Are you currently thinking about a weekend trip by road? Subsequently, Alaska is among the best places to visit.
To get a full-time accounting assistant with two weeks of vacation a year, it didn’t seem like this dream could become a reality. But with a few days set aside for a long weekend, we thought, why not? Why cannot we create Alaska?
For our weekend Alaska road trip itinerary, we concentrated on the south-central region of the state. With many direct flights from Los Angeles to Anchorage, we spent most of our 3.5 days researching this part of Alaska, instead of waiting at airports.
Even though Anchorage is the largest city in the state, it is the ideal destination to start your weekend road trip to Alaska.
Here is the ultimate weekend at Alaska street trip itinerary!
The Best Time to Go to
Since the weather in Alaska is unpredictable and winters are harsh, the best time to go on a road trip in Southern Alaska is from April until mid-September. Even though the temperatures are still low in spring, the state–like its wildlife–slowly starts to awaken. At this time the roads are pretty clear from snow.
In the middle of March, ship cruises begin restarting their operations–that is excellent news for those who intend to explore Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park.
Visiting Alaska in winter has its allure. Surely, not all destinations within this weekend Alaska road excursion itinerary are accessible throughout the snowy season. But, winter festivals in Anchorage and other outdoor activities are quite lovely!
Where to Stay
Since Anchorage is the largest and most populous city in Alaska, it gives accommodations for all tastes and preferences. From large chains like Hilton and Marriott to small and affordable beds and wineries such as Deal’s Bed & Breakfast, the town suits budget and luxury travelers alike.
The drive time to these tiny cities is roughly 1.5 to 2.5 hours, respectively. If this wasn’t a good thing long summer days allow for a couple of extra stops along the way to add to this Alaska road trip itinerary!
Those who prefer to travel at a slower rate can spend one or two nights at hotels and B&Bs near and in Whittier.
Campers generally stay at Portage Valley Cabins and RV Park or Williwaw Campground. Most of these places require calling and checking the availability of the rooms and camping spots beforehand.
Weekend Alaska Road Trip Highlights
- Turnagain Gallery and Gifts of Alaska, Bird Creek
- Williwaw Campground
- The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
- Portage Lake
Day One: Early Arrival in Anchorage
Things to do in Anchorage rely on the time of your travel. In winter you decide to spend more time indoors and visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Museum, spring, and summer is about outdoor experiences.
- Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Upon your early arrival in Anchorage, you can’t think of a better action than hitting on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The 11-mile hiking and biking path spreads from Second Avenue in downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park.
- Kincaid Park
To save time by not moving back and forth, it’s possible to continue your trek or bicycle ride at Kincaid Park. Although the park has its beautiful vistas, trails, and sports grounds, Alaska’s wildlife brings the people to the first location.
- Potter Marsh
Potter Marsh is just another great destination in Anchorage to experience wildlife–mostly birds. Situated at the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, it’s home to migratory and nesting birds such as eagles, gulls, Arctic terns, and northern pintails.
- Flattop Mountain
To the east of downtown Anchorage, Flattop Mountain allures locals and visitors with a steep 1.5-mile trail. The hike could be tiresome, but the views from the top are worth every attempt at climbing this famed mountain.
Day Two: Anchorage to Whittier
The best way to make the most out of this weekend road trip in Alaska is by getting off the beaten path and researching lesser-known places in between.
We would recommend starting your next day early, so it is possible to catch sunrise straight outside Anchorage.
- Turnagain Gallery Alaska Art and Gifts
At mile marker 100 of the Seward Highway, about a 20-minute drive south of Anchorage is located Turnagain Gallery Alaskan Arts and Gifts. The place features wood sculptures, handmade jewelry, paintings, and glass art made by local artists.
- The Bake Shop
For breakfast or brunch, cease at The Bake Shop in Girdwood to enjoy homemade pancakes, sweet rolls, cold or hot sandwiches, and signature soups. The area also caters to vegans and vegetarians and offers veggie pizza, vegan soup, and fresh salads to dig into.
- The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Once back on the street, check out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Located about one hour away from Anchorage, this non-profit organization focuses on providing quality care and the very best surroundings for injured and orphaned animals.
- Willow Campground
To get an opportunity to view spawning salmon autumn and increase to a glacier, make sure you go to the Williwaw Campground in Portage Valley.
With the towing glaciers and snowy massifs, the area has, arguably, some of the greatest viewpoints in Alaska. Hikers can’t get enough of the Blue Ice Trail winding through woods and close scenic lakes and ponds.
- Portage Lake
You can get a better look at Portage Glacier out of Portage Lake, which is situated about 8 minutes from the campground. The lake freezes in winter, generally around February, allowing for a secure 3-mile hike to the glacier.
- Portage Glacier Cafe
Before eventually heading into Whittier, visit Portage Glacier Cafe to relish the filling and cheap hot sandwiches and pies.
Spend The Rest of the Day at Whittier
Whittier is one of the smallest towns in Alaska. Its inhabitants barely exceed 200 people. Though the town is small, it gives lots of things to do in 1 day! From ship cruises to hiking and waterfalls pursuing, Whittier keeps adding magnificent areas and outside tasks to an Alaska road trip itinerary.
Top Things to Do Whittier
- Portage Pass Trail
Regardless of whether you choose to conquer the waters of Resurrection Bay and Prince William Sound or not, be sure to hit the Portage Pass Trail. This mild 2-mile hike allows for stunning views of Portage Glacier and Portage Lake at the end of the trail.
- Horsetail Falls
You don’t need to overlook Horsetail Falls! Lost in lush summer greenery, a waterfall cascades off the mountain from a height of 330 feet and empties into the Lowe River.
- Boat Tours
The majority of the travelers see Whittier with one purpose in mind: to set out on a cruise boat that takes them to Kenai Fjords National Park or even Prince William Sound. On the downside, the city’s options are limited compared to neighboring Seward.
Day Three: Whittier — Seward — Anchorage
Seward is located about 1 hour 50 Minutes away from Whittier. Gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, it entices the adventurous travelers with dozens of glaciers, scenic hikes, such water activities including paddling, and gorgeous views.
Top Things to Do Seward
- Boat Tours
The Same as Whittier, Seward attracts the visitors with ample bout excursions to see and explore some of the renowned Alaska’s glaciers. You can find different tour operators in addition to tours, varying in their itineraries and duration.
While reserving your tour, check to see if it contains lunch or not. Some companies allow you to add in the choice of getting lunch on the boat. If not, make sure you bring your lunch and snacks as the water excursions last on average of five hours.
- Two Lakes Park
Change the scene at Two Lakes Park. Even though the blue waters and hills captured your attention before, today it is time to focus on Alaska’s temperate rainforest! The highlight of this park is a short, less than a mile loop through the woods filled with spruce trees and small waterfalls.
- Lowell Creek Waterfall
On the southern edge of Seward, Lowell Creek Waterfall unveils its existence with the loud sound of pounding water. The waterfall is set near a state road and can be reached by car. No hiking is necessary.
- Kenai Mountains – Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area
On your way back to Anchorage, cease at Kenai Mountains — Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area for a fast photoshoot during golden hour. Recognized for its compelling historic and cultural heritage and distinctive landscape, the place deserves at least one complete day.
Considering that you have only one weekend this time, this destination can be a legitimate reason to choose another road trip to Alaska in the future.
Alaska is a fantastic location for scenic street trips. While travel to northern areas of the nation might ask for a longer vacation, you do not need more than three days to strike all the best places in Southcentral Alaska.