Although the rugged and formidable terrain of Alaska may intimidate some travelers, brave visitors will be rewarded with endless vistas, stunning mountain peaks and ethereal glaciers. The state's natural beauty is the foundation for many of Alaska's greatest attractions, from the famous Denali to the pristine coastline. Although Alaska's population is sparse, visitors can also find plenty do in the state's larger cities. In these cities, residents and tourists alike can attend frequent festivals, visit art museums and find other entertainment.
Alaska's State Fair is held an hour north of Anchorage. The "land of the midnight sun" makes for giant vegetables that compete for ribbons here. Every fall the fairgrounds vibrate with the rhythms of live music and exciting carnival rides.
August 25 - September 5, 2016
Where: in Palmer
Naturally, Alaskans would want to commemorate the purchase of their state from the Russians in 1867. A re-enactment ceremony, period costume ball, parade, and contests mark the occasion. Visitors also enjoy concerts during the four-day event.
October 10-18, 2016
Where: in Sitka
The whales are given a grand welcome by the local citizenry and by whale lovers from the world over at this Sitka festival. Watch the whales, sea otters, and sea lions in the ocean; then head inside to hear the latest that world-renowned biologists have learned.
November 3 – November 6 2016
Where: in Sitka
Spawning salmon are a treat the bald eagles can't pass up, and several thousand show up for the feast on the Chilkat River. Buses and vans run visitors out to the Alaska Bald Eagle Preserve. Birdwatchers, photographers, and naturalists revel in the spectacle.
November 7th-13th, 2016
Where: in Haines
Over 150 vendors offer jewelry, native arts, and much more at Juneau's new convention center. The "Public Market" is now a hallowed Christmas tradition around the capital of Alaska that last for three full days.
November 25, 26, 27, 2016
Where: Public market in Centennial Hall Juneau, AK 99802 in Juneau
Denali National Park and Preserve, located in Alaska's interior, surrounds North America's tallest peak, Denali. Thanks to the national park's bus system, visitors can see many popular highlights in the park, including the peak itself. Narrated tours allow travelers to learn more about the large park and its natural inhabitants, including grizzly bears, moose and caribou.
For those who want to explore another of Alaska's national parks, the Kenjai Fjords National Park is an excellent stop. From the town of Seward, visitors can take guided cruise tours of the national park to see an abundance of marine wildlife, from whales to puffins. Glacier Bay National Park, located near Juneau, features iceberg-filled bays and more than 15 glaciers. Visitors to the isolated park, which can only be accessed by boat or plane, can enjoy camping, hiking, fishing and hunting.
In Anchorage, Alaska's most populated city, visitors can learn more about the state's history at the Anchorage Museum. The museum's permanent exhibits include a gallery of Alaskan history and artwork from locals. Detailed dioramas help guests imagine the daily life of past Alaskan residents. History buffs can also visit the Museum of the North in Fairbanks for another extensive look at Alaska's history. In the “Gallery of Alaska” exhibit, visitors can examine gold nuggets, mammoth tusks and whale bones.
For a more personal look at Alaska's mining history, visitors can take a tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine. At the end of the informative tour, guests are invited to try their luck at panning for gold.
Top destinations for this weekend
Photo credit: Accretion Disc / Ed Yourdon / ahisgett / nophun201 / Cecil Sanders / Paxson Woelber / Paxson Woelber / jseattle / / adactio / Gattou - Lucie Provencher / goincarcrazy / Alaskan Dude / Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson / Harvey McCool / brewbooks / *~Dawn~* / Beverly & Pack / Alaskan Dude / EricaJoy