The 18 Best Cities to Visit in Alaska in 2024

Alaska is one of the most beautiful states in the US with some incredibly charming towns and dramatic nature. Harrison and I absolutely fell in love with Alaska and I couldn’t wait to share its beauty on my blog! Naturally, that led me to write this post detailing the 18 best cities to visit in Alaska!

Whether you’re planning an Alaska road trip or deliberating which cruise to take, I hope this list helps you determine the best places to visit in Alaska.

Some of these towns are only accessible by boat or plane, but don’t let that stop you from visiting them! You can find ferry rides from one town to another, and prices can be pretty reasonable between most Alaskan towns! Additionally, most cruise ships stop at multiple of these cities, making it easy to see more than one on a trip to Alaska.

Each town is so unique and offers its own array of nature activities. I’ve listed these 18 best cities to visit in Alaska alphabetically since it would be way too hard to rank them any other way!

You can see some footage from some of these cities in the video we made of our trip below:

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Though I haven’t been to all of these towns, my extensive research on Alaska has put them on my bucket list! We will be visiting four more on our upcoming cruise to Southeast Alaska, so I’ll update this post afterwards! And as for the many Alaskan towns that we have already visited- I recommend them all! You’ll see why as you read about these various beautiful towns in Alaska.

PS. I took the photo above at the top of the Goldbelt Tram in Juneau!

(Note: Though I often use the term ‘cities’ when referring to these places as a whole, many of these are actually classified as towns. However, I’ll say one or the other when grouping them together for simplicity’s sake… ‘cities and towns’ is quite a mouthful!)

Trip map created using Wanderlog, a journey planner app

The 18 Best Cities to Visit in Alaska:

  • Anchorage
  • Cordova
  • Fairbanks
  • Girdwood
  • Gustavus
  • Haines
  • Homer
  • Juneau
  • Ketchikan
  • Kodiak Island
  • North Pole
  • Petersburg
  • Seward
  • Sitka
  • Skagway
  • Talkeetna
  • Valdez
  • Wrangell

1. Anchorage

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for a road trip

Size: 1,947 mi²
Population: ~288,100

Nestled between the towering peaks of the Chugach Mountains, Anchorage is the largest city in the state of Alaska.

With its size, it comes loaded with unique landscapes, from cityscapes and the suburbs to the mountains and waterfront. (Pictured above, you can see the mountain views from the Turnagain Arm).

And I’d say it’s one of the best cities to visit in Alaska if you’re looking for a central hub.

Chances are high you’ll be flying into Anchorage anyway, and it makes for the perfect home base for plenty of getaways. That’s exactly what we did on our Alaska roadtrip.

From Anchorage, you can drive to the Kenai Peninsula (where you’ll find a few more of the places on this list), to Denali National Park, Fairbanks, Valdez, and more. And if you want to fly to Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, famous for its large brown bear population, Anchorage is the most popular departure spot for these tours. (Check out this list of 12 epic weekend getaways from Anchorage!)

You can explore glaciers, spot local wildlife, and go hiking and fishing. A ride on the Alaska Railroad makes for an incredible day trip.

And besides being surrounded by a huge outdoor playground, the city portion of Anchorage boasts some beautiful botanical gardens and cultural & historical museums.

Although summer is the most popular time to visit, winter offers just as much charm when the snow sets the scene for winter sports. And in the winter, spots close to the city offer vantage points from which you can spot the northern lights.

Top 3 Things to Do in Anchorage

  • See grizzlies at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (pictured above)
  • Visit the Anchorage Museum (it’s the largest museum in the state!) or the Alaska Native Heritage Center
  • Go on a helicopter tour with Alaska Helicopter Tours

2. Cordova

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska off-the-beaten path

Size: 75.14 mi²
Population: ~2,500

Paxson Woebler via Flickr

This is one of the best cities to visit in Alaska if you want a unique trip taking the path less traveled.

