even if you don’t have the time to drive there.

    Talkeetna

    The “doorstep” for Denali has attractions of its own.

    View of the canoes on the shore and the fall foliage around Talkeetna lakes on a cloudy day

    Talkeetna, Alaska often serves as a base camp for in-depth exploration of Denali. But it’s also a great road/day trip destination in its own right! Flight tours of the mountain depart from here, and vistas in the area offer great ground-level views.

    The forests surrounding Talkeetna have hiking trails galore. The rivers are great places to fish for salmon. A visit to Talkeetna is a more time-friendly way to see the sights if you don’t have the opportunity to explore Denali itself.

    Wasilla

    Several fascinating museums and abundant natural beauty make Wasilla a great day trip for families!

    Aerial view of Wasilla with mountain valley in the background

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 45 minutes to 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Wasilla Tour

    You’ll pass through Wasilla on your way to Denali. You might not have time to stop here if Denali is your destination, but it’s worth penciling it in as a day trip alternative!

    Several museums offer unique glimpses into different aspects of Alaska’s history. Learn about dog-sledding at the Iditarod Headquarters and the Knik Museum and Mushers Hall of Fame. The Alaska Museum of Transportation and Industry is another fascinating attraction.

    Wasilla has some other great family-friendly attractions, too. Take the family for a ride on the miniature trains at Alaska Live Steamers Inc. Wasilla’s Extreme Fun Center has racing karts, laser tag, and other games to get that extra energy out. Local lakes and rivers are also great for fishing and picnics.

    Palmer

    Palmer shows Alaska’s agrarian side at its best.

    Closeup view of the variety of sizes of pumpkins

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 45 minutes to 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Palmer Website

    This small town nestled in the Mat Su Valley makes for a great escape from the bustle of Anchorage — at least, that’s how Anchorage feels to us Alaskans. It is the largest of cities in Alaska, after all!

    Like Wasilla, Palmer is great for family trips or for anyone who appreciates a little tranquility and beautiful nature. “The Valley” is Alaska’s farm country, and several local attractions reflect this.

    For one, you can visit the local reindeer and musk ox farms. There’s also the Alaska State Fair in late August-early September. There’s a giant vegetable contest amid all the usual fare of a fair, such as rides, games, etc. Alaska’s long summer days are great for crops, so vegetables often grow to gigantic proportions.

    Matanuska Glacier

    Chill a little at one of Alaska’s most popular glaciers!

    Hikers at the snow covered Matanuska Glacier

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Matanuska Glacier Tour

    This majestic river of ice is the next attraction awaiting you if you take the Glenn Highway past Palmer. Matanuska Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the state! All you need is a rental car and a knowledgeable guide.

    Since 2021, guided tours led by professionals have become the only option for exploring Matanuska Glacier. Glaciers are treacherous, so what may seem like sure footing may not be after all.

    The Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site is one mile south along the Glenn Highway and offers several hiking trails. This site makes a great picnic spot and vantage point for viewing the Matanuska Glacier amidst its surroundings.

    Hatcher Pass

    Hatcher Pass offers a combination of outdoor adventure and authentic Alaskan history.

    A man standing on a rock overlooking the view at Hatcher Pass

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 90 minutes to 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Hatcher Pass Website

    Locals love this pass in the Talkeetna Mountains. In winter, it’s a popular place for both downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. In summer, it’s a great place for a hike and berry picking. Several trails here take you to alpine lakes and meadows. It’s one of the best places for a taste of the Alaskan Alpine, all within about a 90-minute drive from Anchorage!

    Hatcher Pass is also home to the Independence Mine State Historical Park. The once booming gold mine now stands as a ghost town, testifying to the height of Alaska’s gold rush days. A museum preserves a wealth of information on the mine and its history.

    📚 Related Reading: Wondering about the best time to visit Anchorage? Follow the link to find out more!

    Eagle River

    Anchorage’s northernmost suburb is a great gateway to adventure.

    Panoramic view of the great mountain and landscape of Eagle River Nature Center reflecting on the water

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 20 to 45 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

    This northeastern suburb is one of the best places to stay in Anchorage, especially if you want to make day trips north of the city. There are some great coffee shops and breweries to start up or wind down the day at, as well as stores to buy any needed or forgotten items.

