Alaska is the perfect place for traveling cats that love adventure! As a cat, I particularly love the abundance of wildlife that Alaska has to offer as well as the varied outdoor experiences. Everyone knows that cats love to be outside and, for that, there is no greater place than the lovely state of Alaska. Having extensively explored this state, my human travel companion and I have learned a lot about the best places to visit. Together, we have crafted the perfect 10 day Alaska Itinerary, complete with variations for different seasons.
This 10 day Alaska itinerary features two of the state’s best national parks, views of the highest mountain in North America, extensive exploration of the beloved Kenai Peninsula, plenty of glaciers, and some of Alaska’s best activities like wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing.
We’ve also included additional activities which can easily be interchanged within the itinerary. Above all, it’s important to explore Alaska at your own pace. Make sure to leave time to discover places and activities that aren’t included in your itinerary. When exploring a magical place like Alaska, you never know what may be waiting for you around the corner.
Table of Contents for your 10 day Alaska itinerary:
Day 1: Your 10 day Alaska itinerary begins in Anchorage
No matter where you are coming from, Alaska is far away. The good news: the city of Anchorage awaits your arrival with open arms. Your first day in this lovely state is the perfect time to explore the state’s biggest city.
Where to stay: Since Anchorage acts as the hub of Alaska, hotels can book up quickly during the tourist season. If you plan ahead, some of the best places to stay include the Hotel Captain Cook and the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa. If you are looking for something less expensive or miss availability on hotels, you can always utilize a platform like Airbnb for accommodations for the night. It’s recommended to stay in downtown Anchorage for proximity to activities. For this itinerary, you’ll need to book your first 2 nights in Anchorage.
Getting there: Upon arrival at the Anchorage airport, it’s recommended that you pick up your rental car for the entire trip. Rentals can be sparse in the summer months, so it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you have reliable transportation throughout your trip. While it’s possible to rely on the train, taxis, and tour operators to get around, Alaska is not really designed for public transit, so you’ll end up spending a lot of extra time and money if you go this route. This itinerary assumes that you have your own transportation.
Once you acquire your rental car, it’s a mere 15-minute drive to downtown Anchorage.
Activities for the day
Once you get settled into your accommodations for the evening, there are three easy, low-cost ways to explore Anchorage.
Located on the western side of downtown Anchorage, the Coastal Trail follows the shoreline of the Cook Inlet. The paved trail runs 11 miles along the coast and then ends at Kincaid Park. No matter what time of year you visit, the Coastal Trail is accessible. During the summer, you can rent a bike at Pablo’s Bike Rentals and easily complete the entire trail in 1.5-2 hours.
It’s also highly recommended to take some time to explore downtown Anchorage. This small, but energetic area features plenty of quirky souvenir shops, food carts, and local bars. If you are traveling during fishing season (generally July-August), you can also walk along Ship Creek and, hopefully, share in the joy of seeing a local resident catch a fish or two.
For dinner, an all-time favorite is the 49th State Brewing Company. Here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Chugach Mountains and the Cook Inlet from the rooftop bar while drinking delicious beer. Being a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, it’s recommended to make reservations beforehand.
Winter Variation: All activities for Day 1 are accessible in the winter. For the coastal trail, however, you’ll need to use a fat tire bike or cross-country skis due to snow and ice.
Day 2: Hike on Matanuska Glacier + Explore Wasilla
Welcome to your first full day in Alaska. It’s time to do the most Alaskan thing there is – walk on a glacier! Today you’ll enjoy a day trip to Matanuska glacier with a jaunt to the small town of Wasilla.
Where to stay: This evening you’ll be spending another night in Anchorage. To keep things simple, you should remain in the same place as the previous evening.
Getting there: The drive from Anchorage to Matanuska glacier is just 2 hours and 15 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the journey. The drive back will take you through Wasilla, so stopping there will not add additional driving time. Also, if you are traveling in the summer, the long day will afford plenty of sunlight for the drive back during the evening.
