Discover your family’s untamed soul
Whether breathing in crisp glacial air or marveling at rich green rainforest, your family is sure to be inspired by the raw beauty of Alaska’s wild. Your options include cruising to over 24 ports, and countless ways for every age to explore Alaska by land, sea or air.
Last summer I experienced Alaska for my fifth time on a cruise from Vancouver to Seward, followed by a customized tour to Denali, which included the dome rail car through the majestic mountains and even playing a round of golf at midnight! My personal suggestion is to combine travel to exciting ports by cruise ship combined with a land stay to truly experience all the best of Alaska.
We chose a boat tour through the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan, while others in our group visited the Totem Pole village or toured the authentic gold rush town. Take the Bering Sea Crab Fishermen’s tour to get a glimpse into the amazing life of commercial fisherman as you sail the Aleutian Ballad, featured on season 2 of Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.” For family fun, participate in a competition with other families in a treasure hunt of the area. Using a GPS device and coordinates, your guide will take you to a remote island where you will search for clues to win the hidden treasure!
In Icy Strait Point, go airborne on the world’s largest zip line as you accelerate to 60 mph, 300 feet above the treetops. Or team with Naturalists on a Marine Mammal cruise to view humpback whales, sea otters, and sea lions. You can also journey to Spasski River Valley and follow your guide through the wilderness as you search for brown bears.
Juneau can give you three great experiences in one unforgettable day—view wildlife on a catamaran cruise that features guaranteed whale sightings, enjoy a salmon bake feast at beautiful Orca Point Lodge, and take a scenic drive to view and photograph the famous Mendenhall Glacier with many options for hiking as well!
Visit the port of Sitka as Alaska is a fisherman’s paradise and the salmon capital of the world—the area has the saltwater sport’s highest king-salmon catch rate. Charter a boat on the Pacific or go fly-fishing with an outfitter in one of Sitka’s rivers, where trout and char are also known to bite.
The eerie ghost town of Skagway was a booming gold-mining settlement in the late 1800s and is a favorite for visiting the local saloons and going back in time and discovering the life and hardships of the largely unsuccessful miners. Families can also experience the rustic Frontier up close in the Big Nugget Challenge while panning for gold.
Extend your stay in Alaska and enjoy the beauty of all the state! Take a day cruise around the Kenai Fjords to see stunning wildlife or try a glacier cruise in Prince William Sound. For stunning beauty like no other, visit Alyeska (Girdwood) and hike a glacier or raft through the Portage Valley. Anchorage offers many choices for adventures to surrounding areas, or journey by domed rail to gorgeous Talkeetna (one of my personal favorites) or onward to Denali National Park. Visit the home of Iditarod champions and their dogs to enjoy a dog sled ride! Continue to Fairbanks where you can take an excursion to the Arctic Circle, air and land adventure, stay in a fishing lodge or take a dip with the Polar Bears in Prudoe Bay!
From the pioneering spirit of Juneau and the dramatic icebergs of Hubbard Glacier, to the incomparable glow of Aurora Borealis in the winter, Alaska is truly the last frontier. Let us help you make the most of your trip to this last frontier, because a trip of a lifetime can be enhanced greatly when planned by professionals!
Sue Shimkus is president of Lake Zurich Travel and Lakeside Travel Advisors in Wauconda, and a specialist in selling travel to Alaska.