Are you on the hunt for the best Alaska road trip itinerary that showcases the best the “Last Frontier” has to offer? When planning your trip, feel free to modify our Alaska Itinerary based on the amount of time you have to spend in the state. We recommend visiting Alaska for at least a week, but two weeks is an ideal amount of time for an Alaska vacation. No matter how long you have to spend in the state, you are in for a real treat when visiting America’s 49th state!
The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip Itinerary
Begin Your Alaska Road Trip By Flying To Anchorage
Table of Contents
When we initially considered traveling to road trip Alaska, we never thought we would find cheap flights to Alaska! Considering how far it is away from Florida, we thought the prices would be crazy high. Alaska Air flies direct from Tampa [where we are from], with one layover in Seattle, and the prices rang in at about $600-$700 per person, round trip. Considering that Alaska is much further from Florida than Europe, we thought this was actually quite an affordable price! We were thinking airfare to Alaska would be more like $1500-$2000 per person.
If you aren’t looking to visit Alaska on a budget or are looking to splurge, Alaska Air offers a wonderfully spacious first-class option with meal service on most flights to Alaska. The meals are expertly curated with locally sourced choices and vegetarian options and you have access to unlimited beverage options. Since some flights arrive into Anchorage in the wee hours of the morning, stretching out is never a bad idea! Don’t forget to pack a neck pillow like this crazy cool futuristic one for a comfortable night sleep and bring your airplane blanket if you are in coach!
You are going to want to fly into Anchorage because flights to Anchorage are affordable and the city is centrally located. It is the perfect base to explore and start a road trip!
When renting a car in Alaska, don’t worry about getting anything fancy if you don’t want to. Roads in Alaska are very good so you don’t need a 4×4 car. A simple economy car does the trick if you are looking to visit Alaska on a budget. We did this entire Alaska itinerary in a Nissan Centra with no problems! The car got fabulous gas mileage to boot! Remember that you can spend as little or as long as you want on an Alaskan road trip! From 10 day Alaska Itineraries to short Alaska getaways, take as little or as much time as you need!
A Note About Airbnb
When traveling, we love to stay at Airbnb locations. All of the places to stay on our Alaska road trip itinerary are Airbnbs. This is our personal preference and of course, we want to suggest it to our dear readers! Every location included here is trustworthy and a place that we personally have stayed at. If you are new, check out our “Beginner’s Guide To Airbnb” and also be sure to browse our post on How To Avoid Airbnb Scams in case you choose to book with someone not recommended here. Either way, don’t forget to make use of our FREE Airbnb Coupon worth $40 off your first booking!
Stop 1: Anchorage Is Where You Will Begin Your Alaska Road Trip Itinerary
You will start and end your Alaska road trip in the city of Anchorage. There are plenty of things to do in Anchorage and the town is full of all the comforts you could ask for such as large grocery stores, a mall, museums, shops etc. while still being very close to all the nature you could possibly want! Most Alaska road trip itineraries begin and end in Anchorage because it is convenient and the international airport is nearby.
If you are looking for some of the best things to do in Anchorage, consider going to the Anchorage Museum which has something for the whole family! Fascinating art and cultural exhibits, a planetarium, and an entire kids section make it a great day trip for all ages! If you want to see more of the city, Anchorage Trolley Tours is a fun and affordable way to take a tour! We learned all about how Anchorage was founded, saw crazy cool local homes, and drove on an actual small plane runway! This was certainly one of the most fun Alaska tours in town and one of our favorite things to do in Anchorage. Anchorage is a fun and educational place to begin your Alaska road trip!
Where To Stay In Anchorage
If you are looking for the single best place to stay in Anchorage during your Alaska road trip, take our advice and stay at the “Gorgeous Anchorage Park Strip Townhome.” If you are into luxury, this place is for you and a great place to stay on your Alaska trip itinerary! If you want to stay in a great Airbnb with friends or family during your Alaska travel itinerary, the townhome holds 9 guests and has three bathrooms. This location is in the best location in Anchorage and is located right on the cities “Central Park” and a few blocks away from the mall, shops, local restaurants, bars and more and just a short drive away from everything else Anchorage has to offer. If you are in town on the weekend, head to Anchorage’s Saturday Morning Market from the townhome! Don’t forget to bring your super affordable reusable bag!
No expenses were spared on the interior decoration and everything is Tuscan inspired. We have stayed in a lot of Airbnb homes, and we truly felt “at home” in this location. The inside has a slide [come on, how cool is that], a freaking secret room [even cooler!] a Japanese soaking tub, loft area, German shutters so bedrooms go completely dark during the midnight sun, and stunning views of Downtown Anchorage. Trust us and pack some Eucalyptus essential oil for some ultimate relaxation in this bathtub!
