The Perfect Alaska 3 Day Itinerary (2023)
Wondering where to go and what to do in a long weekend trip to Alaska? Enjoy best the best of Anchorage and Seward using this Alaska 3 day itinerary I created for my Alaska solo travel, and had a blast. Ditch the 3 day Alaska cruise. These 3 days in Alaska make for the perfect short Alaska trip.
This Alaska itinerary is intentionally written for the solo traveler, first time Alaska traveler, older travel (I am over 50), budget and/or eco-friendly traveler in mind. Yet, anyone can use this travel itinerary it to plan and book a fulfilling weekend trip to Alaska.
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- All You Need for This 3 Day Alaska Itinerary
- The Ultimate Alaska Travel Guide
- This Alaska Itinerary – Full Disclosure
- When to Go to Alaska on This Itinerary
- What to Bring to Alaska for This Itinerary
- Alaska Itinerary Travel Packing Essentials
- Traveling to Alaska
- 3 Days in Alaska Solo Travel Itinerary
- Day 1 – Best of Anchorage to Seward
- Day 2 – Resurrection Bay Kayak & Kenai Fjords Cruise
- Day 3 – Best of Anchorage in a Day
All You Need for This 3 Day Alaska Itinerary
Here are all of the sites you need to successfully book these perfect 3 days in Alaska, including sites for an alternate Alaska activity options. I recommend you bookmark and use these sites early to lock in your Alaska travel itinerary and get the best Alaska travel deals.
The Ultimate Alaska Travel Guide
If you need more Alaska travel information, consult my Alaska Travel Guide with top tips on how to travel Alaska solo.
This Alaska Itinerary – Full Disclosure
Yep, Alaska is not ‘on the beaten path’ of the rest of the U.S. Many people think that since Alaska is much farther than other U.S. states they have to carve out a lot of time to visit Alaska. Not true.
A long weekend in Alaska getaway is doable and worth your while.
Additionally, Alaska is safe to travel alone. Heck, I did this Alaska trip solo in my late 40’s.
I planned this solo travel to Alaska myself (like I do for all of my travel itineraries). I do a lot of research for all of my itineraries to make sure I can do what I am comfortable doing (as an older, solo female traveler), I can fit it all in on my travel timeframe, and find any budget travel options, which is always welcome as a solo traveler.
I am so glad I did this trip to Alaska. I had a unforgettable time, and it didn’t break my bank.
Yep, I will pass on my Alaska budget travel tips, and critical Alaska planning tips, to you. Keep reading.
No, you don’t have to be a solo traveler to enjoy these 3 days in Alaska. I gave this same Alaska 3 day itinerary to a friend who used it for a trip with her boyfriend and two children. Like me, they loved it. Yes, I do do a good travel itinerary, if I do say so myself.
Note, I chose this first trip to Alaska over visiting Denali National Park for two main reasons: I believe you need more than 3 days in Alaska to truly enjoy Denali, and I really wanted to see Alaskan sea life. Denali is still on my bucket list.
Whether or not you are a solo traveler, I’m confident you’ll love your long weekend in Alaska with this Alaska 3 day itinerary.
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When to Go to Alaska on This Itinerary
The best time to visit Alaska is in the summer (June to early September) for the best weather, opportunities to see the northern lights and whale migrations, and to partake in the most outdoor activities.
Weather in Anchorage and nearby locations begin to cool during August, and most tours only operate from May to mid-September.
I did these 3 days in Alaska during Labor Day weekend. I cannot express enough how much I lucked out on the weather.
The day before I arrived, Alaska had just ended 30 consecutive days of rain. Seriously. The locals were talking about it. The rain started again the night I left. How lucky was I?
Critical Alaska Travel Tips
See that beautiful blue sky and clear mountain visibility in my photos and video? Yep, weather is key for making this a great Alaska trip or a spectacular Alaska trip. When it gets cloudy, you miss out on a lot of stunning scenery. Still, this should not affect your decision on whether or not to book this 3 day trip to Alaska.
If were to do this Alaska 3 day itinerary again, I would still book it for late August to early to early September because this time in Alaska allows for: the end of the Alaska tours and excursion season with still good chances of humpback, minke and fin whale spotting; good chances of lingering warm weather and calm waters; 14 hours of daylight in Alaska; avoiding more tourists; and, avoiding peak season (summer) travel costs (budget travel tip number 1). Ah, the bonuses of being a solo traveler over 50.
Speaking of Alaska tours season, it is very limited. They operate approximately 4 months out of the year, so you must book your excurions well in advance. They do fill up quickly! If you wait, you’ll miss out and have to wait until the following year to enjoy these 3 days in Alaska. Why do that?
Booking early also goes for flights and hotels, especially hotels in Seward. Keep reading for my hotel suggestions that fit this 3 day itinerary.