This laidback town is southeast of Valdez and sits on the east side of Prince William Sound. It’s in a remote location- so remote that you can’t drive to it!

To get to Cordova, you’ll have to take a flight or a ferry. But that makes it an incredible getaway for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination in Alaska.

With roughly 2500 residents (whoa… that’s the size of the high school I went to!), you’ll definitely feel the small-town vibes here. While Cordova is rather isolated, this just means most of its gems are unspoiled!

All in all, this secluded part of Alaska offers visitors incredible wildlife spotting opportunities, pristine nature, and a welcoming small-town ambiance.

It’s also a great place specifically for bird watching: every year millions of migrating shorebirds hover over the tidal mudflats in Cordova. It’s such a great spot for bird-watching that there is an annual bird festival, the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, usually held in May.

Although there are countless places for wildlife viewing, The Copper River Delta is an excellent spot for bird watching.

And pictured above, the Sheridan Glacier is a fantastic sight to behold… and you can go ice skating right beside it in the winter!

In addition to outdoor adventures, Cordova is a treasure trove for history geeks. If history interests you, be sure to stop by the Cordova History Museum, Ilanka Cultural Center, and the Fisherman’s Memorial.

Top 3 Things to Do in Cordova

  • Go bird watching, river rafting, and kayaking
  • Join a tour to Kayak Island State Marine Park
  • Visit Sheridan Glacier or Child’s Glacier

3. Fairbanks

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for northern lights

Size: 32.62 mi²
Population: ~32,700

Located in Alaska’s interior, Fairbanks is a prime year-round destination.

With Alaska’s most easily accessible hot spring, northern lights as early as August (we saw them when we were there on September 6th), and neat places to stay, Fairbanks is one of the best cities to visit in Alaska.

Spanning across 32.62 mi², Fairbanks is rather small by Alaskan standards. However, the town is packed with the incredible beauty of towering peaks, huge rivers, and lush forests.

But its probably most famous for its position under the Auroral Oval (an oval ring in the far north where Auroral activity peaks).

That means that it’s one of the best places to visit in Alaska if you want to see the northern lights! You have the chance to see them from August 21st to April 21st. Ideal conditions are a dark sky with little cloud coverage.

(Fun fact: Auroral activity happens all year round, but it doesn’t get dark enough in the summer to see the lights with Alaska’s midnight sun phenomenon!)

That being said, with endless days in the summer and magnificent aurora borealis viewing in the fall, winter, and spring, this small town might be one of the most unique places you’ll ever travel to!

We stayed at Borealis Basecamp, pictured above. They have the only glass-roofed igloos in Alaska!

Top 3 Things to Do in Fairbanks  

  • Soak in the Chena Hot Springs (pictured above)
  • Chase the northern lights
  • Go on an ATV or snowmobile tour

Fairbanks has a vibrant culture and rich history along with so many things to do! Check out my list of 27 things to do in Fairbanks here!

4. Girdwood

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for skiing

Size:  31.9 mi²
Population: ~2,000

Girdwood is a beautiful town, situated approximately 30 minutes from the town of Anchorage.

It’s easily accessed via the scenic Seward Highway that connects Anchorage and Seward.

This hub has been named as one of the greatest mountain towns in the world. Home to Alyeska Resort, it’s also ranked among the best ski towns!

In addition, this quaint hamlet sits in the middle of a lush forest on the foothills of the majestic Chugach Mountains. One of the coolest spots in Girdwood is Virgin Creek Falls, pictured above. Just a short hike brings you to these stunning falls!

Although this town draws hundreds of snow enthusiasts every year, it has managed to retain its small-town charm.

Surrounded by Alaskan scenery, this resort town makes for a great stop, whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or just a brief stop on your road trip to Seward from Anchorage.

And besides its natural beauty, Girdwood is also great for foodies! Sample some Alaskan delicacies while you’re here. We loved brunching at The Bake Shop, pictured above.