    The Eagle River Nature Center is one of the highlights of Eagle River. Trails here take you either along a 3-mile scenic loop or on a 5-mile ascent into the mountains. Thunderbird Falls is another popular attraction in the area.

    Eklutna

    This village houses a uniquely Alaskan cultural treasure.

    View of the colorful spirit houses” in Eklutna

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 30 minutes to 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps

    This village beyond Eagle River is home to one of Alaska’s most fascinating cultural treasures — the spirit houses at the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. These brightly-colored grave markers came about as a fusion of local Athabascan and Russian Orthodox cultural elements.

    Eklutna Lake is another major attraction near Eklutna. Mountains surround this pristine, glacially-fed lake, and it’s one of the most popular places to go kayaking in the area. Eklutna Lake is worth a visit, whether you enjoy kayaking or just sitting on the shore and taking in the scenery!

    Turnagain Arm

    Take in the epic beauty of Turnagain Arm.

    People admiring the Cook Inlet from a distance

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 20 minutes to 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Turnagain Arm Tour

    Turnagain Arm has the most drastic tidal changes in the United States. Sometimes the incoming tide takes the form of a surging wave that travels for miles as the tide rushes back in.

    This phenomenon is known as a bore tide and occurs in the waters south of Anchorage. A handy chart indicates the best time to view this phenomenon. You may even spot surfers riding the tide!

    A word of caution, though: the mudflats left by the low tide are extremely strong quicksand. Most rescue attempts of people who strayed out onto the flats haven’t ended well. It’s best to look and not touch — like many things in Alaska’s nature.

    Alyeska

    Winter or summer, Alaska’s most famous resort is worth a visit.

    Overlooking view of the mountain valleys and ski lift of Alyeska in summer

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 50 minutes to 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | Alyeska Website | 👉 Top Suggested Alyeska Tour

    A visit to Alyeska Resort is a must for all winter sports enthusiasts or luxury travelers. It’s nearby attractions and upscale accommodations make it one of the top places to stay in Alaska. The slopes here are some of the best in the state, and there are several restaurants (ranging from casual to fine dining) and a Nordic spa.

    I’ve visited the hills here in the summer, and the erstwhile ski slopes are perfect for a short but scenic hike. There are also hiking trails leading further back into the mountains. For the more daring, mountain biking is a great way to get the same downhill thrills even if there’s no snow on the ground.

    Hope

    Rustic vibes, gold rush nostalgia, and peaceful surroundings make Hope a great place for a quiet retreat.

    View of the rustic Sourdough Dru

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Hope Website | 👉 Top Suggested Hope Tour

    This tiny town across Turnagain Arm from Anchorage boomed in Alaska’s gold rush years. Its heyday has come and gone, but there’s still a motherlode of character and charm here. The local museum preserves the legacy of Hope’s history, from the gold rush to recent times. Hiking and river rafting are among the area’s best outdoor activities.

    Sometimes, finding a scenic place (often by the ocean) and enjoying the peace and quiet is the best thing to do in Alaska’s towns and villages. Hope is a great place to do that!

    Seward

    Small town, big scenery — Seward is a must for any visit to Alaska.

    Aerial view of Seward with scenic mountain views in the background

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 2.5 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Seward Website | 👉 Top Suggested Seward Tour

    Seward is another fine example of a classic Alaskan small town. It was named for William Seward, the man who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia. It’s among the best day trips south of Anchorage, lying about 2.5 hours south along the Seward Highway.

    Seward’s a great place to go fishing, either with a local charter company or on your own from the shore. Mt. Marathon makes an excellent hike, or if you’re athletic, an unforgettable 5k run.

    The Alaska Sealife Center is one of the local highlights and a must-see for a family outing. Here, you can get an up-close look at many of Alaska’s most famous aquatic creatures and sea birds.

    Kenai Fjords National Park

    See the best that the sea has to offer with day cruises out of Seward.

    A boat sailing at the foggy Kenai Fjords

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 2.5 hours | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Kenai Fjords Tour

    Seward is also the gateway for day cruises of the Kenai Fjords National Park. Day cruises here are one of the best ways to see whales, seals, sea lions, and other iconic Alaskan wildlife. Cruises last anywhere from 3.5 to 9 hours, so factor that in when making your plans.

