Alaska is a state brimming with cool places to visit! This guide showcases some of the best small towns in Alaska – from seaside communities to islands and beyond!
Did we miss any of the cutest Alaska small towns? Let us know in the comments!
Best Small Towns in Alaska
The town of Girdwood lies 40 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city and home to the state’s largest airport.
The destination, which is surrounded by lush forests, is the ideal place for nature lovers to visit to get the most out of their trip to Alaska.
Girdwood attracts a large number of tourists each year who come to admire Alaska’s breathtaking scenery from above. As a result, taking the Alyeska Aerial Tram is a must!
The tram ride takes 3-7 minutes and goes up over 2,300 feet to the summit of Mount Alyeska.
Alpine Air Alaska, offers flightseeing trips for visitors looking to discover more about the town’s history and facts. It’s the ideal activity for adventure seekers and is suitable for all ages.
The North Face Trail, on the other hand, is designed for those who enjoy a challenge!
The Crow Pass Trail, which has an Alpine lake nearby, is another place where nature enthusiasts can go. Girdwood’s hiking trails provide a wide range of terrain, from glaciers to dramatic waterfalls.
One of the top things to do in Girdwood is to take a Prospector Tour of the Crow Creek Gold Mine. Established in 1896, this place is renowned as one of the most famous hydraulic gold mining operations in the state! It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Girdwood.
Homer is famous for its fascinating history but has since become one of the best small towns in Alaska for its creative spark and scenic views. The town is also famous for its artist community and galleries.
Pratt Museum is a must-see for art enthusiasts. It is mostly focused on Alaskan native cultures and natural history. The museum also offers stories about the Kachemak Bay region and provides a good insight into the area’s history and more.
Ptarmigan Arts and Fireweed Gallery are also worth visiting for art lovers. They are well-known for their artistic programming, which includes music, theater, filmmaking, and dance.
Don’t miss a trip to Broken Oar Oyster Bar, a restaurant that offers mountain views and serves the freshest oysters pulled directly from Kachemak Bay.
Another can’t miss place to visit in Homer is Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska’s first designated park, which is located on the opposite side of the bay from the city. Glaciers, mountains, hiking trails, and paddling can all be enjoyed here.
Poot Peak, Humpy Creek, Grewingk Glacier, China Poot Bay, and other treasures can be found in the park.
Valdez is the perfect spot for picture-perfect views, since it sits at the head of a fjord on Prince William Sound, surrounded by some of the world’s tallest mountains. Day cruises, kayaking, fishing, and numerous hiking trails are among the many options available to visitors.
Travelers may find many day cruises in this town, including one to the Columbia Glacier, which is one of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers. Valdez Glacier Lake, in the Chugach Mountains, is the place to go if you want to encounter another glacier.
Visitors will be amazed during the winter months as the lake transforms into a snowy spectacle! During the summer, guests can join the Anadyr Adventures guides for a kayaking adventure.
There are numerous hikes to choose from in and around Valdez, beginning with the Dock Point Trail for a quick and easy trip. It has a lovely view of Harbor Cove and the wetlands of Duck Flats.
Travelers can also take advantage of beach access. The Shoup Bay Trail, which has two paths depending on what the hiker chooses, is another challenging hiking route.
Path A is a 4-hour round trip; Path B, on the other hand, is not for the faint of heart, since it takes about 10 hours to complete and is fairly challenging the entire way through!
Valdez is also a great place to visit if you enjoy winter sports like Sno-Cat skiing, heli-skiing, snowboarding, and more. Professional guide services like Alaska Rendezvous Guides, Alaska Snowboard Guides, Black Ops Valdez, and Valdez Heli-Ski Guides are available there.
When the United States bought Alaska from the Russians in 1867, Sitka was designated as the state’s first capital.
The town is praised for having some of Alaska’s richest history, as well as magnificent beauty and wildlife. There are many things to do in Sitka to keep you occupied!