Top 3 Things to Do in Girdwood

  • Go on a boat tour to nearby Portage Glacier  
  • Ski in the winter or take the lift up to the top of Alyeska Mountain in the summer
  • Do the short hike to Virgin Creek Falls

5. Gustavus

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for seeing Glacier Bay National Park

Size: 56.96 mi²
Population: ~650

This seaside town is one of the best places to visit in Alaska if you plan to visit Glacier Bay National Park.

Comprised of 3 million acres of rainforests, fjords, and glaciers, this park deserves a spot on your bucket list! Many cruises add Glacier Bay National Park to their itineraries as a day of scenic cruising. However, if possible, smaller boat tours or even kayaking parts of it on your own are well worth it. You’ll be able to access parts of this UNESCO World Heritage Site that larger ships simply can’t navigate.

And while you can join a tour from Juneau, Gustavus is really the main hub for Glacier Bay tours.

Gustavus is about 60 miles east of Juneau. You can only access the town by a ferry ride (four hours from Juneau) or by plane. Alaska Air flies right into the Gustavus/Glacier Bay airport. If you’re coming from Juneau, you can also fly with Alaska Sea Planes, Southeast Alaska’s premier commuter airline.

Given that there are less than 700 people that call this small yet idyllic town home, moose probably outnumber human beings here!

The town’s isolated location can make you feel like you’ve discovered a pristine piece of Alaska. It’s surrounded by beauty as far as you can see, with snow-capped mountains on one side and Glacier Bay National Park on the other.

Additionally, this town has looked the same for ages. Dotted with wood-framed houses and log cabins, Gustavus has been undisturbed by the modernity of the outside world. It makes it one of the most beautiful towns in Alaska!

The old-time atmosphere, friendly feel, and prime location by Glacier Bay National Park draw thousands of visitors who come to experience Gustavus.

And if you want to stay directly in Glacier Bay National Park, besides camping, there’s only one hotel where you can do so!

Top 3 Things to Do in Gustavus

  • Explore Glacier Bay National Park
  • Go whale watching
  • Do some saltwater fishing

6. Haines

One of the sunniest towns in the Inside Passage

Size: 20.69 mi²
Population: ~1,900

Ashok Boghani via Flickr

There is something fascinating to me about small villages, and Haines is a great example of an Alaskan village.

Haines, with a population of around 2000 people, is a gem of Southeast Alaska. It’s a great place where history, culture, and incredible nature experiences mingle together.

The town boasts one of the most picturesque settings on earth since it is on the shorelines of one of North America’s deepest fjords.

Beyond that, the town is a popular cruise docking spot, fishing village, and an adventure junkies’ playground.

And did you know that Haines is technically one of the most accessible towns in southeast Alaska?

How did I come to that conclusion? Well, it’s one of the few places in southeast Alaska that can be accessed by road, sea, and air. You can reach it via a five-hour ferry ride from Juneau or a two-day drive from Anchorage!

It’s also a 45-minute ferry away from Skagway on the Haines Skagway Fast Ferry.

Top 3 Things to Do in Haines

  • Go bear watching on the Chilkoot River
  • Visit the American Bald Eagle Foundation
  • Take a boat or plane to Davidson Glacier

7. Homer

The Halibut Fishing Capital of the World

Size: 25.25 mi²
Population: ~5,700

Nestled on Kachemak Bay on tip of the massive Kenai Peninsula, Homer is a tiny town about four hours south of Anchorage.

In a sentence, this bustling hub boasts a mild climate, a picturesque setting, and world-famous halibut fishing.

On one side, just beyond the waters, the majestic Kenai Mountains dominate the horizon. And on the other side of Homer, you’re treated to stunning vistas of Kachemak Bay.

The famous Homer Spit is a road that stretches across the peninsula, lined with cafes, shops, and more.