Make sure you confirm Alaska tours and excursion dates (and times) thoroughly before you book. Not all operate on the same schedule.
Adhere to the check-in times for all tours and excursions, especially boat tours. Showing up at 8am for an 8am departure will find you left on the dock. Yes, they will leave without you, and don’t expect a refund.
What to Bring to Alaska for This Itinerary
Keep checking the weather daily up to your departure for Alaska so you are thoroughly prepared.
Pack for dressing in layers is best in case it’s cooler in the morning and evenings but warms up nicely during the day. Bring an umbrella, a light rain coat, hat and gloves, water proof hiking boots, and synthetic clothing, just in case.
Traveling carry-on only is completely doable for this 3 day Alaska itinerary.
Don’t forget a good, compact camera. Bring an eco-friendly backpack as your personal item bag, which is ideal for your outdoor Alaska activities.
Alaska Itinerary Travel Packing Essentials
Solo Travel Tips
You do not need to over-exert yourself during your 3 days in Alaska for a great time. This Alaska itinerary provides for unique Alaska opportunities but truly is leisurely, even the kayaking. If you wish to change up to more strenuous activities, that is up to you.
Traveling to Alaska
Depending on where you fly from, flights to Alaska can be limited. For this 3 days in Alaska itinerary, make sure your flights allow for 3 full days. Otherwise, you could just extend this long Alaska weekend trip to a 4 day Alaska itinerary.
Working on limited vacation time so, I chose to fly into Anchorage on a Thursday after a day of work in Los Angeles, arriving Anchorage late at night. I stayed the first night only at an Anchorage Airport hotel in order to start my perfect 3 days in Alaska fresh the following day.
I took the red-eye flight home Sunday night to allow for a full, third day.
Eco Friendly Travel Tips
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2. Additionally, you can purchase carbon offsets through your airline to lower your carbon footprint.
In addition to Booking.com’s Anchorage’s Travel Sustainable properties and Seward’s Travel Sustainable properties, Green Globe and Green Key Global also have eco-friendly certified lodging options.
I reserved an Anchorage Airport rental car for easy pick up and drop off to save time on this short itinerary.
More Alaska Budget Travel Tips
Weekday and red-eye flights to Alaska could save more money than weekend flights.
Flying into Anchorage late at night, stay at an Anchorage airport hotel with breakfast included and free airport shuttle service to pick you up at the airport and drop you off at the airport the next morning to pick up your rental car. This will save you a day’s rental car charge and adds little time to this Alaska itinerary.
More Budget Travel Tips
- How to Travel Carry-On Only (and Avoid Baggage Fees)
- How To Save Money for Solo Travel
- How to Create a Solo Travel Budget
Do You Know What Alaska Flights Fit Your Schedule?
3 Days in Alaska Solo Travel Itinerary
Day 1 – Best of Anchorage to Seward
I grabbed breakfast at my budget hotel (I was only there for 6 hours), then took their free airport shuttle to pick up my rental car at the airport in time to be on the road by 7:30am.
The distance from Anchorage to Seward is only 127 miles, which is approximately a 2.5 hour drive. So, you have considerable time to make the most of Day 1 on this 3 day Alaska solo trip by making some stops between Anchorage and Seward allowing for memorable Alaska activities and sights.
Drive south along the Seward Highway, a designated National Scenic Byway with some of the best scenery in the U.S (and I’ve seen my fair share of the U.S.).
Here is the opportune time to stop and walk along water for spotting wildlife such as beluga whales, moose and goats along Turnagain Arm.
About twenty minutes south of Anchorage you’ll arrive at Beluga Point (also known as ANC-054, Milepost 110), a spot along the Cook Inlet of Seward Highway known for spotting beluga whales mid-July through August. Stretch your legs and see if you can spot some whales from shore.
Hop back in the car and 15 minutes further you can stop at Bird Point. The Seward Highway offers plenty of access points to hiking trailheads to break up your leisurely drive and offering opportunities for pictures.
Girdwood / Alyeska Tram
By 9:45am, leave Bird Point for a 13-minute drive to Girdwood and the Alyeska Aerial Tram. Park at the Alyeska Resort and access the tram.
The tram starts at 10:30am daily mid-May to mid-October. The seven-minute ride provides breathtaking views and hiking and dining options at the top.
If you do not wish to dine at the top, Girdwood provides other lunch options, like The Bake Shop. Explore more of Girdwood’s activities and eats to suit your tastes.
Leave Girdwood by noon for a 22-minute drive on the Seward Highway to the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, open May to mid-September, in Portage.
Paid entry provides Portage Glacier formation and other geological history with a film exhibit that shows every hour.
