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Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

Sunnyvale...
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Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

Hi everybody,

My wife and I have this free airplane ticket to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies. We've decided to go to Alaska before the tickets expire August 2006.

Since the ticket's free, where should we go? I thought about Barrow to see the northern lights, but judging from the posts regarding Barrow, I'm having second thoughts.

If we've never been to Alaska and can go for just a long weekend, what opinions do you have for one single destination, (mind you that the cost of the flight is no barrier)?

If we re-prioritize our other travel plans and make a week or two...it may be beyond the scope of a simple thread.

Thank you.

Alaska
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1. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

Hi I live in bush Alaska but have done a fair bit of travel in this great state. If I was you I would rent a car from Anchorage and drive south down the Kenai Peninsula towards Homer. It is a fairly long drive (maybe about 4 hours??) It is a busy highway in summer but the view is amazing! Home is heavenly, you could camp there, maybe do a quick halibut charter for an afternoon. A little costly but so worth it. An experience you won't forget! Hope that helps.

Anchorage, AK
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2. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

I really think you should just fly to Anchorage. Not because of any bias either. You have a limited time span and you have never been here. AK Air has a flight nearly every hour from Seattle to Anchorage so you can maximize your time. The more remote locations have 1 or 2 flights a day and you will end up spending alot of time in airports. For instance. To get to Barrow, you'll have to fly to Seattle, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and then on into Barrow. So fly to Anchorage, get a car and head south to the Kenai Peninsula. The drive is world class, the Seward Highway was designated an America's Byway, which is a higher designation than a Scenic Byway. Stay in Seward a night, stay in Homer a night. OR, rent a car in Anchorage and drive to Valdez, then take the ferry back to Whittier. This little circular trip gives you an excellent overview of almost all Alaska environments. You'll see Forest, tundra, huge Mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and the Alaskan coastline on the ferry. This gives the most bang for the buck in Alaska. If you are deadset on not getting a car, then take a rail trip up to Denali, and take a rail trip to Seward and again the rail line to Seward is one of the most scenic on the continent. Lastly, if you are deadset on going to a remote location, go to Nome. Of the "Bush" towns it is by far the best, plus you can rent a car/truck and drive the 300 miles of state maintained gravel roads that head far out into the tundra, mountains, and gold rush era relics on 3 different day trips but at night you can go back into Nome and stay at "civilized" hotel or B&B.

Anchorage, AK
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3. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

I really think you should just fly to Anchorage. Not because of any bias either. You have a limited time span and you have never been here. AK Air has a flight nearly every hour from Seattle to Anchorage so you can maximize your time. The more remote locations have 1 or 2 flights a day and you will end up spending alot of time in airports. For instance. To get to Barrow, you'll have to fly to Seattle, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and then on into Barrow. So fly to Anchorage, get a car and head south to the Kenai Peninsula. The drive is world class, the Seward Highway was designated an America's Byway, which is a higher designation than a Scenic Byway. Stay in Seward a night, stay in Homer a night. OR, rent a car in Anchorage and drive to Valdez, then take the ferry back to Whittier. This little circular trip gives you an excellent overview of almost all Alaska environments. You'll see Forest, tundra, huge Mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and the Alaskan coastline on the ferry. This gives the most bang for the buck in Alaska. If you are deadset on not getting a car, then take a rail trip up to Denali, and take a rail trip to Seward and again the rail line to Seward is one of the most scenic on the continent. Lastly, if you are deadset on going to a remote location, go to Nome. Of the "Bush" towns it is by far the best, plus you can rent a car/truck and drive the 300 miles of state maintained gravel roads that head far out into the tundra, mountains, and gold rush era relics on 3 different day trips but at night you can go back into Nome and stay at "civilized" hotel or B&B.

Sunnyvale...
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4. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

Thanks for the ideas! They sound great.

Barrow is still a bit of a fixation because it's easily the more expensive airplane ticket, and we might get window seats and see some of the Alaska interior. Maybe we'll be too high up or is this a low altitude bug smasher?

Sunnyvale...
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5. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

Nome sounds great, almost perfect.

The car tour to the south of Anchorage leaves things to desire...unless somebody else is driving. If I'm driving, I think I'll be watching the road and traffic if you know what I mean. This means the ferry part or rail tour has potential. Will any option give me a chance to go outside and meander about on foot (silly question considering how little time is had and how big a place is to be seen)?

Sunnyvale...
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6. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

Oh yeah...somewhere with some nice day hikes would be good.

We don't need to see a glacier, except maybe a fjord. We're mountaineers actually and if we're crazy enough, we'll come back for a Mt McKinley ascent some day. We don't need to look for bears either (reading the other similar post with much interest...), as we've encountered plenty in our past travels. My wife does like doing racewalk marathons, perhaps we'll hit Anchorage when its famous marathon occurs later on.

Seattle
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7. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

A few years ago, my husband and I headed up to Anchorage to use free airline tickets before they expired. We left on Tuesday after Labor Day weekend. We rented a campervan from a crazy retired Boeing worker. He met us at the airport, gave us sleeping bags, camp stove, cooler, and cooking equipment and sent us on our way. Armed with our Milepost guide we hit the road.

We headed toward Kenai Peninsula and enjoyed short hikes, seaplane trips, and amazing food at The Double Musky in Girdwood.

We had incredible weather (the mountain was out everyday!) and ended up heading to Denali and enjoying the park for a few days. We were only in Alaska for 5 days, but enjoyed it immensely and had a good first experience that generated a few return trips.

Anchorage, AK
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8. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

In regards to Barrow. Alaska Airlines flies the same 737's they use everywhere else and at 30,000 feet over Alaska its a really good chance you'll see nothing but clouds. I can relate to this interest in Barrow, I was always fascinated to go there, its nothing nothing like Anchorage or anywhere in that region of the state. If you want to hike and the Kenai or Valdez don't sound that good, Nome would be better than Barrow since you can get out of town by road in Nome, and head north to the Bering Land Bridge National Park/Preserve and hike threoughout the mountains north of Nome. You should go to the Nome Chamber of Commerce and park service website for more details.

anchorage, AK
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9. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

My fav weekend trip is to drive northeast from Anchorage to Glenallen (stop there for gas) and stop for lunch near Copper Center or Tonsina Lodge then south down to Valdez. Spend the night in Valdez and then take the morning ferry back to Whittier. If you have extra time then stop at Portage Glacier and even spend the night in Girdwood.

For more than a weekend go to Homer or drive up to Tetlin Junction up to Eagle and then Dawson, Canada. I do this trip between June 29 - July 5th since Canada Day is July 1st and Eagle, AK is a cool place for the 4th. This highway is called the "Top of the World" highway and worth the name.

Juneau, Alaska
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10. Re: Alaska long weekend travel ideas?

You'll note that almost everything we Alaskans do involves driving cause that's the easiest way to get around here. But how about this - fly to Anchorage and spend a little time seeing the sights there. Take the train to Fairbanks - it goes past Denali and should show you some really good scenery. Spend a bit in Fairbanks and head back. That's a long weekend. If you decide to do a week or two, then we should talk about other places.

Other posts have mentioned the drive to Kenai Penninsula and it is great but if you don't like to drive, it might not be the thing. You can take a train to Seward but you'll only see part of the Kenai. Busses are available too if you're into that thing.

Bush locations like Nome and Barrow are ok - but only if you're staying a short time unless you plan to go out from there to somewhere else. Be sure to book hotels in advance tho as they are limited in those locations.

Whatever you decide on - have fun!!!!