The Perfect 10 Day Alaska Summer Itinerary (from a local)

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Growing up in Alaska, I had the luxury of traveling all over the state. And once I moved away, I made sure to maximize my time in Alaska whenever we visited.

Now that I’m back home, I get to help people plan their epic trips to Alaska regularly.

This itinerary was created for someone planning their ultimate Alaska trip. This Alaska travel itinerary is perfect for first-timers and those looking for a fun road trip.

Many people try to pack in everything in a short trip, and as a result, end up driving for much longer than they anticipated. Alaska is a huge state! So I made sure to limit the time in your vehicle while still covering a lot of ground and exploring much of this beautiful state.

This itinerary covers much more than your basic recommendations. I made sure it’s incredibly detailed and has all information regarding the best tours, best places to stay, restaurant recommendations at each location, hiking spots, and things to do along each drive.

With this itinerary, you will walk on a glacier, go whale watching, do some hiking, see Denali, go on a bear viewing trip, try a tasty beer flight (or cider), and more.

It can also easily be tailored to suit your needs and will give you plenty of ideas for your own trip.

This is your first time visiting, after all, so you definitely don’t want to miss some of the bucket list items. Even if you’ve been before, check out my suggestions – you may see something you didn’t think about! I also have some lesser-known and equally worthwhile things to do as well.

Things to Pack

I created a packing guide exclusively for summers in Alaska. Be sure to read through all of the information as there are some good tips in there unique to Alaska.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center two bears

Getting Around

This trip is designed for driving, either via car or RV. There are pros and cons to both options. You can use this in-depth article to decide whether a car or RV/motorhome is a for you.

I personally think that an RV provides such a fun experience for Alaska. With an RV, you can stay in areas you’d otherwise not be able to. And typically some of the best views are right at RV campgrounds.

For a vehicle rental, this itinerary does not require any sort of off-roading vehicle. A standard sedan will work just fine.

One word of caution, be sure to book your vehicle or RV rental ASAP! Unfortunately these are limited and if you wait too long, it can get really expensive.

Pioneer Peak Mountain Fall and Rv Alaska

What Time of Year Should I Visit?

This trip is meant for the warmer months (May to September). If you want to determine the best time to visit for your specific needs, check out my post on the best time of year to visit Alaska.

How Far Out Should I Book My Trip?

Accommodations and vehicle rentals are limited up here, and for that reason alone, I recommend booking at a very minimum of 6 months in advance. Alaska tourism is booming, so booking 9-12 months is recommended. By December-January, ideally you should have your summer trip booked.

If you are reading this and traveling soon, there will still be some options, they just won’t be your first (or third) pick.

Bear in Alaska AWCC

Where Should I Fly Into?

This trip starts and ends in Anchorage, which is the largest airport in the state and typically has the best flight prices.

Estimated Costs

Alaska is an expensive place to visit. Since this is a road trip, you will save money not paying for a tour guide each day, but the overall costs will still be high. It is possible to budget and I will include some budget options (see my full guide here for visiting Alaska on a budget).

  • Average Meal: $18-30. Main course portions are typically large, so you could share meals to save as well.
  • Beer: $6-10
  • Rental Car: This will vary a LOT depending on when you visit and how far out you book your vehicle. I would estimate about $100-250/day with a regular rental and about $150/day on Turo. If you book far out, you can find rentals for much less. If you have a credit card, search on their site to see if they have better deals (our Alaska Airlines card almost always has better deals). Be sure to price compare the rental sites with private car rental apps like Turo. The earlier you book the better.
  • Accommodations: There are limited places to stay up here, so most places are fairly expensive. For a regular hotel room or home rental, I would budget $200-300 a night. If you bring or rent a tent, even for part of your trip, you can save quite a bit of money.
  • Gas Prices: Gas is a little more expensive in Alaska than in other states in the US. Expect to spend about .30 – .80 more per gallon.

What Area Does This Trip Cover?

See the map below. This area is known as ‘Southcentral Alaska‘ and includes the famous Kenai Peninsula. This trip does not include Southeast Alaska which is made up of islands (and is where the cruises go). It’s also mostly cut off from the road system so a road trip wouldn’t be possible here.



The Ultimate 10-Day Alaska Road Trip

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage and Drive to Talkeetna

Welcome to Anchorage! Although we won’t be spending much time in the city, there are definitely a lot of things to do and see around here.