Activities for the day
It’s finally time to get up close and personal with one of Alaska’s most famous glaciers. Today’s activities are a great example of why it’s important to dress in layers when packing for your trip to Alaska. During the summer months, walking on a glacier can actually be pretty warm, given the sun’s reflection on the white surface. However, it’s smart to always be prepared and at least bring a warm layer that you can easily carry with you. If you are traveling in the winter, however, now’s the time to bundle up!
One of the most memorable experiences in Alaska, a guided hike on Matanuska Glacier will leave you feeling exhilarated. The drive there will follow the Glen Highway, as you weave through the stunning Chugach Mountains. Upon arrival, you’ll take a narrow gravel road down to the face of the glacier. There are several tour companies that provide guides and equipment to get you onto the glacier quickly and safely. I booked a few days in advance with Glacier Tours, which provided a fantastic experience that lasted approximately 2 hours. They also provide tours during the winter months.
On your way back to Anchorage, stop and explore Wasilla. A lesser-known destination, you’ll certainly find Wasilla to be quaint and welcoming. Some best things to see here include the Iditarod Headquarters (offering summer dog sled tours) and the Alaska Live Steamers Museum (offering 30-minute rides on a miniature train). The Bearpaw River Brewing Company is a great place to enjoy an early dinner before driving back to Anchorage. No matter how you chose to spend your time in Wasilla, you are sure to enjoy the small-town vibe and get a feel for how the locals live.
Day 3: Drive through the Kenai Peninsula + Explore Homer
Congratulations, you’ve arrived on day 3 of your 10 day Alaska itinerary. Now it’s time to journey to the seaside town of Homer.
Where to stay: One of the best places to stay in Homer is the Land’s End Resort, located at the end of the famous Homer Spit. Here you’ll be in the center of all the action, while still having access to great amenities.
Getting there: Driving from Anchorage to Homer will take approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes. But don’t think of it as drive “to” somewhere. This extremely scenic route is an attraction in and of itself.
Activities for the day
Taking the scenic drive from Anchorage to Homer is the best way to explore the Kenai Peninsula. Your drive will start alongside Turnagain Arm, a scenic stretch of mudflats that are teeming with wildlife. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, moose, and Dall sheep around the cliffs on the left of the road. To the right, you’ll be stunned by the reflection of Alaska’s weathered mountains in the Cook Inlet.
Upon reaching the end of Turnagain Arm, you’ll veer south through the heart of the Kenai Peninsula. Look out for Tern Lake, another hotspot for wildlife, located in Moose Pass. You’ll also pass through Cooper’s Landing, a local favorite for fishing on the famous Kenai River.
The last portion of your drive takes you back to the coastline as the landscape flattens out and the flora shifts to coastal shrubs.
Upon arrival in this lovely seaside village, you’ll have a few options for exploring the heart of Homer. Some areas of interest include the Homer Spit, Bishop’s Beach, the Pratt Museum, and the Salty Dawg Saloon.
Finally, there is no better way to end your day than dinner at the Chart Room Restaurant, located in the Land’s End Resort.
Day 4: Fish for halibut + Stay at a working homestead
A full day in Homer is a must-do on any Alaskan itinerary. Above all, this area is best known for its fishing. However, you should not overlook the opportunity to visit the Kilcher Homestead. Here, you’ll find an experience that is definitely off the beaten path!
Where to stay: For your second night in Homer, you’ll be staying at the Kilcher Homestead. You can book their main cabin by calling the number on their website or look for a private campground on the property by searching “Kilcher Homestead” on Hipcamp.
Getting there: Today is a light day for travel. You will only need to make a short, 20-minute drive out to the Kilcher Homestead.
Activities for the day
No Alaskan vacation is complete without a fishing charter! Deep sea fishing at Halibut Cove is one of the best Alaska has to offer. You’ll find a ton of charter companies operating out of the Homer Spit, offering half to full days trips. Unless you are a fishing enthusiast, we recommend doing a half-day charter. Simply let your guide know your experience level, and they provide all the help you need to have a successful fishing trip in this stunning region.
After your fishing trip, take the drive out to the Kilcher Homestead, your new accommodations for the evening. The subject of the popular TV show: Alaska, The Last Frontier, this working homestead overlooks the stunningly gorgeous Kachemak Bay. As an overnight guest, you can explore the property on your own, including its private beach. Just make sure to save one of your catches from the day to cook for dinner, as you watch one of Alaska’s famous sunsets.
