Best Places To Visit In Alaska
Alaska is a vast wilderness that’s steeped in history and dotted with rustic outposts. It’s an incredible region, a true bucket-list destination from the shimmering glaciers to Denali, the Great One. When it comes to finding the best places to visit in Alaska, start with what appeals to you the most.
Here are some of our favorite places to go in Alaska drawing from nearly 75 years of experience. If you’re already convinced Alaska is for you, learn more about our Alaska cruises.
Alaska Attractions: National Parks
There are numerous extraordinary Alaska national parks. A visit to any one of these offers the opportunity to truly connect with nature in solitude.
1. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
Out of all the Alaska cruise stops, Glacier Bay National Park is unbeatable. There are glaciers, fjords, streams, rivers, and animals enjoying it all. Holland America Line is an authorized concessioner of the national park and have more options for cruising Glacier Bay than any other cruise line. We have won Best in Alaska Awards because we know the region so well and our ships are perfectly sized for a more personal experience.
Park Rangers board the ship to give insights. John Hopkins and the lengthy Margerie Glacier name some of many sights within this natural wonderland. Find Glacier Bay cruises.
2. Denali National Park
No best places in Alaska list would be complete without a mention of the Great One, the eponymous jewel of Denali National Park. Haloed in clouds and sometimes rosy with Alpenglow, Denali is the continent’s highest peak. But there’s more to the national park than the mountain. Crystalline rivers, rolling tundra, and fascinating wildlife like grizzlies and caribou make Denali National Park a top choice for sightseeing in Alaska.
Check out Alaska cruisetours to explore this best Alaska place.
3. Kenai Fjords National Park
Just outside Seward, Kenai Fjords National Park has it all: jagged peaks, lush waterfalls and glaciers spilling from the Harding Icefield. It is one of the best places to go in Alaska to see varied landscapes and marine wildlife. Puffins, murrelets and marine mammals thrive in this park’s numerous coves and inlets.
4. Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Wrangell St. Elias National Park is among the best places to visit in Alaska for mountain fans. It is home to 9 of the highest peaks in the U.S. and Mt. Wrangell, a massive active volcano. There are summits more than 16,000 feet and 35% of Wrangell-St. Elias is covered in glaciers. You may spot beaver, lynx, fox, wolves and grizzlies roaming these wild lands.
Must Sees in Alaska: Cruise Ports
Juneau is unbelievably scenic, snuggled between pristine waters and snow-capped peaks. Home to 30,000 residents, Juneau makes the list of best places to visit in Alaska because it is quite unusual for a state capital. It’s only accessible by airplane and boats, has its very own 85-mile-long icefield, outdoor activities galore, and it’s teeming with wildlife. How many state capitals can say that? Plus, it is a fantastic base for exploring Southeast Alaska and holds a lot of history and Tlingit cultural influence. Experience Holland America’s "Best of Juneau" Shore Excursion to decide for yourself.
Ketchikan is stilted on the banks of the Tongass Narrows and nicknamed Alaska’s "First City" because it’s often the first cruise stop to explore before the scenic Inside Passage. A mere three miles long and only three blocks wide, a bustling waterfront, hiking trails spidering into the forest, and incredible fishing make Ketchikan one of the best Alaska cruise stops.
Onion-domed cathedrals as vestiges from Russian influence and views of Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano make Sitka one of the best places to visit in Alaska. Situated on Baranof Island, Sitka is surrounded by Alaska’s lush forests and crystal waters. But as the former capital of Russian America and home of the Tlingit people, Sitka is one of the best cruise stops in Alaska to get to know the state’s history.
As one of Southcentral Alaska’s oldest communities, Seward is a great port for sightseeing in Alaska. It’s the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and Resurrection Bay and there are plenty of outdoor activities and wildlife tours to take. It is also ground zero for the Iditarod National Historic Trail dogsled route and home to a renowned research aquarium.
Sightseeing in Alaska: Glaciers
Glaciers made the Alaska we know and love today. Whether they’re retreating, "galloping", or feeding a fjord with ice floes, glaciers are a must-see on every Alaska cruise. Though it’s a hard choice, as every glacier has its merits, here are a few of the most popular:
9. Hubbard Glacier
Hubbard Glacier is massive, stunning deep blue, and the longest tidewater glacier in North America. Beauty and size alone would make it worthy of a "best places in Alaska" list, but it has another distinction—unlike most other Alaska glaciers, it's growing. It is nicknamed the "Galloping Glacier" because of its fast advancing ice margin—up to seven feet in one day.
10. Harvard Glacier
Cruising College Fjord brings the famous 1899 Harriman expedition to life. The glacier-filled waters amazed the scientists and naturalists on the expedition. But the Harvard Glacier, the second-largest tidewater glacier in the Prince William Sound has perhaps the most dramatic face at one-and-a-half miles wide.
11. Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier, near Juneau offers plenty of activities and a great, easily accessible visitor’s center. This one makes the best places to visit in Alaska list because it’s so darn charismatic and approachable. Look at those deep crevasses! Hike or bike nearby trails to this river of ice or even dog sled on it.
Best Places to See In Alaska
12. Tracy Arm Inlet
The beauty of Tracy Arm Inlet is difficult to capture with words. As you cruise the emerald waters of this narrow passage, you’re flanked by glacier-covered mountains and surrounded by coastal temperate rainforest. Twin Sawyer Glaciers at the terminus fill the inlet with ice chunks, a favorite resting spot for sea otters and chubby seals. Learn more about seeing the best of the Tracy Arm Wilderness Area.
13. Inside Passage
Widely considered one of the best cruising routes in the world, the calm waters of the Inside Passage feature stunning landscapes, artic-blue glaciers, Misty Fjords National Monument and Alaska's iconic wildlife. This expansive network of waterways is hundreds of miles long and encompasses many of our favorite ports and Alaska cruise stops. It is definitely a best place to visit in Alaska!
Ready to explore Alaska attractions? For more Alaska travel resources and tips, view all Alaska Articles and Videos. Or peruse Holland America's Alaska cruise ports.