If you arrived late the night before and need a hotel recommendation, I recommend The Hotel Captain Cook. It’s centrally located downtown and within walking distance of all the restaurants and shops downtown. It’s also within walking distance of the Coastal Trail, a long paved trail that runs for miles along the inlet. 

A good option near the airport is The Lakefront on Lake Hood. This lake is the world’s busiest seaplane base with nearly 200 planes taking off and landing daily.

In the morning, I’d recommend filling up with a delicious Ship Creek Benedict at Snow City Cafe downtown.

Westchester Lagoon Anchorage

First stop, Eklutna lake! Set Google Maps to ‘Eklutna Lake’ and hit the road. This beautiful glacier-fed lake doesn’t usually top the list of must-see’s, but this place is so beautiful that just a quick trip is worth it. The drive is down a beautiful windy road, and if you are here in the morning there’s a chance you’ll see some wildlife.

It’s a glacier-fed lake and a popular spot for adventure. There’s a 13-mile trail that winds around the lake and is used by cyclists and 4-wheelers. Kayaks and bikes are available for rent from Lifetime Adventures.

Once here you can walk around, explore the river and Eklutna Lake, and check out the teepees made of driftwood.

Eklutna Lake

Thunderbird Falls

If it’s still early in the day and you’re eager to explore, you can leave Eklutna Lake and head straight to Thunderbird Falls, a few minutes down the road from the Eklutna exit. This is a short 1-mile hilly walk to a large waterfall at the end. There’s a nicely built boardwalk and viewing platform at the end.

Grab Lunch in Wasilla and Head to Talkeetna

By now you may have worked up an appetite. There are plenty of good options in Wasilla. I recommend Krazy Moose Subs, Bearpaw Brewing (pizza and subs), Chepo’s, or The Last Frontier.

If you love Thai food, there’s a surprisingly delicious option along the highway called Pattaya. It’s in a strip mall and doesn’t appear too special, but everything is fresh and flavorful.

Things to do in Talkeetna

From here, you’ll make your way to Talkeetna, a cute and quirky town about an hour north of Wasilla. On the drive, you may get a glimpse of Denali. On a clear day, you can get stunning views of the mountain. Mile 134.8 has a scenic stop with panoramic views of Denali….when it’s actually visible (which is about 30% of the time).

Talkeetna Alaska Town View Rainy Summer

As you head to Talkeetna, stop at mile 2 of the road at Denali Brewing Company for a beer flight and a growler. They also serve some of my favorite cider in the state.

Talkeetna is a small town with a lot of important historical ties. It was a gold mining town and the regional headquarters for the Alaska Railroad. This put Talkeetna on the map and provided easy access to the town.

Talkeetna has a small main street that can easily be walked in under an hour. There are local shops and restaurants. At the end of the road is the large Talkeetna River.

I always love visiting Talkeetna, and staying overnight means the day crowds thin out and you’ll get a more small-town experience.

Where to Stay in Talkeetna

You’ll stay overnight here. If you want to be in town & near the restaurants/bars (most bars are in the restaurants), then stay at the historic Talkeetna Roadhouse. Built in 1917, t is a staple of Talkeetna. There’s also a restaurant and bakery that serves up delicious pastries. There are private and shared rooms.

For something a little quieter, I recommend the Talkeetna Hideaway. There is a shared kitchen and living area where guests can make their own breakfast with eggs hatched just a few steps away!

If you want a grand lodge experience, check out the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. It’s about a 10-minute drive from downtown Talkeetna and has more of a traditional hotel feel. There’s a restaurant and bistro on-site, and you can also book tours from the hotel as well. There’s a free shuttle to downtown Talkeetna and other areas as well.

Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Talkeetna Roadhouse
Talkeetna Hideaway

Day 2: Morning Flight over Denali, Hatcher Pass, Palmer

If you are flying all the way to Alaska and you only have 10 days to explore, I would suggest flying to Denali instead of driving.

Here’s why. It takes about 5-6 hours to get to Denali from Anchorage (one-way).

Due to a landslide in 2021, the buses are stopping at Mile 43 inside the park. There is not a set date when this will be fixed.

So instead of taking three days sitting in vehicles to see the mountain, which is only visible about 30% of the time, I recommend flying for a unique experience and to have time for other things.

There are many flight tour operators out of Talkeetna. I recommend a flight tour with K2 or Talkeetna Air. Both have been around for years and have a fantastic reputation. For an extra bonus, you can also land on a glacier.

