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Things to do in Alaska Before Your UnCruise |The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

Adventure Travel blog for couples featuring advice, tips, inspiration and photos for couples seeking vacation destinations around the world.


Cruising Alaska is a great introduction to the many things to do in Alaska. Having just come home from an UnCruise, we felt that we truly experienced the rugged wilderness of the 49th state.

But being on a cruise is just one part of going to Alaska. That’s why booking an added package before or after your cruise is a must. If you are going to make the trek all the way up north, why not make the most of it?

UnCruise has several packages to extend your cruise, and we’ve experienced a lot of what Alaska has to offer in the past.

What to do in Alaska Menu

So we thought we’d round up our favorite things to do in Alaska to help you plan the land portion of your Alaska vacation.

Juneau

We started our cruise with UnCruise in Juneau and have done some adventures in Juneau in the past. 

Their package has you stay in the Four Points Sheraton which is walking distance to everything and makes it easy to experience the many things to do in Juneau.

Things to do in Juneau

Juneau cool town that feels like it takes you back to the Gold Rush days with the swinging red doors of the Red Dog Saloon and colorful facades of shops lining the streets taking you back to the 1800s.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska

There are many things to do in Juneau but visiting Mendenhall Glacier is a great choice. They say it is the most-visited glacier in the world, and it’s an excellent chance to get up close to the massive glacier.

There’s the roaring nugget falls, salmon spawning and you may spy a black bear.

Whale Watching

Whale watching in Alaska
Juneau’s Whale Sculpture on the waterfront looks so real!

On an UnCruise we saw many whales on the ship, but nature isn’t always predictable and you never know what will happen.

But Juneau is one of the best places in the world to spot Humpback whales and they are so confident that if you don’t see one, you’ll get your money back!

Eagles

Things to do in Alaska Watching Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles may be difficult to spot in other parts of the world, but in Juneau, they hang out on the beach, sit on totem poles and soar through the air.

Dog Mushing

Dog mushing is something you can do in Alaska

When we first visited Juneau, we were supposed to go dog mushing. Dog mushing is still a very large part of the community in the North as locals still use dogs to get around in the winter.

It was raining pretty hard when we were in port, so it was canceled due to inclement weather, but we have since gone dogsledding in other parts of the world, and it is an uplifting, joyous experience, so make sure you do it!

Denali

Denali in alaska

This was probably our favorite place in Alaska (besides the remote wilderness we experienced on UnCruise) because, in Denali, you truly feel like you have reached the final frontier.

If you can add the 6-night rail portion onto your trip, you really will see the Best of Alaska!

Flight Over Denali

Taking a flight over Denali in Alaska

Denali (aka Mount Mount McKinley) is the highest mountain in North America and to see it by air is a must.

It offers stunning views of the glaciers of Mount McKinley and gives you the most up close and personal perspective of the mountain next to actually climbing it.

It’s a great adventure too! Stip into a 1966 De Havilland Beaver bush plane and feel like a pioneer exploring the Great North!

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding in Alaska

Put yourself in the mind of early settlers and imagine what it must have been like for them riding through the Alaskan Bush by horseback.

It takes you through remarkable scenery and you truly feel as if you’ve gotten away from it all!

ATV Denali

ATV riding in Denali

If you are into more motorized sightseeing, there are ATV tours on offer in the Denali area too!

We went through the TriValleys on ATV and had a rip-roaring time.

Dome Train

Take the dome train in Alaska

One of the best ways to explore the wilderness is by dome train. Just before Alaska, we took a dome train with the Rocky Mountaineer across the Canadian Rockies and we’ve been on a dome train through the Andes in Peru.

Alaska doesn’t disappoint. We didn’t take the train with UnCruise, but all cruise lines take the same dome train route from Denali to Talkeetna and it is extraordinary.

Grabbing a Bloody Mary on the dome train

There is something very decadent about eating breakfast in the dining car with a fresh Bloody Mary (c’mon, you’re on vacation, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!) while watching the wild Alaskan scenery as you pass by. You may spot a grizzly or two as well!

UnCruise Land Experience

Land excursions with uncruise

What’s great about the UnCruise land tours is that (as it is on the ship) activities are included. You don’t have to book excursions above and beyond the price.

Each day your guides will take you on a guided hike, bushwhack or kayaking trip into the wilderness for birdwatching, whale watching or wildlife viewing.

You can book some optional tours like scenic flights and whitewater rafting, but you don’t have to. There is enough to do on the tour you’ve paid for!

But, we have to give you more ideas to do in Alaska, why not make a summer of it?

Talkeetna

Denali National Park outside Talkeetna, alaska

Located a little south of Denali, Talkeetna is a stop on the train that lets you get out and stretch your legs.

