Top 9 Coolest Things to Do in Alaska

Top 9 Coolest Things to Do in Alaska

There are plenty of reasons Alaska should be on your bucket list. Rugged glaciers, huge mountains and scenic landscapes offer ample experiences. You’ll want to explore as much as possible, so a cruise to Alaska—easily getting you to multiple destinations—is a perfect way to pack several adventures into one vacation. But where to start?

With incredible culture—like indigenous woodworking—and a plethora of unique animal sightings, the Last Frontier can seem like a lot of ground to cover, and you want to do it all. But not to worry; with four Royal Caribbean ships sailing the region and our list of top attractions, you have several ways to get out there and a head start in planning.

Here are Royal Caribbean’s top nine reasons a cruise to Alaska should be on your Bucket List:


A Whale of a Time

What: Join an intimate group of fellow travelers on a whale-watching adventure. You might see one or more of the eight species of whales that live in Alaskan waters (beluga, humpback, grey, orca, bowhead, blue, right, and minke) or native sea lions, porpoises and harbor seals.

Cool factor: Try your hand at species monitoring, plankton sampling and humpback whale identification the same way wildlife experts do it—using the unique pattern visible on the underside of the whale’s tail, known as the fluke.

Find it In: Juneau

Kayak to Islands

What: Paddle a single or double kayak through the Alaskan waters around the Tatoosh Islands for a different perspective, looking for bald eagles, sea lions, otters, starfish, and sea cucumbers.

Cool factor: Approximately 17 million acres. The islands are situated inside the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States—an area that’s bigger than the entire state of West Virginia!

Find it in: Ketchikan

Ride the Rails

What: Travel back in time to the Gold Rush, when the White Pass scenic railway—now a 107-mile railroad—was built to help reach the Yukon gold fields. You’ll travel 20 miles to the summit of the White Pass, checking out mountains, gorges and waterfalls along the way.

Cool factor: Your ride. You’ll get there in a vintage rail car, some of which date back to 1881.

Find it in: Skagway

Animal Adventures

What: Follow a naturalist through the dense Herring Cove estuary, the natural habitat of Alaska’s black bears, and try to spy on a bear’s fishing expedition in the salmon-rich streams. Don’t worry, the private viewing platform will allow you to watch from a safe distance.

Cool factor: The coastal rainforest. The icy adventure of American novelist Jack London may have you thinking that the Last Frontier is all snow and ice, but in fact, the southeast region of the state includes the very rare habitat that exists in only six other places outside Alaska.

Find it in: Ketchikan

Drift and Dine

What: Explore the Alaska SeaLife Center, a renowned aquarium and marine mammal rehab facility. You’ll spot sea lions, walruses and sea otters, and have the chance for some special one-on-one encounters with animals as varied as octopus and puffin. Then you’ll board a sightseeing vessel for your five-hour cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park, observing glaciers and marine life as a National Park Ranger points out highlights.

Cool factor: An all-you-can-eat Alaskan salmon and prime rib lunch. Save room to sample some of the local brews available at the Seward Brewing Company or Seward Alehouse. Alaska is number four on the list of states ranked by breweries per capita.

Find it in: Seward


What: The world’s largest zip line ride awaits just outside Hoonah, Alaska—home to the native Tlingit—with a vertical drop of 1,320 feet. You’ll top 60 mph before landing on a harbor side beach.

Cool factor: This zip line has a ride time of 1.5 minutes—now that’s fast.

Find it in: Icy Strait Point

Go for Halibut

What: Learn to fish in the waters of Ketchikan, home to a large concentration of Pacific halibut that is protected by strict fishing regulations. You might catch halibut weighing more than 100 pounds, though the smaller, 15- to 30-pounders tend to be even tastier.

Cool factor: Halibut is an important part of the local economy. The boat captain can also arrange to have your catch shipped home. And for instant gratification, grab halibut and chips at the Creek Street Grill, and you may even see a sea lion “dinner show” on the creek that the restaurant is named after.

Find it in: Ketchikan

Meet the Mushers

What: Travel in an 1898 vintage railcar along the famous White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, then meet and learn from a musher and dogsled team training for the next Iditarod competition.

Cool factor: Enjoy live racing demos with the sledding dogs. Your visit helps fund the team’s training.

Find it in: Skagway

Higher Straits

What: Ride an all-terrain vehicle on the rugged trails of Chichagof Island and get an interactive lesson in Tlingit culture in Icy Strait Point. This town, overseen by the Huna Totem Corporation, is an innovative collaboration between cruise lines and the local population to preserve the island’s heritage and introduce visitors to contemporary indigenous life, while also developing Alaskan-owned businesses. USA Today named the village one of the 10 reasons to visit Alaska.

Cool factor: We already mentioned that one of the world’s longest zip lines is nearby.

Find it in: Icy Strait Point

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