12 Explore Worthy Small Towns in Alaska [Update 2024]

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The state of Alaska was officially recognized in 1959, making it one of the nation’s newest states. As the largest state in the union, Alaska is also a land of extremes: there are wide open spaces, massive glaciers, and even the tallest mountain in the United States.

However, there is more to this state than its vast natural splendors. While the state of Alaska as a whole is a popular tourist destination, Alaska’s small towns also have so much more to offer than you could ever imagine!

So buckle up and have a look at this list of some of the best explore worthy small towns in Alaska.

1. Homer

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Homer is one of the best Explore Worthy Small Towns in Alaska

Aside from its fascinating past, Homer has grown to be one of the top small towns in Alaska for its quality of life. The town’s artistic community and galleries also make it a popular tourist destination. Art lovers should visit the must-see Pratt Museum. It is possible to learn a great deal about the history of the Kachemak Bay region at the museum.

Moreover, for art enthusiasts, Ptarmigan Arts and Fireweed Gallery are well worth a visit. In addition to music, theater, film, and dance, they’re well-known for their creative programming.

2. Fairbanks

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Fairbanks

You won’t even have to worry about how to travel to this small town in Alaska because it’s accessible by nearly any method of transportation. Located on the eastern boundary of Denali National Park, it serves as the park’s base camp.

When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights and learning about Alaska’s rich artistic history, Fairbanks is the place to be. There are a wide variety of activities that may be done late into the night thanks to the wonderful midnight sun.

3. Skagway

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Skagway, Alaska’s Panhandle’s historic capital, welcomes tens of thousands of tourists every year. In addition to its stunning train trips, the area is noted for its rich landscape.

There are two popular rail routes in Alaska : the White Pass Scenic Railway and the Yukon Route Railroad. The train goes 20 miles from the coast, providing passengers with spectacular views of the mountains, waterfalls, tunnels, and other natural treasures along the way.

Moreover, it’s a must-see for nature lovers in Skagway to take an excursion to Yakatuania Point, Reid Waterfall, or Dewey Lake.

You might also want to visit the best national parks in Alaska.

4. Sitka

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Sitka

Sitka is located on Baranof Island, just south of Juneau, in Alaska’s Inside Passage. History, relics, and museums have helped Sitka make a stunning recovery from a ghost town. Wildlife, including eagles and bears, can be viewed in plenty thanks to the area’s proximity to the wilderness. Whether you like to travel by foot, bicycle, kayak, plane, or off-road vehicle, the Alaskan wilderness will not let you down.

5. Valdez

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Prince William Sound and its surrounding mountains make Valdez an ideal location for photographing breathtaking scenery. It is possible to take a day trip on the water or go fishing or hiking on one of the many routes. The Columbia Glacier, one of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers, can be visited on a day trip from this town. If you wish to see another glacier, head to Chugach Mountains’ Valdez Glacier Lake.

6. Nome

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The Bering Sea Coast city of Nome may be found on Alaska’s west coast, on the southern tip of the Seward Peninsula. The Inupiat Eskimo culture and gold rush history of this little town in Alaska make it a popular tourist destination. However, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s 1,049-mile finish line is what makes it famous today.

There are mountains, tundra, and coastal plains to be seen as you travel along these routes. As a bonus, they will connect you to neighboring areas where you may shop, dine, and take in the sights and sounds of nature.

Falling in love with Alaska’s gorgeous scenery? Then you might also want to check out the best places to live here.

7. Seward

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Seward, nestled between mountains and the sea, is accessible by automobile from Anchorage. This year-round community of 2,600 people on the Gulf of Alaska has all the enchantment of Alaska. There are numerous outdoor activities available in and around Seward, including hiking, kayaking, fishing, ziplining, flightseeing, and dog sledding. You’ll never run out of things to see and do here!

8. Talkeetna

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The little hamlet of Talkeetna is nestled between Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, and Denali, North America’s tallest peak, which is located in the surrounding area. Denali National Park itself is a superb site to take in epic vistas of the mountain for those who are less courageous.

A stroll around the eccentric Talkeetna Riverfront Park and a picnic at the Talkeetna Historical Society are terrific options for those who are less adventurous. Moreover, visitors to the Denali Brewing Company can sample a few brews.

9. Girdwood

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Girdwood was formerly known as Glacier City for a reason; the town is surrounded by seven glaciers! Take Mt. Alyeska Tram to the 2,300-foot summit of Mt. Alyeska for a stunning perspective of what that looks like in real life.

Also, skiing in Mt. Alyeska area is a must-do for winter sports enthusiasts. Visitors to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center can get up close and personal with orphaned, injured, and sick animals.

10. Ketchikan

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In Ketchikan, Tlingit totem poles are a major issue. It is also famous for possessing the world’s greatest collection of totem poles. Potlatch, Saxman, and Totem Bight State Parks all have examples of these; the majority are recreations of old totems.

At the Totem Heritage Center, visitors can view actual nineteenth-century totem poles that were salvaged from vanished communities in the area. The 1930-built First Lutheran Church of Ketchikan is one of the many lovely structures in Ketchikan’s Newton neighborhood. Moreover, the boardwalk that runs alongside the Creek Street Historic District adds to the enchantment.

11. Petersburg

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Petersburg has earned the nickname “the fish town.” Actually, Petersburg’s name comes from the cannery, sawmill, and docks created by Norwegian immigrant Peter Buschmann. If you’re curious about the history of Clausen, the Clausen Memorial Museum is the place to go.

The museum’s collection of Alaskan artifacts is extensive. Also, a visit to Petersburg’s South Harbor is a must when you are in this little Alaskan town.

12. Cordova

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The Gulf of Alaska town of Cordova is situated on the Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. Like any Alaskan town, the natural splendor, activities, and seafood are all fantastic here! There’s a lot of history here as well. You can also enjoy Cordova’s lush flora while hiking through the Copper River Delta and Godwin Glacier.

If you’re hungry, the Little Cordova Bakery, Harborside Pizza, and Baja Taco are all worth a visit while you’re there. Countless ethnic clothing and accessories are available for purchase in Cordova’s numerous small stores.

Choosing one of these Alaskan settlements is truly a matter of personal preference. From the glaciers and fjords that define the terrain to the species that excite us to the core, each of them delivers a completely unique Alaskan experience.

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