Talkeetna is considered one of the coolest small towns in America.

It is the jumping-off point for mountaineers to climb Denali and there are a lot of cool little bars to see and enjoy a cocktail or two well into the wee hours of the Midnight sun. (Since you are so far north, you never know what time it is!)

Pop into a saloon and swig your whiskey as you pretend you are living back in the wild west.

Skagway

Helicopter Tour over Juneau Icefields

Skagway was one of our greatest adventures in Alaska. It’s also a big splurge tour but highly recommended.

We took a helicopter tour over the Juneau Icefields which offered up one of the most striking views we’ve ever seen.

The 30-minute flight took us over the massive ice fields that have been here for millenniums. Seeing the deep gorges from above, truly showed us the power of mother nature.

Hike Tongass National Forest

Hike in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska

Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the United States. A hike through here, lets you see what it was like for people passing along the Chilkoot Trail towards Alaska with all their belongings to strike it big in the Gold Rush.

They took their lives into their hands and many people perished searching for gold, but our leisurely hike kept us safe and sound, complete with snacks and drinks.

We followed the Skagway River learning of the flora and fauna of the area and we even saw old bear scratched in a tree!

Our three-hour hike took us through the wilderness to our final destination, a view of the Alaskan Sawtooth Mountain range and a glimpse of Laughton Glacier.

White Pass Rail

Take the White Pass Railway in alaska

This historic railway is a must. Even if you don’t do the helicopter or hiking tour, get on the White Pass Rail.

You can do a 40-mile round trip tour or just do half as we did. Scenes you’ll see along the way are:

  • Gold Rush Cemetery – Famous icons from the gold rush days are buried here including Soapy Smith and Frank Reid who died in a shootout in Skagway.
  • Black Cross Rock – A 100-ton rock that buried two railroad workers.  
  • Bridal Veil Falls

Chilcoot Trail

Hike the Chilcoot Trail from Alaska to B.C.

If you are really adventurous, you can book your Chilkoot trail hike from Skagway to British Columbia. People still do this trip every year.

Along the way, you’ll see artifacts left behind from early settlers. They tried to bring everything including the kitchen sink with them, and it was just too much for many to handle, so they left their belongings which can still be seen today in the trail!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the whole multiday trek, you can do a day hike to get a feel for it.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

If you don’t want to hike, check out the Gold Rush Museum where you’ll see exhibits from the days of the gold rush and artifacts from the trail.

There are four buildings open to the public that take you back in time and show what life was like.

Boy, I’m glad we live in today’s easy world, they had it rough!

Days of ’98

Take in the Days of 98 show!

End your day at the Days of 98 show that has been continuously running since 1923.

This interactive fun show is a great Alaskan experience with song and dance telling the story of notorious Alaskan outlaw and conman Soapy Smith.

Ketchikan

UnCruise offers stays in Ketchikan as well, and it was one of our favorite places to visit in Alaska. While in Ketchikan we packed a lot in.

Here you’ll stay at the Westmark Sitka hotel which is walking distance to the harbor and downtown.

Ketchikan Zodiac Tour

Deb driving a zodiac in Ketchikan, Alaska

The most fun we had in Alaska was whipping around the harbor in our self-drive zodiacs. We geared up in complete raingear, learned how to drive the powerful zodiacs and were let loose to twist and turn our way through the waters.

Following our guide, we crossed the bay watching whales and eagles before stopping at a camp to enjoy ‘Smores (marshmallows and chocolate melted on graham crackers)

Totem State Historical Park

Totem State Historical Park in Ketchikan, alaska

When we saw Totem State Historical Park, it was covered in bald eagles resting on the tops of the original Tglinglet Peoples totems.

Tlingit Culture – Connection in Bartlet Cove

Tlinkit Healing Totem at Bartlett cove

We learned about the Tlingit people on our UnCruise when we stopped at Bartlet Cove on our UnCruise. It you don’t get the chance to stop at Bartlet cove to see the longhouse, totems and listen to storytellers talk of their culture, Totlem State Historical Park is a good spot to visit in Ketchikan.

Creek Street

Stroll along the boardwalk to enjoy the waterfront and wood framed houses of Creek Street.

Fairbanks

Explore Fairbanks Alaska

When doing an Alaskan Cruise, many people fly into Fairbanks. It is a great place to either unwind after your trip, or gear up for getting started. It’s also an excellent place to experience the midnight sun.

Midnight Sun

Enjoy the midnight sun as one of the things to do in Alaska after your Uncruise

Something that draws people to Alaska in the summer is getting the chance to experience the nearly 24 hours of sunlight. Since Fairbanks is usually the farthest north you’ll go on a trip, this is the best place to experience the longest days.

