Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Alaska's Top Ten: Don't Miss These!

We always wanted to visit Alaska. And, when we finally got there we loved it.  
We traversed hundreds of miles and journeyed from a point near the Arctic Circle all the way down and through the Inside Passage and into Vancouver.
We journeyed by plane, train, bus, boat and ship.
It was quite a trip.
There were so many memorable moments, sights and events that it's hard to choose the highlights.
Glaciers. Wildlife. Mountains. Incredible grandeur.
Alaska contains all of these and more.
But here (in no particular order) are the Top Ten Attractions as far as we're concerned.

1) The Museum of the North at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. This spectacular museum is an architectural work of art in itself. But inside you will find everything that you need to know about the history, peoples, customs, wildlife, topography, art, tradition and culture of our 49th state. This is an absolute must-see!

2) The Alaska sled dogs. Yes, you can visit the wonderfully hard-working and amazingly friendly dogs that pull those sleds in the world-famous Iditarod and other races. There are many sites where the dogs are housed and trained daily and you can watch demonstrations and even pet the dogs. In fact, it's even possible to visit the sled dog puppies. These dogs will charm you!

3) Panning for Gold. It's hokey but also lots of fun. You'll learn a great deal about the Alaskan gold rush and the boom that put Alaska on the map. Plus, you may even find gold. We did!

4) Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley. To call Denali breathtaking would be an understatement. It encompasses six million acres and is actually twice the size of Rhode Island. And you will see wildlife. On our trip we saw lynx, caribou, sheep, moose, porcupine, mountain goats and a mama bear and her two cubs. Make sure you experience this incredible natural wonder with an experienced, trained nature interpreter. BTW: You may or may not see Mt. McKinley. That will depend on the clouds and the weather. We saw its briefly.

5) The glass-topped train. You ride comfortably on the upper level under the glass domed roof. You dine on the lower level in spacious comfort with white linen, silver and attentive service. The Alaska Railway does a great job. You'll enjoy every moment and have a chance to savor spectacular scenery. Plus, you can enjoy your favorite adult beverage.

6) The White Pass & Yukon Railroad. Don't miss this magical ride from Skagway up into the mountains toward the Yukon. The winding curves, steep hills, incredible caverns, valleys and peaks will make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hold on tight!

7) Skagway. The most picturesque and inviting town we visited. One of the few places in Alaska that even has a Starbucks. Very tourist friendly, Great shopping.

8) The Mendenhall Glacier. This is the very definition of a natural wonder. You simply won't believe the size and scope of it. And the aquamarine color of the glacier will dazzle you!

9) Whale watching. Until you've seen a whale's tale curve upward and then gracefully sink back into the water you haven't really seen Alaska. These mammoth creatures are mesmerizing. And there's an added bonus: The sea lions and adorable otters. Ahoy!

10) Salmon. What's a vacation without eating? And this is the place for salmon. Smoked, baked or grilled -- you'll love it. We went to a salmon bake at a beautiful lodge directly on the water. It was great fun!

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