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Bald eagle taking flight in Alaska's forest

Top Things To Do In Alaska

Explore the top things to do in Alaska while cruising. Learn about top tourist attractions and excursions in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau.

There are things to do in Alaska that you cannot do anywhere else. Helicopter onto a glacier. Spend a day pulling in Alaskan king crab or watching grizzlies snap fish from a river. Ride along a steep cliff in an old-fashioned railcar. Sit on a deck and soak in the arctic air. 

Of course, any list of the top things to do in Alaska is subjective …there are all kinds of Alaska attractions, from heart-pounding adventures to contemplative outdoor activities. 

Get Close To Alaska Glaciers

Alaska glacier viewing tops our list of things to do because the experience is one you cannot find in many places. Alaska glaciers are more than giant sheets of ice. They have a tremendous impact on the world. Not only are they emblems of climate change, they are thousands of years old. 

Holland America Line Alaska cruises feature more options for Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line. There are 8 tidewater glaciers within the bay and experts come on board to explain the natural splendors and cultural context. It is a top-rated experience amongst passengers. 

Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord  is another good way to see glaciers, as twin Sawyer Glaciers continuously slough off stories-high icebergs into the fjord. 

Harvard, Hubbard and Mendenhall are some of the most popular glaciers explored on cruises. Take a floatplane over the Juneau icefield or helicopter onto an alpine glacier. Experience the dramatic splash of ice calving from the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer. You can even dog sled on glaciers.

Go On An Epic Alaska Fishing Trip

Fishing is one of the best things to do in Alaska because it can be an exhilarating adventure or a meditative excursion in nature. Sure, you can fish in a lot of places across the U.S., but there’s nothing like Alaska fishing trips. The sheer variety of species and sportfishing competition make it a must-do, even for experienced fishers. Reel in Alaskan halibut. Go crabbing “Deadliest Catch” style on the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s Tour or fly-fish a mountain stream for salmon and trout. 

Don’t go home without your catch. Custom packing and shipping are available. Sometimes a chef will prepare it for you and serve it alongside tasty sides, such as warm sourdough bread.

Seek The Alaska Northern Lights

Hunting the Alaska northern lights is one of the best things to do in Alaska because if you see them, the memory lasts forever. And the search is half the fun. 

Though they’ve been known to appear in other states, Alaska has the most displays. Stay up late, snack on s’mores and wait for a light show so magical, some believe it is spirits from the beyond. Find the best time to see aurora borealis in Alaska.

Get Up Close To Wildlife

When it comes to seeing wildlife, there’s no place like the Last Frontier. Its glacial waters and temperate rainforests are home to many fascinating creatures that you can see on Alaska wildlife tours. As you cruise Alaska, look for playful porpoises, humpback whales, charming belugas, and all three different types of orcas (residents, transients, and offshore). Take a whale watching tour to get closer to these captivating cetaceans.

If you’re lucky (very lucky), you may get a glimpse of nature’s swimming giant: the blue whale. It favors the open ocean in the Gulf of Alaska in late summer. Researches have recorded more sightings recently, the hopeful sign of a comeback after the species was almost driven to extinction. The Kenai Fjords and Prince William Sound are two popular whale watching spots.

Ambitious wildlife enthusiasts can trek to Homer, Alaska and fly to Katmai to watch bears. Or venture to the mouth of Togiak Bay to observe a walrus colony that’s more populated than some Alaska towns. 

To cross Alaska animals off your list, go deep into Denali National Park on a Tundra Wilderness Tour, included on two or three-night stays at the McKinley Chalet resort. See the mighty grizzly in its natural habitat or watch in awe as a mountain goat scales a cliff face. 

Ride The Alaska Rails

Take a train trip from city to city and enjoy drinks, dining and vistas galore from a posh railcar. Alaska train rides are beloved by travelers because they offer backcountry views that aren’t found on the highway. Holland America Line Alaska Cruisetours include a trip from Anchorage to Denali National Park on the McKinley Explorer®. Find out more about Alaska railroad trips. A train trip is one of the most romantic things to do in Alaska.

Best Places To Visit In Alaska

Top Things To Do In Anchorage

Anchorage is a city that likes its coffee, so the first thing to do is fuel up at one of its many coffee stands. Then visit Anchorage tourist attractions, such as the Anchorage Museum, Alaska’s largest museum. It houses more than 600 indigenous Alaska artifacts and features extensive exhibits on the whaling industry and gold rush history.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a popular thing to do for animal lovers, as you come face-to-snout with reindeer, moose and musk oxen. The city also has many moose who just wander around town. Just remember, you’re in their backyard. Give them space! 

Top Things To Do In Fairbanks

Fairbanks teems with tourist attractions and adventures for the whole family. Hop on the Riverboat Discover tour and sternwheel your way to the home and kennels of a late Iditarod champion. Or soak up the near 24-hour midnight sun from the healing Chena hot springs resort.

As it is located within the auroral circle, one of the top things to do in Fairbanks is hunt for the northern lights in the fall, winter or spring. Pick a late August to September cruise or plan a winter/early spring vacation if you’re serious about seeing the Alaska lights.

Top Things To Do In Juneau

Welcome to Juneau, the nation’s coolest capital. A million visitors flock to Juneau each year to its natural attractions and Alaska tourist spots. Hike Mount Roberts to happen upon wild deer and bald eagles. Or rest your weary legs and zip up 1,800 feet on the tramway. Tour a capitol building. Visit the Mendenhall Glacier or take a flightseeing tour.