As the northernmost state in the United States, Alaska offers visitors an idyllic white Christmas. From major cities, such as Fairbanks and Anchorage, to small villages including North Pole and Palmer, the wintery state of Alaska boasts parades, massive decorated trees, and opportunities to visit and chat with Saint Nick. Staying in downtown Anchorage puts you in the center of all the festivities and shops for last minute stocking stuffers, while a cabin in Nome puts you within walking distance of the Christmas Extravaganza at Old St. Joe’s Civic Center. Book a vacation rental in Alaska today. Here’s a quick guide to the seven best Christmas getaways in cities and towns across Alaska.
Choose a vacation rental in the downtown area of Anchorage to explore and take photos of all the stunning and detailed ice sculptures throughout the area. Book passage on the Holiday Train on the Alaska Railroad to listen to holiday songs as you look out the windows to see the winter wonderland unfolding before your eyes. The train stops for an afternoon in Seward before returning. See the Family Holiday Pops Concert, where the Anchorage Concert Chorus and the Holiday Pops Orchestra unite for an evening of carols and merriment. Stop by one of the upscale stores to pick up a last minute Christmas gift.
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2. North Pole
Nothing says Happy Holidays like a vacation for Christmas in North Pole. This town is the home to the Santa Clause House, where Santa and his reindeer welcome you before you take a tour, and this is Alaska, so the reindeer are real. Check out the Christmas in Ice event with its varied selection of cool ice sculptures documenting the holidays. This town loves Christmas, and this is the best time of year to visit with all the homes decorated in a barrage of Christmas lights and nativity scenes. In the downtown area, find a massive tree decorated to the nines while all the shop windows offer Christmas cheer.
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Find everything you need to make Christmas special with a stop at the Juneau Public Market. This Christmas market offers handmade items from local craftsman known for their quality and detailing so you can pick up some stocking stuffers or last minute gifts. Wander down to the harbor to see the boats outlined in Christmas lights, or spending an evening at the Holiday Pops Concert to hear all your favorite holiday songs. Join the Juneau Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count and help the society to compile information about bird behavior and population during the winter months. In the days leading up to Christmas, local stores offer gift wrapping as part of the Last Minute Frolic Attack to get people to shop at the local stores.
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Enjoy a small town Christmas when you settle into a vacation rental in Nome. Get into the holiday spirit at the Christmas Extravaganza at Old St. Joe’s Civic Center, where you can enjoy Christmas carols and have a picture taken with the big man and his favorite reindeers. In the evenings, take a stroll through the downtown area to see the strung Christmas lights along the buildings and wreaths hung up on lamp poles. You can even go down to the beach and stroll along the sand, but the water of the Bering Sea is too cold for a dip at this time of year.
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Fairbanks welcomes holiday visitors to take a ride on the Santa Train. At the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum in Fairbanks’ Pioneer Park, spend some time telling Santa what you want for Christmas before boarding the train for a short ride. To get your toes tapping, the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra along with a few choirs sponsors The Design Alaska Holiday Concert to hear your favorite Christmas melodies. Watch the night explode in light at the Celebration of Lights Fireworks, and pick up some last minute gifts at the Holiday Bazaars in Pioneer Park.
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When you want to get away from it all, Cordova is the best vacation destination for your holidays. This isolated town comes alive with Christmas cheer and holiday lights through the small downtown area. Arrive in time for the Christmas Tree Lighting and Santa Parade to see floats, a marching band, and all the locals enjoying some time together. After the parade, meet with Santa and get your picture taken for a memory to remember forever.
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Join the locals in the Soldotna Creek Park for Christmas in the Park and watch the Christmas tree come to life with thousands of fairy lights. The park sits along the Kenai River, making it a magical evening. Stop by the Kenai Watershed Forum Holiday Open House and visit with the town’s residents while sipping on eggnog and listening to Christmas carols playing in the background. You can drive through town and the quiet residential streets to enjoy all the lights and decorations for the holidays. Be careful not to wander too far on foot because the area is known for its bear population.
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