Are you looking for picturesque and stunning towns in Alaska to visit? Well, you have come to the right place.
I love Alaska and have been there several times over the years.
Known for its icy fjords, remote wilderness, and stunning mountain peaks, Alaska is a paradise for nature lovers.
So, whether you wish to catch the northern lights at Fairbanks or marvel at the glaciers, there are many wonderful places to visit in Alaska!
Are you planning a short vacation to the Alaska villages or taking a cruise soon? If yes, then this article can help you.
Read on to learn more about the 15 most picturesque towns in Alaska, some near the ocean, some in national parks, that you must visit.
If you will be discovering Alaska while cruising, read about what you should pack in this Alaska Cruise Packing Guide.
Planning your trip to Alaska last minute?
Make sure to book ahead! Hotels and tours can sell out the closer you get to your trip. Here are our top pics for Alaska!
Top Experiences and Tours in Alaska:
- Kenai Fjords National Park 6-hour Cruise Bring a waterproof jacket!
- Juneau Whale Watching & Wildlife Cruise With a local guide.
- Portage Glacier & Wildlife Full-Day Tour From Anchorage
- Anchorage Trolley Tour Very popular!
- Arctic Circle Adventure Tour From Fairbanks
Best Alaska Hotels:
15 Most Picturesque Towns In Alaska
The Native American Totem Poles In Ketchikan Will Thrill You
One of the best places to visit in Alaska is Ketchikan.
This is one of the first Alaska villages that you will notice when cruising through the area of Alaska.
We visited Ketchikan a few years ago while RVing through Alaska, via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system.
The scenery around Ketchikan is so jaw-dropping majestic that we have never forgotten it.
So, if you are a nature lover like me, then Ketchikan is one of the top towns in Alaska to visit.
Visit Anchorage For Stunning Big City Wilderness
Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Anchorage is one of the most striking towns in Alaska that you cannot miss.
It is one of the largest towns in Alaska and is a great stop on a road trip or a backpacking trip.
It makes for the perfect base and there are a lot of amazing things to do in Anchorage itself.
You can go hiking, fishing, exploring glaciers, doing wildlife sightseeing, and so much more here.
For hiking lovers, the eleven-mile paved Tony Knowles Coastal Trail along Cook Inlet is perfect to enjoy stunning views.
Visit the Earthquake Park to learn about the 1964 earthquake in Alaska or the Anchorage Museum for a short history lesson.
Overall, I find Anchorage to be one of the best places to visit in Alaska for a short vacation.
Look Here: Anchorage: 1-Hour Trolley Tour
Girdwood Is A Cute And Thriving Resort Town in Alaska
Located south of Anchorage on Cook Inlet, Girdwood is one of the top Alaska towns to visit for a luxurious vacation.
During a summer visit, my family and I went to the Alyeska Ski Resort and hiked to the top of Alyeska Mountain.
The views were epic both from the way and the top and made the hike worth the effort.
We rode the gondola back to the bottom for one last look at the magnificent vistas at Alyeska of Girdwood.
While snow and Aleyaka dominate Girdwood, there are many summer activities to enjoy here such as glacier jet skiing, hiking, and wildlife adventures.
I think Girdwood is one of the most beautiful towns in Alaska and a must-visit.
Seward Is Where The Ocean Meets The Mountains
It is located just 120 miles south of Anchorage and many visitors enjoy the Anchorage to Seward Drive which is filled with panoramic views.
Apart from enjoying a scenic drive to Seaward Alaska, the Alaska town itself offers lots of touring opportunities to the visitors.
This port town is also the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park and offers stunning mountain and ocean views.
Here you will witness where the Harding Icefield glaciers spill out into coastal fjords and Resurrection Bay.
The Resurrection Bay is home to much exotic sea life like puffins, otters, and of course whales! And do not forget about the epicness of the calving glaciers.
A few of my favorite activities to indulge in at Seward are taking the glacier and wildlife cruise, and visiting Exit Glacier.
Exit Glacier is just eight miles north of Seward and is a very popular Alaska tourist destination.
Seward, where the mountains meet the sea, is one of the most unforgettable scenic towns in Alaska.
Look here: Seward: Self-Guided Audio Tour
Homer Has Eclectic Charm
Of all the many times I have been to Alaska, Homer is by far my favorite of the many towns in Alaska.
Located 200 miles south of Anchorage, on the Sterling Highway, Homer is referred to as “The End of the Road,” because it is located at the end of the Sterling Highway.
Homer has a very eclectic and casual vibe which you will feel as soon as you arrive.
I always stay at the world-famous Homer “Spit” when I visit my beloved Homer. It juts out into Kachemak Bay and offers unparalleled views of the mountains.
Homer boasts a huge artisan community offering hand-made items that are very beautiful ranging anywhere from glassware to metal.
I like to buy “local” when I travel and I wait until I visit Homer to buy my souvenirs and mementos for those back home.
