Alaska is such a beautiful state to visit. Most people that visit Alaska head there on a cruise and spend very minimal time actually on land. You can see amazing glaciers, wildlife, and beautiful landscapes from the water. But there is also a lot of hidden treasures on land.
Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite things to do in Alaska, that yes! You will have to get off a boat and go see.
This was one of my favorite Alaskan experiences, that is why I’m sharing it first. And it’s what I consider a MUST DO on a visit to Alaska. Here at Matanuska Glacier you have access to get up close and personal with a glacier. At Matanuska glacier you aren’t viewing from a cruise ship, you’re actually walking on a glacier. This is the largest Alaskan glacier accessible by car at 27 miles long and 4 miles wide. You can walk onto the glacier yourself after paying a small fee or you can take a guided tour. More information about the guided tours here: Matanuska Glacier Adventure.
This was a surreal experience for me, we choose to do the unguided tours. And I was in heaven, not only because I was walking on a huge chuck of ice but the ice gives off a beautiful blue color in the light. It was like nothing I have ever seen before.
Here is a link to driving directions as it can be a bit confusing when driving in remote areas of Alaska. These directions helped us to find our way to an unforgettable experience. Glacier Directions
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters
Wasilla is home to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters. Here you can learn a lot about the history of the Iditarod. They have a musuem on site along with a video room where they show educational Iditarod videos. The best part about visiting the headquarters is that they give you the opportunity to ride with actual sled dogs on wheeled dogsled. This is something that kids and adults will both enjoy. I even got up close with some future sled dogs.
Last Frontier Brewing Company
Once you’ve spent some time learning about the history of the Iditarod and got to meet meet the sled dogs make sure you visit Last Frontier Brewing Company. This Brewery and Brew Pub is family friendly and have a relaxed casual vibe. They have local live music through out the week and an outstanding selection of brewed beers. Offering seven of their brewed beers I must say my favorites were the Prospector Pale and the Garnet IPA.
The Grape Tap
If you’re looking for a dining experience that is a bit more upscale Grape Tap is an outstanding selection. They have outdoor seating for you to enjoy during those beautiful summer nights. The food is outstanding and they have a great selection of wines for you to try. Don’t forget to take a peak at the wine cellar.
Purple Moose Espresso
Located east of Wasilla, Palmer has my favorite coffee in all of Alaska. Alaska is very well known for it’s quick convenient coffee drive thru businesses. The Purple Moose Espresso is the place to stop for you daily coffee fix. I recommend trying the espresso, but you’ll probably end up heading back daily to try other items on their menu. You honestly can’t go wrong with any selection. They also have baked goods for you to munch on.
Now that you’ve got your coffee fix, are you ready for a strenuous, but rewarding hike? Head over over to Lazy Mountain. (And yes the name is highly deceiving.) This is a pretty short hike but man it’s a steep one. You’ll climb 3,000 feet in less than 2 1/2 miles. One of the main reasons this hike can be so difficult is because in the beginning there are no switch backs for this steep elevation gain.Please use caution on this hike because when it rains the trail can be very muddy and slippery. This isn’t an easy hike and it’s not for beginners. But if you hike often and want outstanding views of the land below, this is a hike for you. Make sure to bring plenty of water and enjoy. You will most likely fall on your butt on the way back down because it’s so steep, but have fun and laugh it off! We sure did.
Williams Reindeer Farm
Have you ever wanted to feed or pet a reindeer?! Well, I didn’t know I wanted to but once I did at Williams Reindeer Farm I actually came back to this place 2 other times on my visit to Alaska. It’s just such a neat experience here. They offer tours where not only are you able to get into a gated area with the reindeer and pet them and feed them, but you also get to feed elk, pet bunnies and say hi to the horses.
You can also go horse backing riding here. On one of our outing we decide to do the horseback riding and it didn’t disappoint. We had a guide who took us up a low mountain top called the Butte where we had impressive views of Alaska.
Please note they are closed January to April. So unfortunately if you’re visiting Alaska during that time of year you will not be able to pet a reindeer. I know you are totally bummed..
Last thing to mention that is close to all other places of interest I mentioned is Hatcher Pass. This is a very scenic drive and also a great place to walk around or hike. There are a variety of trails and you can also hike in certain areas. Hatcher pass is rich with gold rush history too and they have varies posting to tell you about the old historical mining town that was once located in the mountain range. If you want to visit the historical town or just read more about the history check out Independence Mine State Historical Park.
Okay you’re ready to start exploring Alaska now. Look for Part 2 where I’ll be covering Seward, Anchorage and some other locations in Alaska that you also can’t miss out on.