Prince William Sound, Valdez, Alaska. Reflection of clouds in the water with mountains in the background. Image credit Krishna.Wu via Shutterstock.

The Best Small Towns In Alaska To Chill Out

Featuring pitch-black days during the winter and bright summers where the sun never fully sets, the state of Alaska covers an impressive 1.72 million km2.  It is the northernmost part of the United States, purchased in 1867. Russia originally had a stronghold on the area, but with the low trade profits and desire to keep the land out of British rule, Alaska became a state. While it might be a far-north trek, the breathtaking views of the great wide north make it the ideal place to chill out. Its position gives Alaska the perfect access to the view Aurora Borealis, known as the Northern Lights, along with a diverse ecosystem of glaciers, mountains, ocean, and rainforest. The result is ample opportunity for adventure in an area replete with forest, fresh and saltwater, and skies of mythical awe. For a trip that lets visitors chill out, small towns are a great way to go. These seven best small towns in Alaska to chill out encourages visitors to embrace adventure at a calm, northern pace. 


Aerial View of the remote Village of Talkeetna, Alaska during Summer
Aerial view of the remote Village of Talkeetna. Image credit Jacob Boomsma via Shutterstock.

Tucked right at the base of Mount McKinley, or Mount Denali, this charming town lets visitors chill in a calm environment. It offers picturesque views of the Susitna River and the Alaskan Range. Travelers can make the most out of a visit with a trip to the Talkeetna Historical Society museum, the local riverfront park, and visit the Denali Brewing Company. For an interesting excursion, there is nothing more iconic than visiting the yearly Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival. Famous for its prominent history in the gold rush, the start of the 20th century put Talkeetna on the map for hopeful gold enthusiasts everywhere. Film buffs can glimpse the inspiration for the famous film Northern Exposure. Whether for a quick stopover or for a longer trip, this town is worth it.


Alaskan sled dogs running along summer path in countryside near Seward, Alaska.
Alaskan sled dogs running along summer path in countryside near Seward, Alaska. Image credit Kid Dog Travel via Shutterstock.

Named after the Secretary of State appointed by Abraham Lincoln, Seward has deep roots in global history. Seward negotiated international relations during the American Civil War and actually arranged the purchase of Alaska. This port city lies in the Kenai Peninsula, positioned in the south of the state. For nature enthusiasts, it does not get much better than the Kenai Fjords National Park, connecting the Harding Icefield to a larger water system. The Alaska SeaLife Center is great for a calm day exploring the puffins and seals native to the area. If looking for even more adventure, strap on a pair of hiking boots and trek to the peak of Mount Marathon for awe-striking views and lifelong memories. 


Small shop at Homer Spit Alaska before sunrise. Homer is a small city on Kachemak Bay, on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Homer Spit is a long strip of land.
Homer Spit, Homer. Image credit Jay Yuan via Shutterstock.

Those looking to embody the magic of Homer's Illiad can venture to this small town, tucked away on Kachemak Bay. The main feature of the town is the Homer Spit, a large main street that includes shops like Sustainable Wares and Homer's Jeans. It also features tasty, local restaurants like Captain Pattie's Fish House and the Chart Room Restaurant. Ideal for a summer visit, the beaches show a breathtaking view of the mountain range. Bishop's Beach is a prime example of calm waters and gorgeous skies. For a chill day, a trip to the Pratt Museum and Park for a taste of history. Ideal for a multi-night stay, especially in the summer, visitors can enjoy the beach at Land's End Resort or kick back in nature at Glacier View Cabins. Much like the Illiad, it might be a long trip, but well worth the reward. 


Skagway, Alaska. The scenic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad.
Skagway, Alaska. The scenic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Image credit SCStock via Shutterstock.

Relatively small when it comes to land mass, the tight-knit Skagway community goes by its nickname, "Gateway to the Klondike." Pride is evident throughout its attractions such as the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Looking for a calm day with nature? A trip to Lower Dewey Lake makes for a perfect picnic, replete with lush scenery and one-of-a-kind ecosystems. In keeping with its tourist-focused economy, there are plenty of options for guided tours. Take a walk through town and fuel up at the Skagway Fish Company or The Smokehouse. Alternatively, relax for a couple of days, and enjoy the northern lights with a peaceful stay at the Historic Skagway Inn. So, what would you do for a Klondike trip?!


Kennicott Mine, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park, Alaska
Kennicott Mine, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park. Image credit Steven Schremp via Shutterstock.

Wrangell, an Alaskan town, offers a charming blend of history and natural beauty. Founded by Russian traders in 1834, it carries historical significance visible in landmarks like Redoubt Saint Dionysius. As a hub during the Stikine River's gold rushes, its historic charm is enduring. Set in the Tongass National Forest, Wrangell offers outdoor activities amidst breathtaking wilderness, with its location in the scenic Inside Passage further enhancing its allure for travelers.


Downtown Sitka Alaska, winter season. Small town with beautiful snowy mountains in background.
Downtown Sitka, Alaska during winter season. Image credit Elchachos via Shutterstock.

Unlike some other Alaskan towns that cluster together, Sitka is a broadly spread borough proximal to Juneau, the capital. It shows a diverse perspective of history, where visitors can walk through the Sitka National Historical Park. It follows a trail of totem poles, marking the Russian defeat at the hands of the Tlingit people. Other historic sites include the 1842 Russian Bishop's House, erected during the Tsarist era. For a peek at how much can change in 25 years, visit St. Michael's Orthodox Cathedral, mirroring traditional Russian architecture. Holding the magic of nature through the Alaska Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bear, these rescue services emulate the spirit of Sitka. Historic, cultured, and replete with picturesque views, this southern Alaskan town is well worth the trip. 


Night view of the small town of Valdez in Alaska.
Night view in Valdez, Alaska. Image credit Olga Lyubochkina via Shutterstock.

For a unique twist on the wild nature of Alaska, Valdez lies in Alaska's Unorganized Bureau. Right at water level, it is home to crystal clear waters and views of the Chugach Mountains. Right at Fjord's in Prince William Sound, this is an area of biodiversity. From rainforests to mountains, glaciers to oceans, there is no shortage of scenery. Looking for a bit of an adventure? Black Ops Valez offers helicopter tours and Anadyr Adventures provides guided kayaking treks. The Lu-Lu Belle Glacier & Wildlife Cruises allow visitors to kick back and observe humpback whales, sea lions, and otters. For a dash of history, the Gary's Valdez & Alaska Photo Gallery and the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive are worth a visit. After a day out, fuel up at The Fat Mermaid or Fu Kung Chinese Restaurant. To make the most of the area, a night at Totem Hotel and Suites or Robe Lake Lodge & Cabins, featuring daytime sights and beautiful night-time sky-gazing. 


Alaska is a unique state that borders Canada and Russia and is home to some of the richest northern landscapes in the world. For a trip that is made for chilling, there is no greater place than the vast landscape of Alaska. The small towns accommodate all types of activities, and each offers a unique peek into an iconic piece of Americana. Whether wanting to kick back and watch the glaciers or venture in a helicopter, the breathtaking sights await in these small Alaskan towns. Pack some layers, waterproof jackets, sunscreen, bug spray, and some good shoes when visiting here. Depending on personal preferences, visitors may opt for bright summers in Alaska or its dark winter days. Regardless of the season, to get some distance from the 9-5 and take a chill vacation, these Alaskan towns will do the trick! 

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