Pro Tip: If you chose to stay in a hotel for your second evening in Homer, you can bring your catch from the day to Capitan Patties, where they will cook it for you!
Winter variation: If you are visiting Homer during the winter, you can replace deep-sea fishing with an ice-fishing trip. Alternatively, you can enjoy some of the cross-country ski trails, for which Homer is known.
Day 5: Explore Seward
Just when you think life can not get any better, your next stop is Seward, gateway to the famous Kenai Fjords. The drive will take 3.5 hours, allowing for a lazy morning in Homer and plenty of time to explore Seward.
Where to stay: Being a fairly small town, Seward is not necessarily known for its hotels. If you are able to gather basic camping gear, I’d recommend renting a dry seaside cabin at Miller’s Landing, located about 3 miles out of town. If you have a preference for indoor plumbing, however, your next best bet is to look for lodging on Airbnb.
Getting there: The drive to Seward will take you back up the highway that you came in on. This is a great opportunity to see the land during a different time of day. This also provides a second opportunity for any stops that you missed on the way down. In particular, buying an ice cream cone in Cooper Landing is a long-held tradition by many Alaskans, regardless of the time of year.
Activities for the day
Upon arrival to Seward you should have plenty of time to explore. After checking into your new accommodations, take some time to browse the area of town between Boat Harbor and the Alaska SeaLife Center. We recommend walking along the Waterfront Park for stunning views of Resurrection Bay.
If you are up for a cup of joe, stop in the Resurrect Art Coffee House for delicious coffee and a chance to browse some local art.
One of the best ways to spend an afternoon in Seward is by visiting the Alaska Sealife Center. Here you’ll find puffins, seals, and steller sea lions. Functioning as a marine mammal rehabilitation center, you’ll have the opportunity to learn everything you ever wanted to know about Alaskan sealife. And as a bonus, there is an enormous patio on the second floor, overlooking the bay where you can grab some amazing photos.
Ironically, what Seward lacks in hotels, it makes up for in amazing seafood restaurants. For dinner, visit Ray’s Waterfront, which is not only known for its delicious food, but also for its stunning views.
Day 6: Take a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords + Visit Exit Glacier
Now that you’ve experienced Seward like the locals, it’s time to continue your 10 day Alaska itinerary by hitting the tourist highlights.
Where to stay: Since this is your second night Seward, it’s recommended to stay in your same accommodations.
Getting there: Most of your day will be spent on a boat tour operating out of the Seward Boat Harbor, which is a walkable distance from most accommodations in Seward. In the late afternoon, there will be a short, 20-minute drive to Exit Glacier.
Activities for the day
You’ll start your day with the Kenai Fjords National Park Boat Tour. While you’ll have many tours to choose from, this one is well-recognized as the best way to experience the best-known parts of the park. For this tour, you’ll have the option to leave at 8 am or 11:30 am. Either way, you’ll have plenty of time afterward to see Exit Glacier, so the choice is yours.
On this amazing 6-hour tour, you’ll see tidewater glaciers, sea mammals, and plenty of birds. Some specific animals to look out for include sea otters, stellar sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, and humpback whales. In the summer you may get lucky and catch some coastal brown bears, as well.
After you return from your tour, take the short drive out to the Exit Glacier Area, a small, protected area around the glacier owned and operated by the National Park Service. The only part of the Kenai Fjords National Park accessible by foot, Exit Glacier is a can’t-miss destination. At the entrance, you’ll find several clearly marked trails leading to different viewing areas. While the trails vary in length, even the longest one will be less than an 1-hour roundtrip.
After a full day of exploring the Kenai Fjords, you’ll deserve a hearty dinner. A few good places to check out are Resurrection Roadhouse, Highliner Restaurant, and the Seward Brewing Company.
Winter Variation: While the official tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park does not run in the winter, a few tour companies, like Seward Ocean Excursions remain operational. As an alternative, you can also check some of Seward’s cross-country ski trails to really take in the beauty of the Kenai peninsula. The Exit Glacier Area remains open year-round.
