Travel guide: My Alaska Adventure
Travel | August 26, 2016
Stevie and I decided we were going book a trip to Alaska after talking about the things we wanted to do before we have kids (nothing cooking in the belly yet, just thinking ahead here!). I’m always distracted with something, whether it’s Sweetie or work projects, so I knew if this trip was going to happen, Stevie would need to make it happen for the both of us. Stevie started researching things and decided to surprise me with an Alaskan Adventure! The best part? I told him not to tell me anything we were going to do, because for once – I wanted to be surprised.
How do I describe Alaska? When we flew into Anchorage from Canada, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful mountains and green – like really green tundra. I was ready to get off the plane and start exploring! Stevie decided the best option for us would be to rent a car so we could drive all around Alaska! We started our trek in Girdwood and ended it in Denali. Stevie did such an amazing job planning this trip that I decided I would share a little itinerary in case any of you are planning a trip to Alaska.
Girdwood: About a 45-minute scenic drive from Anchorage airport
Stay-time: 2 days (I would have been okay with 3)
Vibe: Great for hiking + mountain-lovers!
Girdwood was actually one of my favorite places we saw on this trip. We stayed at the quiet Alyeska Resort and I LOVED waking up every morning to the insane views all around the property. We took the tram up to the Seven Glaciers (since it’s literally right behind the resort), we hiked a little when we got up there, took tons of pictures and dined at the coziest little restaurant. Warning: If you’re a glass of wine gal – you will FEEL IT quick since you’re 2,000 feet up! #JustSaying
***If you’re wondering about awesome food places in Girdwood, my favorite was The Picnic Club! It was so cute inside. Stevie and I shared the breakfast tacos and french toast. Mmmm! There’s a coffee shop next door called The Grind in case you’re a Latte-junkie like my husband. The woman who made his coffee recommended that we hike or drive through Winner Creek Trail, which was right up the street. That’s when we saw the black bear (if you didn’t see on my Insta go look!!!)
Homer: 3-4 hour drive from Girdwood
Stay-time: 1 night
Vibe: Great for fishing/seafood lovers
The next place on our itinerary was Homer, Alaska. The drive up there was actually pretty cool because we saw a lot of beautiful scenery and some moose!
It also helps that my husband is really good at making me laugh every 5 minutes with something he does or says. LOL. Stevie booked our stay in the CUTEST little cabin called Kenai Peninsula Suites. (Warning: There ain’t no elevator ladies so you better hope you have a man to help trek your 80 pound suitcase up the stairs.)
We were only in Homer for one night, but I definitely recommend staying at least two if you really want to experience some water activities! It’s a small town, but it’s definitely popular for fishing and seafood. Stevie wants to go back with his dad! I’m more of a mountain girl over water so it was okay seeing the actual town, but I really enjoyed the cabin and bonfire we did on the property!
Seward: 2.5 Hour Drive from Homer
Stay-time: 1 Night
Vibe: Great for wildlife cruises + awesome seafood
It started raining more at this point in our trip, so when we finally got to Seward I just wanted to stay in our hotel! Thankfully, we stayed at the Harbor 360 Hotel which was in a GREAT location. It was right next to the cruise we were going to do as well as Ray’s and Chinooks – two AWESOME restaurants that you have to go to if you’re in Seward (CRAB LEGS ARE A MUST!) The tour we decided to do was called The Resurrection Bay tour. It’s only 4 hours (versus some that are 6!) and surprisingly it didn’t feel long at all. 5 minutes into the cruise, we got up close and personal with a sea lion. He was floating in the water, just chillen. The boat stopped halfway in Fox Island for an included lunch buffet (it was actually good!!), and we got to spend a few minutes after exploring and taking pictures. It’s a very quiet island that no body really lives on but they have little cabins you can rent in case you want to book a stay in the wilderness. I took a scenic picture with all the trees that many of you saw on my Insta (this ended up being one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip.)