    The Kenai Fjords National Park also has a landward side accessible from Seward. Here, you can see the Exit Glacier and have a chance to spot bears, foxes, moose, and more!

    👉 Pro Tip: The Kenai Fjords are often compared with Prince William Sound. Both places have glaciers and abundant wildlife, but Prince William Sound is generally considered better for glacier viewing. Kenai Fjords National Park tends to be better for wildlife viewing.

    Whittier

    This town takes community living to new levels.

    Panoramic view of the waterfront city of Whittier with the snowy mountain in the background

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 90 minutes to 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Whittier Website | 👉 Top Suggested Whittier Tour

    The words “unique” and “Alaska” go hand-in-hand. Few places manifest this relationship so well as the tiny port town of Whittier.

    Its claim to fame? All of its residents live in one big apartment building! Another unique feature of the town is that you must travel through a 2.5-mile-long tunnel to get there. Better to pass on the “hold your breath” game here.

    There is plenty to see in Whittier besides the unconventional living arrangement. Take a hike on the Portage Pass Trail or the Emerald Cove Trail. Whittier is also closer to Prince William Sound than Seward, making it a better choice for day cruises of the area. Cruises from Whittier last around 4-5 hours.

    📚 Related Reading: Whittier’s living arrangements may not be to everyone’s tastes, but there are still plenty of great places to live in Alaska!

    Portage Glacier

    Along with Matanuska, Portage Glacier is one of the easiest glaciers to get to.

    View of the Portage Glacier from Portage Pass on a sunny day

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 90 minutes to 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Portage Glacier Tour

    Portage Lake lies in the scenic Portage Valley, shortly before the entrance to the tunnel to Whitter. At one time, the Portage Glacier was visible from the northern shores of the lake. However, the Portage Glacier has since retreated, but there are, thankfully, still ways to see this remarkable river of ice!

    You can book a cruise across the lake, hike along trails, or even paddle across the lake yourself if you have a kayak. Though, be aware that the winds on the lake can be sudden and strong, making it less suitable for inexperienced kayakers. The glacial water is also much colder than most lakes.

    The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

    Get an up-close glimpse at some of Alaska’s most famous furry and feathered denizens.

    Moose in front of a red barn at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | AWCC Website | 👉 Top Suggested AWCC Tour

    A visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is one of the most popular day trips from Anchorage. It brings Alaska’s wildlife to you!

    Bears, moose, elk, and more await visitors to this facility an hour south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway. In addition to mammals, there are also famous Alaskan birds such as bald eagles and great-horned owls.

    The center serves as a home for injured and orphaned animals. It covers an area of more than 200 acres, replicating the natural habitat of its residents. It’s a great place to visit on a family vacation or to learn more about Alaska’s fascinating wildlife.

    The Kenai River

    Catch some of the best sport fishing in southcentral Alaska along the Kenai River!

    A man fishing at the Kenai River on a sunny day

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 2 to 3 hours | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Kenai River Tour

    Any list of day trips in Alaska would be incomplete without a fishing trip. Some of the best sport fishing in the state lies a few hours south of Anchorage along the Kenai River. All five kinds of salmon run at different times throughout the summer, including the coveted king salmon!

    The river is also great for rafting down or even just sitting on the banks and taking in the scenery. Several tiny towns along the river offer a glimpse at life in semi-rural Alaska — the remote villages are the true rural!

    Spencer Glacier

    Visit an alpine glacier only accessible by rail.

    View of the great Spencer Glacier from the kayak

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 3.5 to 11.5 hours | 📍 Google Maps | 👉 Top Suggested Spencer Glacier Tour

    The Alaska Railroad offers visitors unforgettable expeditions, including several great day trips. The Glacier Discovery Train is one of the best, taking passengers on a scenic ride to several of the previously mentioned attractions. Though, Spencer Glacier is one of the major highlights, and is only accessible by rail.

    Passengers can get off the train at any of the destinations, and the full journey to and from Anchorage takes about 11.5 hours. The Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop is about 3.5 hours out of Anchorage. From there, the glacier and its surroundings can be explored either on foot or via a kayaking tour.

    Chugach State Park

    Epic hikes await in Anchorage’s “backyard.”