After your flight tour, make your way to Palmer for the afternoon.

Palmer is a cute town with a small downtown area. It’s a great base for Hatcher Pass, which is about a 15 minutes drive.

You can stay in Palmer, but I recommend staying at nearby cabins if possible. The best ones include the Alaska Glacier Lodge, The Hatcher Pass Lodge, or the Hatcher Pass cabins.

Hatcher Pass Backside Alaska
The backside of Hatcher Pass toward Willow

Things to Do Near Palmer

From Palmer, I recommend exploring Hatcher Pass. I’d plan for about 2-4 hours here so you can check out the old mine and go on a hike.

In Palmer, there are many cute shops, cafes, and bars that look straight out of the Wild West. My favorite shop is Poppy Lane where they sell a ton of locally made items.

Here’s a full list of 22 things to do in and around Palmer.

Things to do in Hatcher Pass

This is one of the few areas in the state where you can drive up into the mountains (to get up high you typically need to hike).

Hatcher Pass Alaska
Hatcher Pass Cabins in the distance

There’s a reason it’s become such a popular place to visit – it’s stunning here.

Layers of mountains, glacier-fed lakes, boulder fields, and lush landscapes. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. There was once a large mining operation here as well, and today you can walk around Independence Mine and explore the old mining carts, look inside a mine, and explore the small town that once housed the whole operation.

Hatcher Pass Alaska

There are so many things to do in this state park that it deserves its own post. At minimum, I recommend visiting Independence Mine Historical State Park and hiking around to get better views. There is a $5 parking fee which can now be made with a credit card. There are bathroom facilities at many of the parking lots and they’re well-maintained.

Recommended Hikes

If you enjoy hiking, I recommend Gold Cord Lake (1.5-mile out and back), Reed Lakes (8.7 miles out and back), or Gold Mint Trail (18-mile out and back).

Gold Cord provides the best views throughout the entire trail (there aren’t any trees), so for a hike with views, this is my recommendation. It gets a bit steep, but the green emerald lake and 360 mountain views at the top make it well worth it!

Gold Cord Lake in the Clouds

At Reed Lakes, you can get some good views once you are about 2.5 miles in. Since it’s nearly a 9-mile hike, you’ll be looking at at least 4 hours to complete this one. There are large boulder fields over a creek to navigate, but for the most part, they’re manageable.

Gold Mint Trail is mostly treed with brush for the first few miles, so if you want a shorter hike with views I’d do a different one. There are many other hiking options, and I recommend checking out AllTrails for more options. For the most part, if there’s a mountain, there’s a way to hike it around here.

Hatcher Pass Alaska
View hiking Gold Cord Lake

I also recommend stopping at the river on the Palmer side of the road when heading out. There’s an overlook where you can watch massive boulders get engulfed by the rushing water. You can explore the river from either side of the road.

Hatcher Pass River Alaska

Day 3: Matanuska Glacier Hike or Knik Glacier ATV

  • Drive Time: About 2 hours
  • Excursion to book: Matanuska Glacier Walking Tour or Knik Glacier Tour (see all options below)
  • Lodging Recommendations: See Below

Today you will be doing one of two glacier tours. Unfortunately, they are in opposite directions, so it’s not possible to do both on the same day.

The Matanuska Glacier tours are all walking tours. If you want a little more action, then I’d recommend an ATV, 6×6, or helicopter tour to Knik Glacier.

If you book an afternoon tour, you can spend the morning hiking and exploring more of Hatcher Pass, or walking around downtown Palmer.

Option 1 – Head to Matanuska Glacier & Stay Overnight

About an hour north of Palmer is the 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier, one of the largest and most accessible glaciers in the state. Here you can do a guided tour on the glacier (the glacier is only accessible via guided tours as of 2021).

I recommend Mica Guides. The tour takes about 4 hours to complete and they run four a day. It’s a beautiful glacier and you’ll often see people ice climbing the beautiful blue ice.

Matanuska Glacier Fall Ice Climber Alaska

This is an incredibly remote area but there are few lodging options if you want to stay here.

For couples and small families wanting a quiet escape, I recommend this 1-bedroom cabin less than 5 miles from the glacier. If you want stunning views within walking distance to Matanuska River, check out this 3-bedroom cabin with mountain and glacier views. For a fun ‘glamping’ experience, check out Alpenglow Luxury Camping.

