Welcome to the last frontier…Alaska! A place where you can routinely expect the unexpected from many of the best towns in Alaska.
Because this state? Well, it’s a beyond magical place where you can discover abandoned Russian cemeteries, behold the wonder of airports that are actually staffed by friendly people, and step inside local watering holes where people look like they just walked off the set of Sixteen Candles.
And just in case you’re wondering, I mean that in the BEST possible way.
Because Alaska is a wild place (in more ways than one) that is filled with an eclectic variety of people who have come here to wander, escape the 9 to 5 grind, fight the power, and basically enjoy the majesty that is the great outdoors.
So, if you want to get off the beaten path, or stay on the well-trodden tourist trail, and explore all of the absolute best towns in Alaska, then THIS is the post for you.
It’s absolutely overflowing with expert advice on what to see, do, and eat in all of the best towns in Alaska – making this the perfect resource for planning the ideal, Alaska itinerary.
Therefore, stop dreaming and start living the Alaska trip of a lifetime with this amazing resource on all of the best towns in Alaska – places that you should 110% visit right now!
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Best Towns in Alaska in the North
If you only go to one of the best towns in Alaska then Anchorage will probably be it (Spoiler Alert: You should definitely visit other towns in Alaska besides Anchorage #justayin’).
And that makes sense since most flights to this beyond epic state will drop you off, boop, right in Anchorage.
But, thankfully, Anchorage has WAY more to offer than epic accessibility.
Because this super snazzy city sits smack dab in the middle of two 5,000 foot tall mountains and is nestled along Cook Inlet – a lovely body of water that is filled with salmon (they creep me out and I think they are the ugliest fish ever) and whales aplenty (including fin, minke, humpback, gray, and orcas…oh my!).
This also happens to be Alaska’s largest city with a whopping 300,000 awesome residents who are only too happy to introduce you to awesome cultural sites like the Anchorage Museum (check out the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, which has 600+ Alaska native artifacts), the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Ship Creek Viewing Platform, the historic Oscar Anderson house, and more!
Yup, it’s an awesome place that is brimming over with exhibits that feature traditional crafts, replicas of indigenous homes, and even dance stages where you can see live performances.
So yeah, don’t let the large swaths of strip malls and urban sprawl prevent you from falling in love with this great city during a lovely, one-hour trolley tour of the area.
Especially since Anchorage makes a great home base from which you can explore vast natural areas (yes Chugach, Kenai and Talkeetna, I’m looking at you) that are semi-nearby (Fairbanks is like a 6-hour drive away and you could do an epic day trip to Matanuska Glacier).
There are also a ton of great restaurants here that serve nothing but the freshest seafood and organic produce, including Orso. it’s a stunning, local eatery where you can enjoy, duh, Alaskan crusted halibut, fresh calamari, and Glacier Brewhouse beers (brunch here is pretty rad too).
And if you need a great place to stay, try The Voyager Inn! It’s nothing super fancy but is well priced at under $100 per night, is centrally located, super safe, has great staff, and is a 3-star hotel where you can enjoy a comfy, cozy stay!
2. Kodiak Island
If you’re looking to get back into nature then Kodiak Island is one of the best towns in Alaska for you.
Okay, “town” is kind of a loose term since it’s the second-largest island in the US (after the big island in Hawaii) and part of the larger Kodiak Archipeligo.
However, it’s a great place to visit if you want to understand what “real” Alaska is like and if you want to see brown bears, brown bears, and, oh yeah, more brown bears.
Because this natural, green mountain oasis is filled with salmon – a tasty treat for these next-level enormous bears love – and has a tiny northeastern corner that is basically the only settlement in the area that is aptly named Kodiak.
Whatever you do though, do not miss out on Fossil Beach, the Kodiak Military History Museum (if you’re into that sort of thing), North End Park, Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park, Baranov Museum, and Holy Resurrection Chruch (FYI, it’s the oldest Russian Orthodox Church in North America and dates back to 1794) before exploring the vast tracts of wilderness that surrounds you.
You can also pop into Old River Inn for a more formal dining experience (get the seafood alfredo or bacon-wrapped halibut) or simply grab a quick sammie at the ever adorable, Java Flats – which is known for their delicious countryside sandwich (it’s filled with turkey, apples, and brie).
