12 Day Alaska Highlights from Anchorage

12 Days


Mid-May through mid-September



Why This Trip?

This itinerary gives you an unforgettable, in-depth look at the beautiful Southcentral region of Alaska, as well as some time in iconic Denali National Park. First, you'll experience the majestic glaciers and wildlife of Kenai Fjords National Park, then spend time in the quaint, artistic town of Homer. After that, you'll head up through an authentic pioneer town on your way to witness the wildlife of Denali as well as the park's famous mountain before finishing up in Alaska's largest city, Anchorage.


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Day 1

Arrive in Anchorage - Drive to Seward

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Today you'll make the 2.5-hour drive from Anchorage to Seward, with a scenic stop in Girdwood. Along the first portion of the drive, look for Dall sheep and beluga whales. Grab some lunch in Girdwood and visit the 1898-era Crow Creek Mine, where you can pan for your own gold; go for a hike; or ride the Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway for a spectacular panoramic view. Then drive 90 miles to the quaint seaside town of Seward. Explore the shops and galleries or go for an outing in a kayak. Either way, make time for a visit to the Alaska SeaLife Center—an aquarium and research facility where you can get an up-close view of Alaska's unique marine creatures, like Stellar sea lions and harbor seals, as well as birds like puffins. Also, don't miss the unique opportunity of walking right up to the face of a glacier! Exit Glacier is just a 10- to 15-minute drive from town; a 20-minute walk brings you right up to the mountain of blue ice, where you can listen to it crackle.

Day 2

Day & Overnight in Seward

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Jaw-droppingly beautiful, Kenai Fjords National Park plays host to some of the state's most spectacular fjords and glaciers. And several great tour operators offer half- or full-day cruises that take you out to witness their majesty and experience the thrill of a calving glacier. You'll also be on the lookout for wildlife like whales and sea otters. Interested in fishing? Book a charter and head out angling for halibut, salmon, lingcod, and rockfish.

Day 3

Drive from Seward to Homer

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It will take about 3.5 hours to drive from Seward to Homer; look for volcanoes along the way, and when you reach the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula, take time to soak in the beauty. Homer is Alaska's capital of halibut fishing, but this charming town offers many delights beyond fishing, including art galleries and wildlife. After you check into your accommodations, go for a walk along the Homer Spit, the narrow finger of land that stretches into the bay, and keep an eye out for otters and eagles.

Day 4

Day & Overnight in Homer

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You'll have all day today to explore this town and try some of its many activities. Fishing here is both a business and a passion, thanks partly to the monster-size halibut in the nearby waters. Take a half- or full-day fishing charter to angle for them, or cast your line for salmon instead. You can also hop a scenic flight to Katmai or Lake Clark national parks, where you can experience the magic of seeing bears in their natural habitat. Love to hike? Katchemak Bay State Park has some of the state's best hiking, just a 20-minute water taxi ride away. Or take a 45-minute fast ferry to the remote and fascinating town of Seldovia.

Day 5

Scenic Drive from Homer to Chugiak / Eagle River

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Today, you'll drive back to Anchorage, which will take almost 4.5 hours. If you have time, drop by the 200-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you'll get an up-close view of some of the state's unique creatures. Another option is to visit Portage Glacier, where you'll often see big blue icebergs along the shore of the lake by the parking area. Take the one-hour boat cruise to get close to the glacier, or spend time at the Begich Boggs Visitor Center to learn more about this special area.

Continue your journey 20 miles north of Anchorage to Chugiak, where you will find your home for the next couple of nights, Loft in the Clouds, or continue on your drive to Knik Glacier Lodge in Palmer.

Day 6

Day and Overnight in Chugiak / Eagle River

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Today you can choose to hang out near Loft in the Clouds and explore the trails on your own or on a guided hike with Go Hike.

If you are looking to fit an excursion into your day, you can backtrack 20 minutes to Anchorage and try out a couple of the many activities offered here.

Plan a meal for back at Loft in the Clouds on your 360-degree rooftop deck or grab a table at one of the options in Anchorage or you could head closer to home and stop at one of the restaurants in Eagle River.

Day 7

Day in Palmer / Wasilla, Drive to Anchorage

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Today you get to take in some of the attractions in the Palmer / Wasilla are. At the Musk Ox Farm, you can check out one of the Arctic's oldest living species, the musk ox; around 80 of them live here. And at the Reindeer Farm, you'll have the chance to pet a reindeer!

If you crave outdoor recreation, Hike a trail in Hatcher Pass and explore Independence Mine. Or take the family on a hike up Bodenburg Butte (pictured); it's only 1.5 miles long, and the summit offers incredible views. If you're looking for something to up the adrenaline level, take an ATV tour.

Head back to Loft in the Clouds for your final night in Chugiak.

Day 8

Drive from Chugiak / Eagle River to Talkeetna

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From Eagle River / Chugiak, travel to charming Talkeetna by car (just under 2 hours). Then explore the one-block main street, ducking in and out of the quaint shops and restaurants, like the legendary Talkeetna Roadhouse, which has been around since the early 20th century. And take a tour. You're close to Denali, so go flightseeing and check out the mountain up close; you could also take a guided walk, a rafting trip, try ziplining, or go for a thrilling jetboat ride.

Day 9

Drive from Talkeetna to Denali National Park

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Depart from Talkeetna for iconic Denali National Park, either by car (2.5 hours), train (4.5 hours), or motorcoach (4 hours). Head to the park's visitor center to start getting acquainted with this vast expanse of nature. And try an activity! Go flightseeing and get a bird's-eye view of the vast Alaska Range as well as the summit of Denali. Enjoy some river rafting, go for a guided hike, or take a Jeep/ATV tour and drive yourself over the tundra.

Day 10

Day & Overnight in Denali National Park

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Today, you'll spend all day exploring the beauty of this park. Private vehicles are not allowed beyond mile 15, so you'll explore by bus. Opt for the National Park Service's hop-on, hop-off transit bus, or take a narrated tour. Spend 7-8 hours traveling 62 miles into the park on the Tundra Wilderness tour, or take 12 hours and go all 92 miles to the end, at Kantishna. Along the way, look for wildlife and of course, North America's tallest peak.

Day 11

Day & Overnight in Denali National Park

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You have another full day in Denali! Now that you've seen the length of the Park Road, spend this day taking a tour. You've got a lot of options. Go flightseeing and get a bird's-eye view of the vast Alaska Range as well as the summit of Denali. Enjoy some river rafting, go for a guided hike, or take a Jeep/ATV tour and drive yourself over the tundra. Tonight is a great chance to experience dinner theater: It's a great meal, a fun show, and a dose of Alaskan history all at once.

Day 12

Drive from Denali National Park to Anchorage

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It's your last day in Alaska! Make the drive back to Anchorage, which will take just over 4 hours. Spend your last day exploring any parts of Anchorage you didn't get to see. You can finish your trip with an in-depth picture of the city and state at the Anchorage Museum, or visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center for a dose of history and culture. Don't forget to pick up some souvenirs before you depart.