Day 7: Visit Portage Glacier + Explore Whittier
After 4 nights on the charming Kenai Peninsula, it’s time to return to Anchorage. Welcome to the world-famous Seward Highway!
Where to stay: You’ll have just one night back in Anchorage. Recommended accommodations include the Hotel Captain Cook and the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa. Of course, you can always utilize a platform like Airbnb to find a more unique place to stay.
Getting there: Driving on the famous Seward Highway is an activity in and of itself! Today you will spend approximately 3.5 hours driving from Seward to Anchorage, with plenty of stops along the way.
Activities for the day
You’ll start the day with a leisurely drive through the Kenai Peninsula towards the Portage Glacier Valley. Your first point of interest is the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, which is the gateway to Portage Glacier. Here you can learn about the history of the land and then catch a boat ride to the glacier’s face. During the summer, boat tours leave 5 times a day, at 1.5-hour intervals, starting at 10:30 am. This is the only boat tour that operates on Portage Lake and only last one hour.
Next, you’ll make a short detour to Whittier by following Portage Glacier Road through the famous Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. At 2.5 miles, this is the longest highway tunnel in North America and also functions as a railroad track! Fair warning that you’ll likely have to wait in line for the tunnel as it’s one lane and needs to accommodate cars and trains traveling in both directions. Check the Whittier Tunnel Website for the full schedule.
Once you arrive in the town of Whittier, Alaska you’ll have the opportunity to fully appreciate the stunning beauty of the Prince William Sound. Spend a lazy afternoon exploring this tiny town. Some highlights include exploring the ruins of the Buckner Building, hiking trails around Emerald Cove, and lunch at the Inn at Whittier.
Once you leave Whittier, you have just two more stops on your way into Anchorage. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, located close to Girdwood, is all time favorite of visitors from around the world. Even accounting for the entrance fee of $18 per person, this is a great place to experience Alaskan wildlife up close. During your visit, you’ll see bison, wolves, black bears, grizzly bears, moose, reindeer, elk, porcupines, and more.
If you still have energy at this point in the day, your final stop will be the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary. This is a free wildlife viewing area, located just off of the highway outside of Anchorage. You’ll find a flat boardwalk going out into the marsh where you can view all sorts of birds and perhaps a moose or two if you get lucky!
You should be nearing your accommodations in Anchorage close to dinner time. Take the evening to explore downtown and enjoy dinner at one of Anchorage’s many delicious restaurants like F Street Station or Humpy’s Great Alaskan Ale House.
Winter variation: While the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center remains open year-round, the boat ride to Portage Glacier does not operate in the winter. Instead, use your time in the area to explore the hiking trails close by. Just make sure to have your snowshoes or cross-country skis handy.
Day 8: Hike in Denali National Park
Now that you are back at your home base of Anchorage, it’s time to explore a new area.
Where to stay: If you enjoy camping, tonight is the best time to drag out your gear! There are plenty of campgrounds within Denali National Park, as well as, private ones located outside of the park. If you are more into the comfort of a hotel, your best bet is booking a room in Healy, Alaska, which is the closest town to the gate of the park. The Aurora Denali Lodge is a longtime staple in this area.
Getting there: The drive to Denali will take 4.5 hours through the interior of Alaska.
Activities for the day
Once you arrive at Alaska’s best-known National Park, your first stop will be the Visitor Center. Take some time to explore, learn about the park and talk to a ranger about which hikes they recommend.
When you are ready to start your exploration, take the main road for 15 miles into the park. This is the maximum distance you can travel in your own vehicle. During your scenic drive, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to pull over for views and pictures.
To finish off your day, you’ll have several options for short to medium-length hikes at the front of the park. Make sure to grab a trail guide from the visitor center, as you will likely not have cell service in the park.
For dinner, 49th State Brewing is widely recognized as one of the area’s best restaurants. If you are willing to drive a few minutes outside of town, Prospectors Pizzeria & Alehouse also provides delicious, local cuisine.
Winter variation: Denali National Park remains open year-round. You’ll only need to trade out your hiking boot for your cross-country skis to fully enjoy your afternoon at the park. As a bonus, this area is prime real estate for viewing the northern lights during the winter months.
