There's nothing better than that time of the year when the days are longer and the weather is warmer. In Alaska, these days are even more beloved because of how cold, dark, and remote the state can be during the late winter months. There are plenty of reasons why Alaska is the perfect summer destination but one of the biggest reasons is the towns and cities that simply thrive when the sun is out.
After all, doesn't everyone want to take a vacation that could be life-changing, especially after the year we've all had? If so, Alaska is the place to do that, and these towns offer so much more than fishing and local food fare (although these are two things that should definitely be taken advantage of). No state does wilderness beauty quite as Alaska does, and these towns are the epitome of what the Alaskan lifestyle is like. This summer, leave the parka at home and embrace the wonder and magic that is Alaska!
Anyone who's familiar with the movie The Proposal starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock is also familiar with the (small) town of Sitka. However, the movie was actually filmed in the gorgeous town of Rockport, Massachusetts (plot twist!) in a way that was made to simulate the tiny Alaskan town. With that being said, all movie jests aside, Sitka is very much what it seems to be: quaint, nautical, and historic.
Sitka is very much saturated with the culture of the indigenous Tlingit tribe, which makes it a wonderful place to learn about the town's origins. Ukrainian history is also very much alive in this town, with traditional dances to watch and places such as Harrigan Centennial Hall to explore. The Alaska Raptor Center also calls Sitka its home, which rehabilitates wounded predatory birds, and the Fortress of the Bear, which is a safe haven for bears that have been orphaned.
In stark contrast, Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and that, alone, makes it worth visiting. It's also very easy to get to and offers an endless number of tours of the surrounding wilderness. It's not entirely uncommon for wildlife to wander into the city, though, which keeps it from fully feeling like a city in the sense that many people are used to.
Foodies will enjoy the fact that there are so many options in Anchorage with fresh seafood being a statewide specialty. Along with local favorites, there are many things that can be found at the open-air markets that happen around Anchorage during the summer months. Festivals such as the Salmon Derby and Summer Solstice Festival happen during its warmest season, as well, and there's never a dull moment. Those who venture outside city limits will be treated to incredible views of the surrounding landscape, with the mountains as a majestic backdrop.
If you didn't think that Alaska has something for everyone, think again! Kodiak is the perfect destination for anyone who's looking to get an up-close and personal look at Alaska's wilderness. This island is located in the Gulf of Alaska and gives way to a slew of outdoor activities, one of which is bear watching. This might sound like the northern equivalent of diving with sharks but it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the state's Kodak bear population in action!
Since this island has so many waterways, visitors can also take advantage of navigating them with various tours. It's a great way to see all the nature that Alaska is known for while being fully immersed in it. If that sounds a little too close for comfort, head down to the Kodiak National Wildlife Interpretive Center to learn a bit more about this island's natural flora and fauna.
With sweeping views thanks to Denali National Park and Preserve, Healy is the first town that visitors will encounter on their way into the park. So, if seeing Denali up close and personal has been on your bucket list, then this is a great place to start.
Hiking isn't the only option at this park and guided ATV tours throughout the area are a fun and exciting way to see much of the landscape. For those who'd rather be on four legs than four wheels, tours on horseback are also a great option. And, finally, for those who appreciate the views from above, Denali Summit Flight is the perfect way to see the summit without hiking it. The landscape is tranquil and serene in its remoteness but the town of Healy offers a chance to reconnect with civilization after a day in the wild.