Need tips for Alaska trip
April 5, 2007 9:27 AM   Subscribe

My wife and daughter are planning a summer 2008 mother-daughter trip to Alaska. No camping, no major hiking.

They would like to experience the full range of Alaska's wonders, but want to avoid the canned cruise line excursions. The thought is to fly to Fairbanks and work their way south by train and/or rented car, and fly home from some point farther south. A stop in Denali is a given, and they'd like to do a whale-watch/glacier cruise somewhere. For the rest, they'd love suggestions on where to go, what not to miss, especially places a bit off the beaten track, but reasonably easy to get to. Tips on eateries, places to stay, general itinerary, information sources, etc., would also be great.
posted by beagle to Travel & Transportation around Alaska (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have suggested this before but if the money isn't a terrific problem consider taking a ferry up to Alaska. You can leave from Bellingham Washington and go up the Inside Passage as far up as you want and then stay or hang out someplace and then get the ferry back down. The ferry is barebones [not cruise-y at all] but you can get a private room with a bathroom and eat in a decent cafeteria. It allows you to see some of the less-travelled parts of Alaska from the boat without a bunch of other people there. I think Denali is also awesome so I'll leave those details to other people but the Alaska Marine Highway System is worth checking out.

My links: trip1 trip2 trip3.
posted by jessamyn at 9:35 AM on April 5, 2007

try to spend a bit of time in talkeetna during the moose dropping festival. oh, and get the pancakes at the roadhouse. definitely. try and find a place to stay there that isn't the big huge obnoxious tourist hotel.
posted by entropone at 11:24 AM on April 5, 2007

I'd also second the Alaska Ferry system. I'd use it like a train in Europe - buy some point to point tickets and spend a day or two wandering around some of SE Alaska's cooler cities such as Juneau, Haines, or Sitka. Taking a day trip up the Tracey Arm Fjord (out of Juneau) can be pretty amazing.
posted by Staggering Jack at 12:26 PM on April 5, 2007

I've lived in Alaska my entire life: born in Homer, was in Fairbanks the last seven years, and am currently in Anchorage.

If you're going to start in Fairbanks, get out to Chena Hot Springs: you will not regret it. You could drive the extra 100 miles to the arctic circle, but I wouldn't recommend it: the roads are bad, and it's not terribly exciting once there ("Woo. So, this is it, then?") Denali is fun but also crammed full of tourists. Whale-watching cruises are great out of Valdez and Seward - both are beautiful towns, but Seward is close to Anchorage and Valdez isn't. The ferry is a great suggestion to get off the beaten touristy path, but yes, the accomodations are very rudimentary (I used to work for the marine highway). There's great halibut and salmon fishing out of Homer, river fishing is great in Cooper Landing and Kenai.

Dang, my lunch break is over. I'll check back in on the thread later, but my email is in my profile.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2007

I really like Sitka a lot. It's my favorite town in the state.

Many (15-ish) years ago I stayed at Hatcher Pass & enjoyed it. My family wandered around the old mining town nearby, which was neat. We also visited a nearby musk ox farm.
posted by belladonna at 3:06 PM on April 5, 2007

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