Alaska is hands down, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Being relatively remote, this amazing destination remains under the radar from most of the mainstream travel industry. This is why it’s one of my favorite places to visit, especially during the summertime. Alaska is the biggest state in the United States, as far as square miles go, but has one of the lowest population densities. As a result, the 49th state boasts an unimaginable amount of untouched nature. If you want an adventure of a lifetime, Alaska in summer is the perfect choice to make. Let’s look at the best reasons to visit Alaska in summer.
1. Mild temperatures
The temperature range in the daytime in summer is around 60-80 degrees. You’ll love the lack of humidity and the comfortable temperature of the air. It’s the perfect getaway from the scorching summers of the lower latitudes.
2. Denali Mountain
Previously known as Mt. McKinley, Denali is one of the tallest mountains in the world, at seven kilometers high. Gorgeous and majestic, it’s truly beautiful scenery to experience in person.
3. All the glaciers
The state of Alaska is full of different types of glaciers. One of the best ones to explore is the Matanuska Glacier, which is a valley glacier and only a two-hour drive from Anchorage. You can also enjoy tidewater glaciers on the Kenia Fjords boat tour.
4. The Kennicott Glacier Lodge
A great way to experience remote wilderness, while still having all the comforts of home! This remote lodge not only provides access to the Kennicott glacier, but also the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
5. Downtown Anchorage
As the biggest city in Alaska, the downtown area is a melting pot of locals, adventure travelers and part time residents. The summer is when Alaska really comes to life and the enthusiasm for the season is well reflected in the breweries, shops and restaurants in downtown Anchorage.
6. Gorgeous old churches
There are many churches throughout Alaska that have been around for centuries. The Russian Orthodox ones are especially lovely, having been in operation since the 18th century.
7. Bears in the wild
The bear population is abundant. You can book different bear tours across the entire state. One of the most popular tours is to see the Kodiak bears in their natural environment.
8. Challenging (yet rewarding) hikes
The number of trails in Alaska seems endless. Look around your intended location for a hike that will push your limits. If you are in Anchorage, check out Flattop Peak, a local favorite.
9. Moose in their natural habitat
Moose sightings are not uncommon in all parts of Alaska. These extremely large, yet slightly goofy looking animals are a memorable sight to behold. Some popular spots around Anchorage are Potter Marsh and Kincaid Park.
10. The midnight sun
This is one of the most amazing parts of Alaska in summer. The closer you get to the summer solstice of June 21st, the more sunlight you’ll experience. There is nothing like camping out underneath the sun! Pro Tip: One of the best places for viewing the setting sun on the summer solstice is Hope, AK.
11. Bountiful fishing
If you love to fish, this is a fisherman or woman’s paradise. Trout, bass, salmon, and all kinds of other fish swim in the stunningly gorgeous, glacier fed rivers. Alaska is also known for fantastic deep sea fishing, with halibut being the most popular fish.
12. Great people who love the land
Alaska is one of few places where locals can still live off of the land. Take some time to interact with your tour guides and bartenders to learn about day to day life in their great state.
13. Photographing the scenery
The lush and green scenery of meadows, mountains, and lakes all around Alaska make it a perfect place to practice (or perfect) your outdoor photography skills.
14. The Alaska Native Heritage Center
Take some time to appreciate the culture of the native people of Alaska. This museum, located in Anchorage, is a great place to start.
15. The state capital
Juneau is the state capital of Alaska. It’s fun, artsy, and modern with a busy town scene that’s a lot of fun to experience.
16. The food scene of Juneau
Featured on many shows on the Food Network, the culinary world of Juneau is going to tantalize your tastebuds. Don’t miss the waterfront places, like The Hanger on the Wharf or Tracy’s King Crab Shack.
17. Active volcanos of the Kenai Peninsula
They range over 150 miles near the cities of Seward and Sterling, just south of Anchorage. It’s a truly rugged coastline with a unique ecosystem and constant change.
18. The art of downtown Fairbanks
Fairbanks is a fun town with a great public art scene. You can take self guided walking tours to see all the gorgeous works of art on buildings, bridges, and streets. Start at Griffin Park and go from there!
19. Scenic road trips
This is a great time for road tripping Alaska in summer. The weather is nice, the roads are clean, and the scenery can’t be beat. Be on the lookout for all kinds of wildlife, including elk, bighorns, bears, and even whales near the coast. If you think that a summer road trip may be for you, check out our Alaska Road Trip Guide.