Afterward, recover from your beyond glorious food coma at Kodiak Compass Suites. Because during off-season, rooms at this 2.5-star hotel start at under $150 per night and include snazzy things like free breakfast (it’s limited though), free WIFI, gorgeous views, and warm, hospitable service.
I’m not gonna lie to you here. Homer is one of the best towns in Alaska that is a) not a hidden gem and that b) will be packing with fanny pack totin’ tourists.
So yeah, be prepared to do battle with the masses as you explore the Homer Spit, a narrow piece of land that reaches out into Kachemak Bay.
It’s also a not-so-low-key place filled with souvenir shops, restaurants selling fish and chips, and fishermen who swear that they can help you catch a 200-pound halibut.
It’s a place that some people love and that some people love to hate since it’s packed to the gills with tourists all throughout the summer.
Although, if you can get past the inherent touristy-ness of this place, you’ll enjoy the sweeping panoramas and a community of uber-radical locals who have had it with traditional society.
Yeah, they’re pretty awesome people who will make you feel like you’re about to become the lead character in a dystopian novel (just minus the death, madness, and mayhem).
You can also visit The Pratt Museum (a mix of native American art and mesmerizing interactive displays on local wildlife), The Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center (I like the reconstructed seabird colony), the Norman Lowell Studio (a cool art gallery but there are a ton of them here), and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (they run a neat “Yurt on the Spit” tour at 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm daily that talks about all of the cool creatures that live at the dock).
Also, don’t forget to grab fresh bread/bagels from Two Sisters Bakery before chowing down on a wood-fired pizza from Fat Olives Restaurant.
Or, just chillax at the ever-casual, AJ’s Oldtown Steakhouse and Tavern, which serves some of the best steaks and freshest seafood in town.
Finally, enjoy a fantastic night in one of the well-appointed and reasonably priced (under $100 per night in the off-season) rooms at the Pioneer Inn Downtown.
It’s not an incredibly luxurious place to stay but it’s a comfortable, family-run spot where the owners are friendly and only too happy to help you with all of your travel needs.
It’s also a short, 9-minute walk from the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center, and has rooms that feature wood paneling, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, and minifridges.
Charming AF is probably the best way to describe Seward, which is easily one of the best towns in Alaska.
It’s tucked away along the edge of Resurrection Bay, is home to a ton of super cute stilted houses (see above), and features sweeping, panoramic views of the surrounding natural landscape.
Also, because it’s a historic railroad town, it’s easily accessible via car, boat, and train from many other places in Alaska – making it an ideal stop addition to any Alaska itinerary you may be planning.
There’s also a ton to do here since you can book an awesome 6-hour wildlife cruise to nearby Kenai Fjords National Park, go sea kayaking, do a bit of whale-watching, or go for an epic hike to the Harding Ice Field.
Although, if you want to stay a bit closer to home then you’ll adore this vibrant town, which is divided into two distinct districts that are overflowing with fantastic restaurants and great nightlife – the slightly more touristy harbor area and the historic downtown area.
So, check out the Alaska Sealife Center (aka a local aquarium), enjoy the small Seward Community Library and Museum (it’s super quirky and has a great exhibit with awesome artifacts from the Iditarod), explore Small Boat Harbor (tons of boat-related tours depart from here), and see the Benny Benson Memorial (he was the 13-year-old boy who designed the state flag).
You can also eat all the feels at The Cookery (easily one of the best restaurants in Alaska) by devouring a giant order of fried chicken, or fish of the day, at this new age, modern American restaurant with impeccable service and beyond delicious food.
And once you’ve eaten until you can eat no more, spend a quiet evening at the aptly named, Hotel Seward. It’s located a mere 5 miles away from Kenai Fjords National Park and is a historic building that dates all the way back to 1905.
Rooms here are also traditionally elegant, well priced at around $100 per night, and come with modern amenities like free wifi and flat-screen TVs.
Heck, there’s even a casual, Victorian-style seafood restaurant onsite that serves classic American food that everyone will love.
The cool thing about Girdwood is that it’s only about 37 miles away from Anchorage.
Therefore, you could easily hop on the Alyeska Highway, take it to mile 90, and then hop on the Seaward Highway, eventually exiting at Girdwood after about a 45-minute drive.
