As promised, here is a recap of our amazing time in Alaska. My husband and I have planned this trip for what seemed like forever. Born and raised in West Virginia, he is definitely an outdoorsy kind of person. Hence, this trip was right up his alley. A huge thank to my family for taking care of the kids while we were away. If you're planning to visit Alaska, I hope you find this post helpful.
It took 3 flights to get to Alaska from Ohio and a total of 14 hours (including layovers). We arrived in Anchorage at midnight and stayed at the Spring Hill Suites Marriott for approximately 5 hours. The midnight sun was a strange and exciting thing to encounter. We got up at 5:00 am the next morning and headed downtown to the Anchorage Depot. I highly recommend renting car. Having a car gives you the freedom to go wherever you want at your own pace and on your own time.
What to do:
- The 4-hour train ride from Anchorage to Seward was very scenic. The train for Seward leaves Anchorage at 6:45 am and arrives in Seward at 11:00 am. We booked a 6-hour glacier cruise which departs at 11:30 am (more on that later). On the way back, the train leaves Seward at 6:00 pm and arrives in Anchorage at 10:15 pm. We saw some amazing wildlife including Bison, Dally Sheep, many Bald Eagles, Moose and one elusive Black Bear. The ride was smooth and comfortable with lots of room to move around and dedicated observation decks (inside and open air). Tour guides were fairly knowledgeable and all were very kind. Food and drinks can be purchased on the train. My husband and I fully enjoyed the ride.
- Kenai Fjords National Park Tour: The entire trip was windy and colder than I expected. We thought it would be cold in the wind, but the doors were open the entire time, until we headed back. Definitely need a hat and scarf to go along with a wind/water proof jacket. We saw the Killer Whales, Beluga Whales in the Turn-again Arm, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Humpback Whale. The cruise was bumpy on the way out once we got into open ocean. Lunch was served on board (but not drinks). My OOTD was this thick sweater, my new parka and my beloved Hunter boots. I was fairly comfortable during the 6-hour cruise.
- Hiking in Girdwood: The drive from Anchorage to Girdwood takes about an hour with minimal stops. Traffic was light, with many opportunities to pull over to hike and take pictures at scenic locations. We stayed at the Alyeska Resort for the remaining of our stay. It's a charming ski resort with a full service Starbucks onsite (which is very important!). We took the gondola to the top of the Alyeska ski resort for a late dinner at Seven Glaciers. The view was amazing but the food was just average in my opinion. We hiked the Winner Creek trail and loved it. The trail starts from the back of the resort and is 5 miles long (round trip) of breathtaking beauty inside a rain forest. It has very minimal elevation changes which makes it great even for young kids. There are lots of great photo opportunities including the bridge that runs over the creek, the gorge, hand tram and breathtakingly beautiful greenery. Please be warned there are mosquitoes in the area.
- Denali Flighseeing Tour: This is hands down the highlight of our trip. The next morning, we drove back to Anchorage for our flight with Rust’s Flying Service to Mt. Denali. We booked the Denali Glacier Landing tour and it was well worth every penny. It was a 45-minute flight out from Anchorage airport to Mt. Denali (North America’s highest peak at 20,310 feet above sea level). The tour lasts about 3 hours from 9:00 am to noon. We couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable day on the mountain-crystal clear blue skies. It was incredibly cool to fly over the glaciers. Our pilot did a fantastic job of narrating what we were seeing and pointing out ice fields and mountain tops. Landing on a glacier is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. If you're going to book one excursion in Alaska, I highly recommend a flight-seeing tour.
I hope you enjoy this little video we put together. I was planning to do a packing post for Alaska but honestly don't think anyone would be interested. I wore little or no make up on this trip. One thing I wanted to mention is how wonderful this Longchamp travel bag was (reviewed here). I was able to fit everything I need for a 5-day trip (no luggage, just this travel tote and my Longchamp backpack). They make travel a breeze. I wish we had more time to explore different parts of this incredibly beautiful and wild state. This was not only a vacation but also an inspirational experience. Regardless, we are very grateful that we were able to cross Alaska off our travel bucket list.