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7 of the best things to do in Alaska

A gray wolf stands in a creek that runs through a meadow

With vast swaths of undeveloped land, communities that are only accessible by boat or plane, and plenty of wild characters who’ve chosen to live in one of the most rural and dramatic landscapes in the United States, it’s no surprise that Alaska is called the Last Frontier. 

The hardest part of planning a trip to Alaska is knowing what to do and how many great places to put on your itinerary. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures in Alaska’s amazing national parks, to spot wildlife or admire the northern lights, you will find memorable and fascinating experiences at every turn.

Be inspired to visit Alaska with this guide to the state’s top things to do.

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1. Take to the waters on an Alaskan cruise

Alaska cruising is big business and one of the most popular ways to see the state. Every summer, dozens of mega ships make their way through the waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage, visiting communities only accessible by boat (and plane), such as Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau, the state capital. 

Excursions vary across ports, including flightseeing tours that take you over vast ice fields, fishing excursions that troll the deep waterways of the region, and cultural tours that bring the vibrant communities of Alaska’s Native people to life. Many people make their first trip to Alaska on a cruise because it’s an easy way to experience the state without diving into trickier travel logistics.

Planning tip: There are numerous options when picking an Alaska cruise, and your primary constraints are your travel style and budget. To minimize your environmental footprint and better support local economies, consider a small-ship cruise. Several operators, including Alaskan Dream Cruises, UnCruise Adventures and John Hall’s Alaska, offer similar itineraries to the big ships but can venture deeper into southeastern Alaska’s waterways and visit smaller communities that also need tourism support.

All of Alaska’s “Big Five” can be spotted in Denali National Park © Johnny Johnson / Getty Images

2. Seek out the wilderness of Denali National Park

What makes a visit to Denali National Park special is both what you’ll find there and what you won’t. As one of the nation’s largest national parks, Denali is a huge space of wilderness, perhaps the largest undeveloped space you’ll ever experience. It’s also one of the best places to see wildlife in…

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