Visit the Sitka National Historical Park and St. Michael’s Cathedral to acquire a better understanding of the Alaska town. If you want to learn more about the native culture, visiting the Tlingit clan house to observe traditional dances and hear stories told by them.
Kayaking is another option for visitors who want to explore the waters of Sitka. For travelers who prefer these kinds of activities, Sitka Sound Ocean provides guided trips and expeditions!
The small town of Talkeetna is situated between Alaska’s largest city of Anchorage and North America’s tallest mountain, Denali.
During the winter months, travelers enjoy activities such as cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. North Shore Cyclery is a center that provides these activities to travelers.
There is no ‘right’ time to visit Talkeetna. In summers, you can hike and in winters and shoulder season, you can witness the northern lights.
Alaska is also renowned for surviving primarily on the resources provided by nature. People can see how sauces, sweets, and syrup are prepared from local birch sap by visiting Kahiltna Birchworks. Denali Brewing Company, Alaska’s second-largest brewery, is also well worth a visit.
Petersburg is known as “the town that fish built.” Peter Buschmann, a Norwegian immigrant, lived in Petersburg and built a cannery, sawmill, and docks; hence the name ‘Peter’sburg.
Clausen Memorial Museum is the location to go for travelers interested in the town’s history. The museum has a large collection of Alaskan artifacts.
Exploring the harbors and witnessing the finishing fleet, such as Petersburg’s South Harbor, is a must when visiting this small town in Alaska.
Sandy Beach is also a must-see for those who want to go tide-pooling, explore the beach, and take in the magnificent view across the water at low tide.
Visiting LeConte Glacier by boat is also a must for travelers to this town in Alaska – you can find amazing tidewater glaciers there!
Skagway, located in Alaska’s Panhandle, is a historic city that attracts millions of visitors each year. The area is known for its magnificent train rides and the abundance of scenery located there!
White Pass and the Yukon Route Railroad are two of Alaska’s most popular itineraries by train. The train travels 20 miles from the coast, providing passengers with breathtaking views of the mountains, waterfalls, tunnels, and other natural wonders.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, try a day hike to Yakatuania Point, Reid Waterwall, or Dewey Lake – all should be on your Skagway trip if you’re a nature lover!
Those interested in learning more about the town’s history can take a tour of Skagway’s National Historic District, which will transmit them to 1898 and immerse them in the Klondike Gold Rush.
Wrangell is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, like most other destinations in Alaska, as it offers hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and other activities. Such activities are available at the Ketchikan Kayak Company, Beecher Pass State Marine Park, and Southeast Exposure Outdoor Adventure Center.
The Alaska Vistas is also a must-visit for travelers. It is a region where adventurers can explore the outdoors on their own… but be prepared that this is not for a novice naturalist!
Alaska Charters & Adventures is a great place to keep in mind if you’re looking for a bespoke tour of the area. And, if you’re keen to learn more about the history of Wrangell, then be sure to check out the Wrangell Museum.
Round off your trip by partaking in one of the most popular activities in the AK town – fishing! Night N Gale Charters offers tailored Salmon, Rockfish, and Halibut excursions.
With its spectacular surroundings, Seward is one of Alaska’s oldest and richest towns (and is seaside)!
You can easily explore Kenai Fjords National Park while visiting Seward and see Exit Glacier and many other incredible attractions! Hikers also have the choice to have a guided ice-hiking and climbing tour offered by Exit Glacier Guides. Every 4th of July, you can partake in the Mt. Marathon foot race!
Exploring Seward’s waterways by water taxi is a simple and affordable way to get around. Cain’s Head is a location that you can take a water taxi to if you want to check out a historic WWII fort.
Ketchikan, on the state’s southeastern coast, is a popular cruise destination and one of the cutest small towns in Alaska. It boasts striking scenic views and amazing vistas over the coast.