Upon arrival, take in all that this tiny town has to offer, including giant mountains, expansive glaciers, and a laid-back vibe that may leave you feeling like you want to spend the night at the next-level swank, Alyeska Resort.
You could also go hiking, take a ride on the Alyeska Resort tram up to the ski resort (they have a nice ride and dine option that includes a tram ticket and a meal at the Bore Tide Deli for $39), explore historic Crow Creek Mine (learn how to pan for gold or camp here overnight), or admire some local art at Girdwood Center for Visual Arts.
Whatever you do though, make time to eat at Spoonline Bistro (The Double Musky Inn is also great and serves a nice Filet Combo with steak, prawns, and a baked potato).
It’s an awesome local restaurant with a rotating menu of international cuisine that is super delish (the Thai-style prawns were exceptional).
And if you don’t want to spend the night at the swank Alyeska Resort (rooms are $200+ per night but awesome), you can always stay at the Highland Glen Lodge Bed and Breakfast.
It’s a nice, 4-star hotel in the area with friendly staff and rooms that start at $144 per night, including a full English breakfast! Because you know me, I’m all about the free food. Nom, nom, nom.
Pro Tip: If you happen to be in Alaska for the first weekend in July, then check out the Girdwood Forest Fair! It features a ton of local art, has an outdoor beer garden that overlooks a glacial stream, and includes live musical performances in a gorgeous forest setting.
If you’re looking to explore the iconic, Denali State Park then Talkeetna is one of the best towns in Alaska for you!
Meaning “riverside food cache” in English, Talkeetna is a mecca of sorts for mountain climbers, tourists, and crunchy Alaskans who want to get out there and enjoy all that nearby Denali has to offer.
FYI, if you’re lazy like me then you can always get sweet aerial views of Denali during this epic, 1.5-hour flight experience.
Not only will you get an awesome window seat, but you’ll be able to admire natural wonders like Tokositna Glacier, Moose’s Tooth/Broken Tooth peaks, Ruth Glacier, the Great Gorge, and more!
So, expect to find a ton of gift shops, climbing outfitters, laid-back restaurants, and historic saloons in this funky little mountain town.
However, other than exploring nearby Denali, you can also check out Talkeetna Riverside Park, embrace the macabre at Talkeetna Cemetery, visit the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum, and have a drink at the historic Fairview Inn.
It’s actually a really neat place that was first built in 1923 to cater to travelers who were going from Seward to Fairbanks via the Alaska Railroad.
Although, if drinking is not your thing, you could always stop for a bit of grub at Talkeetna Spinach Bread (get the spinach bread or the Indian Dal) or have a more formal meal at the Denali Brewpub, which serves epic fish and chips and cauliflower dip.
Finally, spend the night in the heart of town at the Talkeetna Inn. It’s a relaxed, affordable hotel (around $150 per night) with unassuming, clean rooms that include all the comforts of home.
The owners are also super friendly, have a ton of expert knowledge to help you plan your trip, and have made a ton of improvements to the hotel, making this an exceptional place to stay in the area.
Random Fact of the Day: This town is so wild and crazy that in 1997, they elected a cat named Stubbs as the local mayor. Yup, crazy but 110% true.
Not to be confused with the man, the myth, the coffee…Juan Valdez, Valdez is one of the best towns in Alaska that was first founded by prospectors looking for gold way back in ye olde 1897.
Since then though, the tiny town of Valdez hasn’t had an easy time of it. Because not only did the second strongest earthquake in recorded history decimate the area in 1964 but the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 systematically annihilated the area’s entire natural ecosystem.
Luckily for you though, nothing keeps Valdez down for long. As a result, it was reconstructed into this uber-chill, modern town that reminds me a bit of Bend, Oregon.
So, if your idea of a hopping good time is going fishing in beyond frigid waters or heli-skiing it up in the surrounding mountains, then definitely add Valdez to your Alaska bucket list.