Jennifer, your host, is very responsive on Airbnb which made checking in a breeze! She even allowed us to check-in in the middle of the night when we landed. You are able to customize the front-door keycode so it is specific for your use only so you can be certain no one else has the code! The location to Downtown Anchorage makes this the perfect first place to stay for your Alaska itinerary.
Stop 2: Denali Is A Must If You Road Trip Alaska
After spending time in Anchorage, the next stop on your Alaska road trip itinerary is to head north to Denali. The drive is a bit long, so make sure to budget at least four hours of driving for this part of your Alaska trip itinerary. Both times we drove from Anchorage to Denali, it was raining, so we had to drive slow. If it is a clear day, you are going to want to stop to see all the stunning mountains once you get further north! When you are in Denali National Park, you have the option to drive your car 14 miles in the park, but after that, you have to either hike or pay to take a National Park bus.
Denali is the highlight of many traveler’s Alaska itinerary, so choose the top things to do in Denali that suit your needs and don’t forget to pack a Balaclava for when the wind picks up! We drove around the roads that were open and had fun at the Music Of Denali Dinner Theatre. The dinner theatre is located at the Denali Princess Lodge and the dinner was delicious and the show was funny and educational. They were serving up locally caught salmon and other meats, but were also able to create custom vegetarian and vegan meals! If you have the time, you are going to want to visit Denali during your Alaska road trip.
Where To Stay Near Denali For Your Alaska Vacation
There are no Airbnb locations right outside of Denali so if you want to save money on a hotel or if you are trying to book during high season and there are no rooms left, consider staying in Cantwell. About 20 minutes south of the Denali National Park entrance, Cantwell is a small town of less than 300 people. If you choose to stay at the Cantwell Lodge, you will get a chance to experience living like a true rustic Alaskan. The price is affordable and the location is close to Denali, without all the crowds.
Armeda, your host, is there to greet you upon your arrival, and there is an actual landing strip in your front yard! We actually were able to watch small planes land in front of our very eyes…what a truly Alaskan experience! The Cantwell Lodge is surrounded by mountains on every side, and the rooms are clean and cozy. There is a full kitchen with breakfast and a washer and dryer for your use. Cantwell is right on your way up to Denali so it is the perfect little place to stay during your Alaska road trip.
Stop 3: Seward Is A Must-See On Any Alaska Road Trip
Seward should top every Alaska itinerary! You can head there from Denali, but that is an 8-hour drive, or you can spend another night or two in Anchorage or the nearby towns of Wasilla or Palmer to cut down on the drive. The drive down the Turnagain Arm is one of the top drives in the world, and the highlight of many Alaska road trips. Even if it is cloudy or rainy, the Turnagain Arm will be a memorable part of your Alaska vacation itinerary.
The road winds underneath glaciers and next to mountains and along the water. If you have time, stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can see Bear, Wolves, Moose, Bison, and more up close and safely! You are going to want to pack your GoPro for some cute animal selfies!
When people set out on an Alaska road trip, they want to see glaciers! There is no better Alaska Tour to see glaciers up close and personal than taking a boat ride in Seward! While there are many companies, Major Marine Tours is hands down the best company for Alaska tours of glaciers in Seward. Just by walking the marina docks in Seward, you can see that the Major Marine Tours boats are in top quality condition, while others are rusting, the paint is peeling off, and the interior is older. We were thrilled when we walked up to our clean and modern boat! This is one of those Alaska tours where you are going to want to bring a good camera with you!
We went on the 7.5 hour glacier and wildlife cruise. We have to admit that a 7.5 hour Alaska boat tour was quite long and we did get tired after about four hours, so if you get tired easily, this may not be the best choice for you. That being said, this length of cruise is suggested because you get to see two glaciers and it gives the captain more time to seek out wildlife. We usually have terrible luck with wildlife, but since we had more time, we were able to see many cute sea otters, multiple humpback whales, dal porpoise, and puffins! If you want to see two glaciers and have a higher chance of seeing wildlife, this Seward Glacier tour is the best option for you.
Major Marine Tours also offers the option to add a delicious lunch for $19 per person. The lunch included a buffet of vegan chili, salmon, ribs, rice, salad, fresh bread, and cheesecake and brownies for dessert. Make sure you add some time in your Alaska itinerary to see glaciers!