    View of the wide green space at Chugach State Park with Glacial Valleys View

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 20 minutes to 2 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Chugach State Park Website

    The lofty peaks of the Chugach Mountains are the first sight that greets you as you look out of the windows at the Anchorage Airport. Why not explore them? The mountain trails here offer a wealth of opportunities for alpine hike day trips. One of the closest trailheads to town starts at Beluga Point on Turnagain Arm.

    Several more trailheads start along the road towards Alyeska and at Alyeska Resort itself. Others lie further afield, and each has its own unique beauty. Some wind their way through the Chugach National Forest, a pristine boreal forest filled with evergreen trees. Others ascend straight into the alpine.

    👉 Pro Tip: In the alpine, you may encounter wild animals including bears and moose. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a page dedicated to staying safe around these majestic, but potentially dangerous creatures.

    Flat Top Mountain

    Discover one of the most popular day hikes in the Anchorage area!

    A young girl overlooking the view from Flat Top Mountain

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 15 to 30 minutes | 📍 Google Maps

    This popular hiking trail is perfect for anyone wanting to hike Alaska without going too deep into the backcountry. Flat Top is the most accessible day hike in the area, located just half an hour southeast of downtown Anchorage. The views from the top give you some of the best panoramas of town and the scenic beauty of the greater Anchorage area.

    Flat Top is also a popular mountain biking spot in summer. It’s also a popular place for bird-watching, with dozens of different species spotted by hikers.

    Lake Clark National Park

    Get a bird’s-eye view of one of Alaska’s eight national parks.

    Aerial View of the Chinitna Bay near Lake Clark National Park

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 1 hour | 📍 Google Maps | LACL NP Website

    Small planes played (and continue to play) a vital role in Alaska’s day-to-day life. They’re also one of the best ways to see some of the more remote options on this list! Lake Clark National Park lies an hour’s flight southwest of Anchorage and is one of the best US national parks.

    It features winding rivers and huge lakes flanked by forests and mountains. An overnight expedition may not fit into everyone’s itinerary, but a flight is a great way to see the sites and still have time for other attractions. Many float plane charter flights depart from Lake Hood near the Anchorage Airport.

    Katmai National Park

    See Alaska’s famous bears in their natural habitat in the Katmai wilderness.

    View of the grizzly bears and the colorful seaplanes in the background

    Bear viewing is another attraction that Alaska is famous for. Flights take visitors to Katmai National Park where tour operators will offer guided excursions. Trust me, you don’t want to go out on your own when it comes to bears!

    Besides bears, Katmai also has majestic mountains, long lakes, and the otherworldly Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. It’s on the longer side of the day trips spectrum, but it’s worth an all-day excursion to see this gem of southwestern Alaska!

    Homer

    One of the best mini-road trips in Alaska!

    View of the beach and mountains in Homer on a sunny day

    🗺️ Distance from Anchorage: 5 hours | 📍 Google Maps | Homer Website

    The 5-hour drive between Anchorage and Homer is one of the best mini-road trips you can take in Alaska! Along the way, you will pass towering mountains, dense birch forests, and alpine lakes. Chances are good that you may encounter several species of Alaska wildlife, too.

    Stop for lunch in Kenai-Soldotna or at one of several roadhouses along the way for some hearty grub. The picturesque Russian Orthodox Church in Ninilchik is one of the highlights along the way. It overlooks the broad entrance to Cook Inlet.

    FAQs About Anchorage Day Trips

    Is Denali a day trip from Anchorage?

    Denali is a day trip from Anchorage — but it will be pushing the limits a little. The most direct route takes about 4 hours one way. You’ll want to get an early start to make the most of your time if you choose to do this as a day trip.

    Can you do a day trip to Seward from Anchorage?

    You can easily do a day trip to Seward from Anchorage, as it’s only about two hours south of the city.

    How far are the fjords from Anchorage?

    The Kenai Fjords are 126 miles from Anchorage, near the town of Seward.

    Thanks for reading my guide on day trips from Anchorage! Be sure to check out my article on the best time to visit Alaska to make the most of your trip.

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    14 Incredible Day Trips From Anchorage

    Berty Mandagie on Matanuska Glacier

    We’re here to tell you that it’s SO EASY to establish Anchorage as your home base, and there are tons of ways to explore Alaska without a car!

    In this post, we’re sharing the benefits of staying in one place, our favorite day trips from Anchorage, and tips on how to plan a fun week in Alaska from town!