Although, if you’re not feeling quite that adventurous, you could always:
- Take a day trip to Columbia Glacier
- Learn about this town’s tragic past at the Valdez Museum
- Pay your respects to the area’s earthquake victims in Old Valdez (remnants from where the town stood before the earthquake)
- Stroll along the boardwalk at Small Boat Harbor
- Visit the Maxine and Jesse Whitney Museum (a cool place with tons of native Alaska art and artifacts)
- Marvel at the Trail of the Whispering Giants (a 25-foot tall sculpture of an Alaska Native near Prince William Sound College)
- Enjoy some pancakes (or fries and the Hawaiian Burger) at the Old Town Diner or order a giant pizza with a side of drizzle sticks at The Stampmill
Afterward, spend a night or two in the House on the Rock B & B. It’s easily the best place to stay in town and has four Alaska-inspired rooms that come with cable TV, wifi, and a comfy queen bed.
And while it’s not the cheapest place to stay, you will enjoy a delicious, complimentary continental breakfast as we all as access to an awesome massage chair in the living room.
Looking for one of the best towns in Alaska that has totally sold itself out to the tourism industry?
If so then say hello to your new best friend, Cordova – a place that’s authentically Alaskan since it’s detached from major road networks and isn’t exactly a cruise ship hot spot (thank God).
As a result, Cordova is this quirky little fishing village that is surrounded by the Chuguch Mountains and the Copper River Delta on the other.
However, if you want to visit, you can really only fly or hop aboard a ferry.
Once here though, feel free to embrace the gritty weirdness of a place that is known for dingy bars, a working-class harbor, a vast network of hiking trails, ample bird watching areas, and a festival honoring ice worms (wtf?).
Other area highlights include:
- Small-boat Harbor – You’ll be able to see real salmon fishermen at work here and can visit the Cordova Fishermen’s Memorial)
- The Cordova Museum – It’s inside the Cordova Center and has a ton of local artwork and info about the area’s history
- Salmon Canneries – Tour a local salmon cannery tour or stand in awe as Northern Fish Alaska packs and ships whatever you catch back home for you.
- Ilanka Cultural Center – It’s small but there are some cool totem poles here and other Alaska native art
- Baja Taco – Cute interior and great fish tacos/milkshakes
- Harborside Pizza – Great wood-fired pizza and beer and giant portions (Powder House is another good place to stop for burgers and fries)
Pro Tip: There aren’t a ton of places to stay here but you can always try The Reluctant Fisherman Inn. It’s right in the center of town and rooms here are comfortable with great harbor views, free breakfast, and awesome service.
Best Towns in Alaska in the South
With a rough exterior that is a bit off-putting to many, Wrangell is one of the best towns in Alaska from which you can visit the Ananbear-watching observatory and explore the Stikine River delta.
However, do give this place a chance since it’s a unique fishing village on the southeast coast that has been shaped by a unique mix of Russian and British residents.
There are also a ton of great hiking trails for you to check out, in addition to the Wrangell Museum (a great museum with an audio commentary that discusses the town’s fascinating past), Chief Shakes Island (a local park with totems and a re-creation of a traditional Tlingit tribal house), Petroglyph Beach (see ancient rock carvings that date back thousands of years), and Totem Park.
You can also stop into Zaks Cafe for a burger and potato salad before spending the night at Stikine Inn & Restaurant. it sits right on the water, has friendly staff, features comfy rooms, and serves up a delicious crispy chicken chop that all the cool kids love.
Founded by a Norwegian immigrant by the name of Peter Buschmann in 1897, Petersburg is tucked away in Southeastern Alaska and is a quiet place with a distinctly Scandinavian vibe about it.
It’s also a fairly upscale town where you’ll find Norwegian flags aplenty as you explore the shallow, North Boat Harbor with more working fishing boats than pleasure cruise ships.
Also, throughout your stay in one of the best towns in Alaska, be sure to visit Sing Lee Alley (A row of historic buildings from the early 1900s that are built atop pilings, including the Sons of Norway Hall), Bojet Wikan Fishermen’s Memorial Park (there’s a Viking ship replica, a fishermen statue, and a deck made of pilings over Hammer Slough), and Clausen Memorial Museum (a local museum with artifacts that tell the tale of the local fishing industry).
Sure, there isn’t a ton to do here, but it’s a charming place to stay for a night or two, especially if you book a room at the Nordic House – a local, super clean, centrally located bed and breakfast with well-appointed rooms (think free wifi, a flat-screen TV and a fully equipped communal kitchen) and exceptional service.
You can also savor some of the local culinary flavors of awesome at Inga’s Galley, which is a little seafood restaurant that serves up delicious sweet and sour chicken and shrimp and feta tacos.
