How to Spend a Long Weekend in Alaska

Want to know how you can spend a long weekend in Alaska and see some top sights? Here is a fabulous Alaska 3-day itinerary perfect for solo travelers, couples and families to enjoy.

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How to Spend a Long Weekend in Alaska

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How to Spend a Long Weekend in Alaska:

Anchorage and Seward

What You'll Find In This Post

Seward Highway mountain scenary
Seward Highway scenary

Let’s face it – Alaska is not ‘on the beaten path’ of the rest of the U.S. Many people think that since Alaska is much further than other U.S. states they have to carve out a lot of time to visit. Not true! You can visit Alaska in a short timeframe – like a long weekend – and make it worth your while.

I did this trip solo and am so glad I did.  Afterwards, I gave my itinerary to a friend, who used it with her boyfriend and two children. Like me, they had a wonderful time! If you use this itinerary, I’m sure you will as well.

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Booking Resources for Your Alaska Itinerary Success!

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View of mountains from Seward Highway Alaska
Seward Highway scenery

Alaska – When to Go & What to Bring

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. 

The days in Anchorage and locations close by begin to cool during August, and most tours stop operating for the year in early September. 

I went during Labor Day weekend. I cannot express enough how much I lucked out on the weather!  Alaska had just ended 30 consistent days of rain. It stopped the day before I arrived and started again the night I left.  How lucky was I?  Very!

CORR Tips:

  • Don’t forget your camera!
  • Bring an umbrella, rain coat, hat and gloves, water proof hiking boots and synthetic clothing, just in case.
  • Bring a good day bag or backpack.
  • Do not over exert yourself. This itinerary is leisurely but the amount of exercise you choose to do is up to you.
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Travel Gear for Your Alaska Trip

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Arriving Anchorage

Depending on where you fly from, flights to Alaska can be limiting.  I was working on limited vacation time at work so, for this trip, I chose to fly after a day of work, arriving in Anchorage late at night in order to start my 3 days in Alaska fresh the following day. I also took the red-eye flight home to allow for a full, third day.

You can pick up your rental car at the airport upon arrival or have your hotel’s shuttle service take you back to the airport for your rental car pick up, should you wish to save some money.

Moose on ground at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Moose, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Day 1 - Anchorage to Seward

The distance to Seward is only 127 miles, which is about 2.5 hours by car.  So, you have a lot of time to make the most of the day by making several stops and enjoy the sights between Anchorage and Seward.

Seward Highway

You will drive south along the Seward Highway, a designated National Scenic Byway with some of the best scenery in 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 the Turnagain Arm.

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Beluga Point

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.

Beluga Point sign Alaska
Beluga Point

Girdwood / Alyeska Tram

From Bird Point it’s 13 minutes to Girdwood and the Alyeska Aerial Tram. Park at the Alyeska Resort and access the tram. The tram is open 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.

Portage Glacier

After a nice one-to-two hours in Girdwood, continue your drive 22 minutes on the Seward Highway to the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center, open May to mid-September, in Portage. 

Learn about the glacier formation and other geological history with a film exhibit that shows every hour. If wish, take the one-hour cruise across the water to the Portage Glacier.  Cruises depart three times a day daily.

Man taking pictures of Portage ice shelf Alaska
Portage ice shelf

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

When ready, hop back in the car for a quick 8-minute ride to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where rescued injured or orphaned animals recover, or permanently live, on an over 200-acre habitat.

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.

Bears at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Brown bears, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Lynx feeding at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Lynx feeding, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Arrive Seward

After an educational and scenic afternoon, drive the last leg of the day’s road trip (about an hour and a half) to end in Seward.

View of Seward Alaska across the water
Seward, Alaska

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Seward – What to Know

Where to Stay in Seward

Seward is a small town so I advise making accommodations reservations sooner than later – it can book up.

I stayed at the Hotel Seward, which was 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.

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Where to Eat in Seward

Good, fresh eats are plentiful in Seward! Here are my suggestions that I’m sure will please:

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 trips available to the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Here are my suggested resources – find an activity or tour that may suit you. OR, go ahead try the day cruise with Fox Island kayaking I did on Day 2.  It was an amazing day!