    Berty Mandagie walking on Matanuska Glacier near Anchorage

    The Benefits of Planning Day Trips From Anchorage

    So, what are the benefits of staying in town, and doing various day trips from Anchorage?

    Having a Home Base

    Traveling with your family? A large group?

    Establishing your ‘basecamp’ in Anchorage is beneficial for many reasons.

    Firstly, you can keep your stuff all in one place the entire time. It’s also possible to split up your group during the day, so people can do different activities, and come home to the same spot.

    There’s a lot of freedom in making Anchorage your home away from home, and a good home base is just the start!

    Berty Mandagie riding the Anchorage Trolley

    Many modes of Transportation, all from Anchorage

    With the price of gas these days, establishing Anchorage as your base camp is convenient and budget-friendly.

    From town, you can take the shuttle down south and ride the train practically anywhere.

    If you book a guided tour, there’s a high chance that their tour bus can come to pick you up at your hotel too!

    Day Trip From Anchorage

    You Can Enjoy the Local Food Scene

    Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, which means there is no shortage of great food in town!

    From Gumbo to Thai, street tacos to warm, hearty meals, there’s something for everyone to eat after a long day’s adventure.

    Places To Stay In Anchorage Alaska - City Garden B&B

    Where to Stay In Anchorage Alaska

    Staying in the downtown area is convenient, especially if you are planning several day trips from Anchorage.

    Many guided tours leave from downtown, so here are our favorite places to stay right in the middle of all the action!

    Hotel Captain Cook: You can’t beat the location of this famous hotel in Anchorage! Hotel Captain Cook is situated right downtown, blocks away from the museum, restaurants, and lots of other attractions. If you are looking for convenience and luxury, this is your place.

    Adorable Airbnbs: There are tons of short-term rentals in Anchorage, from A-frames to quaint neighborhood homes. We stayed at the City Garden Bed and Breakfast during our last trip. The host Jerry was incredibly friendly, and cooked us breakfast every morning!

    Budget-Friendly Accommodations in Anchorage: For more affordable options downtown, you can book a stay at the Ramada, the Hilton, and the Comfort Inn at Ship Creek.

    14 Incredible Day Trips From Anchorage, Alaska

    So, what kind of day trips from Anchorage can you take? There are so many to choose from, but here are our favorites!

    Berty Mandagie on Matanuska Glacier

    1. Take a Tour of Matanuska Glacier

    Matanuska Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska.

    It’s located right off Alaska’s Highway 1 (The Glenn Highway) which is why it’s naturally one of the most popular day trip routes from Anchorage.

    A day trip to Matanuska Glacier requires at least 8 hours. Tours will generally pick you up in the early morning and include a glacier hike, lunch, and maybe a few other stops before returning you to downtown Anchorage in the evening.

    Day Trip From Anchorage

    It’s possible, but a little complicated, to plan a trip here by yourself. This is why we recommend booking a trip with a tour company, like Salmon Berry Travel and Tours.

    Built into the trip cost is permit access, crampons, an experienced guide, and a custom walking route to see some of the coolest features of Matanuska Glacier.

    Ice texture on Matanuska Glacier

    2. Turnagain Arm Tour

    Reached easily from town via the Seward Highway, visiting Turnagain Arm is one of the easiest day trips from Anchorage!

    Fed from the Cook Inlet, this area got its name from Captain James Cook who had no choice but to “turn again” to continue his search for the undiscoverable Northwest Passage.

    Turnagain Arm and this section of the Seward Highway is known for its sharp, dramatic cliffs, gorgeous water views, and scenic hiking trails. It’s also touted as one of the best scenic drives in the United States!

    Common scenic stops include Beluga Point, Potter Marsh, and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

    If you fancy a hike (for better views up high!) consider Bird Ridge Trail (4.6 miles) or Turnagain Arm Trail (10 miles one-way) to stretch your legs on the journey.

    3. Spend the Day at Girdwood

    The Anchorage Railroad runs a 1-hour route between Anchorage and Girdwood twice daily. This makes the quaint town of Girdwood a perfect day trip from Anchorage, especially with kids!

    In town, you can enjoy numerous restaurants, hiking trails, seasonal festivals, and the luxury ski destination of Alyeska Resort. Here, you’ll find a tight-knit community of ski bums and retirees alike, enjoying the natural beauty of this area.