If wish, take the 1:30pm self-drive Portage Glacier cruise. Cruises depart five times daily May 13 through September 21, 2023, last an hour, and require 5-day advance reservations made online.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Around 2:30pm, hop back in the car for a quick 8-minute ride to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) where rescued injured or orphaned animals recover, or live permanently, on an over 200-acre habitat. Do not bybass the AWCC.
The AWCC provides educational programs and preservation of Alaska’s wildlife. Allow at least an hour here. Check online for their feeding and tour schedules so you don’t miss the ones you want to see. It closes at 5:30pm.
If you forgo the
If you forgo the self-drive Portage Glacier cruise, you have time to catch their 90-minute Walk On The Wild Side Tour starting at 2pm and catch the Portgage Glacier cruise on your way back to Anchorage.
After an educational and scenic afternoon, drive the last leg of the day’s Alaska road trip (about an hour and a half) to arrive in Seward no later than 5pm and plenty of daylight left to enjoy Seward.
Accommodations in Seward
Seward is a small town, so it is highly advisable to make Seward accommodation reservations well in advance. Seward can book up quickly.
I stayed at the Hotel Seward. It’s an older hotel but still a nice establishment with good food, a friendly staff, and in a very walkable section of town near the water and the Alaska Sea Life Center.
You can just leave your car parked here for the remainder of your time in Seward if you wish.
Reserve Accommodations in Seward Alaska Early
Where to Eat in Seward
Fresh local, international, and vegan-friendly cuisine options across all budget types are available in Seward. Here are my Seward restaurant suggestions that are bound to please for day or night dining in Seward:
Things to Do in Seward
Ready to enjoy more of the great outdoors? Fabulous, because Seward is not going to disappoint. Seward lies on Resurrection Bay with many Resurrection Bay tours available to the Kenai Fjords National Park, a must do in Seward, Alaska, like the following (times do not include check-in before departure):
- Resurrection Bay / Kenai Fjords 1/2 Day Cruise (4 hours)
- Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise with Lunch (6 hours)
- Full Day Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise with Lunch (7.5 hours)
- Afternoon Resurrection Bay Kayaking Adventure (4 hours)
- Full Day Kayak, Lunch and Cruise (8.5 hours)
For this Alaska weekend itinerary, I chose the Full Day Kayak, Lunch and Cruise. It’s an easy adventure and a great way to start kayaking if you have not done so before. It made for the perfect day in Seward, especially for this 3 day itinerary, and at the best price, too.
I highly recommend this tour. Here is but some of what you’ll see kayaking:
Note, like most Seward activities, this Full Day Kayak, Lunch and Cruise tour operates only from mid-May to mid-September and can only be booked through Sunny Cove (it didn’t use to be this way).
Sunny Cove is closed in the off-season. So you’ll need to email them asap to confirm a reservation well in advance to plan your perfect, long weekend in Alaska. Also confirm if they have a cancellation policy.
Day 2 – Resurrection Bay Kayak & Kenai Fjords Cruise
Plan to wake up early for this long, fun-filled day of kayaking and cruising (with lunch). Don’t bother with driving and finding harbor parking. Grab your breakfast snack and coffee to-go as you walk 20 minutes to the Adventure Center and small boat harbor for early check-in.
The tour boat departs promptly from the small boat harbor (confirm your departure time). Again, show up on time for the check-in or they will leave without you. You did not travel to Alaska to miss out, did you?
The boat’s first stop is Fox Island where kayakers get geared up for the morning kayak, which includes a kayaking orientation, and the boat departs on its first half of the bay tour.
The kayaking is an easy adventure and great way to start kayaking if you have not done so before. In fact, this was my first kayaking trip, and now I’m hooked. You’ll notice kayaking in more of my travel itineraries.
The Sunny Cove guides also provide boots and dry bags.
All you need to do is show up excited (it’s not hard to do), dress in layers, and carry your waterproof rain gear, hat, gloves (depending on weather), and reusable water bottle to be ready to paddle you way to an amazing morning on Resurrection Bay.
Kayaks are in pairs and was paired with another solo female traveler. This excursion in Alaska for singles ideal. It’s a great way to meet people.
Our guides were fabulous. We were blessed to see multiple sea otters and bald eagles, and even had a tag-along sea lion. The fresh Alaska air, calm water, and mountain visibility were nothing less than spectacular. Don’t forget to check out the kayaking video above.
After working up an appetite, you join the rest of the boat tourists for a grilled wild Alaska salmon and prime rib lunch at Fox Island Day Lodge (with plenty of sides available for non-meat eaters).
After lunch, kayakers get back on the boat for the remainder of the day’s Resurrection Bay cruise into Kenai Fjords National Park to glimpse sights of mountain goats, puffins, sea lions, otters, and (hopefully) whales.
You will be back at the Seward small boat harbor around 5pm, which provides plenty of time to walk back to your hotel for a rest, and enjoy the Alaska Sea Life Center, another must in Seward, followed by dinner in Seward and a walk around the water.