If everything is booked up, you can find a place in Palmer.

Fall Matanuska Glacier Mountains Foliage Alaska

Option 2 – Knik Glacier Tour

The other option is to visit Knik Glacier instead, which is in the opposite direction. There are some really fun tours you can do. There are ATV tours that take you across rivers, streams, and past wildlife until you reach the 28-mile-long Knik Glacier. There is a lake that’s formed in front of it, so you can’t walk on it, but it’s an amazing sight to see up close.

There’s another tour that takes you on a massive 6×6 vehicle to the glacier. Once there, you get on a boat and up close to the glacier.

Or you can sit back and enjoy a helicopter ride with the Alaska Glacier Lodge tours. This 60-minute tour lands on the glacier so you get a chance to walk around for a bit.

If you want a peaceful and remote evening, book a cabin at Alaska Glacier Lodge. If you want to be closer to town, book a place in nearby Palmer (I recommend staying near or in downtown so you can easily walk around).

Day 4: See Wildlife & Stay in Seward

  • Drive Time: 5 hours from Matanuska Glacier, 3 1/2 hours from Palmer/Knik River Lodge
  • Excursions to book: None
  • Seward Lodging Recommendations: Lowell Point or in the town of Seward

Today is a long driving day. From Matanuska Glacier, it’s about 5 hours without stops. From Knik River Lodge/Palmer area, it’s about 3 1/2 hours without stops.

The drive is absolutely beautiful, so plan on stopping a few times along the way! I wrote an entire guide about driving Anchorage to Seward. Be sure to bookmark it and grab my free checklist of stops along the way.

TRAVEL TIP! Get gas and goodies in Anchorage before you head out. I always stop at Carrs grocery store/gas station at the Huffman exit leaving town. You can also fill up in Girdwood, but past that, there’s no gas stations until you reach Seward.

Fiverr Map of Anchorage to Seward Animated

Seward is a small fishing town on Resurrection Bay, which is actually a deep fjord. This is where many cruise shops dock and it can get busy in town during the day.

You’ll be spending two nights here. On Day 1 I recommend exploring the town, hiking, and checking out a dog sled kennel. If you love to fish, Seward is a fantastic place for halibut, salmon, and rockfish. On Day 2, you’ll do a full day Kenai Fjords boat tour.

Where to Eat in Seward

Some of the best restaurants in Seward require reservations, so be sure to plan ahead if you want an upscale dining experience! The Cookery and Flamingo Lounge are both fantastic.

Seward Harbor Summer Alaska

Seward Brewing Company has a great menu and serves up delicious brewed beer. If you’re craving Thai, Woody’s Thai Kitchen is fantastic. The Highliner has good American food. Ray’s Waterfront is by the harbor and serves up many local seafood dishes. Firebrand BBQ is an outdoor spot to satisfy your bbq cravings as you enter town.

There are also places to grab a quick bite (Alaska Seafood Grill, Mermaid Grotto, Lighthouse Cafe and Bakery, Side Street Locals).

There is a grocery store called Safeway that has everything you need if you plan to camp or cook your own dinner. Note it is more expensive here than in Anchorage.

Seward Alaska Downtown image of Brown and Hawkins Building

Things to do in Seward

Since you’ll be staying here for two nights, you have time to do a few activities around town.

In the morning, you can grab breakfast at Barrio’s Coffee Kitchen (Lowell Point) or the Mermaid Grotto.

I recommend visiting the Alaska Sealife Center (takes about an hour to walk through) and the entry fee helps support this non-profit.

There’s a path that runs along the water in town and makes for a nice walk.

Seward Alaska Playground Summer Mountain Backdrop

Walk the small downtown area and check out the local art. Grab some ice cream at Sweet Darlings. Or try a local beer at Seward Brewing Company. It’s a cute area and the surrounding views are simply stunning. The playground has some of the best views I’ve ever seen.


For hiking, you could do the arduous Mt Marathon (this is a difficult hike). Mt Marathon has a few trails including the Jeep Trail (I prefer it, less steep) or the Race Trail.

Seward Alaska Mt Marathon Race Alaska fourth of july mountain shot
Mt Marathon Race (hikers on trail)

Tonsina trail is an easy hike from Lowell Point. It’s a 3.4-mile out and back trail and is relatively flat. There is a hilly switchback section to reach the water. I did it when I was pregnant and didn’t find it challenging (our 5 year old did great too).