If you are looking to see glaciers from above instead of at sea, add a helicopter tour to your Alaska itinerary! Flying over mountains, the ocean, and glaciers is one of the top things to do in Alaska and Seward is a wonderful choice for a flight. If you are looking to do a helicopter tour of Seward and the surrounding glaciers, make sure to book with Marathon Helicopters.
We had never flown in a helicopter before and while we know it would offer us stunning views for photography and a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we were a little afraid! The owner, Mike, is a professional pilot and his takeoffs and landings were as smooth as butter! You didn’t even know you were moving and the ride was so smooth and fun! We went on a 30-minute glacier landing tour which involved 15 minutes of flying and 15 minutes of landing at the foot of a glacier so remote it doesn’t even have an official name! Don’t forget to pack a windproof jacket if you plan to land on a glacier!
If you have never flown in a helicopter before but hope to add it to your Alaska travel itinerary, Marathon Helicopters is the perfect tour company to get you as addicted to Helicopter tours as we have become! If you are looking for what to do in Alaska that you will never forget, a helicopter tour in Seward will be perfect for you!
Where To Stay Near Seward:
Since you are on an Alaska road trip, you are going to want to see all that Alaska has to offer! Spend the day in Seward, but spend the night in the cute nearby town of Moose Pass to enjoy every second of your Alaska vacation. Moose Pass is just minutes away from the main highway from Anchorage, 20 minutes from fishing in Cooper’s Landing, minutes away from Kenai Lake, and less than 25 minutes away from Seward.
The Moose Pass Vacation Home is located in the heart of Moose Pass and is perfect for families or friends traveling together! The view is amazing and moose and bear can often be viewed on the nearby mountains or walking through the town! Although the home is located right on the main road, the interior is quiet so you don’t hear any unwanted noise! The space is large and can hold up to 6 people. Checking in and out was easy and Jeff, our host, was very responsive and helpful.
Jeff also owns and manages the stunning Inn At Tern Lake, so if you would prefer a BnB style home instead of an entire house to yourself, that place is freaking awesome and we stopped by the check it out! His children also run their own Airbnb locations which you can check out here. The family was very nice and we visited all of their properties which is why we can recommend them for where to stay in Moose Pass on your Alaska road trip!
Stop 4: Homer Is A Unique Addition To Your Alaska Vacation Itinerary
Homer is an essential stop on any Alaska itinerary and is easy to drive to which makes it the perfect place to visit when taking an Alaska road trip. Homer is about a 2-2.5 hour drive from Seward, making it an easy place to drive to. One of the top things to do in Homer is to go fishing for Halibut. Since we don’t fish, we spent our time walking the beach, taking in the stunning mountain and glacier vistas, visiting the famous Salty Dog Saloon, and meandering through Homer’s Wednesday Farmer’s Market. Homer is one of the best places to see in Alaska because of its proximity to the mountains and ocean. Don’t forget to check out Homer’s crazy tides and beautiful sunsets, if you happen to visit when it isn’t raining! Many Alaska road trip itineraries don’t include Homer and if they do, it may only be a day trip. We urge you to add more time to your Alaska vacation to see this unique and eclectic town.
Where to stay in Homer to make the most of your Alaska trip itinerary:
When you travel to Homer, you will notice that there are two parts to the town…the mainland, and the famous “Homer Strip.” If you want to be in the heart of all that Homer has to offer and have an up-front view to some of the best things to do in Alaska, make sure to choose to stay on the Homer Spit! Staying on the spit is a fantastic way to make the most of your Alaska vaction because you are near all the action. Make sure you bring along waterproof shoes to walk along the beaches in Homer.
We stayed at the “The Aurora Room” which was an absolute dream! The home is located on the second floor of a juice shop [which is now closed] on one of the popular boardwalks on the Homer strip. There is an ice-cream store next door, plenty of places to grab fish-n-chips, and a ton of cute shops. This location had sweeping views in multiple directions of the ocean and faced the sun set for perfect views every night! This location is not a big place! It can sleep multiple guests, but the charm of this Airbnb is its location and quaint seafaring atmosphere.
The Aurora Room is just a walk away from all the best things to do on the Homer strip and if Halibut fishing is on your Alaska itinerary, there are plenty of options for you to choose from! Your host is Camarron and he was responsive and made checking in and out a breeze. We were able to check in on our own and had the ability to cook using hot plates and a toaster oven. This is the place to stay if you are looking for some crazy views! Homer is not to be missed on your Alaska road trip!
