10 Things to Do Only in Alaska

Hot spots to visit and cool things to do on your Alaska vacation

There are certain things you can do only in America's final frontier. From tours of an abandoned mining town to the Cooking School at Tutka Bay, there are many activities and adventures you'll find only in Alaska. Here are the 10 best.

1) Tour an Abandoned Mining Town

Join St. Elias Guides for a not-to-be-forgotten tour of the Kennecott Mill (hard hats required, be prepared for stairs.) Located in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, the Kennicott/McCarthy area also offers many wilderness activities. Choose from a half-day or full-day Root Glacier hike from Kennecott (guided or on your own) to a bush plane flight into the backcountry of the Wrangell Mountains. 

2) Take a ferry

The Danny J ferry goes across Kachemak Bay from Homer to dine at The Saltry in scenic Halibut Cove. Specializing in Alaska seafood, The Saltry has become a destination for chefs and food lovers alike.

3) Take an Arctic Adventure

Join Northern Alaska Tour Company on one of several Arctic adventures. Fly to the Inupiat Eskimo village of Barrow and walk on the shores of the Arctic Ocean at the northernmost point in North America; one-day and overnight excursions are available year-round. Or another favorite is the three-day guided round trip to Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean via the famed Dalton Highway.

4) Learn to Cook

At the Cooking School at Tutka Bay, celebrate Kachemak Bay cuisine with like-minded people. Weekend cooking programs are open to the public and to Tutka Bay Lodge guests, with rotating 3-course menus featuring their recipe collections and regional products. Water taxi from Homer included in cooking class price.

5) Catch a Midnight Baseball Game

Watch the Midnight Sun Baseball Game at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks on the longest day of the year (June 21), when the home team Goldpanners play in front of a capacity crowd. The game begins at 10:30 pm and lasts until well past midnight (the sun sets about 1 am), and is played without artificial lights.

6) Ready! Set! Run!

Join the Mount Marathon Race on July 4th in Seward as a competitor or a spectator. This grueling endurance race up and down Mount Marathon (elev. 3,022 feet) requires previous mountain running experience. Start and finish in downtown Seward. Register for the race online between January 1 and March 31.

7) Go to the Fair

Don't miss the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. This old-fashion fair is famous for its record-setting giant vegetables and picturesque location at the foot of the Chugach Mountains in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. An 11-day event (late August to Labor Day weekend), it features amusement rides, food booths, competitive exhibits, carnival games, marquee performers and more.

8) Hike the Chilkoot

Hike the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail. The trail starts at Dyea, just outside Skagway, and ends at Lake Bennett in British Columbia, just as it did during the gold rush of 1898-99. Hiking the entire trail requires a lot of planning on your own; visit www.nps.gov/klgo/planyourvisit/chilkoottrail.htm. Guided 4- or 5-day hikes are available with Alaska Mountain Guides

9) Ride a Sled

Take a summer dog sled ride at Seavey’s Ididaride on Old Exit Glacier Road outside Seward. Visit the Seavey's Iditarod champion kennels: Mitch Seavy and his son Dallas have together won six Iditarod Sled Dog Races.

10) Swim in a Hot Spring

Take a dip at Chena Hot Springs Resort, an hour’s drive from Fairbank. Relax in the natural outdoor hot springs pool, then step inside the Aurora Ice Museum for an appletini in an ice-carved martini glass. The resort offers lodging, a restaurant, indoor pool, horseback rides, geothermal tours and many other activities in summer. In winter, aurora viewing is very big here.