20. Natural hot springs
There are so many hot springs to check out all around the state. Over 20 of them! I love Chena Hot Springs, which is very popular, but you may also want to check out some more secluded ones, like the White Sulfur Springs or the Baranof Warm Springs.
Ever wanted to try this exhilarating activity? Alaska is the perfect place to glide along the glacier carved inlets, amongst majestic mountains that line the coast. Kitesurfing at Turnagain Arm is a local favorite.
22. Beach combing at Fossil Beach
One of the most remote beaches in the state, those who travel here will be rewarded with dramatic views, constantly changing fossils, which are visible on the sides of the cliffs and roaming wildlife. It is not uncommon to see bison in the area.
23. Boat Tours
There are so many places to take boat tours around Alaska. Look into the Kenai Fjords and Glacier Bay. You’ll definitely encounter some of Alaska’s most well known residents of the sea and sky, as well as, see a glacier or two.
24. Extensive birding opportunities
If you are curious about birdwatching, Alaska in summer is a great place to get started. You’ll see rare birds with tons of biodiversity. Maybe you’ll even see the rarest McKay’s bunting, just one of 471 species that have been documented in Alaska.
25. Polar Bear Gifts Outlet Store
Located in Anchorage, this is the perfect place to find all kinds of souvenirs that celebrate the state of Alaska. Baseball caps, t-shirts, magnets, and shot glasses all branded with that Alaskan flair. Just beware of the stuffed, fur-covered tundra snake (not real animal, no matter what the locals say!).
26. Military history
You can easily explore many military sights around the state. We recommend starting with Fort William H. Seward, Castle Hill, and Attu. For those who are military history buffs, these are must-see locations.
27. Old mining towns
There is a rich gold mining history in Alaska. You can explore old mining towns, like the Kennecott Mill Town, with tours and hiking near the glacier there.
Looking for rocks and gems, like jade, gold, fossils, and agates, around the hills of Alaska in summer is easy to do. It’s legal on large federal properties such as national parks, and the best locations are in the north and northwest parts of the state.
If you love to camp, Alaska in summer should be at the top of your bucket list. There are tons of tent and RV camping sights all over that have world-class hiking, fishing, and outdoor activities. The Brushkana Creek Campground and the Chena Lake Recreation Area are two of the best for a true outdoor experience.
If paddling the day away is your idea of fun, you will be sure to find Alaska in summer not only fun, but beautiful too. My personal favorite kayak tour takes place on Spencer Lake, where you can kayak amongst the icebergs and explore Spencer Glacier.
31. The Mt. Marathon race
This race takes place over the 4th of July weekend in Seward. It’s a three-mile round trip race that goes up a mountain. As a runner, this is truly a challenging race that 800 people participate in each year. As an observer, you can cheer for these brave souls while also enjoying the festivities around town.
32. The world’s longest zipline
Located at Icy Strait Point, you can take to the sky to zip line like a pro. With six 5,330’ zip lines dropping 1330’, you can experience the old growth rainforest of Southeast Alaska while also satisfying your adrenaline rush for the day.
33. Seeing Denali from the air
Take a flying tour of Alaska’s scenery in excursions that go over Denali Mountain. Most tours leave out of Talkeetna, so you’ll have the added bonus of time to explore this quaint little mountain town.
34. It’s Christmas year-round at North Pole, AK
Just 12 miles outside of Fairbanks, the town of North Pole celebrates Christmas every day. Check out extensive shops that smell like cookies and see the post office that processes all mail sent to the North Pole.
35. The Salty Dog Saloon
Another fun spot in Homer is the historic Salty Dog Saloon. It’s right on the water with a cozy place to enjoy a few brews and chat with the locals.
36. Fly Fishing at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
A different type of fishing that involves a lightweight lure called a “fly fish.” Who knew? I didn’t, but man, is Lake Clark a gorgeous place to try it out for the first time.
37. The Alaska Railroad
If you want to sit back and enjoy the beauty of Alaska from the comfort of a train car, the Alaska Railroad presents the ultimate experience. Start in Seward and go all the way up to Denali National Park and into Fairbanks to see a wide range of what Alaska in summer has to offer.