You’ve to got stop into The Salty Dawg Saloon, stay at Land’s Edge Resort (pictured above), and then get breakfast at Captain’s Coffee! You can camp right on the Homer Spit beaches as well, though we opted for a hotel stay.

Wildlife enthusiasts will love Kachemak Bay State Park for wildlife viewing- you can see bald eagles, sea lions, black bears, and more. If you’re determined to see a brown bear, chances are great when you do a tour to Lake Clark National Park.

In addition, Homer has been dubbed as the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”. Since we aren’t big fishers, we made sure to enjoy eating some halibut while we were in Homer! But if you do a fishing tour and catch your own dinner, restaurants in town will cook it up for you!

Top 3 Things to Do in Homer

  • Halibut/world-class fishing
  • Visit the shops along the Homer spit
  • Doing a bear viewing tour in Lake Clark National Park

8. Juneau

Alaska’s state capital

Size: 3,255 mi²
Population: ~32,000

Juneau is a beautiful town, and as the state capital, it’s one of the best cities to visit in Alaska!

Did you know that it’s the only capital city that can only be accessed by air or water?  Yup, there are no roads connecting the town to the rest of the state!

Since it’s so hard to access, you might expect Juneau to lack activities or tourism. Yet, it’s one of the most popular towns in Alaska. On the harbor, you’ll notice cruise ships and seaplanes ferrying hundreds of people to this waterfront town.

In addition to the town’s natural beauty, the oldest Alaskan city has garnered lots of history over the years. This, coupled with its artistic flair and an array of outdoor activities, makes it a must-see for anyone visiting Alaska.

Many flights to Alaska make a stop in Juneau. As such, it makes for a perfect layover! And as I mentioned, many cruises also include Juneau on their itineraries. Whether you rent a car or join a tour, two great things to do in Juneau include visiting the Mendenhall Glacier (do a self-guided trip from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center or join a hiking tour to discover some glacier ice caves!) and going up the Goldbelt Tram. Additionally, downtown Juneau is full of activities and there are so many things to do here!

Though many layovers and cruise stops only allow for a few hours in Juneau, it deserves more than a day if possible with your itinerary.

However, I will say that you can still do a lot with limited time here. On our five-hour cruise day in Juneau, we rented a car and visitied Glacier Gardens and the Mendenhall Glacier before returning our car and going up the Goldbelt Tram.

Top 3 Things to Do in Juneau

  • Take the scenic Goldbelt Tram to the top of Mt. Roberts
  • Go whale watching between April and September
  • Visit the Mendenhall Glacier (don’t miss the hike to Nugget Falls, pictured above!)

9. Ketchikan

One of the best cities to visit to see Misty Fjords National Monument

Size: 4.9 mi²
Population: ~8,000

Located on the south-eastern edge of Alaska, Ketchikan is the entryway to the Inside Passage.

It is typically the first city you cruise to before heading toward Northern Alaska.

Nicknamed the “Salmon Capital of the World”, this bustling town is famous for its fishing, cherished native culture, and awe-inspiring scenery.

Three Native Alaskan groups call Ketchikan home, which contributes to this town’s rich cultural traditions. Visiting the Saxman Native Village is a great way to learn about the Native culture here.

Ketchikan’s walkable downtown showcases local artisans who sell their art, carvings, weavings, and more. And the town’s Waterfront Promenade circumnavigates Ketchikan’s busy shorelines and is a fun place to explore.

The best part of Ketchikan to me, though, is its access to Misty Fjords National Monument. You can take this flightseeing tour which makes a landing in the park- that’s what I did and it was such a neat experience!

Top 3 Things to Do in Ketchikan

10. Kodiak Island

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for bear viewing

Size: 3,588 mi²
Population: ~12,800

James Brooks via Flickr

Situated along the coastlines of Alaska, few places on earth beat the impressive natural beauty of Kodiak Island.