There are restaurants and art galleries galore and no shortage of fun things to do in Homer. Out of all the towns in Alaska, this is one I suggest you do not miss!
Valdez Is Home To Breathtaking Waterfalls
If you are an adventure lover, then Valdez is one of the best towns in Alaska for you.
The perfect winter destination, this Alaska town gets over twenty-seven feet of snow every year.
When the spring weather warms the temperatures a bit, the snowcaps of the surrounding Chugach Mountains melt and cascade down.
As a result, you have beautiful waterfalls surrounding this charming town. I have visited Valdez in the summer and I concur the waterfalls of Valdez are indeed gloriously picturesque.
Sitting on the shores of Prince William Sound, you can take wildlife boat tours to see the wild animals that live here.
Enjoy the marvelous glaciers and remote waterfalls that can be found on this boat tour.
Also, do not miss out on a trip to Worthington Glacier, just outside of Valdez. You can walk right up to the glacier and touch its blue ice.
How amazing, right?
Tickets Here: Valdez 6-Hour Columbia Glacier Cruise
Tickets Here: From Valdez: 7.5-hour Meares Glacier & Wildlife Cruise
Talkeetna Is The Staging Area For Denali
For those who love mountain climbing, one of the must-visit places in Alaska is Talkeetna.
There are lots of outdoor activities to enjoy here such as hiking, running, camping, and more.
Also, if the weather is clear, you will be graced with epic views of the Alaska Mountain Range and Denali.
I have visited Talkeetna twice and unfortunately have not been able to see Denali.
Apart from the mountains, this Alaskan town has a relaxed and hippie vibe. You will find local artisans and restaurants in downtown Talkeetna where you can spend most of your time.
If you have the budget, then charter a sightseeing flight to get up close and personal with Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley).
Trust me, in terms of outdoor activities, Talkeetna is one of the best towns in Alaska.
Where to Stay: Modern Log Cabin Vacation Rental with En Suite Sauna Price: Check VRBO Rates
Denali National Park And Preserve Is Home To Wild Animals
Well, Denali National Park and Preserve might not be one of the Alaska towns.
But it is one of the top Alaska destinations that you simply cannot miss.
To keep Denali’s environment rustic and untamed, the park does not permit vehicles (other than those of the park employees) beyond the first fifteen miles.
You can choose to go on a bus tour where a park ranger will be on board to tell you about the wildlife.
We have visited Denali Park and Preserve numerous times. It is one of the best Alaska national parks that you cannot skip.
Most of the time, we spent driving the fifteen-mile public road.
Here, we could see glacial-fed rivers, river beds, glacier-capped mountains to view, and an abundance of wildlife.
Trust me, Denali National Park is one of the top Alaska vacation spots that you cannot miss.
Tickets here: Denali Highway Jeep Excursion
Tickets here: Denali 5-Hour Guided Wilderness Hiking Tour
Fairbanks Is The Gateway To Alaska’s Epic Interior
Another one of the largest towns in Alaska, Fairbanks is the second most populous city in the state.
It is only a few hours’ ride from Denali National Park and Preserve and there are lots of interesting things to do in Fairbanks.
If you visit Fairbanks in the summer like us, you will most certainly be charmed by Alaska’s famous midnight sun.
Alternatively, if you find yourself in Fairbanks in the dead of winter, you have a great chance of viewing the northern lights. Honestly, this is one of the most epic things to do in Fairbanks!
I was exceptionally fortunate to view the Aurora on my last trip to Alaska, and I admit, it was super spectacular.
If you are adventurous, then plan a trip to the Arctic Circle.
At 196 miles north of Fairbanks you will cross the invisible line designating Latitude 66* north and you will officially have made it to the Arctic Circle.
Look here: Arctic Circle Northern Lights Full-Day Trip
Christmas All Year At North Pole Alaska
For Christmas lovers, one of the best places to visit in Alaska is the North Pole.
This is one of the smallest Alaska villages that is located about 14 miles from Fairbanks.
The most fascinating thing about this town is that they celebrate Christmas every day of the year.
We visited the North Pole when we were RVing through Alaska when our children were young.
Sadly, Santa Claus was not in residence then and was on a vacation in Florida.
The town displays its holiday decorations year-round. Plus, the street lights have candy cane stripes on them and there is a Christmas store to browse in.
There is a huge statue of the town’s most famous resident, Santa Claus himself as well.
Trust me, if you love Christmas, then this is one of the best towns in Alaska to visit.
Juneau Is Alaska’s Gleaming Capital City
Of course, you cannot miss out on including Juneau as a stop on your perfect Alaska itinerary.
We visited Juneau when we were RV road-tripping Alaska using the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. And we were not disappointed we made the trip.
Plus, due to its remoteness, there are lots of amazing adventure activities to indulge in this Alaska town.
You can take a short ride to the Mendenhall Glacier, one of the most popular glaciers to visit in Alaska.
Apart from that, whale watching is a popular activity to participate in as well.