Day 9: Extended tour of Denali National Park via bus + Explore Talkeetna
It’s day 9 of your 10 day Alaska itinerary and the interior Alaska adventure continues! Today you will enjoy an in-depth exploration of Denali and an evening in the quaint town of Talkeetna.
Where to stay: There is no better way to experience the little town of Talkeetna, Alaska than staying in a riverfront cabin. The best-known lodging is Talkeetna Cabins, however, you can also rent a cabin directly from a local resident on platforms like Airbnb.
Getting there: The drive from Denali National Park to Talkeetna will take approximately 2.5 hours, featuring stunning views of the Alaska Range, one Alaska’s most famous mountain ranges.
Activities for the day
Today you will go deeper into the park and see the true Alaskan wilderness. In order to travel beyond mile 15 of the park road, you’ll need to book a bus tour. The park offers several options, though I’d recommend the Tundra Wildnerness Tour.
You can also use the park’s transit bus to get beyond the first 15 miles. This is a non-narrated, hop-on/hop-off bus designed for well-prepared hikers and overnight campers. If you are an experienced hiker, this may be the best option for you.
Regardless of the option you chose, your extended tour of the park should last approximately 5.5 hours. Afterwards, you’ll make the drive to Talkeetna, which is one of Alaska’s hidden gems. Truly, this is where Alaskans go to get away, so you know it’s got to be good!
A tiny, unincorporated community, located on the Sustina River, this is the perfect place to relax and reflect on all that you’ve seen during your amazing Alaskan vacation. You’ll also find a strip of restaurants downtown, with plenty of great options for dinner and live music like Denali Brewpub.
Winter variation: While Denali National Park remains open year-round, the bus tours do not operate in the winter. You can use this time to explore the park more extensively via cross-country skiing or head over to Takeenta early and enjoy a snow machining tour.
Day 10: Your 10 day Alaska itinerary ends in Talkeetna
Your 10 day Alaskan itinerary is coming to end. The sting of sorrow is softened, however, because you are waking up in beautiful Talkeetna!
Getting there: Today you will drive approximately 2 hours from Talkeetna to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Activities for the day
Depending on how much time you have, you can enjoy one of a few activities that Talkeetna has to offer. Perhaps best known for their ATV tours around the Sustina river valley, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Alaskan backcountry and get unique views of Mount Denali. If you a running on a tighter schedule, however, you may try a self-guided hike, or simply buy a good cup of coffee and watch the rafters float by on the Sustina River.
Make sure you leave plenty of time to travel back to the Anchorage airport for your departing flight. During the high season, you may experience large crowds, so it’s always best to budget some extra time.
Popular excursions for your 10 day Alaska itinerary
The great thing about traveling in Alaska is that there is something for everyone. This 10 day Alaska Itinerary is an overview of all the best parts of Alaska. If you are interested in specialized experiences, you can trade out a few days for the following activities.
The Arctic Circle
One of the more uniquely Alaskan experiences is visiting the Arctic Circle, home to the north pole. Just 200 miles north of Fairbanks on the famed Dalton Highway, during the summer months, you can actually drive into Arctic Circle. However, to get deeper into the wilderness and see all this unique area has to offer, we recommend booking a 2-3 day tour.
Summer travel in this area is a great time to experience the midnight sun and active wildlife like herds of wild caribou. While the bearable weather in the summer (up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit!) is certainly a draw to visit, a wintertime visit can be downright magical. Best known for amazing views of the Aurora Borealis, a winter tour also offers the experience of 24 hours of darkness, the ability to safely experience extreme weather conditions, and views of the rare tundra ecosystem.
Chena Hot Springs
Also located near Fairbanks, AK, Chena Hot Springs is a well-known Alaskan experience. Best enjoyed during the cooler months, this rugged and quirky resort is one of the best places to view the Aurora Borealis. Aside from a lovely outdoor hot spring, Chena Hot Springs also offers a year-round ice museum, sled dog kennel, plenty of hiking, and a farm-to-table restaurant harvested from a series of onsite greenhouses.
Alaska’s Wilderness Lodges
Another uniquely Alaskan experience is to visit a backcountry Wilderness Lodge. Ranging from rugged to downright fancy, staying at a wilderness lodge allows for a deep connection with nature that is rarely experienced in day-to-day life.