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Find top Kenai Fjords National Park / Resurrection Bay activities!

Day 2 - Seward / Resurrection Bay

Plan to wake up early for this fun-filled day! Grab your breakfast snack and coffee to-go as you walk a short 20-minute walk down to the Adventure Center and small boat harbor (don’t bother with driving and parking).

The boat departs promptly at 8:00 am from the small boat harbor so be sure to show up early to check in or you will miss out!

Boats in small boat harbor Seward Alaska
Small boat harbor, Seward

The boat heads straight to Fox Island where you can either choose to kayak for the morning or stay on the boat for the first part of the day tour around the Kenai Fjords National Park. If you choose to kayak, which I highly recommend, 3-hour guided sea kayaking tour including orientation.

Fox Island Resurrection Bay Alaska
Fox Island
Jellyfish in water Fox Island
Jellyfish, Fox Island

No kayaking experience is required. The guides provide kayaking instruction, boots and dry bags. All you need to do is dress in layers, wear waterproof rain gear, hat and gloves (depending on weather) and paddle you way to an amazing morning on Resurrection Bay!

Kayaker guide with kayakers on water in Alaska
Kayaker guide wildlife instruction
Kayaking off Fox Island
Kayaking off Fox Island

Kayaks are in pairs and I was provided a partner.  Our group was blessed to see sea otters, bald eagles, and we even picked up a sea lion who joined us part of the way.  Check him out (bald eagle included) on my three kayaking videos!

Did I say I lucked out on the weather??  You betcha!  The Alaska air, water and scenery were nothing less than spectacular.

After working up an appetite, you join the rest of the boat tourists for a full grilled wild Alaska salmon and prime rib lunch at Fox Island Day Lodge (with plenty of sides for non-meat eaters).  After lunch, kayakers join the boat for the remainder of the day’s Resurrection Bay tour, full of sights of mountain goats, puffins and, if you’re lucky, whales and sea lions.

Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park cruise
Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park cruise

You will be back at the Seward small boat harbor by 4:30pm, which provides plenty of time to walk back to your hotel for a rest, and enjoy the Alaska Sea Life Center followed by dinner and a walk around the water. 

Sea Life Center Seward Alaska
Sea Life Center, Seward

Day 3 – Seward to Anchorage

Your last day in Alaska gives you some options, depend on when your outbound flight departs. 

You could spend all day in Seward and then just drive back to Anchorage Airport.

You could grab coffee and breakfast at Zudy’s Café before a short hike in Caines Head State Park. By mid-morning, check out and head back to the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, breaking up the drive with another hike on Winner Creek Trail.

I chose the latter on my trip. 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!

Hiking trail Girdwood Alaska
Winner Creek Trail, Girdwood

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 beer.

Things to Do in Anchorage

Anchorage provides other activities enjoyable to pass the time before your flight leaves. I took the opportunity to explore downtown Anchorage and try the local beers. I’ll let you choose how best to wrap up your last day of your long weekend.

Anchorage Hiking

If you have time, 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!

Anchorage Bicycling

If you’d like a break from hiking, rent a bike at Pablo Bicycle Rentals! You can rent a hybrid bike inexpensively for two or three hours to explore downtown Anchorage or ride along the Anchorage Coastal Trail.

Downtown Anchorage

Park the car and take a stroll in downtown Anchorage which provides parks, shopping, restaurants and nightlife.  Check out what’s happening in Anchorage during your long weekend in Alaska.

Anchorage Local Breweries

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 their reviews!

Some suggested breweries are:

Perhaps try a tour and tasting at Anchorage Craft Brewery.

If you wish to stay close to downtown, wrap up the day with dinner and drinks at Glacier Brewhouse – a tasty way to end your fabulously successful, long weekend in Alaska.

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Gwen

Gwen

Gwen is the Founder of CORR Travel and a global traveler and photographer with over 25 years of solo travel experience. She is also the Founder of the www.CORRConcepts.com sustainability blog. Travel is her passion and environmental sustainability and biodiversity protection is her "religion".

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