In fact, two-thirds of Kodiak Island is set aside to preserve the wildlife. And, the lush greenery engulfs the town, making this fishing village rightfully an ‘’Emerald Isle’’.

In addition, majestic glaciers, wildflower-filled meadows, and stunning shorelines all surround this quaint town.

Plus, it’s a migratory route for different species of whales, and the huge lush forests host an abundance of wildlife.

The most famous of Kodiak’s residents is the Kodiak bear (aka the Kodiak brown bear), the largest bear in the world. While brown bears typically weigh around 800lbs, Kodiak bears can weigh up to 1500lbs! And Kodiak’s brown bear population of 3,500 makes the bear-to-human ratio over one bear for every four humans on the island!

Naturally, that makes bear-viewing one of the most popular things to do on Kodiak Island from July to September. While there’s always a chance you could see them along the road, you can join a floatplane tour to Frazer Lake in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge for a full experience.

So, if you’re an animal or nature enthusiast this island is one of the best places to visit in Alaska.

Also, here’s a fun fact: it’s the largest island in the United States after Hawaii! So you’re bound to have plenty to explore on Kodiak Island.

Top 3 Things to Do on Kodiak Island

  • Visit the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge
  • Explore Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park
  • Search for fossils during low tide at Fossil Beach (but only look, don’t touch! Culture, history, and nature are crucial to preserve.)

11. North Pole

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for Christmas lovers

Size: 4.1 mi²
Population: ~2,300

Kit Leong

In this tiny town just south of Fairbanks, every day feels like Christmas!

Though it’s quite small, this is one of the best cities to visit in Alaska if you’re a big fan of Christmas or are traveling with kids. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to visit the North Pole?

(We stopped here specifically so we could tell our children one day that we had crepes in the North Pole 🙂 We ate them at the North Pole Crepery and they were divine.)

Here, the locals keep the Christmas cheer alive throughout the year.

While the town itself isn’t jaw-droppingly beautiful or chock full of things to do, the Christmas inspired décor that lines street lamps and signs make it one of a kind.

The Santa Claus House is at the heart of the town, featuring aisles of Christmas toys and ornaments. Don’t be surprised by life-sized statues of Santa around the town!

With its Santa House, Reindeer Farm, and more, North Pole, Alaska draws in both kids and adults alike. At the very least, you’ll want to take a selfie at the welcome sign by the visitor center!

Because lets be real… everyone wants to say they’ve been to the North Pole!

Top 3 Things to Do in North Pole

  • Attend an ice carving exhibit
  • Go to the Cruis’n With Santa Festival (typically at the end of May)
  • Pick up souvenirs from the Santa Claus House

12. Petersburg

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska to escape big cruises

Size: 46.31 mi²
Population: ~3,200

Christian de Rham via Flickr

Petersburg is among the most authentic towns you’ll find in Alaska, away from the hype that comes with large cruise ships in Southeast Alaska.

In fact, unlike most touristy destinations where the streets are dominated by gift shops, Petersburg stands out. In this town, most eateries, hardware stores, shops, and grocery stores are owned, operated, and frequented by the locals.

This waterfront town is lined with weathered boatsheds, working boats, seaplanes, ferries, and wharfs. Because it’s situated past the Wrangell Narrows, big cruises don’t stop here. Instead you’ll find smaller cruise ships, private yachts, and other small vessels docking in Petersburg. If you’re looking to escape the crowds in Southeast Alaska, Petersburg is for you.

And beyond its lively harbor lies endless opportunities for adventure.

Situated on Frederick Sound in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, Petersburg offers plenty by way of nature activities and wildlife viewing.

Just thirty miles north of Petersburg by boat, you’ll find some of the best whale watching for humpback whales in North America!

You can navigate through icebergs in LeConte Glacier Bay, the southernmost active tidewater glacier in North America. It is easily explored by boat and is absolutely beautiful! With the right tide and wind conditions, from the Petersburg shoreline you can even see some icebergs that have floated into Frederick Sound.