Totem Poles are a must-see for those keen to learn more about the Indigenous history and culture of Alaska, and the Totem Heritage Center is an educational and interactive place to learn more.
Additionally, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center will provide you with additional information about Ketchikan. And… there are many walking tours of Ketchikan that you can taken when there to learn more!
And what could be more thrilling than soaring over the city? Tourists can take Helicopter Air Alaska’s Flightseeing tours to experience the majestic mountains, lakes, and waterfalls.
Hiking in Tongass National Forest, the United States’ largest forest, is a must for nature lovers. For adventure seekers, booking a zipline trip with Alaska Canopy Adventures will be a memorable experience. This is one of the can’t-miss destinations in Alaska!
Perhaps not a small town, per se, but Kodiak is the largest island in Alaska and it can feel like a small town. The place is epic for nature enthusiasts and is often called ‘the Emerald Isle’.
Joining a Fishing Charter will provide you with infinite angling opportunities since Kodiak has so many lakes and rivers to choose from. And, of course, you will be surrounded by the sea.
It would be a pity to visit Kodiak and miss out on seeing some of the world’s most incredible animals. Kodiak is a fantastic place to go whale watching and you can join a boat trip while there to do just that.
It is essential to visit the museums in Kodiak and learn more about the history of this island. The Alutiiq Museum and the Maritime Museum will help you learn about Kodiak’s history, including details about its Indigenous community.
Cordova is a town in the Gulf of Alaska that is located on Prince William Sound. The town, like any other Alaskan town, has sensational nature, activities, and seafood! There is also a very robust history there.
The Copper River Delta and Godwin Glacier are amazing places to hike and enjoy Cordova’s beautiful greenery.
The town has a few places to eat when you are there, including the Little Cordova Bakery, Harborside Pizza, and Baja Taco.Cordova is also home to several local businesses where you can buy countless cultural garments. One place to check out when there is Knot Crazy.
Located 6 miles west of the Canada/Alaska border is Eagle – with its many log cabins and clapboard houses, you should definitely visit this charming AK town on the south bank of the Yukon River.
Eagle is renowned for its extensive museum system, and history buffs can learn more about the town by taking tours of the Wickersham’s Courthouse, Eagle City Hall, the Log Church, Amundsen Park, and other landmarks through the Eagle Historical Society.
Visitors can also learn more by taking a tour at the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. This will help them learn more about the history and present of Eagle.
The Fairbanks, Alaska Metropolitan Area actually includes the town of Ester.
Tourists can find many small businesses in town, such as jewelry makers, hand-crafted soap makers, and local artists. It is also the home of many painters, photographers, sculptors.
Another thing you will find there are exciting festivals such as the Angry Young & Poor and The Fairbanks Summer Folk-Fest.
Travelers will also enjoy visiting Pioneer Park, which makes you feel like you’ve become part of a fairytale!
Avid hikers will enjoy the Ester Dome, which allows people to learn more about the flora and fauna of the area. For cycling enthusiasts, this trail can also be used for mountain biking.
Gustavus, a small town in the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, is a lovely place where people come to escape the chaos of everyday life! This is the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in the US.
World-class fishing, wildlife sightings, and several hiking opportunities are just a few of the things you can do when visiting!
Tourists can enjoy some of the best kayaking in the world in Gustavus. Kayaking is available at Spirit Walker Expedition and Alaska Mountain Guides (& Climbing School), among other places.
Strawberry Point Tours offers van excursion tours that are ideal for first-time guests who wish to learn more about the town.
Seaside Tent Campground offers opportunities for camping for those looking to get out into the wild when there. Golfers will also find a place to play a round at Mt. Fairweather Golf Course.
There are several cool small towns in Alaska worth visiting and this only scrapes the surface!
What are some of the Alaska small towns we missed? Let us know below! Thanks!
More Alaska Travel Guides
- Things to do in Sitka
- Best places to visit in Alaska
- Where to stay in Seward
- Kenai Fjords National Park guide
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