Get off the well-trodden tourist trail and explore beautiful Stika – one of the best towns in Alaska where you’ll quickly remember that Alaska was actually part of the Russian empire (for a solid 135 years) long before it was a state in the good old US of A.
It’s one of those truly stunning places that overlooks the Pacific Ocean from the western shores of Baranof Island and that was actually the state capital back when the Russians were here and when Alaska was known as New Archangel.
Today though, this tiny town has all the best parts of Skagway, just minus all the tourists.
So, enjoy marvelous views of Mt. Edgecumbe off in the distance before you swan dive into remnants from this town’s Russian past at places like the Russian Bishop’s House (It’s the oldest, historic, Russian building here from1843 and you can visit a museum on the ground floor and fully restored rooms on the second floor), St. Micheal’s Cathedral (a gorgeous, Russian orthodox church from the 1840s with a well-adorned interior), and Castle Hill (this where Russia signed Alaska over to the US and some Russian cannons still remain at this lookout point).
Also, leave time to visit the Stka National Historical Park (walk past 18 totems on the Totem Trail and see an authentic, Tlingit fort), explore the Sheldon Jackson Museum (a small amalgamation of indigenous artifacts housed in a concrete building from 1895), see the recovering birds at the Alaska Raptor Center (it’s a 17-acre animal hospital of sorts for birds of prey), and see all the marine life at the Sitka Science Center (it houses five aquariums and several touch tanks for kids).
And if you’re hungry, stop for a bite to eat at Sitka Pel’Meni, a traditional Russian restaurant that is known for its delicious dumplings.
Otherwise, you could always pop into Beak Restaurant and get a giant order of mac and cheese with reindeer meat or cedar plank salmon (the weekend donuts are good too) before calling it a night at Eagle Bay Inn.
It’s not an uber-posh hotel but it’s one of the more affordable places in the area since it offers comfortable but modern, unassuming rooms. Plus, your stay comes with complimentary shuttle services from the ferry and continental breakfast, for a nominal fee.
Juneau is one of the best towns in Alaska because it’s not only the capital but it also has a ton of amazing things to offer visitors of every variety.
So, take some time to admire a crazy city where the roads go nowhere and where the river never freezes – an urban area that actually lies beneath an ice field that will never melt and that has epic hiking trails just 10-minutes away from the center of town.
If you want, you could even go on an epic canoe tour of Mendenhall Lake and see Mendenhall Glacier (book ASAP since a limited number of permits to this national park are available), try your hand at ziplining, go whale watching, or even do a bit of bear spotting from the interior of a local seaplane.
What? Is that not enough Juneau awesomeness for you?
Well, then you could swing by the Alaska State Museum, take a cable car up Mt. Roberts Tramway (FYI, it’s $35 for a 5-minute ride so you may want to hike up instead and take the free tram down), explore Last Chance Mining Museum (you can also hike on Perseverance Trail here), marvel at the Shrine of St. Therese (it’s a tranquil, natural stone Catholic church that is also a great salmon fishing spot), and stand in awe of Nugget Falls (it’s right near Mendenhall Glacier).
Afterward, try some authentic Alaskan King Crab at Tracy’s King Crab Shack (a casual, waterfront restaurant with great King Crab Legs and bisque) or stop for a delicious cheddar burger at the always lovely, Zerelda’s Bistro.
And if you’re looking for a nice place to stay, try the Juneau Hotel. Not only is it well-priced, but it’s centrally located, includes access to a free airport shuttle, has an onsite gym, and even features kitchens/washers and dryers for guests to use.
Rooms here are also fairly informal but include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, living rooms, and start at just under $120 per night.
Brimming over with historic, gold rush town grandeur (thanks to all the vintage, false-fronted buildings in the area), Skagway is a premier destination for more than one million cruise ship passengers who walk along these iconic boardwalks every, single year.
A statistic that is slightly off-putting to someone like me one absolutely hates crowds.
However, if you can get past the almost amusement-park-like facade of one of the best towns in Alaska, you’ll discover a uniquely wonderful place that was first established after the 1898 gold rush, when more than 40,000 people flocked here in an attempt to, “strike it rich”.
Now, fast forward over a hundred years, and you’ll discover a wealth of actors in period piece clothing and story-telling park rangers wo are all trying to bring the amazing history of this magical place back to life.