There are several land activities to enjoy here as well including
Hiking, biking, camping or simply walking around to explore Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and/or the Tongass National Forest.
Tickets here: Juneau: Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Tour
Tickets here: Juneau: City Highlights Tour
Skagway Has A Very Colorful Gold Rush History
Are you searching for the best Alaska vacation spots? If so, then don’t forget to visit the beautiful town of Skagway.
One of the most popular stops of the Inside Passage cruise, Skagway is one of the most picturesque towns in Alaska to visit.
Since Skagway was the beginning of the 1897 Gold Rush, you can see locals strolling in the Gold Rush period costumes here.
You can also visit the abandoned town of Dyea, where you can learn about the gold rush stampede.
We did the ranger tour and learned just how horrible the conditions were for those brave men and women who wanted to strike it rich.
One of the most popular things to do in Alaska is the White Pass and Yukon Railroad tour at Skagway.
The narrow-gauge railroad, oftentimes with glass-domed ceilings will offer you unparalleled views of Alaska.
Look here: White Pass and Yukon Suspension Bridge Tour
Look here: Skagway City & White Pass Summit Guided Tour
One Cute Small Town In Alaska Is Sitka With A Russian Heritage
Sitka is one of the Russian towns in Alaska with a population of 9,000 inhabitants.
It is located south of Juneau in the Inside Passage and faces the Pacific Ocean.
An interesting thing to note about this Alaska destination is that in 1867 when the Russians sold Alaska to the United States, the sale took place in Sitka.
Trust me, the forested mountains along with the expanding sea surrounding this small Alaska village offer a beautiful sight to admire.
If you love visiting unique places, then explore the Cathedral of St. Michael which features an onion-shaped dome and gold crosses.
Personally, I loved walking downtown and exploring the local bookstores and art galleries.
For adventure lovers, there are lots of hiking and boating opportunities also available in this town.
This is why I find Sitka to be one of the most charming Alaska towns that is a must-visit.
Look here: Sitka: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour
Haines is the most accessible town in Southern Alaska
One of the cutest Alaska villages, Haines is located at the tip of the deepest fjords in North America.
Popularly known as ‘The Valley of Eagles’, there are lots of interesting places to visit in Haines.
This cruise town spot is great for adventure junkies and has the most beautiful setting.
You can visit the Hammer Museum, spend time at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, or explore the great outdoors.
There is truly no shortage of wonderful things to do in this picturesque town of Alaska.
And guess what?
It also happens to be one of the most accessible towns in Alaska!
You can take a 5-hour ferry ride from the Alaska capital city, Juneau, or enjoy a 2-day drive from Anchorage to reach this Southern Alaska town.
Petersburg Is The Best Town In Alaska For Iceberg-watching
Are you looking for a peaceful area of Alaska to visit? If yes, then Petersburg is the perfect choice.
It is one of the most authentic Alaska destinations as it is not touristy and most shops and eateries are owned by the locals.
Due to its location, big cruises don’t stop here, which is why I love this small town in Alaska.
Did you know that this is also one of the best spots for whale watching?
Yes, you heard me right! From here, you can take boat tours to go humpback whale watching.
If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Alaska, then Petersburg is an ideal vacation spot.
You can not only watch icebergs from the shore but can also navigate a boat through icebergs in LeConte Glacier Bay.
Most importantly, this is one of the only towns in Alaska that has a strong Norwegian heritage.
As a result, they celebrate a 4-day Norway Festival annually in May which is the biggest event to attend here.
Packing Tips For Exploring Towns In Alaska
Here are some tips on how to pack lightly for your Alaskan adventure.
This unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod for my birthday.
I was never a fan of packing cubes until I tried them out! Now I am sold. These Bagail packing cubes are the exact ones I use whenever I travel. I cannot believe how much more organized I am now!
I always use luggage locks when I travel. These TSA-approved luggage locks are affordable and come in many colors and combination choices.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for travel and it will fit nicely in the pocket of a backpack or your purse.
And the replaceable carbon filter ensures fresh clean water whenever and wherever you fill the Bobble.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium. Then this collapsible silicone foldable water bottle would work well for you.
You will want to bring a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc. This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great.
These waterproof all-season shoes are extremely affordable and yet fashionable.
Air Run high fashion sneakers come in a lot of colors to match your outfits and are still affordable.
And let us not forget the beach shoes for Alaska’s pebbly beaches. These quick dry slip-on aqua shoes are a great selection.
I highly recommend these Vionics adjustable strap orthotic sandals. I have several pairs of these exact Vionic sandals in several colors that I bring with me *everywhere* I travel.
These unisex polarized sunglasses come in a lot of lens colors and frame designs and are extremely affordable too.
If you are fond of the aviator-style of sunglasses these polarized aviators may interest you.
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Here I have listed 15 picturesque towns in Alaska for your consideration. All of them are spectacular if you will be visiting Alaska in September!
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