Nature lovers can drive all over Mitkof Island, which is part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world! On Mitkof, you can go fly fishing, hiking, rent a rowboat, and so much more.

As you can see, while the town is small and rather isolated, it more than compensates with outdoor adventures, and there are plenty of unspoiled gems to explore.

One more fun fact about Petersburg: its strong Norwegian heritage is celebrated each year at its 4-day Little Norway Festival the third weekend in May. It’s the biggest event in town!

Top 3 Things to Do in Petersburg

  • Explore Mitkof Island
  • Kayak on iceberg-filled waters
  • Go humpback whale watching

13. Seward

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska to see Kenai Fjords National Park

Size: 21.89 mi²
Population: ~2,600

the lagoon in Seward, Alaska, one of the prettiest places in Alaska

Nestled between Resurrection Bay and Mount Marathon, Seward is a tourist-friendly village with plenty to explore. What adds to its popularity is that it is just a few hours away from Anchorage at the end of one of the prettiest drives in Alaska, the Seward Scenic Highway.

It is also a gateway to one of the smallest (yet incredibly beautiful!) national parks in Alaska: Kenai Fjords National Park.

From glacial lakes to snow-capped mountains and coastal fjords, the natural beauty of Seward makes it one the most beautiful towns in Alaska.

With a walkable downtown full of great places to eat (The Cookery was our favorite dinner spot!) and a beautiful harbor to see, Seward is absolutely charming.

It’s also the end point to the Iditarod National Historic Trail, the famous 2,400 mile long trail that connects Nome to Seward.

We spent three days in Seward, but could easily have stayed longer! We called Resurrection Lodge on the Bay home and set off on adventures each day.

Seward is home to the Kenai Peninsula’s most famous hike, the Harding Icefield Hike. We did half of the hike and saw some incredible views- check out my post on the Harding Icefield here to see!

A boat tour through Kenai Fjords National Park like this one comes highly recommended as you can come up close with some beautiful glaciers!

And don’t forget to take a helicopter tour like this one if you’re here and your budget allows it! It’s truly a memorable experience. You can even fly to a glacier where you can go dog sledding, even in the summer!

It’s no wonder the town receives so many visitors each year!

Top 3 Things to Do in Seward

Check out my Guide to Seward here, complete with the 18 best things to do in Seward.

14. Sitka

The oldest city in Alaska and Alaska’s first state capital

Size: 4,815 mi²
Population: ~8,400

Photo source

Although Sitka isn’t a regular on most Alaskan itineraries, it is such a gem! (But before you go thinking that it’ll be exactly like The Proposal, know that the movie was actually filmed in Rockport, Massachusetts!)

Regardless of where the Sandra Bullock movie was filmed, this city is worth visiting. Accessible only by air and sea, Sitka has everything any traveler could ever yearn for when visiting Alaska.

This includes a unique history, access to incredible national parks, pristine wilderness, and an amazing list of outdoor attractions.

And you don’t need a sightseeing tour to experience the beauty of Sitka.

You’ll find beauty everywhere you go! Go out on one of its hiking trails (like the Gavan Hill Trail, Indian River Trail, and Mosquito Cove Trail), wake up for a 4am magical sunrise in the summer, and take a stroll around the town!

History lovers will enjoy the Alaska State Museum and admiring the totem poles at Sitka National Historical Park.

Wildlife enthusiasts: keep your eyes peeled for harbor seals, sea otters, humpback whales, and sea lions in the waters here!

Top 3 Things to Do in Sitka 

  • Visit Sitka National Historical Park (aka Totem Park)
  • See brown bears at the Fortress of the Bear animal sanctuary
  • Visit rescued birds of prey at the Alaska Raptor Center

15. Skagway

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska to see the Yukon

Size: 9.49 mi²
Population: ~1,200

Located at the edge of the deepest fjord in North America, Skagway is surrounded by some dramatic scenery.

