Why This Trip?
Alaska is a special place year-round, but it's truly unique in the fall and winter. The fall colors make a stunning backdrop for lots of fun activities, many of which continue even as the summer crowds clear out. And in winter, you'll find world-class skiing along with classic cold-weather activities like dog sledding and ice fishing. In both seasons, you'll have the thrilling opportunity to witness the northern lights. This trip gives you a chance to experience it all from both the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas. You'll also have a chance to visit two special places: the glacier-filled waters of Resurrection Bay and the rugged land above the Arctic Circle!
Arrive & Overnight in Anchorage
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Welcome to Anchorage! Take today to explore Alaska's largest city. Go on a city tour via trolley or bike to get an overview, or join a brewery tour and sample some of the innovative suds being brewed here. Then get 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. Of course, you'll also want to experience the city's fantastic bars and restaurants.
Day & Overnight in Girdwood
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Today you'll be making the 45-minute drive to Girdwood, home to the world-renowned Alyeska ski resort. Get an early start if you want to hit the slopes; you could also go fat-tire biking. Or simply check into the Hotel Alyeska and bask in the luxurious surroundings. Here, you'll have the unique opportunity of looking for the northern lights; ask the hotel for an aurora wake-up call and they'll notify you if the famed aurora borealis light up the night sky.
Day & Overnight in Girdwood
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Take advantage of another day in this world-class wonderland. Spend the day schussing down the slopes or exploring the wilderness on cross-country skis. Up the adrenaline by taking a snowmachine ride through the backcountry or taking a winter flightseeing trip. And don't forget to ask for an aurora wakeup call.
Day & Overnight in Girdwood
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Get in one last day of skiing at this famous resort. Tired from the previous two days? Take it easy and soak in the scenery. If you haven't gone flightseeing yet, this is the time to do it; getting a bird's-eye view of the rugged tundra, snowy peaks, and ancient glaciers is an unforgettable experience. You'll also get a great view from the resort's Seven Glaciers Restaurant—a culinary gem at the top of the tram. Or enjoy more casual fine dining at Jack Sprat.
Drive from Girdwood to Seward
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Drive the 90 miles to the quaint seaside town of Seward, where you can explore the shops and galleries. 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.
Day & Overnight in Seward
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If you're here before the end of September, take a day cruise into the stunning waters of Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords to see glaciers and wildlife. After September, you can still have this experience by booking a custom charter into Resurrection Bay, where the waters are calm and you'll have plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife like whales and sea otters. Plus, cruises here are no longer than 5 hours, so you'll have time for another activity, like cross-country skiing on some of Seward's scenic trails.
Fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks
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Catch a quick, one-hour flight to Fairbanks. If you have time once you arrive in the largest city in Alaska's interior, start exploring. Begin at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, where you'll get a fascinating glimpse of the cultures and wildlife that call this part of Alaska home, as well as a deep dive into contemporary Native Alaska art. Then experience a winter activity like dog sledding, ice fishing, or snowmachining. Of course, you'll want to see the northern lights if they appear; ask your hotel to give you an aurora wake-up call.
Day & Overnight in Fairbanks
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Take today to go on another exciting winter tour and try one of the very Alaskan sports you didn't get the chance to do yesterday. Then be sure to squeeze in a nap; you'll be taking an evening northern lights viewing tour tonight, and you'll want to be sure you're rested and ready for this magical experience.
Drive to Chena Hot Springs
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Today, you'll drive over to Chena Hot Springs, about 90 minutes away. It's a beautiful area with a fascinating history, as the springs were discovered in 1905 by gold prospectors; just seven years later, a resort built there had become the premier resort of Interior Alaska—and still is! You could choose to go with a winter sightseeing tour, where you can tour the Ice Museum, soak in the hot springs, and get another chance to see the northern lights!
Day & Overnight in Fairbanks / Arctic Circle
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It's your last full day in Fairbanks, and you'll want to take full advantage of being in a place where the aurora borealis so often appears. Sleep in so you'll be ready to stay up later and have the best chance to see the lights. Take the afternoon and enjoy an activity. Then get your camera charged up so you're ready for an evening tour to look for those magical lights dancing across the sky. Or take off on a several-hour-long flightseeing trip to the rugged Gates of the Arctic National Park, visit a remote wilderness community, and look for the lights along the way. Of course, they may also appear in the middle of the night; ask for that aurora wake-up call so you don't miss this final chance to see them!
Fly from Fairbanks to Anchorage
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Take the one-hour flight back to Anchorage today and warm up with some indoor activities. It's a good opportunity to get 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. You can also do like the locals do and brave the outdoors. Go ice skating at Westchester Lagoon, rent a fat tire bike (or take a tour on a fat tire bike) and ride the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, or enjoy a winter walk on city trails.
Day in Overnight in Anchorage
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With Anchorage as your base camp, make the 45-minute drive to the Palmer/Wasilla area, where you'll have lots of adventures to choose from. Get on a snowmachine and road through the scenic backcountry, checking out the views and looking for wildlife. Experience the iconic Alaskan activity of dog sledding, feeling the wind in your hair as you learn first-hand how Iditarod mushers run the fabled race. For quieter exploration, go out on cross-country skis for a quieter activity. Or stick around town and learn about the history of this fascinating area at one of the museums.