The trail ends at Tonsina Beach but you could continue on to Caine’s Head and other more challenging hikes. There are often bears in the area, so be prepared and on the lookout (but it’s also usually busy with hikers).

Seward Tonsina Trail Woods Rainforest Summer Alaska

Lodging in Seward

There are many cute hotels and VRBO/home options in town. This is a very popular tourist spot (cruises also port here) so be sure to book your lodging far in advance if possible.

If you are active duty military or a veteran, there is a military campground with camping spots, some yurts, and cabins at a great price.

There are also some fantastic RV campsites. Many campsites sit right on the water and can be reserved online through the Seward city website.

To get off the beaten path, I personally love Lowell Point, an area about 2 miles away from town.

Unlike Seward, there is a large and long beach you can walk along when the tide is low, and it’s more remote.

Seward Eagle and view of downtown Alaska
Lowell Point – View across bay to downtown Seward

There are many private homes and places to stay (and many aren’t listed on the main sites). I typically book with Miller’s Landing. Their site lists their own cabins as well as others in the area.

There are also the stunning Salted Roots A-frames (they sell out quick), Angel’s Rest, Alaska Saltwater Lodge, A Cottage on the Bay, Serenity by the Seas cabins, and more. I recommend doing a Google search or using Google Maps to find all your options.

Day 5: Kenai Fjords Glacier & Whale Cruise

  • Drive Time: Driving or walking to the boat harbor in town, a few minutes
  • Excursions to book: Kenai Fjords Glacier & Whale Cruise!
  • Lodging: Same as last night

Today you get a break from driving, yay! And to make it better, you’ll also be getting out on the water and seeing wildlife and glaciers.

I love Major Marine Tours and typically always book with them. My favorites are the Orca Quest Tour and the Kenai Fjords National Park and Glacier Tour. With Orca Quest you’ll still see glaciers and other wildlife, but the focus is on finding orca whales.

For a longer tour, the 6-hour Kenai Fjords National Park and Glacier Tour takes you up close to Holgate and Aialik Glaciers. You’ll also likely spot whales and other wildlife on your tour (it’s hard not to!).

Seward Alaska Orca Whale with Mountain Backdrop
Seward Alaska Boat Cruise Major Marine Tours Glacier

The tour will take up a good chunk of your day, and most tours have a morning or afternoon option. Afterward, you can explore more of the area (see Day 4 for ideas) or simply start a campfire on the beach and watch the wildlife.

Day 6: Drive to Homer

  • Drive Time: 3 1/2 – 4hrs
  • Excursion to book: none
  • Lodging Recommendations: Stay in Homer or on The Spit

I’m giving this an entire day. Although the drive is only about 3 1/2 hours without stops, realistically, it will take about 5 hours to get there. This is due to construction, RV’s, stops for photos, etc.

Driving to Homer

Exit Glacier

If you like to get up early and go, then you can head out and hike to Exit Glacier. It’s not really a hike, but more of a mostly flat walk through a well-maintained trail. It’s only about a mile and takes you to an overlook point to see the glacier.

Unfortunately, it’s receded so much in the past few years that the viewing deck is much further away from the glacier. But it’s still a beautiful area and a way to see a glacier with a short hike.

There is a trail you can continue along to get a closer look. If you are up for a longer hiking adventure, you can do the 9-mile out and back hike to the Harding Icefield. While this hike is much more challenging and would take up quite a bit of your day (at least 5hrs), the views at the end are absolutely stunning.

Lunch and entering Homer

For lunch, you can stop in Soldotna, a town that you’ll pass through. I recommend St. Elias Brewing, Mykel’s Restaurant, Kenai River Brewing Company (they have an outdoor patio on a creek), or one of the many other restaurants in town.

On the way to Homer from Seward, you’ll pass by Cooper Landing and Kenai. I recommend stopping for photos and walking around.

As you approach Homer, you’ll start to see the volcanic mountains of Mt Iliamna and Mt Redoubt on your right. These are part of what’s known as the Ring of Fire.

They’re across the massive Cook Inlet and are easily seen on a clear day.

Once you start to descend the hill into Homer, you’ll see a large landmass jutting out into the water. This is the Homer Spit, a long stretch of narrow land full of cute shops, some restaurants (mostly touristy), Land’s End Resort, a large fishing harbor, and lots of beach camping.

