The Most Excellent Day Trips for Alaska Locals

Not everyone has time to take a week off for a huge adventure—most of us have to work during the week. But the awesome thing about working in Alaska is you can take a day trip that other people will travel across the globe for. Here are a few of our Alaska locals' favorite day trips.

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  • Unwind at Chena Hot Springs

    Living in Fairbanks? Nothing says relaxation after a long work week more than soaking in mineral baths. Alaska boasts a bevy of springs, but Chena Hot Springs are just a short drive from Fairbanks and are developed with campsites and other amenities so you don’t have to spend your whole week prepping for the trip. Pack a little bag and hit the road, whether you just want a relaxing Saturday afternoon or a weekend retreat.

  • Check out Matanuska Glacier outside Anchorage

    It’s the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States—4 miles wide and 26 miles long. All sorts of attractions dot the way between Anchorage and the glacier, so you can spend as much time stopping to check out native villages or a musk ox farm as you want. But make sure to get a good view of the glacier. If you want to get really intimate with the ice floe, visit Matanuska Glacier Park to walk up and onto the glacier itself.

  • Go dog sledding from Fairbanks or Seward

    Learning to mush is one of the most quintessential Alaska activities, and you don’t have to sign on as an apprentice for a year to get started. Whether you just want to tour a kennel and meet the fluffy Iditarod competitors or take to the sled yourself, kennels all over the state are open for visitors. Even in the summer, you can often take a ride on a special cart built for snow-less trails. There are a wealth of dog sled tour choices in the state—check out Black Spruce Dog Sledding for an affordable option.

  • Visit Chugach State Park from Anchorage

    Sometimes state parks get overlooked because the glamorous national parks—ahem, Denali—steal the show. But in Alaska, the state parks boast vacation-worthy scenery, too. Chugach State Park is only a 20-minute drive from Anchorage and offers over 280 miles of trails. So if you’re yearning for a little open space or wanting to work on your photography skills, it’s the perfect place to head for a day outside the city or even a short nighttime hike during the week. Not to miss: Beaver Pond and Bold Peak.

  • Paddle a sea kayak from Seward

    What better way to see Alaska’s coastline than from the water? You can get up close and personal with whales, otters and eagles from a kayak. Tours leave nearly every day from places such as Seward. You don’t need any experience, either. Tour companies will set you up with all the gear you need and take you out paddling through Resurrection Bay or another part of the beautiful Kenai peninsula. Adventure Sixty North in Seward is open year round and offers affordable half-day trips.

  • Take a Portage Glacier cruise from Anchorage

    If sightseeing from a bigger boat is more your style, look into a cruise to the Portage Glacier. It’s only an hour from Anchorage, so it would be a shame to miss it if you’re calling Anchorage home. The experience of floating right up against the massive, gnarly blue glacier is priceless. Keep an eye out for wildlife and maybe even a thundering section of glacier calving off along the way. More cushy than a self-propelled kayak trip, a glacier cruise boasts a warm, enclosed cabin as well as an open-air observation deck. That way you’ll be sure to be comfortable even as you glide alongside the spectacular scenery.

    Whether you’re into more active trips or relaxing sightseeing, every town and city in Alaska is surrounded by options even when you only have the odd afternoon or day off.