Activities at a wilderness lodge vary greatly. Some are focused on hunting and/or fishing, while others on outdoor adventures like skiing and hiking, and some are just great places to relax. No matter which lodge you chose, you can expect a smaller crowd and better service than your standard “resort” experience.
Due to the remote location of these lodges, they can generally only accommodate a small group of guests at any given time. As such the hosts at these lodges tend to work with each guest to create a custom itinerary. For the best experience look for a lodge that is off of the road systems (also known as “fly in, fly out”) and located in an area that you’ve always wanted to explore.
More on Alaska’s National Parks
Glacier Bay National Park
Aside from Denali, one of Alaska’s cant-miss parks is definitely Glacier Bay National Park, located outside of Juneau in Southeastern Alaska. While getting to Glacier Bay requires some enhanced time and effort, the remote nature of this stunning National Park is truly worth the effort. Best known for its boat tour, this park also offers hiking in a temperate rainforest and the opportunity to stay at one of the most scenic lodges I have ever experienced. A side trip to Glacier Bay National Park can easily be accomplished from Anchorage in 3 days.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
One of the lesser visited parks, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is located about 5 hours west of Anchorage. Here you’ll find the famous Kennicott Glacier, as well as, an abandoned copper mine and plenty of stunningly gorgeous back-country hiking. To get the full experience of Wrangell-St. Elias, you should plan to spend at least two nights to see all this park has to offer.
Katmai National Park
Katmai National Park, known for its superb bear-viewing tours, should also be on any nature enthusiast’s list of destinations. Located on the Alaskan peninsula, you can not drive into Katmai. Instead, you can take a flight from most towns, including the main airport in Anchorage. If you are also looking to explore the area by boat, you have the option to fly into King Salmon and then take a ferry into the park. Katmai is a great park for wildlife viewing and fishing enthusiasts.
Getting off the road system
Alaska is known for its vast wilderness and inadequate road system. While building the perfect Alaska Road Trip Itinerary is a noble pursuit, getting off the road can also be a memorable experience.
The Alaska Railroad
One of the most popular ways to get off the highways in Alaska is via train. The Alaska Railroad is well renowned for being one of the most scenic railroads in the world. Whether you are looking to do a day trip to Seward or try out the flag stop service outside of Talkeetna, you can easily dedicate one day of your itinerary to exploring Alaska by train.
Perhaps one of the most unique ways to explore Alaska is on the Marine Highway System, better known as the ferry. Traveling through the famed inner passage, a trip on the ferry can be more beautiful than a fancy cruise ship and cost half the price! Similar to the train system, you can experience a day trip on the ferry, with the most popular trip being from Homer to Seldovia. As an alternative, you can book a multiple-day adventure to get to some of Alaska’s most remote locations. Some people even opt to travel to or from Alaska using the Seattle to Anchorage ferry.
Chartering a float plane
Finally, one of the truest forms of Alaskan travel is via float plane. These are small, versatile airplanes that can take off and land on water. Just like the train and the ferry, traveling in a small plane over the Alaskan landscape can be an experience in and of itself. Many services like Beluga Air offer charter services for all sorts of Alaskan adventures. Some common reasons to charter a float plane are for a flight-seeing tour, a day trip for fishing, bear viewing, or, for wilderness experts, backcountry camping.
Conclusion on 10 day Alaska Itinerary
There you have it! Your comprehensive 10 day Alaska itinerary, complete with seasonal variations and optional excursions. During your stay, you explored the gorgeous Kenai Peninsula, fished for halibut, saw tidewater glaciers, and hiked in Denali National Park. You also experienced hiking on a glacier and visiting an operating homestead in America’s last frontier.
Visiting Alaska is not about checking off the most popular activities though. This great state is all about facilitating a connection with nature that we just can’t experience in our day-to-day lives. When you visit Alaska, take the time to stop at viewpoints on the highways, talk to the locals in bars and restaurants, and leave space on your agenda to try out the recommendations you receive.
While you will surely leave with vacation photos that will have you bragging for years, the sense of peace will last a lifetime.