To see nature in her most untamed and wild, to grab a front-row seat for the surreal spectacle of the Northern Lights, and to enjoy the outdoors in its most varied and pristine, Alaska is a sizzling destination worth checking out. The largest state in the US is home to the largest concentration of bald eagles in the country, the largest national park, and the tallest mountain. While Alaska's cities may not be as huge or as bustling as those in the lower 48, some of them are as quaint and charming as one can find anywhere else.
Despite being the capital of Alaska, Juneau is often passed by for the larger cities of Anchorage or Fairbanks. With a dramatic landscape that is almost similar to that of the Pacific Northwest and a culture that is among the most progressive and inclusive in the state, this city does not deserve to stay on the bucket list for long. As the only capital city in the US that borders a foreign country, Juneau brims with sights, sounds, and tastes that make it an easy spell caster. While one may need a week or two to have a real taste of the largest capital in the US by land area, even a weekend getaway may reveal some exciting delights. An hour or two at the Glacier Visitor Center, for instance, a similar time strolling the beautiful downtown and its boardwalks, and then checking out the native artifacts at the Alaska State Museum may give one a sense of Juneau’s beguiling flavor.
For a person who enjoys the outdoors, Homer is the picture of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. With an interesting mix of an educated population that is also some of the friendliest in the state, Homer is a town that will be quite tempting, even for a sworn recluse. If one particularly likes a small-town feel with big-town amenities—and an amazing sense of community, Homer may just be what the doctor prescribed. The town has a charming downtown that is as artistry as they come, complete with numerous delectable dining options, Homer is among the best versions of Alaska. For anglers, it is enough to state that Homer is the "Halibut Fishing Capital of the World." Also called "the cosmic hamlet by the sea," Homer is among the best destinations in the world for bear viewing.
Seward, the gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park, is the dream destination for someone looking for an untamed wilderness experience that involves hiking. For this kind of adventure, a good piece of advice is to rent a forest cabin in advance and start counting the days to paradise. For those that enjoy camping, the coves in Resurrection Bay are worth checking out. Seward can be touristy and hence, crowded, but that is the curse of beauty. As a bonus, the winters in Seward are not as brutal as those in others parts of Alaska, such as Fairbanks.
Curled up at the confluence of three rivers, and between the biggest city in Alaska and the biggest mountain in North America, Talkeetna is the base for tours to Denali. Famous for its rugged landscape, Talkeetna is also reputed for its quirky character. For instance, because Talkeetna residents could not find a decent human being to elect as the mayor, they cast their vote on a cat. Known as "Stubbs," the reclusive cat managed the town for 20 years. However, "Stubbs" only held an honorary title as Talkeetna is technically an unincorporated community and cannot elect a mayor. The town is also famous for its moose population. Visitors will have the chance to see the largest of all the deer species in the world and to participate in the moose festival—when locals transform moose droppings into jewelry and offer them for sale. If one has a car, Talkeetna will be the perfect destination since many amazing attractions are a bit far out for a walk.
Palmer is a fascinating Alaska city that will leave a visitor completely blown away for several reasons. For starters, it is small, quaint, and enticingly bucolic. Those that want a laid-back, small-town vibe, may only find a few equals in the Frontier State. Close to the coast, and hence, to all the enjoyable water-based activities one can imagine, there are endless options for exploration. Set in the backdrop of the picturesque Pioneer Peak as well as the Twin Peaks, Palmer achieves a look that is rustic and authentic. Palmer is also world-famous for its record-breaking vegetables.
Nestled on the western side of the huge Kenai National Wildlife Refuge along the banks of a river many believe to be the world's greatest sportfishing river, Soldotna is another witness to the untamed beauty of the Frontier State. While it is tiny, smaller than Palmer, for instance, and comes with fewer dining and shopping options, Soldotna still provides excellent access to fishing, hunting, and endless outdoor activities. Moreover, while downtown Soldotna may not be as big or as bustling, you will find just about anything you fancy. For the pleasurable feel of warm sand on the feet, amazing sunset, and cool breeze, Kenai Beach is only about twelve miles from downtown Soldotna.
The Frontier State has earned a worldwide reputation for its untamed, wild, and spectacular landscape. However, with notoriously brutal winters, Alaska can also be cold, gloomy, and lonely. Still, the northernmost state in the United States has a number of amazing towns and cities worth braving the cold for. Moreover, the climate is not uniformly or consistently brutal. So whether one wants to explore authentic small towns—or enjoy the many outdoor activities unique to Alaska, many towns and cities will be at hand to offer this experience.