Stop 5: Soldotna Is Where You Want To Be If Fishing Is On Your Alaska Road Trip Itinerary
One of the top Alaska attractions in Soldotna is the Kenai River and the Salmon Fishing Run. Whether you fish or just want to enjoy the town and the stunning [active!] volcanos in the distance, make sure to add Soldotna as part of your Alaska road trip itinerary. On your way to Homer, you will pass through Soldotna, but it is better to leave this part of your Alaska road trip itinerary for on the way back to Anchorage so you can break up the driving time.
The drive from Homer to Soldotna is only 1.5 hours, so you will be hanging out in this cute Alaskan town before you know it! Keep an eye out for Moose and Bear, as animal watching is one of the top things to do in Alaska and Soldotna is the perfect place for wildlife viewing! What better way to enjoy your Alaska vacation than with some local moose?
Where To Stay In Soldotna
If Soldotna is on your Alaska travel itinerary for the fishing, there is no better place to stay than the “Amazing Log Cabin Lodge On The Kenai River” which is literally right on the river! You have the option to rent out the entire lodge, which fits up to 21 people or to rent out an individual room. If you are traveling with a small group, one room will do. Even better, plan an Alaska vacation with your entire extended family, or an all girls or boys trip and rent out the entire lodge for yourself!
This Airbnb is run by Jennifer, the same host as the Anchorage accommodation we suggested above, and it is rustic luxury at its best. When you stay at the lodge, you have access to a full kitchen with a walk in fridge and freezer [!], a ton of bikes, fishing equipment, a washer and dryer on every floor, a media room, and all the epic views of the Kenai River you could possibly want!
If you aren’t into fishing, stopping in Soldotna and staying at this lodge is still worth stopping on your Alaska road trip because the views are stunning, the river is relaxing, and there is plenty to do for everyone! This Airbnb is the perfect for anyone who loves fishing, rustic luxury, or both!
Stop 6: Anchorage Is Where Your Alaska Vacation Ends
You will end your Alaska road trip in Anchorage where you started. If you fly Alaska Air, many flights are red eyes, leaving after midnight. The benefit to this is you have the entire day to explore, drive slowly back to Anchorage, and still make your flight back home without missing any fun! When flying a red eye, you are going to want to pack a sleep mask for extra comfort! Alternatively, you can add one extra day in Anchorage to your Alaska itinerary if being closer to the airport the day of your flight is important to you. No matter how long you choose to stay in Alaska, you won’t forget the experiences you had in this beautiful state!
What To Pack For Your Alaska Road Trip
Chances are you are taking your Alaska road trip in summer or late spring/early fall. If you aren’t more power to you and let us know how it is! If you are going in the summer, Alaska isn’t as cold as you may think, but it is still chilly for those of us who live year-round in colder climates. The weather in Alaska during the summer will range from 45-70 degrees along this route. The weather during the late summer in Alaska can also get rainy too, so make sure to stay prepared and you will have a great time on your Alaska road trip!
- Fleece lined leggings. We don’t care if you are a guy or girl if you are packing for a road trip in Alaska you need to bring fleece lined leggings! We actually bring two pairs each so that you can double them up if you want to wear a dress! Fleece lined leggings are the perfect thing to add to your Alaska packing list because they don’t take up much space and they keep you warm under jeans or hiking pants.
- Thin Long Sleeve Thermal Tops. Whether you are a guy or girl packing for an Alaska road trip, we recommend bringing 2-3 thin thermal tops. These tops are affordable and pack up very small all while keeping you extra warm! They are perfect for layering and can be worn underneath other tops as a base layer. Some days in Alaska are quite warm and in the 60-70’s and then dip into the low 50’s at night so layering is key!
- A Balaclava. Weather in Alaska can get windy and blow your scarf all over the place! Cut down on chasing your clothing around and add a Balaclava to your Alaska packing list! A balaclava is perfect for both men and women and is often unisex. They fit neatly under your clothing and are barely noticeable but you notice the benefit that they provide! A balaclava is especially important for Alaska if you are doing anything on the water such as a glacier boat tour or whale watching! You can thank us later!
- Warm Knit Hat. Simple knit hats or beanies are must to add to your Alaska packing list. You really only need to pack one of these cable knit hats for your Alaska road trip, but we won’t blame you if you pick up a few! The best part? You probably already have one lying around the house!
- Filtered water bottle. We swear by our Bobble Water Bottles and they have seen multiple trips to Alaska. Filtered water bottles don’t cost that much and will help you cut down on waste during your Alaska road trip. You are also able to refill them using any tap water and be on your way!
