Alaska, America’s largest and northernmost state, is a great vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With vast mountains, lush forests, thousands of miles of coastline, and numerous lakes and rivers, families can enjoy skiing and snowboarding in winter and mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, and hiking in summer. Wildlife watching is fabulous year-round, whether you’re hiking mountain trails, kayaking rivers, or taking a cruise out to sea. Alaska cabin rentals include cozy log cabin retreats deep in the mountains, coastal wood cabins with spectacular views, and townhomes in major cities such as Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Whether you’re seeking a wilderness escape or a friendly community, here are some fabulous places to find a vacation rental.

1. Juneau

While Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and home to more than 40 percent of the state’s population, Juneau is the state capital. One of the state’s oldest cities and originally a gold-mining town, Juneau sits on the Inside Passage between Mount Juneau, Mount Roberts, and the Gastineau Channel. As there is no road access to the city from the rest of the United States, your arrival by plane or ferry boat adds to the feeling of entering new territory. Once you’ve settled into your cabin, take the short drive into the Tongass National Forest to visit the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier and watch icebergs calving. Go for a hike along the many trails, or get out on the water for a whale-watching cruise. At the end of the day, unwind in your vacation rental hot tub before heading out to the lively downtown area to try the local delicacies.

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2. Big Lake

The community of Big Lake is around 60 miles north of Anchorage. Located on the shores of Big Lake, the area is ideal for families that love to fish, boat, and swim in summer, and enjoy dog sledding, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing in winter when the lake’s surface freezes over. A lakefront log cabin places you right at the center of the action. Imagine the kids’ excitement as they catch fish right off your own dock while you kick back with a coffee and enjoy fabulous views of Denali.

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3. Talkeetna

Source: Flickr / Paxson Woelber

Believed to be the inspiration behind Cicely, the fictional town in the TV show “Northern Exposure,” Talkeetna sits in the shadows of Denali, around 115 miles north of Anchorage. Choose a log cabin deep in the woods for a real wilderness getaway while still enjoying proximity to this small artistic community. Call in at the town’s visitor center for advice and information, and to book a tour. Make the highlight of your vacation a scenic flight to view Denali, and enjoy horseback rides along the various trails to get a different perspective of the highest mountain in North America. The Chulitna and Tokositna Rivers offer plenty of opportunities for fishing and boating adventures.

4. Whittier

Source: Flickr / C Watts

Whittier is an excellent base for a cabin vacation rental, as it is well-connected to the rest of Alaska by road and rail through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Set amidst 3,500-foot peaks around 60 miles south of Anchorage, this waterfront town is the starting point for some of the best day cruises in all of Alaska. Take a trip out into the Prince William Sound to spot whales, sea otters, and sea lions. During spawning time, you may also spot bears fishing for salmon on the beaches.

5. Ninilchik

Source: Flickr / Antti T. Nissinen

Ninilchik sits on the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula, around 40 miles southwest of Anchorage. Some of the vacation rentals in this Russian-influenced community enjoy spectacular views across to the active volcanoes of Cook Inlet. Fishing enthusiasts enjoy the close proximity to Ninilchik river, which curves around the Old Ninilchik Village, home to the Russian Orthodox Church that sits on a bluff above the town. At low tide, clammers throng to Ninilchik State Recreation Area or Deep Creek State Recreation Area to hunt for large razor clams.

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6. Kasilof

Source: Flickr / Bryan Wilkins

Popular with anglers, this fishing village on the Kasilof River sports a harbor where you can hire a boat and a guide to take you trolling for salmon. Enjoy an idyllic rural log cabin retreat with peaceful forest or river views where the only sounds you hear are the trickling of water and birdsong. For non-fishing family members, the Kasilof River State Recreational Site offers a picnic area and hiking trails to spot wildlife, including squirrels, moose, and bald eagles.

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7. Fairbanks

Source: Flickr / blkittell

Fairbanks, Alaska’s second largest city, is a fantastic year-round vacation destination. Based in the middle of the Interior region 358 miles north of Anchorage, this city is accessible by plane, rail, and road. In winter, activities include dog mushing, searching for the Northern Lights, skiing, and snowmobiling. Temperatures can drop as low as minus 62 degrees Fahrenheit, making your log cabin extremely cozy when you cuddle up in front of the fire. In summer months, when temperatures climb and the area gets up to 22 hours of daylight, enjoy kayaking, rafting, fishing, and golfing. The China River State Recreation Area offers kayaking and rafting with great opportunities to spot moose. Hiking enthusiasts can follow the 8-mile trail to China Hot Springs Resort for a soothing bath.

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