Alaska has so many things to offer everyone, whether you’ve lived here all your life or are just passing through on a once in a lifetime trip. It’s hard to pack it all in, but these twelve Alaska day trips are great opportunities to explore some of the most magical ways to experience Alaska. Bring your family and mark your calendar for one day each month to enjoy Alaska in all her glory.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. JANUARY: Alyeska Resort, Girdwood, Alaska
Head to Girdwood, Alaska for your January day trip. Spend the whole day on the mountain on their easy trails or their harder runs. The resort has plenty of great places to eat, including Bore Tide Deli & Bar at the top of the mountain, and Carve in the Daylodge. If you're looking for a little less downhill excitement, Girdwood has a great nordic ski trail loop very close to the lodge. This is a great place to experience an incredible winter day trip!
2. FEBRUARY: Aurora Borealis Tour, Fairbanks, Alaska
Book yourself an aurora borealis tour in Fairbanks, located in the interior of Alaska, for your February day trip. Many northern light tours operate out of this northern city, and with a short drive you will lose the light pollution from the city and be enveloped in darkness. Choose a company like Fairbanks Aurora Tours, that will not only find the aurora for you, but show you the best way to capture these moments on your phone or camera. This is a great day trip for those long winter nights in Alaska!
3. MARCH: Iditarod ReStart, Willow, Alaska
The Iditarod celebrates its ceremonial start the first Saturday in March in downtown Anchorage. The mushers run an eleven mile loop throughout the city, but the real race doesn't get started until the next day. That Sunday, all the mushers line up in Willow for the official start to the "Last Great Race." Join hundreds of spectators as you watch the mushers and their dogs head out in two minute intervals. Stroll the 25 booths set up in the Willow Community Center, and soak in the excitement of everyone around you. This is a fantastic day trip for the whole family in March!
4. APRIL: Gray Whale Migration, Seward, Alaska
Gray whales migrate over 10,000 miles every winter, and they come through the Gulf of Alaska every year. Many tour companies in Seward offer special gray whale watch tours, between early March through early May. You'll also see other wildlife like sea lions, otters, and more while you look for these massive whales. This is a fantastic way to soak up the spring sunshine for a day trip in April!
5. MAY: Nugget Falls Trail and Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska
Head to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, a short drive from downtown Juneau. The Nugget Falls Trail is an easy, flat, two mile hike to a stunning 377' waterfall. Mendenhall Glacier sits in the background, and the scenery around you is breathtaking. Take plenty of photos, and bring the whole family, because this trail is easy and very impressive! May is a good time to visit as the tourist season has just started.
6. JUNE: White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, Skagway, Alaska
Ride in a vintage railway car high up into the mountain passes surrounding Skagway, Alaska. The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway has many different excursions, from visiting an old mining town to ascending White Pass Summit and seeing gorgeous scenery. Take in the waterfalls, mountain ranges, and more as you ride along on this fabulous June day trip!
7. JULY: Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska
The heat of midsummer lends itself to one of the most sights in Alaska: brown bear watching at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. This river is packed with salmon during their annual run, and the bears eat to their heart's content. A short flight from Anchorage or Homer will get you some of the best bear viewing in the state!
8. AUGUST: Glacier Hiking, Alaska
August is the perfect time to climb on top of some ice. You still have the sunlight and some warmth left of summer, but the crowds begin to die down, especially by the end of August. Book a tour at any of the great glaciers: Mendenhall, Matanuska, Knik, Exit, Worthington, and Root Glacier, among others. There are so many great tour companies that will show you the best way to hike these beauties. The perfect trip for an August summer's day!
9. SEPTEMBER: Berry Picking, Alaska
Starting in late August all the way through late September, get outside almost anywhere in Alaska and start harvesting your favorite berries. Depending on where you are in the state, you can find salmonberries, blueberries, crowberries, raspberries, cranberries, and so many more. Harvesting the sweet, tart, lovely berries of this state is something every Alaskan should do. This day trip ends with plenty of good food, and hopefully extras for dessert later!
10. OCTOBER: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage, Alaska
This amazing spot is actually open year round, and October is one of the best times to visit! Located an easy 40 minute drive from Anchorage, this is a great spot to hit during autumn. There are no crowds, and the center is open daily from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., all throughout the month. Walk the trails through the conservation center and see moose, bison, wolves, bears, and more, as they live their lives in this beautiful spot. Due to the month, you may even see all the animals get a special pumpkin treat to enjoy!
11. NOVEMBER: Flight Seeing, Talkeetna, Alaska
Hop on a plane in Talkeetna and see some of the world's most incredible scenery up close and personal. Many people don't realize that flight seeing tours run all winter, and the likelihood of Denali being out in all of its glory, instead of shrouded in clouds, is much higher in the winter. The cold, crisp air lends itself to incredible views, and you won't be sorry that you waited until this season to see them.
12. DECEMBER: Chena Hot Springs Resort, Fairbanks, Alaska
The cold weather of December only enhances everything you love about Chena Hot Springs. Soak in their hot, mineral waters during the coldest months of the year, and you may even be treated to a display of the aurora borealis while you're relaxing! Only an hour outside of Fairbanks, this is an incredible way for you to get outside in the middle of winter and still stay warm and cozy.
Have you done an Alaska day trip not mentioned here? Where did you go? Let us know in the comments below!