    This place looks very different in the summer versus the winter, so it’s worth it to come back twice to enjoy it in each season!

    Some of the most popular activities in Girdwood include exploring Crow Creek Gold Mine, attending the Girdwood Forest Festival, riding the Alyeska Tram, and booking a trip to see Portage Glacier.

    Care for some forest bathing time? Try taking the Winner Creek Trail, a fun 4.9-mile hike with a hand tram to cross the river!

    Eagle River Nature Center near Anchorage, Alaska

    4. Eagle River Nature Center

    A day trip to Eagle River is one of the easiest ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and go out in nature.

    Sitting at the gateway to Chugach State Park, this area offers exceptional trails, access to the mountains, and lots of opportunities to learn about the flora and fauna of south central Alaska.

    The nature center is also a great hub to ask state park rangers questions about the happenings around the forest – like when the bears arrive for the salmon run!

    Nature trails near Anchorage, Alaska

    It’s completely possible to take a self-guided visit here, but we actually recommend booking a guided hike with Go Hike Alaska!

    Not only will you get paired with an experienced guide, but they will also pick you up and drop you off right from Anchorage. No shuttle or rental car is required!

    Berty Mandagie hiking at Eagle River Nature Center in Alaska

    On our own tour with Go Hike Alaska, our guide Rebecca told us stories about the Iditarod/Crow Pass Trail (like the historic Iditarod route), visited the Rapids Yurt, and learned to identify edible berries along the trail. It was such a fun experience!

    5. Hop On The Alaska Railroad

    Want to see a lot of places in a short amount of time? Consider hopping on the Alaska Railroad for a day trip! The railroad has stops at Talkeetna, Denali, Seward, Girdwood, Whittier, Portage, Spencer Glacier, and Grandview.

    The Alaska Railroad works in partnership with local tours and activities to make booking adventures seamless and convenient.

    It’s very possible to ride the scenic train, book an experience, and return home conveniently all by the railroad schedule. It’s an awesome way to see Alaska without a car!

    Anchorage Art Murals

    6. Stay In Town!

    We’re sharing a lot of incredible day trips from Anchorage, but what about staying in town?

    There are tons of incredible things to do in Anchorage, all within walking distance from each other downtown.

    Each morning and evening Berty and I spent in Anchorage, we were easily able to experience something new downtown. Here are our favorite activities:

    Walk or bike the Coastal Trail: This 11-mile paved path runs along the shore of Cook Inlet from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park. Bike rentals are an easy and inexpensive way to get around!

    Visit the downtown murals: Anchorage is full of hidden sculptures, huge murals, and rich, creative history. Take a self-guided Public Art Tour, or pick up a free art walk map at the Visitors Center downtown.

    Ride the Anchorage Trolley: Hop on the trolley for a 1-hour tour of Anchorage, which is an inexpensive way to learn about the city. Tours are light and fun, perfect for the entire family! Longer tours are also available.

    One of the most memorable experiences we had downtown was visiting the Anchorage Museum. With a rich tapestry of stories and perspectives, we were able to get a sense of the Dena’ina people, the geographical history of Alaska, and the stories that shaped its modernity.

    We especially loved the First Peoples of Alaska exhibit, which showcased more than 600 native American objects from the Smithsonian collection.

    Anchorage Museum Exterior Anchorage Museum Exhibit

    7. Explore Hatcher Pass

    60 Miles north of Anchorage is Hatcher Pass and the Talkeetna Mountains. Here in the summer, you can go berry picking (blueberries are ABUNDANT here) and take the many trails in the area.

    An easy one for families is the Gold Cord Lake Trail. It takes you 1.5 miles round trip to an alpine lake and back, showing off the crystal clear blue waters.

    You can also explore Independence Mine State Historical Park. Book a tour to hear more about Alaska’s prospecting history, and the mine camp glory days, and to take a peek inside the abandoned buildings.

    An iconic stop for photographers here is Hatcher Pass Lodge. Here, you can snap a photo of these adorable red A-frames that line the hillside. Just be respectful of your space and getting too close to the cabins – they are rented out by private parties so people might be inside them when you visit!

