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brandonmichael Jul 31st, 2003 09:06 AM

Alaska in 3 days? Help
Ok, so I know that is a ridiculous feat but here is my situation. Labor Day weekend my wife and I are flying into Anchorage on frequent flyer tickets..looking for a taste of Alaska in 72 hours. Open to train rides, jeep rides, day hikes, whale watching, Denali, whatever, but need a pretty well thought out itinerary before hand..even if it is only seeing/doing 2-3 things. Have done some searching through the messages and see mixed reviews on Denali..looking for some rock solid recommendations on anything from lodging to tour operators to activities in/around the Anchorage area. Thanks Brandon

ChristieP Jul 31st, 2003 11:16 AM

The nicest hotel lodging in Anchorage is the Captain Cook Hotel. If you were only going to be in town for a few days, that would be a great place to stay. Anchorage is very walkable and there is excellent shopping downtown. Watch the salmon fishing on Ship Creek in downtown. Spend a day at the Native Heritage Park. Eat dinner at the Glacier Bay Brewhouse (my favorite) at least once.

I would recommend renting a car for a day and driving to Seward. You will get to see some breathtaking scenery and it is a nice drive! Stop at Exit Glacier and check it out up close and personal. (Wear your hiking shoes, and be prepared to get a little wet.)

There is a log cabin visitors' center on 4th Avenue in downtown. They can help you find some tours that will be able to take you on shoirt notice. If you have the budget and like small planes, I would highly recommend doing a flightseeing tour out of the Anchorage airport. There are many vendors to choose from, and the visitors' center can help you find them.

Have fun!!

ALF Jul 31st, 2003 11:18 AM

I would definitely devote a day to taking a cruise on Prince William Sound and College Fjord. Several boats leave out of Whittier, which is not too far from Anchorage. Check out Sound EcoAdventures ( for a small boat experience; or Major Marine Tours ( for a fancier, larger boat experience.

Taking the train to Denali, then a shuttle bus into the Park, can be wonderful, provided the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, at that time of year, the clouds build quickly and the Mountain tends to be fully shrouded by mid-day. If you want good views of Denali, you should be there in the early morning, which means staying overnight near the Park.

Deborah Jul 31st, 2003 12:38 PM

If you are only in Alaska for 72 hours, I wouldn't do Denali. The Alaska RR takes 8 hours to get there. You could drive in about 4, but you would need to overnight to do the bus trip. I would say do either the 26 Glacier tour out of Whittier or the Kenai Fjords tour out of Seward which is about a 2-3 hour drive from Anchorage. You could do some hiking in Girdwood which is about 45 minutes from Anchorage and stay at the Aleyeska. The glacier trip from Whittier would be easy from there.

Check out the Glacier Brewhouse for dinner in Anchorage.

Enjoy your trip and try to go to Alaska when you have more time.

Gardyloo Jul 31st, 2003 01:36 PM

Okay, here's my take on it.

Stay in Girdwood one night (Alyeska resort is a good idea.) Do the Whittier glaciers tour on the fast catamaran (Phillip's) - pricy but less driving than Seward, plenty of glaciers.

Spend another day around Anchorage - see the Native Heritage Center, museum, coastal trail, see if there are still silvers in Ship Creek, have a burger at the Arctic Roadrunner, shop at Nordstrom with no sales tax. If you can afford it (hey, your plane tickets were free) hop on a flightseeing trip over the Chugach mts, or better, up toward Denali if the mountain's out, across the inlet if it's not. You have to get up in the air at some point. Plenty of operators at Lake Hood.

Finally, and though others may disagree, I'll bet you'd enjoy part of a day at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, 45 min. north of Anchorage in the beautiful Matanuska Valley. It's not a great fair as state fairs go, but where else are you going to see cabbages the size of Fords? It runs through Labor Day weekend. This is "real Alaska" sure enough. Rodeo, cool stalls selling stuff, wacko politics booths, 4-H goats and painted goldpans, crab cakes or scallops from Prince William Sound (also elephant ears and corn dogs), maybe buy an ulu or a parky or, hell, even some Ginzu knives.

You'll be back...

wagsdvm Jul 31st, 2003 02:47 PM

Gardyloo, the state fair is a great suggestion! Thanks! We'll be going next week and will plan to check it out.

BudgetQueen Jul 31st, 2003 04:54 PM

I have to disagree, I thought the Alaska state fair a complete waste of time and just awful. In defense we have an excellent NY State fair that just blew the Alaska one away. I wouldn't waste my time if I were on the marathon trip the posters are on. I too would not recommend Denali Park- you don't have enough time. I also would not devote 2 days to boat tours either unless of interest. For glacier viewing go out of Whittier, varied wildlife- Seward on Kenai fjords boat trips of at LEAST 6 hours on the water. Hiking Exit Glacier is great, also Seavey's sled dogs and glacier helicopter landings via Goodwins. You may also want to consider an overnight in Talkeetna for excellent flightseeing of McKinley- also great funky Alaska town, on the way back consider a Matanuska glacier hike, then you are only an 1+ hour back to Anchorage.

Gardyloo Jul 31st, 2003 05:17 PM

So BQ and I disagree on the fair. Not the first time. What I like about it is that you get to meet actual human Alaskans rather than those with fins or paws. It's funky and small and doesn't hold a candle to the Iowa or NY or Texas state fairs. But you look up over the Tilt-a-Whirl or the beer garden and there are mountains, Knik glacier maybe visible, and maybe you learn about the Matanuska project and Alaskan agriculture, one of the Depression's great under-told stories. Don't go if it means missing a glacier cruise or a whale encounter, but give it a couple of hours if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

brandonmichael Jul 31st, 2003 10:59 PM

Thank you all very much...I'll print this out and start to create the itinerary!If anyone else wants to add some thoughts, I'll keep checking back...

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