Things to do in Homer

The Spit is definitely a ‘must-do’ while in Homer. It’s a few miles long and I recommend finding a place to park and walking around.

The famous Salty Dawg Saloon is here and you can add your own signed dollar bill to the wall. Be sure to walk around and check out the Seafarer’s Memorial, harbor, and the old boatyard. There are many shops and restaurants that are easy to spot.

There are many things to do in Homer.

For beverages, the Homer Brewing Company is a nice spot for good beer. There’s also Sweetgale Meadworks and Cider House in town as well. Bear Creek Winery has a tasting room open daily (check their website for hours).

Bishop’s Beach is a large sandy beach area and is great for a stroll along the water. It’s also a good spot to let kids run and play.

There aren’t a lot of hiking options in Homer but I do like the Wynn Nature Center. On the way, I recommend visiting the Skyline Viewpoint for sweeping views of the bay. Bigger hikes require a boat taxi across Kachemak Bay to Grewingk Glacier or to other spots across the bay.

Where to Eat in Homer

For food, I love the crepes at Wild Honey Bistro (they have gluten-free too!). AJ’s Steakhouse and Tavern across the street whip up delicious food. Fat Olives makes some pretty yummy pizza and salads. The Chart Room Restaurant at Land’s End resort is a nice, upscale dinner spot. There are many other restaurant options in Homer as well, both along the Spit and in town.

Where to Stay in Homer

Homer is much more spread out than Seward and there are a lot more lodging options. As you enter Homer there’s a huge bluff overlooking Kachemak Bay. The town of Homer is also on a bluff and there are many home rentals with great views.

For something closer to the water, there are a few options on the Spit. The most popular is Land’s End Resort. There are also apartments for rent and some VRBO options as well.

View from the Homer Spit

Day 7: Fly to the Best Bear Viewing Spots in the world

  • Drive Time: Minimal, flights take off from Homer
  • Excursion to book: Bear Viewing, either Katmai or Lake Clark
  • Lodging Recommendations: Stay in Homer or on The Spit

Today you are going on a bucketlist bear viewing trip.

Here’s the lay of the land: South of Homer lies some of the best bear viewings in the world. Katmai National Park is one of the most popular spots for bear viewing. This is where you can go to Brooks Falls and witness brown bears catching salmon heading upriver.

Other popular locations for bear viewing are Lake Clark National Park and Kodiak Island.

When you book a tour, the guide will visit the best area for bear viewing during that time of year.

These tours aren’t cheap. Expect to pay $700 – $1000 per person, but they are well worth it.

The most popular tour companies from Homer are Smokey Bay Air, Lake Clark Air, Beluga Air, and Beryl Air. Bearfoot Tours doesn’t travel as far but their day trips are under $700pp.

After your tour, head back to Homer and explore areas you haven’t been to yet, or start a fire and enjoy the views!

Day 8: Ferry to Seldovia or Fishing Charter

  • Drive Time: Minimal, you’ll drive to the port on the Spit
  • Excursion to book: Ferry to Seldovia or Boat to The Saltry
  • Lodging Recommendations: Stay in Homer, Seldovia, or Halibut Cove

Today you’ll visit the small town of Seldovia via ferry. I recommend booking the ferry ahead of time to ensure you have a spot.

Seldovia Homer Mountain Alaska
Views on the way to Seldovia

Seldovia is an incredibly small town of under 300 people across Kachemak Bay. There is a nice boardwalk on stilts and a few restaurants in town. You could even stay overnight here at one of the few hotels or b&bs in town and take the morning ferry out.

There are also some good hikes here. I like the Otterbahn trail. This 1.9-mile out and back trail winds through beautiful lush woods and ends at Outside Beach.

Seldovia Boardwalk Homer Alaska

If you want to do some world class halibut fishing, Homer is the place to be. There are many fishing charter companies available.

Many leave from Homer and also Deep Creek/Nikiski area, about an hour north along the highway. These fishing charters go out on big water with potentially big waves. Keep that in mind if you tend to get seasick easily.

Day 9: Girdwood & Portage Glacier

Today is a driving day! It’s time to head back north toward Anchorage. If there was somewhere you wanted to stop but missed, today’s the day to do it! In my personal experience, it’s always worth it to take the time to stop for that photo or take in a view. Yes, it will take longer, but you’ll be so happy you made the stop.