    Sightseeing tour around Anchorage, Alaska

    8. Take a Flightseeing Tour

    One of the most iconic ways to explore the Anchorage area is in the sky! A flightseeing tour is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime trip because most tours include glacier viewings, wildlife spotting, and scenic vistas the entire way.

    Rust’s Flying Service has been flying since 1963 and is one of the most unique flight tour companies in Alaska.

    In addition to taking off and landing at the world’s busiest seaplane base (Lake Hood), this company runs tours where you can land on glaciers, go bear viewing and plan fly-in fishing trips!

    Textures of Alaska from the sky

    We loved our tour with Rust’s Flying Service. Seeing glaciers from the sky really showed up the scale of how big they can be!

    We also learned a lot about different types of water, saw communities around Anchorage, and enjoyed our time learning about the geographical landscape of Alaska.

    Flight seeing tour from Anchorage Alaska

    9. Hike the Glen Alps / Flattop Trail

    Flattop Mountain is located in Chugach State Park and is one of the most visited peaks in the Anchorage area, if not the entire state.

    The 3.3-mile loop trail with 1,430 ft. elevation gain provides scenic views from the top, and on a clear day, views of Mount Denali!

    For visitors who want to hike Flattop Mountain, there is a shuttle service for $24 during the summertime.

    Yurt camping in Anchorage, Alaska

    10. Stay Overnight in a Yurt

    Are you curious about backpacking in Alaska, but want to try a more beginner route first?

    Try booking an Alaska public use cabin! These are fairly inexpensive, dry shelters that range from $70-$30, and some are even free!

    Alaska public use cabins

    Booking and staying overnight in a public use shelter is a great way to try out camping without having to commit to an advanced adventure.

    Day Trip From Anchorage

    11. Eklutna Lake

    The Eklutna Lake area is one of the most popular places to plan a day trip from Anchorage.

    Located just an hour from the city, this area hosts a glacial-fed lake, 15 miles of hiking trails, and an abundance of kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding opportunities. It’s also a popular place to ride ATVs in the summer.

    Come enjoy this secluded area for the day! You can easily grab some lunch in town, and pack a picnic to enjoy the lakeside on a beautiful summer Alaska day.

    On the way back, don’t forget to stop by Thunderbird Falls. It’s an easy 1.8-mile out and back trail, perfect for kids and families!

    Seward, Alaska Marina -TheMandagies.com

    12. Seward, Alaska

    Four hours by train or 2.5 hours by car, this epic day to Seward is worth the distance!

    Because its historic railroad port is a popular stop for cruise ships, there’s a lot to do in this quaint town.

    There are lots of good restaurants, coffee shops, and cute boutiques to check out in their picturesque downtown area. If you’re seeking an adventure, you can book ziplining tours, and whale-watching excursions and take on some incredible hiking trails too.

    Note: While this can absolutely be done as a day trip from Anchorage, we actually recommend spending a little more time in Seward! This way, you can enjoy destinations like Kenai Fjords National Park and see Exit Glacier, or book a whale watching tour with Major Marine.

    Book a convenient stay at the Harboor 360 Hotel to round out the experience!

    13. Whittier, Alaska

    Whittier, Alaska, is a unique town and an extremely popular stop for cruise ships making their way through Prince William Sound.

    From Anchorage, hop on the Alaska Railroad to the Whittier Depot to explore the area for the day!

    This 250-person populated town is seemingly frozen in time during the Cold War Era. Military outpost buildings are scattered throughout town, and you can take a walking tour to visit and learn about them.

    If you are looking for day trips from Anchorage that take you to see glaciers, wildlife, and incredible scenery, book a tour to Whittier and the Prince William Sound!

    Note: If you are visiting Whittier by car, it’s important to know about the tunnel. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is a 2.5-mile long route and the only car access point to the town. It’s one lane of traffic at a time, alternating from one side to the other every 30 minutes. Make sure to check the schedule before you go!

    14. Explore Downtown Talkeetna

    Talkeetna is 2 hours via car and 3 hours away via train. This artsy and creative town serves as a base camp for tons of outdoor adventures north of Anchorage.

    To get a sense of the town’s history, check out Belle’s Interpretive Trail to hear about the town’s origins, stories, and people. Additionally, don’t forget to stop by the Talkeetna History Museum!

    The town is well acquainted with welcoming visitors, so you will find incredibly cute stores, adventure guide services, and delicious cafes.

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