So, if you plan to visit, be sure to check out:
- Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – There’s a visitor’s center with national park guides and a small museum that explains the Klondike-erific history of this epic town.
- Red Onion Saloon – You can order the best pizza in town here and can even enjoy live music amidst an over-the-top, gold-rush era saloon that comes complete with mannequins who look like working girls from the late 1800s.
- Dyea – You’ll find the start of the famous Chilkoot Trail which will take you all the way to Lake Benett.
- Moore Homestead Museum – This homestead, complete with a little museum, explains the establishment of the town to visitors and discusses the life of the founder, Captain William Moore.
- Jewell Gardens – This is a quiet place to go if you want to see flower gardens and escape from the overwhelming hordes of tourists that inundate the area. There are also some glass blowing studios here where you can see live demonstrations.
- Stop by Skagway Fish Company for some Jumbo King Crab legs (or fish and chips) or Skagway Brewing Company for a Spruce Tip Ale, blackened chicken alfredo, spinach artichoke dip, and carrot cake (so good).
- Haines Alaska – I’t another great little town in Alaska that is only about an hour and a half away from Skagway by car.
And if you need an awesome place to stay, try At the White House. It’s an awesome little guest house in a quiet part of Skagway that is still within talking distance of all the area’s major attractions.
It’s also reasonably priced and has a down-home feel to it that makes it seem as though you’re staying with family – only better since the staff is super nice, the rooms are exceptionally clean, and there’s even a cookie jar with fresh cookies every single day.
Way down there in Southern Alaska, just a hoot and holler away from British Columbia, is Ketchikan – a rainy little town that sits on picturesque, Revillagigedo Island.
On second thought though, Ketchikan really isn’t THAT little since it’s actually the fourth largest city in Alaska. It’s also known for its salmon fishing industry and its rich Haida and Tlingit history.
Therefore, expect to find a ton of vibrant totem poles here – something that kind of makes up for the fact that this place is routinely inundated with one million tourists between May and September of every year.
However, if you can handle the tourists (or can manage to travel here in the off-season), then you’ll love the hodgepodge of colorful buildings on Creek Street and can even do an awesome day trip (via seaplane) to nearby Misty Fjords National Monument.
Other fun things to do in one of the best towns in Alaska include:
- Totem Heritage Canter – Ancient totem poles (Translation? 100+ years old) have been brought into this center from long fogotten Tlingit and Haida communities. Once here, these stunning masterpieces are protected from deterioration and can be enjoyed iamidst beautiful, natural surroundings.
- Deer Mountain – Embark on a 2.5 mile, 3,000-foot ascent up Deer Mountain on one of the town’s most popular hiking trails. There are also various overlooks along the way where you can stop for epic panoramas.
- Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour – Hop aboard one of the boats featured in the show, Deadliest Catch, and go on a truly authentic crabbing trip in Alaska.
- Dolly’s House – A slightly over-the-top museum on Creek Street where you can see exactly what Brothel life was like during the time of the Gold Rush.
- Waterfront Promenade – Take a stroll along this brand new boardwalk and enjoy scenic views of Harbor View Park (park is a loose term since it’s a giant wooden deck) and Thomas Basin Harbor.
- Stop by Annabelle’s for an order of delicious fish and chips that is perfectly paired with a pint of local craft beer. Otherwise, head to Bar Harbor for some Dungeness Crab and delicious banana bread pudding (FYI, Arctic Bar has a nice selection of local beer too).
Finally, after you’ve sight-seed until you can sightsee no more, call it a night at the Inn at Creek Street. It’s definitely one of the more affordable hotels in the area and sits along the waterfront, in a historic, clapboard house from 1924.
Therefore, it’s an extremely well-located property with rustic feeling rooms that include wifi, cable, coffeemakers, and harbor views. Heck, you can even enjoy access to free shuttles and tours throughout your stay, and all for less than $120 per night.
Best Towns in Alaska in the Interior
15. North Pole
If you want to embrace the true spirit of Christmas all day, every day, then this one of the best towns in Alaska for you!
Because this tiny town just outside of Fairbanks (it’s a short 15-minute drive away) is absolutely overflowing with vibrant Christmas decorations that are always on display – even in the summer!
