Alaska’s panoramic landscapes of rugged mountains, emerald forests, rushing rivers, and magnificent shorelines are unforgettable. Spend your Memorial Day weekend in vibrant cities and towns in Alaska. From exciting outdoor recreation and relaxing urban diversions to patriotic celebrations and first-class dining, there’s something for everyone. Book a stay at one of many incredible Alaska vacation rentals for your upcoming Memorial Day weekend getaway. Here are the best summertime vacation spots in Alaska.

1. Juneau

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, lies in the extreme southeastern part of the state known as the Alaskan Panhandle. The rugged, yet breathtakingly beautiful mountains to the east, preclude road travel, so the city is accessible only by plane or by boat. From the visitor’s center, walk to the observation platform to observe the vast, awe-inspiring Mendenhall Glacier on the north side of town. Take the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway to the mountain’s summit for a panoramic view of the city and surrounding landscape. Juneau Tours and Whale Watch takes you out on the ocean in jet boats to observe humpback whales, orcas, seals, and other wildlife. Feast on Alaskan crab and other seafood specialties at the Timberline Bar and Grill at the base of the Mount Roberts Tramway.

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2. Sitka

Source: Flickr/Marc Cappelletti

Vacation rentals in the city of Sitka are on gorgeous Baranof Island on the western side of the Alaskan Panhandle facing the Pacific Ocean. Alaska Travel Adventures offers kayak tours of the beautiful bays and inlets of the Inland Waterway. Rent bicycles from Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop to get around the city and explore the island. Classic Casting Adventures takes you by seaplane and boat to local rivers to go fly-fishing for salmon, steelhead, and trout. The Dock Shack Cafe overlooking the waterfront serves excellent smoked prime rib and halibut on its outdoor covered deck. The annual Sitka Salmon Derby, with cash and other awards for prize-winning fish, takes place over Memorial Day weekend.

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3. Skagway

The town of Skagway, a popular port for cruise ships, lies at the top of the Alaskan Panhandle at the head of the northernmost fjord of the Inland Passage. Don’t miss an excursion on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, a narrow-gauge railroad that takes you on a comfortable but exciting journey past panoramic mountains, forests, and glaciers. You can also opt for a heli-hiking adventure with TEMSCO Helicopters that includes an aerial lift by helicopter to a glacier, a hike along the glacier’s surface, and a trip back down to the city by railroad. Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park includes a fascinating six-block stretch of downtown Skagway and a spectacular hiking path along the Chilkoot Trail, the route to the Yukon gold fields. Downtown Skagway is also a great place to shop for artwork, jewelry, gold, and precious stones.

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4. Anchorage

Source: Flickr/JLS Photography – Alaska

Anchorage, the largest city in the state, is in south-central Alaska with Cook Inlet to the southwest and the breathtakingly beautiful Chugach Mountains to the east. Some of the best hiking trails in the Chugach Range initiate only 20 minutes from downtown Anchorage. With over 100 miles of paved bike paths, Anchorage is a cyclist’s haven, so rent a bicycle from Downtown Bicycle Rental, and explore the city. You can often spot moose, deer, mountain goats, beavers, and other wildlife within the city limits. Alaska Sea Kayakers takes you on exciting guided trips to nearby Prince Williams Sound. Make a special Memorial Day visit to the Alaska Veterans Museum, which highlights the history of men and women from all branches of military service. Have some great steak while you enjoy a magnificent view at Simon and Seafort’s Saloon and Grill.

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5. Kenai

The city of Kenai is on the western side of the Kenai Peninsula at the mouth of the Kenai River with the spectacular Alaska Range as a backdrop. Kenai is world-renowned for its excellent king, silver, sockeye, and pink salmon fishing, and Corsetti’s Guide Service helps you find the best spots for angling on the river. Kenai also has beautiful sandy beaches along Cooks Inlet where you can go beachcombing for agates and other treasures. Kenai Golf Course offers 18 holes amidst magnificent scenery with the added bonus of frequent wildlife sightings.

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6. Seward

The city of Seward is on the southeastern side of the Kenai Peninsula at the head of beautiful Resurrection Bay. It is the gateway to spectacular Kenai Fjords National Park, a vast wilderness of ice fields and fjords carved out by glaciers. Kenai Fjords Tours out of Seward offer cruises that take you for whale watching and viewing falling glaciers up close. Seward Helicopter Tours has a guided excursion that combines a helicopter ride up onto the ice followed by a trip on a dog sled. Military Appreciation Week in Seward takes place from Armed Services Day to Memorial Day, during which city businesses schedule special picnics, fishing tournaments, and sightseeing cruises.

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7. Kodiak

Kodiak is a city on the northeast shore of beautiful Kodiak Island in southwestern Alaska. The island is renowned for its enormous brown bears, and Island Air Service provides air tours to remote locations where you can hike in to see bears in the wild. Kodiak Island Charters takes you fishing for salmon, halibut, and rockfish in the nearby ocean waters. The Kodiak Military History Museum, located within the Ready Ammunition Bunker at Fort Abercrombie State Park, highlights local military history during World War II. Don’t miss the annual Kodiak Crab Festival, which takes place over Memorial Day weekend and features a grand parade, races, and games.

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8. Fairbanks

Source: Flickr/arctic_council

The city of Fairbanks lies in central Alaska along the Chena River only 120 miles from the Arctic Circle. Rent a canoe or kayak from Canoe Alaska, and explore the beautiful river. Canoe Alaska also offers day trips that combine cycling and paddling to tour the city and its environs. The Northern Alaska Tour Company takes you on a thrilling journey by air to a remote village where you can observe polar bears in the wild. For fresh game and seafood, head to the riverside Pump House Restaurant and Saloon, which is also a national historic site.

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9. Healy

The town of Healy in central Alaska lies just a few miles away from the entrance to spectacular Denali National Park. Denali Summit Flight out of Healy takes you on an unforgettable excursion in a small plane to view Denali Mountain and the surrounding landscape. Denali ATV Adventures offers another method of exploring the vast wilderness area. For a more leisurely journey, take a wagon trip culminating in a delicious meal on the Black Diamond Draft Horse Drawn Covered Wagon Adventure. Don’t miss a trip to honor fallen Alaskan veterans at the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial inside the park.

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