We're thinking about going to Alaska next year. Anyone have any suggestions on what we should not miss? Places to stay? Things to do? Best time of year to go?
I lived in Kodiak for 8 years back in the 80's. Go to Denali and hope for a clear day. Its a magnificant sight. What type of things do you like to do?
The glacier and wildlife cruises are great. I also really enjoyed sea kayaking. We were near Homer and there were lots of sea otters.
I've "been to" Alaska for 10 years now. It is beautiful in winter - rooms are less expexnsive, northern lights are spectacular, you can ski or take snowmachine tours or sled dog tours, and the weather isn't bad in the southcentral region. But if you are thinking of coming in warmer months, what are your interests - hiking, fishing or siteseeing? Are you taking a cruise, flying, or driving to get here, and what area will you be going to? The southeast region will be different from where I am.
That said, June has mosquitos, and mid-August brings a rainy season here (Anchorage area). You might want to check out Scott McMurren's Alaska Travelgram. He sells a coupon book every year with discounts on travel and lodging. I have not personally used it, but it has a lot of 2-for-1 deals that look good.
Here is a link that might be useful: travelgram
My DD, SIL and I took a two week Cruisetour to Alaska this past June, and we had a great time. We did the tour first, started in Anchorage, then to Denali, Fairbanks, then by bus to Prudhoe Bay, and back to Anchorage for a one week cruise down the coast to Vancouver, BC. The only place we had mosquitos was in Coldfoot, on the way to Prudhoe Bay, otherwise, it was great.
Be aware, Alaska is very wild and remote once you get outside Anchorage and Fairbanks. There are very few roads, and along the coast, the only way to get to some of the towns is by boat. There is a great Marine Ferry system, but you have to have a lot of time.
Denali was very good, though it rained most of the time we were there. We took the Tundra Wilderness Tour into the Park, you pretty much have to take an escorted tour. We couldn't see the mountain, but on our flight back from Prudhoe Bay to Anchorage, the pilot circled Mt. McKinley, twice, so we all got a good look, and great pictures.
Fairbanks is pretty small, but it's nice. We were there on June 21, for the Midnight Sun Festival - you can't do that too many places. We had over a week of non-stop daylight!
The bus ride up to Prudhoe Bay was the best part of the trip. It is a wild place. We crossed the Arctic Circle and my SIL took a dip in the Arctic Ocean.
I liked Anchorage, I would like to spend more time there. The best way to see the glaciers along the coast is to cruise, that's actually the only way to get into Glacier Bay National Park. It as a spectacular place. You can cruise in a big ship (we did Princess) or you can take on of the smaller cruise ships or connect up with a tour into the park. We stopped at Skagway, Junneau and Ketchikan, there are a few other towns along the coast that are worth visiting too, and there are some nice towns to visit along the Kenai Peninsula to Seward and Homer.
There are some good websites, such as Alaska.com and TravelAlaska.com, as well as toursaver.com. If you are going to do a cruise, of course log on to Cruisecritic.com, they have a whole discussion board on Alaska, as well as forums devoted to individual cruise lines and ships.
You will love the trip, I can't wait to go back.
Here is a link that might be useful: What I did on my summer vacation
I suggest visiting Seward, a three hour drive from Anchorage can also get there on Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) system. Go to Sealife museum/aquarium, go on fishing or wildlife cruise, see exit glacier. There are some nice B&B's to stay in, look at http://alaskasview.com/tours.cfm.
Homer offers much the same, maybe better fishing, but no sealife center.
June and July are my favorite months, lots of daylight, good weather, outstanding wildflowers.