Major Alaskan Cities
Essential Alaska tour stops
The Land of the Midnight Sun may seem like an unpopulated place, but there are several vibrant cities well worth a stopover on an Alaska tour. From historical museums, nightlife and entertainment to natural wonders and world-class shopping, Alaska’s cities offer travelers the best of all worlds.
The capital city of Alaska, Juneau has a population of over 30,000. Located at the foot of Mount Juneau, across from Douglas Island, Juneau is accessible only by air and sea, but was a pivotal part of the Gold Rush of the late 1800s. Juneau offers travelers a wide variety of attractions such as the Alaska State and Juneau-Douglas City Museums, the Mt. Roberts Tram, the Mendenhal glacier and the Tongass National Forest. With people arriving and leaving Juneau by ferry on the Alaska Marine Highway System, or by cruise ship, there are only about 40 miles of paved road for local transportation.
Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is a modern city set in the south-central area of the state. Surrounded by glaciers, shoreline and mountains, the city of 200,000 offers a unique mix of wildlife and city life; find first class hotels, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, the Anchorage Museum of History and Art or take a short trip to tour the Denali or Kenia Fjords National Parks.
Known as the Salmon Capital of the World, Ketchikan relies on fishing and tourism for its main economy. Much of the waterfront is set on piles on top of the water, and the town offers a charming historical stopover. Activities like totem pole tours, horseback riding, wildlife watching and shopping make this a great travel destination for cruise ships and wanderers alike. In terms of Alaskan climate, Ketchikan wins the prize for the heaviest average rainfall in North America! Their rainfall is so heavy that they measure in feet rather than inches. Visitors should be reminded to always have wet weather gear on hand for any Alaska tour in any season.
Second in size to Anchorage, Fairbanks lies in the interior of Alaska. It is a major transportation hub for the state, providing terminals for air, rail and land travel. Home to the Inuit and Athabasca cultures, Fairbanks is a multicultural center with a long history of cultural arts. Called the “Golden Heart of Alaska” for its rich Gold Rush history, Fairbanks is a great stop on an Alaska tour.
On the south coast of Alaska sits the city of Nome, the finish line of the Iditarod Trail Dogsled Race which runs from Anchorage annually in March. Visit Nome for the exciting wrap-up to the amazing dogsled endurance race, and stay to check out the Gold Rush history and other cultural sights.