Alternate Seward Day 2 Itinerary
If you simply do not want to kayak or wish to break up the one day of kayaking and cruise into 2 days in Seward, you can. It may affect the Day 3 itinerary, or, again, you could simply extend this 3 day trip to Alaska to 4 days in Alaska. That is up to you.
However, since you chose Seward as your Alaska destination, I do recommend spending some time on the water.
Here are some of the best things to do in Seward for the summer months in Alaska to choose from to suit your taste.
Take advantage of the ‘reserve no, pay later’ options where available so you don’t lose out on traveling Alaska this year.
Best Things to Do in Seward Alaska
My alternate itinerary recommendations?
3 Days in Alaska – Alternate Day 2 Itinerary
Get up early for either a self-guided tour of Seward, self-guided hike in Caines Head State Park, or a 2-hour guided hike, followed by the Kenai Fjords National Park 6-Hour Cruise (lunch included).
If you are on a budget, grab a snack or early lunch in Seward after the hike, and take either the 4-hour Resurrection Bay Kayaking Adventure or the Half-Day Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise Tour.
4 Days in Alaska – Alternate Days 2 and 3 Itinerary
On day 2, get up early for either a self-guided tour of Seward, self-guided hike in Caines Head State Park, or a 2-hour guided hike, followed by the Kenai Fjords National Park 6-Hour Cruise (lunch included).
On day 3, do the 4-hour Resurrection Bay Kayaking Adventure and fill in the time with whatever suits you.
Either way, I would still recommend visiting the Alaska Sea Life Center.
Day 3 – Best of Anchorage in a Day
Your last day traveling in Alaska gives you a few options before your late night flight departures Anchorage:
You could spend the day in Seward by grabbing coffee and breakfast at Zudy’s Café to fuel up for a hike in Caines Head State Park before driving straight to Anchorage Airport.
You could head out early to do the 10:30am self-drive Portage Glacier Cruise followed by Anchorage for the rest of the day.
I, however, chose breakfast and early check out to drive back to the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood for a morning hike on the Winner Creek Trail before an afternoon in Anchorage.
Winner Creek is a popular hike in Girdwood starting at the base of the Alyeska Resort aerial tram. Explore the northern rainforest and mountains streams in this 2.5 mile hike. Guided hikes are also available.
If you didn’t do the aerial tram on your way to Seward, here’s your second chance.
If you like, lunch again in Girdwood or wait for a late lunch in Anchorage. Anchorage has many great places to choose from, especially if you’re into micro brewery beer.
Things to Do in Anchorage
Since the clouds were rolling in during the afternoon for more rain, I took the opportunity to explore downtown Anchorage and try the local beers (see below).
You have multiple choices of activities enjoyable for spending a day in Anchorage before your red-eye flight leaves and work around the weather. I’ll let you choose how best to wrap up the last day of your long weekend in Alaska.
Best Things to Do in Anchorage for a Day
Check out the budget friendly alternatives for top fun in Anchorage.
Venture to Chugach State Park just on the outskirts of Anchorage. Hike the quintessential Flattop Mountain widely regarded as the most climbed mountain in Alaska.
Start at the Glen Alps Trailhead about twenty minutes from downtown Anchorage. The trail is approximately three miles and 1,500 feet of elevation gain. It provides great city views.
Take a break from hiking and rent a bike or e-bike at Pablo Bicycle Rentals or reserve your bike in advance. You can rent a hybrid bike inexpensively for two or three hours to explore downtown Anchorage or ride along the Anchorage Coastal Trail.
Park the car and take a stroll in downtown Anchorage which provides parks, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Check out what’s happening in Anchorage for your last day in Alaska.
Ready for lunch (or dinner)? Support the Anchorage local breweries. Most provide either small fare or full menus and are touted for delicious brews. Don’t take my word for it, check out the reviews.
Some suggested Anchorage breweries are:
- Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
- Bear Tooth Grill
- Midnight Sun Brewing Company
- Resolution Brewing Company
Perhaps try a beer tour and tasting at Anchorage Craft Brewery or a biking and brewery tour.
Complete the day in Anchorage with dinner and drinks at Glacier Brewhouse, a tasty way to end your fabulously successful, long weekend in Alaska.
Key Takeaways for This Alaska Itinerary
Yep, the key takeaway from this itinerary is that you can have a great time in Alaska in 3 days.
The second key takeaway is to book early so you can have fun in Alaska.
If you need to do doing Alaska budget travel as a solo traveler in Alaska, check into bundling your Alaska flight, hotels and rental car for more possible savings.
Just reserve your Alaska travel now. Do you really want to wait another year to travel to Alaska?
Start Planning Your 3 Days in Alaska Budget
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear how my Alaska 3 day itinerary worked for your Alaska solo travel. Post me your comments or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!