Wild, unspoiled, faraway, mysterious Alaska fires up the imagination and brings out your spirit of adventure. It is now much easier to explore Alaska’s magnificent mountains, lodges, fjords, and glaciers and see whales, seals, grizzly bears, and other wild animals than it was even a few years ago. Visit the museums, restaurants, and cafes in Juneau and Anchorage and explore Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks. Here are the best things to do in Alaska. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
The White Pass and Yukon Route is a Canadian and American narrow gauge railroad that links Skagway in Alaska and Whitehorse in Yukon. It was built in 1900 during the Klondike Gold Rush – the fastest way miners could reach the goldfields. It operated until 1982 and was resurrected in 1988 as a heritage railway. It allows passengers to travel back to the past, riding the rails on a real gold rush train, past waterfalls, glacial rivers, steep gorges, and dense forests that have hardly changed since the time of the gold miners.
The train climbs up 3000 feet with passengers aboard parlor cars, both vintage and replicas, and with huge windows and observation decks, along the 10-foot-wide train track carved into the mountain. The scenery is breathtaking, and the places the train passes by, such as Dead Horse Gulch or Inspiration Point, fire the imagination and take you all the way up to the headwaters of the legendary Yukon River.
Kroschel Films Wildlife Center
Located about 28 miles from Haines, Alaska, the Kroschel Films Wildlife Center is an amazing place where filmmaker and naturalist Steve Kroschel takes care of abandoned or orphaned wild animals from Alaska or Canada. It is not a zoo, though, and the animals live free and unmolested in their natural environment, providing you with some perfect photo opportunities as you walk along a well-groomed trail for about 600 yards through the magnificent Alaskan wilderness.
You will encounter 15 species of animals, including grizzly bears, foxes, wolves, lynx, moose, reindeer, owls, and others. Steve combines his filmmaking and animal care with a message about the interconnectedness of all life on Earth and natural healing.
Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a nonprofit organization and institute in downtown Juneau, originally founded in 1980 to preserve and protect the region’s Tlingit Tsimshian, and Haida indigenous cultures. The institute, which moved into its permanent home at the Walter Soboleff Building in 2015, strives to create a place where Native and non-Native Alaskans alike can learn about their heritage through permanent exhibits and special event programming. The museum’s permanent cultural exhibit showcases a variety of works by prominent Native artists, including luminaries such as Wayne Price, Robert Davidson, Preston Singletary, and David Boxley. A traditional clan house dubbed Shuká Hít is also showcased, along with space for rotating art and cultural exhibits. Three major public art exhibits are showcased on the museum’s grounds, including a 40-foot panel exhibit by Robert Davidson paying tribute to a Haida supernatural figure known as “Greatest Echo.”