The trip today will end in beautiful Girdwood.

I recommend stopping at Portage & Byron Glacier if you have time. It’s about a 5-mile detour down Portage Glacier Rd on the way to Whittier.

You could also add Whittier today, which is a small fishing town and popular cruise port. To get there, you take the longest tunnel in North America. It’s a one-way tunnel that’s shared with the railroad. Because of this, you can only enter during certain times of the day (about every 45 minutes).

Portage & Byron Glacier

Portage Glacier has a large lake that’s formed over the years as the glacier continues to retreat. Portage Lake has a day cruise that runs a few times a day to the glacier. It’s a short 1-hour tour and is under $50pp.

If you’d rather hike, head to the Byron Glacier Trailhead. This is a relatively easy 3.2-mile out and back hike that brings you to spectacular views of Byron Glacier.

There’s also a 5-mile flat trail that takes you on bridges and boardwalks, through woods, across streams, and near ponds. It’s a pretty route that makes for a nice walk or bike ride.

Portage Glacier Summer Alaska
Glacier Ice Floating at Portage Lake

After exploring Portage, head to Girdwood! This is where you’ll be staying tonight. Locals love this town. It’s surrounded by mountains and popular for the Alyeska Ski Resort (one of only 7 ski resorts in the state).

Things to do in Girdwood

The area is absolutely beautiful. I have an article highlighting everything you can do in Girdwood. At the top of the list is the Alyeska Tram for stunning views of the valley and inlet below.

View from top of Alyeska Girdwood Alaska
View from top of Alyeska facing mountains Girdwood Alaska
Alyeska Tram

The Alyeska Resort also added a brand new Nordic Spa, the only one of its kind in the state! You don’t need to stay at the hotel to use the spa as they charge a daily rate. Be sure to call and reserve a space ahead of time.

I could easily spend an afternoon hiking Winner Creek, then heading to Girdwood Brewery for a local beer (it’s my favorite brewery) and dinner at one of the food trucks on-site.

Winner Creek Girdwood Summer Foggy Alaska
Winner Creek Trail

Where to Stay in Girdwood

The Hotel Alyeska is a nice and easy place to stay. There are multiple restaurants on-site, the grounds are beautiful, and there are many hikes you can take from the hotel. They also have a large indoor pool and jacuzzi as well.

If you’re traveling in a group or want to avoid a large hotel, there are many VRBO’s and homes for rent.

Many homes/condos are also listed on and could be cheaper than VRBO/Airbnb because you don’t have to pay the cleaning fees.

There aren’t other hotel options in this area.

Dat 10: Anchorage and Fly Out

  • Drive Time: 1 hour to Anchorage
  • Excursion to book: None

Today you’ll make your way back to Anchorage for your flight out. If your flight leaves late you could do a morning hike in Girdwood or enjoy the Nordic Spa.

Or you could head to Anchorage to explore some of the activities in town. Here are my recommendations:

  • Westchester Lagoon and Coastal Trail – A beautiful park area with a large lagoon popular with birds and kayakers. It’s connected to the popular coastal trail which spans 11 miles along the inlet. For a unique way to explore the Coastal Trail, you can book a guided bike tour that takes you from Kincaid Park to Point Woronzof.
  • Flattop Mountain – A popular hiking trail that also provides beautiful views of Anchorage, the Inlet, and beyond.
  • Point Woronzof – A great spot to get that iconic picture of downtown Anchorage.
  • Kincaid Park – A large park covering nearly 1,500 acres right on the inlet near the airport. There are lots of trails and parking areas.
  • Walk downtown and visit the shops & restaurants – There are a lot of shops with local ‘Made in Alaska’ items (look for the sticker!) and also many fur shops. My favorite restaurants include Humpy’s (try their halibut burger), Tent City Taphouse (any burger and beer is good), Pangea (Mediterranean food with good drinks), and Club Paris.
  • Ship Creek – There’s a fish hatchery here and it’s a popular fishing spot right in town.
  • Brewery Tour – There are so many great breweries in town, and you can even book a bike and brewery tour with Big Swig Tours so you’re car-free. This is an 8.5hr tour so it’d be good if you’re flying out late.

Wrap Up

I hope this in-depth itinerary helps you plan your own trip. If you want more information about Alaska and my travels (and misadventures) around this state, be sure to get on my email list. I provide many helpful tips to make your trip perfect.

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