So, if you’re imagining candy cane striped street lamps, huge Santa statues, and a full on Santa Clause house that doubles as a Christmas store (with walls plastered with children’s letters to Santa), then you already know just how awesome the North Pole really is.
While you’re here, you can also shop for Christmas inspired souvenirs at Santa Claus House, check out the annual Ice Carving Contest here in December, stop by the North Pole Post Office (400,000 letters addressed to Santa arrive here every year), and inhale a delicious crepe (the pesto chicken and Nutella banana are both good) from the North Pole Creperie.
.And, added bonus? Many of the roads here have uber-Christmasy names like Kris Kringle Drive and Mistletoe Lane.
However, if you need a break from all this holiday-inspired mayhem, then visit the Chena Lake Recreation Area, which is home to several beaches, scenic nature trails, and a few different picnic areas.
Pro Tip: Not into crepes? Then mosey on over to Little Richard’s Famil Diner for some delicious cheeseburgers, Reubens, milkshakes, and all-day breakfast specials.
What can I say? Fairbanks is probably one of the most iconic towns in Alaska and one of the most romantic getaways in the USA.
I mean, not only is it basically the only major city in the state’s vast interior, but it’s an amazing place to see the Northern Lights (like during this late-night, authentic, Alaskan dinner in a yurt with Northern Lights tour) – at least any time between late August and late April since Fairbanks sits along the Tanana River, and is just 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
Although truth be told, Aurora Borealis spotting isn’t the only thing you can you do in this vibrant little community.
Because while you’re in one of the best towns in Alaska, you can go for a dip in the Chena Hot Springs, join an ATV tour, visit the University of Alaska Museum of the North (You’ll learn all about the history of every region in the state and can see amazing artwork in the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery), go bird watching at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, and experience all that the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center has to offer.
No really, this is easily one of the best visitor centers I’ve ever been in since it hosts live cultural performances, has hands-on craft-making demonstrations, and features various exhibits on Alaskan history and native culture.
If you have the time, you can also take a day trip to Arctic Circle from Fairbanks (it’s about a three-hour drive but be very careful if you drive yourself) or just visit some of the musk ox, reindeer, and caribou that call the Large Animal Ranger Station home, during a 45-minute guided tour of the facility.
Other fun things to do in Fairbanks include:
- Running Reindeer Ranch – You can go on an hour-long walk through a Boreal Forest and marvel at the herd of reindeer that live here.
- Chena Riverwalk – Mosey on down this paved, 3.5 mile-long path that takes you along the Chena River.
- Alaskan Tails of the Trail – Learn what it’s like to race sled dogs in the Iditarod and get a glimpse into the life of a pro-musher during this two-hour tour with Mary Shields (aka the first woman to ever complete the Iditarod).
- Try some authentic Moldovan food (like Borscht and split pea soup) at Soba or order a Shawarma Bowl from Aurora Mediterranean Restaurant.
And when you’re finally all tuckered out, spend the night at The Alaska Heritage House Bed and Breakfast. It’s a lovely, early 20th-century bungalow that is tucked away in a quiet, residential part of the city.
Rooms here are also well-priced (under $130 per night), contain beautiful antique furniture, and feature cable TV, wifi, coffeemakers, clawfoot tubs (if you’re lucky), and a sumptuous breakfast spread.
Additional Alaska Resources You’ll Love
A Map of the Best Towns in Alaska
There you have it, my Alaska-loving pals! Because that just about wraps up this wicked awesome post about all of the best towns in Alaska!
Tell me, what did you think? Did your favorite place make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below because I definitely want to check it out!
And if you found this post helpful, then definitely pin it now so that you can come back to it later!
Sunday 17th of April 2022
My husband & I flew into Anchorage in Sept. If 2021. We stayed approx. 10 days. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We had hoped to see whales while we were there, but unfortunately we didn't. Absolutely beautiful & breathtaking scenery though!
Wednesday 20th of April 2022
Absolutely and so sorry you didn't see any whales! What a bummer.
Wednesday 13th of April 2022
I agree with your choices. Cordova and Valdez are under appreciated. Cordova has a migratory bird festival every May. The best thing about Homer is that it's a jumping off point for Seldovia, a 45 min ferry ride away. Al in Anchorage
Thursday 14th of April 2022
Thanks so much for reading. I'm so glad you found this post useful.