While Alaska’s far-flung, hard-to-reach places are well worth the effort and the time to visit, the state’s population hubs also house unique experiences that often complement travel plans on a boat, in a plane, or by rail.
Many of the state’s cities provide day tours with information on their history, food, and culture. Following (from north to south) are a few urban tours offered around the Last Frontier.
Northern Alaska Tour Company provides guided tours of Utqiaġvik, the northernmost city in the United States. While in Utqiaġvik, guests visit the residential and commercial areas of the community as well as the Arctic Ocean coast, including enjoying a cultural program by local volunteers that may feature ceremonial song and dance, traditional games, or a demonstration of local native crafts. northernalaska.com
The Alaska Railroad offers the Historic Fairbanks City Tour, which gives guests the opportunity to learn more about the Golden Heart City from the comfort of an air conditioned motorcoach. Running from May through September, the tour includes stops at TAPS, Pioneer Park, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center, and the University of Alaska Museum of the North. alaskarailroad.com
Alaska Farm Tours tells the story of what Alaskans grow and how they eat, exposing guests to the unique food and farm culture in Alaska. Tour options include Talkeetna Farm & Food, Palmer Farm & Brew, and Palmer Farm & Food. A portion of all ticket sales are provided to the farms visited and local agricultural organizations to support the agriculture industry. alaskafarmtours.com
The Anchorage Trolley offers a narrated Scenic City Tour. The one hour, fifteen mile tour features a lively, informative Alaskan guide sharing the history of Alaska’s largest city from within a heated trolley. Highlights include Earthquake Park, Westchester Lagoon, Anchorage’s historic neighborhoods, and Lake Hood. anchoragetrolley.com
Alaska Photo Treks exposes guests to Anchorage’s history and unique landmarks while advancing their photography skills. The Anchorage PhotoWalk covers a two-mile loop beginning and ending in Anchorage’s historic city center at the log cabin Visitor Information Center at 4th Avenue and F Street and is guided by a local, professional photographer. alaskaphototreks.com
In its Scenic City Tour of Anchorage, Knightly Tours starts at the Ship Creek area where Anchorage was born and teaches tour-goers about the city’s pioneer history; from there the tour moves to Bootleggers Cove, Earthquake Park, and Lake Hood (the busiest seaplane base in the world) before wrapping up at the Chugach Mountains at the Flat Top Scenic Overlook, which provides stunning views of the city of Anchorage and Chugach Mountains. knightlytours.com
Starting at 3:15 p.m. daily from June 1 through mid-September, rangers from the National Park Service provide free Public Lands Walking Tours from the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage. The tours are approximately forty-five minutes and include information about Alaska culture, animals, and the history of public lands. alaskacenters.gov
From mid-May through early September, Ghost Tours of Anchorage walks guests through downtown Anchorage and educates them on many of the city’s infamously haunted properties, including the 4th Avenue Theater, the Historic Anchorage Hotel, and the alley in which the first Anchorage chief of police was murdered. ghosttoursofanchorage.com
The National Park Service provides free, ranger-led walking tours through Skagway’s Historic District. There are three tour options: Gold Rush 101 looks at several buildings downtown and ends at Moore Homestead Museum, a restored frontier family home; Untold Stories looks at specific topics like women’s history, Alaska Native people, or immigration; and the Buffalo Soldiers of Skagway tour is about the men of the 24th Infantry, an all African American Unit, that maintained law and order in frontier Skagway. nps.gov/klgo/planyourvisit/walking-tours.htm
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The Skagway Street Car Tour has been operating since 1923; Martin Itjen gave Alaska’s first motorized sightseeing tour to Warren G. Harding in 1923 in a painted coal truck he called his “street car.” The tour lives on today with behind-the-scenes tales and stories about small-town Alaska from a costumed conductor on a yellow, 1927 sightseeing bus. skagwaystreetcar.com
During a leisurely walk, guests on one of Juneau Food Tours’ excursions gain insight into the history of Alaska’s capital city and enjoy delicious treats that feature locally sourced ingredients and talent. The tours range from just over an hour to six hours and include a Tour with Taste, Juneau Bites & Booze, Taste of Nature, and Juneau Afternoon Delights. juneaufoodtours.com
Juneau Guided Tours provides participants with three walking tour options within the city: Ghosts & Gold, Capital City Sights, or a private walking tour tailored to a group’s preferences. The tours range from two to three hours and generally are conducted in groups of fewer than ten. The tours operate rain or shine and usually span three to four miles with occasional breaks. juneauguidedtours.com
Kawanti Adventures offers a naturalist-guided walk within the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, a 40-acre private preserve of temperate rainforest that borders the Tongass National Forest at Ketchikan. Stops on the tour include a historic sawmill, totem park, and the Alaska Raptor Center Ketchikan exhibit. kawanti.com
In This Issue
Out of the Mine and into the Smelter
Mining has long been a key fixture of Alaska’s economy. On a small scale, people flock to the 49th state to tour different operations. Kennecott Mine was once a booming copper mining site and is now a National Historic Landmark, attracting tourists eager to visit the ghost town and get a feel of the Gold Rush era it once dominated.