Alaska, The Last Frontier, is truly something to experience. It’s scenery is reminiscent of a Bob Ross landscape painting-just divine. Land of mountains, lakes & rivers, trails, greenery for days, rainbows galore and wildlife. It’s a peaceful place. To leave the great state of Alaska off the list of places to visit is…well…missing out.
I took a solo trip to Anchorage and Fairbanks late September. It was the end of the summer season, so both were tourist free. Note: Summer season is mid May-mid September. I rented a car to explore, as it was my only transportation option. The awesome thing is I got an opportunity to adventure; stopping when and where I desired. I highlighted the trip below. My “must do’s” if you find your way to Alaska and, more specifically, Anchorage and Fairbanks:
Eat at Orso in the heart of downtown Anchorage. It’s got a lodge ambiance with a touch of elegance. I had the grilled salmon with asparagus, and it was what Alaskan Salmon should taste like- deliciously fresh, well seasoned, moist and brag-worthy.
I went to another local favorite, Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. Also worth the visit!. The Pesto Chicken pizza was yummy, and chillin with the locals was even better.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, which is south of Anchorage in Girdwood, is a guaranteed way to see animals up close. It was worth the beautiful coastal drive down to see animals you might not otherwise catch just out wandering. The land had elk, moose, bison, musk oxen, caribou, and my favorite, bears! I stayed there for hours watching, three bears that were so entertaining! I was so close to one of them it could have eaten my cell phone. They were well trained and inside a fence. It was quite the sight to see. I would have paid more than $12 bucks for that experience. It’s a must do! www.alaskawildlife.org
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Trails are the best way to take in nature and exercise! As an avid runner, it makes me happy to discover new trails. The landscape changing with each season, a new beauty to behold. I had to run in Alaska, and it had to be the most popular trail. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, an Anchorage favorite, stretches 11-miles. Muddy shores look like the Lower 48 swamp wetlands with mountains in the distance. A trail must do!
Flattop Mountain at Glen Alps in Chugach State Park. I suggest an evening hike ending with a sunset; it’s magical. You can see the entire city from up top, including both the Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm, which eventually spill into the Gulf of Alaska. The hike is 1.7 miles one way. Among the list of largest state parks in the country, Chugach State Park is huge.
Reflections Lake. It sits just off the highway about 30-miles outside of Anchorage heading north toward Fairbanks, along the banks of the Knik River. It has easy access to canoeing, a 1-mile trail loop, and the best treat is the reflections off the lake! It’s like seeing double mountains, trees, the sun, and clouds.
Denali National Park is one of the largest in the U.S. and is home to Mount McKinley. I made the trek some 4-5 hours from Anchorage, and it is a beautiful ride if you have it in you. Otherwise, it’s an eight-hour train ride during the summer season. Nonetheless, there were rows and rows of amazing mountains. A portion of Nenana River runs through Denali, and there’s a quaint cabin village that sits right off of the highway. Campgrounds nestled in between gigantic mountains. The log cabin shops and restaurants reminded me of the campgrounds on the movie Dirty Dancing. They were closed for the winter, but it was the coolest thing to drive through and snap photos.
The ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks is mind blowing! The 6-7 hour drive was nothing as a good portion was extremely scenic. I highly recommend it if you can make the drive. I returned to Anchorage the next day it was snowing transforming from fall to winter in a matter of hours! The autumn foliage mixed with snow-capped mountains was quite a treat, I must have stopped 20 times to take photos. Bonus, I saw moose grazing on the side of the road!
Pioneer Park. It’s like taking a trip to back to the early 1900 gold mining era. The park is full of old cabins from around the city placed in a park to replicate a Gold Rush Town. It’s the cutest thing, and by cute like “cute small “; the cabins were tiny. Unfortunately, they were closed for the winter. Pioneer Museum was open, though! I had a chance to learn about Alaskan history and the gold stampede. It, too, was small but packed with lots of facts & cool memorabilia.
Alaska is a must see. It’s beauty cannot be measured by pictures or mere words. You must see for yourself. Perfect solo, with a lover, or friend and family. Home of several of the countries largest national state parks nature is truly the backdrop, a beauty that is something to behold.