Due to its location, Skagway is a renowned cruise destination. Over a million tourists stroll along the boardwalks into the town every year.

This tiny town offers scenic train rides, epic wilderness adventures, and loads of Gold Rush history.

You can rent a car or join a tour to Emerald Lake (you’ll be entering into Canada, so will need a passport for this!), take a train ride to White Pass and the Yukon, take a motorized raft down the Lynn Canal, learn about the history of gold panning in Alaska, and more.

We opted to rent a car and explore Skagway on our own. I’m so glad we did, the drive was beyond gorgeous and we were able to go at our own pace. We made it up to Emerald Lake (with lots of scenic stops along the way) then stopped in Carcross for lunch and headed back to Skagway.

If you’re arriving on a cruise ship for the day and want to see two towns, it’s possible! You can take the Haines Skagway Fast Ferry over to Haines; there are usually several departure times a day starting in May.

Whether you’re a nature lover or a history fanatic, this charming town has something for you.

Top 3 Things to Do in Skagway

  • Hop on a vintage train car on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway
  • Do a helicopter tour to Denver Glacier and go dog sledding
  • Take a gold panning tour and explore Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

16. Talkeetna

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for seeing Denali National Park

Size: 96.35 mi²
Population: ~1,200

Photo by Watts, with edits

This is one of the best cities to visit in Alaska for easy access to Denali National Park. The tiny town of Talkeetna is a popular hub for thousands of travelers looking to explore the park. It’s the last “major” town near Denali National Park as you head north from Anchorage. (I put “major” in quotes because only about 1,000 people call Talkeetna home!)

But don’t let its size fool you! The ambiance here gives it a big personality. And as a historic town with panoramic views of the Alaska Range, you’ll be surrounded by photography opportunities!

Though Talkeetna is a small village, there are lots of activities you can do here. From flightseeing and fishing to mountain climbing and mushing, you’ll find it here!

In its charming downtown, you’ll be welcomed by friendly locals who love to share their town with you. Explore art galleries, catch some live entertainment, stop into a museum, and try some Denali craft beer.

Grab a cinnamon roll from Talkeetna Roadhouse and if it’s a clear day, make your way to Riverfront Park for views of Denali.

Adventurers can join a raft float or a jet boat adventure, hike Denali State Park and walk around Byers Lake, go on a zipline tour, and so much more.

Top 3 Things to Do in Talkeetna

  • Go wildlife viewing in Denali National Park (keep your eyes peeled for wolves, moose, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, and more)
  • Go on a flightseeing tour of Denali
  • Do a sled dog tour

17. Valdez

Dubbed “Little Switzerland,” Valdez is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Alaska

Size: 275.9 mi²
Population: ~3,900

Valdez Harbor

Set in the heart of the massive Prince William Sound, it’s safe to say that this town is among the prettiest towns in Alaska. And it is also one of my favorite towns we’ve visited in Alaska!

We drove over five hours from Anchorage to get to Valdez, and it was so worth it! But you can also fly or take the ferry from Whittier to get here, too.

There’s a reason this town is referred to as “Little Switzerland!” Valdez is surrounded by some strikingly tall mountains which offer great skiing, hiking, and plenty of glaciers to visit.

Waterfalls cascade down the canyon as you drive into Valdez, welcoming you to this scenic seaside town. (You can see three of these waterfalls on this post about Valdez!)

There are some great food trucks and boat tours right around the bustling harbor. The Nat Shack’s ‘local’s favorite’ crunchwrap was absolutely delicious- I highly recommend it!

And the surrounding town gives out a relaxed vibe that mirrors how the surrounding nature offers unrivaled tranquillity.

It’s also a gem in both the summer and winter. Summertime begs for boat tours and hiking, while winter boasts incredible winter sports.