Trust me, at 3:00 am, you’ll feel wide awake and ready to go!

Riverboat Cruise

Take a riverboat in Fairbanks, alaska

The Riverboat Cruise on the Chena River is a staple of things to do in Alaska.

Founded by Jim Binkley in 1950, it has become an institution showing visitors the way of life along the river.

From watching demonstrations by the Athabascan people showing us how they dry and hang salmon to viewing sled dog demonstrations.

It may be summer, but sled dogs still love to run, so they hook them up to wheels and treat them to their daily workout!

Pan For Gold

Panning for gold in Alaska

I don’t care how kitschy it sounds. When in Alaska, you must try your hand at panning for gold! The state was built on the gold industry, and it’s cool to see an old Gold Mine and the equipment they used to strike it rich.

Plus, everyone is guaranteed to find a nugget or two that you can take home with you as a souvenir!

Best of UnCruise

When taking an UnCruise, you are going to see a lot of the best things in Alaska, and you will have to pick and choose what you want to do before or after your cruise.

I think the add ons are a great way to compliment your cruise and to help you out, we want to share with you the best things we saw in Alaska.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay in Alaska with Uncruise

You may not need to go to Mendenhall Glacier because you are going to see a lot of glaciers on UnCruise. Our favorite was Dawes Glacier where we did zodiac tours.

Sea Kayaking

There is sea kayaking on offer in many places in Alaska but on UnCruise you get to go kayaking in search of whales, eagles, seals and sea lions nearly every day!

Skiff Tours

Skiff tours in Alaska with Uncruise

You may not be driving your own boat like in Ketchikan, but a skiff tour takes you out on Zodiacs with skilled drivers to watch whales, explore coves and witness glaciers from just a few hundred feet away.

Wildlife of Alaska

Wildlife in Alaska

And finally, we wanted to round up all the wildlife you may spy in Alaska. Taking one of the many land tours will give you the opportunity to see more.

So if you can’t get enough of wildlife go for it! We saw everything on this UnCruise except for a moose.

We saw a moose and cub on our last trip to Alaska, and we’ve seen them many times in Canada so we weren’t too disappointed to miss them on this trip.

But seeing a moose once in your life is a must!

Moose

Moose are abundant in Alaska
A moose we spied in Algonquin Park

We’ve seen moose all around Canada, but the Alaskan moose is the giant moose. A subspecies that ranges from the Yukon to Alaska.

Bald Eagles

Eagles working on their nest in alaska

You’ll see a lot of eagles in Alaska. We saw these two on a beach walk and I happened to yell at Dave to point his camera up to the tree just in time to capture this action shot.

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales in Alaska

We’ve always wanted to get that perfect fluke and on our latest UnCruise adventure we finally did. We saw so many humpback whales it was nearly impossible not to get at least one great photo.

Orca Whales

Orca whales in Alaska by an iceberg

Captain Tim was really excited to see orcas and he made sure that we all got a chance to watch these two move through the bay.

Sea Otters

Sea otter playing near our ship Uncruise Alaska

The first morning we woke up early and were treated to hundreds of sea otters floating through the bay.

We kept seeing one group after another. It was our best spotting of sea otters the entire trip.

Seals

Seals on an ice floe Alaska

We saw a lot of seals on UnCruise. But the cutest was when we went to John’s Hopkins Glacier and saw families lazing on ice flows.

Brown Bear

Brown bear or Grizzly bear in Alaska

Bear spotting was difficult from the ship, but thanks to Dave’s zoom lens we captured this Brown Bear.

Did you know, A Brown Bear is the term used for coastal grizzly bears. They are bigger than Grizzlies found inland because of their steady diet of salmon.

Black Bear

Black bears in alaska

We saw a black bear from the ship as well, but he was pretty far away and constantly moving, so we thought we’d share our favorite cute photo from a trip we took to Manitoba instead.

And that ladies and gentlemen is our list of all the things to do in Alaska that we loved!

I know Alaska is a huge state and there are many adventures to be had, but hopefully, this will inspire you to go back again and again. I know we are ready for our next trip!

Did you enjoy all the things to do in Alaska we suggested? Save this post to Pinterest to plan your Alaska travels.

things to do in in Alaska after a cruise

Our trip to Alaska was in partnership with UnCruise.

Our Alaska Itinerary was the Alaska Glacier Country cruise. But they have many Alaskan cruise itineraries to choose from.

About Dave And Deb

Dave and Deb are the owners and founders of The Planet D. Since launching in 2008 they have continued to inspire “Adventure in Everyone” and show that you don’t have to be an uber athlete or super-rich in order to be an adventurer.



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