When we hopped back on the boat, I was convinced we weren’t going to see any whales. My dream of going to Alaska and seeing a whale was crushed. SIKE! I SAW HUMPBACK WHALES!! They were a little lazy with they’re come up, but OMG – it was insanely awesome. You’ll see it on the VLOG coming soon. 🙂
Denali: 7-8 hours train ride from Seward
Stay-time: 3 days
Vibe: Nature freaks brace yourself. #wildlifeonFLEEK
We decided to take the train up to Denali National Park which is where we would end our Alaskan adventure. Steve bought us the GoldStar ticket which gives you a 180 degree window view, breakfast + lunch included, and an outside deck you can walk on and take pictures. I personally didn’t mind the train ride because I was able to catch up on sleep (LOL), but Stevie was disappointed because he thought it was going to be more of an experience with seeing nature, wildlife etc. We didn’t see any wildlife on the train, so that was a bummer. Steve suggested next time we will just drive up there (the drive can be done in 5.5 hours) instead of taking the train bright and early.
When we finally got to Denali we picked up our rental car and drove to Tonglen Lake Lodge – Just seven miles south of the entrance to Denali National Park. We loved this property so much. It felt super “Alaska” and our cabin was extra cozy. Locals love coming to Tonglen just to hang out at the cute little cafe shop on the property and seeing shows. The staff is super helpful and they can tell you what to do, see, and eat!
For our first night in Denali, we went to try the ‘Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre’. Basically it’s an all-you-can-eat meal served family-style including Alaskan Salmon, Barbecue Ribs, Potatoes, Baked Beans, Corn, Biscuits and Berry Cobbler. It was delicious! After dinner, you get to watch the servers transform into performers in a sing-along Gold Rush tale of adventure in early 1900s Alaska. It was cheesy – but cute!
The next day, we had brunch at Creek Side Cafe (so yummy!) and Stevie mentioned he really wanted to do ATVS. Those sparkly blue eyes and freckles convinced me, so we signed up and drove out to the location around 4pm. It was totally out in the tundra! If you’re a chicken like me, then you don’t have to drive your own ATV. I sat shot-gun, holding on while Steve pretended he was a character from Mario Kart. Wait until you see the Vlog…. (Lollll) The best part for me was when we got to stop and pick fresh blueberries up from the ground! So yummy!!!!
For our final day in Alaska we decided to do the Green Bus Tour into Denali National Park. If the reason you’re going to Alaska is to see wildlife – then 100% do a bus tour. YOU WILL SEE WILDLIFE! We saw bears, caribou and moose an hour into the drive! (Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America’s tallest peak, 20,310′ called Denali. Wild animals large and small roam un-fenced lands, living as they have for ages.) Warning: Bring Binoculars – it’s one thing to take photos on the bus to have as memories but to SEE the animals up close through binoc’s is truly an experience I can’t explain in words.
Stevie and I decided to hop off at the 4 hour cut-off in Eielson where we spent the rest of the day exploring, hiking and enjoying our picnic lunch with a view! When we headed back on the bus, we saw a mama grizzly bear and her two cubs so close to us. It was a highlight for sure! We watched them for like 30 minutes and I did not want to leave. Green Bus versus Yellow Bus tour simply means that Green allows you to hop on and off whenever you want to explore where as the yellow bus makes you stay with the group. When we got back we stopped in town at the cutest dinner spot called Crow’s Nest (I had the filet Mignon and Steve had the Halibut), I fell in love with the ambience and rustic decor!
Don’t Forget to Pack For Alaska:
• A Good Quality Camera (u won’t want to miss these moments)
• Raincoat and/or Puffy Jacket
• Good Hiking Shoes (Waterproof)
• A Guide to Alaska Book (it’s like Yelp on your phone, and since you won’t always have Internet access I recommend this highly!)
Well that sums up our Alaskan adventure. I hope you guys enjoyed this travel guide! There’s a VLOG coming soon which will also paint a better picture of our trip and all the fun things we got to do/see. As always if you have any questions or recommendations feel free to comment below.
updated: Here’s the vlog on my channel!