- Waterproof and windproof jacket. Having a waterproof and windproof jacket is essential for going on an Alaska road trip. When packing for Alaska, make sure to consider the fact that it may be raining, windy, or both at any given time. We love this jacket from Columbia for women and this one for men and personally have worn them to Alaska. Make sure to add a solid jacket to your Alaska packing list in order to stay warm and dry during your road trip.
- Waterproof Rain Pants. We love our waterproof rain pants and you will too! They are affordable and pack up small so you can fit them anywhere. If you are out hiking or walking and it starts to rain, simply whip out this waterproof shell and put them on over your clothes! If you need to sit or kneel or just want to keep exploring, you will stay warm and dry! It is a bonus that they are windproof too!
- Sleep mask. If you are taking your Alaska road trip during the warmer months, you will get to experience the midnight sun! Now 24 hour daylight is a super cool thing to experience, but some people have a hard time sleeping when it is light out! Bring along a sleep mask to help block out the light and to help you get some shut-eye before more exploring begins.
- Trail Mix And Protein Bars. Following this Alaska road trip itinerary is best done on a full stomach! If you don’t have time to run to the store before your trip, there are plenty of great products you can buy straight from Amazon and have them delivered to your home in just days. If you sign up for Amazon Prime, you will also get free shipping! We love this brand of bars and they are cheaper to order online than from our local store! As for trail mix, you can make your own or you can buy a big bag of trail mix online or at your local store. The nuts and seeds in trail mix will help you stay satisfied longer during your Alaska road trip.
- Waterproof Hiking Shoes. No matter what time of year you are traveling to Alaska, make sure to add sturdy hiking shoes to your Alaska packing list. Pack solid hiking shoes that are waterproof so that your feet don’t get wet along the way and that offer good support. Good hiking shoes often make all the difference when exploring Alaska!
Best Time Of Year For An Alaska Road Trip
When you are planning your Alaska road trip, the time of year is something you should totally consider. The best time of year for taking an Alaska road trip is easily summer or fall. Winter is not a good idea for obvious reasons and spring can still be very cold in Alaska. Depending on where you want to go, spring in Alaska can still be quite snowy and cold. If you want to drive into the mountains, the snow may not have melted just yet and you will be limited in what you are going to be able to do.
Late summer and early fall are an ideal time for taking an Alaska Road trip because the weather is good, the snow is gone, and the animals are out and about. The downside is that this is high season and prices will be at their most expensive, but it is for a good reason. If you can visit Alaska later in the year, like September or even October you will have the chance to experience the state with lower prices. A word of caution, if you go later in the year you will have to deal with closures as many companies shut down for the season. You are safe to travel in late summer and early fall so keep this in mind when choosing what time of year to plan your Alaska road trip.
Safety Tips For Your Alaska Road Trip
During your Alaska road trip, there are some safety tips that are essential to consider. Alaska is a beautiful but harsh state at times and it is important to be prepared. First off, you are going to want to watch the weather closely. The weather can change quickly during your Alaska road trip and can range from sunny to freezing and windy. Make sure you dress in layers so you can easily take off or put on clothes based on the weather. Download a weather app to keep track of local weather during your Alaska road trip so that you don’t venture out when it is too dangerous.
Always let a family member or friend know if you choose to go hiking during your Alaska itinerary so if something happens, someone knows where to find you. The phone service in Alaska is incredibly crappy and a tunnel under the water in Iceland had better 4G so go prepared knowing this! Use wifi to let someone know where you will be
When taking this Alaska road trip, always ensure that you have extra food and water in the car in the event you get into an accident and are stranded for a long period of time. You don’t want to be stuck without food and water while you wait for help. We recommend a reusable water bottle as well as an emergency bottle of water during your drive.
Finally, make sure to make noise and respect the animals. When you are hiking, sing or wear cans on your backpack to make noise and alert animals that you are on your way so you won’t surprise them. As usual, NEVER feed any wild animals and never get out of your car to walk up to an animal to view it more closely. Taking these precautions to heart will help you have a safe and fun time on your Alaska road trip!
Now you should be hopefully armed with the knowledge you need to start planning your Alaska road trip. We love Alaska and have been multiple times so we hope you take the tips to heart and keep an open mind to learn some things along the way too! Alaska is a fantastic state and we know that you are just going to love it as much as we do. We hope you have a wonderful Alaska road trip.
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A special thanks to our partners Alaska Air, Major Marine Tours, Anchorage Tourism, Princess Lodges, and Marathon Helicopters. All opinions are our own and are honest because lying sucks! Please note that some links may be affiliate links which means that we may make a small profit of the sales at no additional cost to you. All products we recommend are what we personally use and trust.