Did you know that Thompson Pass near Valdez is the snowiest place in Alaska? Needless to say, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes in this picturesque town!

Top 3 Things to Do in Valdez

  • Do a boat tour through Prince William Sound
  • Kayak on the Valdez Glacier Lake
  • Do some epic snow sports in the winter

Check out more things to do in Valdez on my Valdez Guide here!

18. Wrangell

One of the best cities to visit in Alaska for history lovers

Size: 3,477 mi²
Population: ~2,050

Photo source

Wrangell (not associated with Wrangell- St. Elias National Park) is among the oldest Alaskan towns.

It is accessible by boat or plane and is a great place to visit in southeast Alaska.

As the only Alaskan town to have been ruled by four nations: the Tlingit, the Russians, the British, and, lastly, Americans, this fishing town has a fascinating history!

You can learn all about its history and culture at Wrangell’s museum.

In addition, Wrangell claims abundant wildlife and magnificent scenery.

Home to the Anan River, one of the most densely salmon-populated rivers in the summer, you can see bears aplenty at peak season. The Stikine River is also one of Wrangell’s best features.

So, if you love the outdoors or are a history buff, you should make a stop here! Surrounded by islands, winding rivers, and rugged mountains, Wrangell’s beauty will amaze you!

Top 3 Things to Do in Wrangell

In conclusion…

Alaska is filled with incredible beauty. I hope this list of the most beautiful towns in Alaska has fueled your wanderlust!

And no matter which beautiful town you visit in Alaska, be sure to check out what Alaskan Native events are happening. The Alaskan Native culture is beautiful and important, and many of these towns have museums or cultural centers where you can learn more!

Also, one of my other favorite ways to get to truly experience a town is by asking the locals what they suggest! That’s how I planned my Alaska road trip itinerary and it made for a beyond memorable and magical trip.

Seeking more beauty in Alaska? Here are the 40 prettiest places in Alaska!

And if you’re planning a trip to Alaska, check out these posts:

And if you know of any other towns that deserve a spot on this list, comment below!

Safe travels!

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Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.
Picture of Jasmine Alley

Jasmine Alley

I'm a Dallas-based, full-time travel blogger with a serious case of wanderlust! Through my website and Instagram, I hope to help others plan picture-perfect trips to the most beautiful places in the world! When I travel, I like to emphasize nature, hidden gems, and unique places.

11 Responses

    1. Ha! I’m glad you said that! I’m not sure what was going through my head when I wrote that! Thanks for the edit! (Also, funny story- my husband’s name is David Harrison so at first I thought this was him commenting!)

  1. Hey, as a resident of Kodiak I need to ask you not to recomend people visit fossil beach just so they can help destroy it. Their are almost no fossils left, and it’s name has been changed to “Surfers beach” to try and help protect it from the destruction which is being caused by the very thing your explicitly telling people to go do.

    1. I agree with this, at the very least please add that warning, culture and history is important to preserve. Enjoyed the article! Valdez has some great food trucks during the summer and people can camp on the Homer spit beaches! Cordova also does a bird festival every year and the next one is within the first two weeks of May! If possible, please recommend attending Alaskan Native events too since the culture is also important and really enjoyable! Something I always do is go to a library or cafe and speak with locals about what they’d recommend. It’s a great way to start a list.

      1. Thank you for that helpful comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article! I made sure to include those things- I definitely agree that culture and history and nature are so important to preserve. Also- the food trucks in Valdez were some of my favorites! And while we didn’t camp when we were in Homer, we saw people who were and it looked like a pretty epic spot to pitch a tent! 🙂

  2. You don’t drive TO Mitkof Island from Petersburg, Petersburg is on Mitkof Island. As far as Wrangell goes, you missed one of its best features. Anyone that visits Wrangell should take a Stikine River charter or kayak the Stikine.

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I love to create photo-worthy travel content and hope to fill your travel plans with incredible beauty and breathtaking views! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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