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Most visitors come to Alaska to answer the call of the wild, with many of the premier attractions centered on communing with nature and wildlife (see Summer Activities and Winter Activities). Of course, the state has its fair share of cultural attractions in cities like Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks – from native cultural centers and historic buildings to natural history museums and art galleries – but even in these urban dwellings, the call of the wild is never drowned out.

Things to do in Alaska

Alaska Native Heritage Center Museum

You’ll need wheels to navigate outside downtown Anchorage, where you’ll find this 26-acre indoor/outdoor museum, an entertaining and educational cultural center celebrating the state’s diverse indigenous inhabitants. Expect an assortment of exhibits and interactive displays, including replicas of traditional village dwellings, as well as traditional dance performances.

8800 Heritage Center Dr., AK, 907-330-8000,
Tags: family | great value | things to do | culture | history | museum

Alaska SeaLife Center

This rescue and rehabilitation center for marine mammals and seabirds features popular public education exhibits – don’t miss the puffins, sea lions, and harbor seals, which can be observed zipping by from underwater glass viewing galleries. And be sure to check out the new half-million dollar salmon exhibit illustrating the entire life cycle of Alaska salmon.

301 Railway Ave., AK, 888-378-2525,
Tags: family | things to do | wildlife

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The premier attraction along the Seward Highway, this nonprofit organization cares for injured and orphaned Alaskan wildlife – bear, moose, musk ox, bison, and caribou count among the many species that roam here in large fenced-in enclosures that closely recall their natural habitat. The center offers four guided walking tours a day.

Mile 79 Seward Hwy., AK, 907-783-2025,
Tags: family | great value | things to do | outdoors | wildlife

Alaskan Brewing Company

This award-winning craft brewery turns out tasty blends like Alaskan Amber, which draws on ingredients from a beer popular during the 19th-century Gold Rush era. Tastings and tours are available.

5429 Shaune Dr., Mendenhall Valley, AK,
Tags: things to do | culinary | brewery

Anchorage Museum of at Rasmuson Center

The state’s largest museum chronicles 10,000 years of Alaskan history through dioramas, historic and contemporary art and artifacts, and interesting installations, including a bisection of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. A forthcoming $100-million expansion will add a planetarium/theater, a two-acre urban birch forest, and 80,000 additional feet of exhibition space.

121 W. 7th Ave., AK, 907-343-4326,
Tags: family | things to do | culture | history | museum

Cross into the Arctic

Avid travelers can add a notch to their belt by crossing into the Arctic Circle. Tours are best organized from Fairbanks, including those offered by Northern Alaska Tour Company, which offers air and ground tours of sites like the Yukon River, the Arctic Ocean, native villages, and more. Day trips and three-day tours are available.

Northern Alaska Tour Company, 3820 University Ave. South, AK, 800-474-1986,
Tags: smart splurge | things to do | tour | airplane

Downtown Anchorage

Downtown Anchorage is laid out in a neat grid that makes navigating a breeze – it’s the only real walkable area of the city, brimming with large hotels, restaurants, galleries, flower gardens, and gift shops. Take in the landmark Art Deco 4th Avenue Theater, town square (and its adjacent Wyland Whale Mural), and the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center.

Tags: things to do | history | walk | city

Downtown Juneau

Nestled between forested mountains, the capital’s picturesque downtown features bright 19th-century structures set on steep but pedestrian-friendly streets. Look for legislative and historic buildings – including the marble-columned 1931 State Capitol building and the octagonal and gold-domed St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church (a testament to the region’s Russian heritage).

Tags: things to do | history | walk | city

Ice Museum

Head to the historic Lacey Street Theater, now home to the Ice Museum, where ice sculptures are on display in giant walk-in freezers, offering visitors a look at what the World Ice Art Championships (held in Fairbanks every March) are all about. The sculptures, made in the museum, are rotated every year.

500 2nd Ave., AK, 907-451-8222,
Tags: family | things to do | culture | history | museum

Mount Roberts Tramway

This tramway whisks visitors up 1,800 feet to perch atop Mount Roberts for superlative views (on clear days) of Juneau and the Gastineau Channel. You’ll also find hiking trails and the Timberline Bar & Grill. Access is via tourist-heavy South Franklin Street.

490 South Franklin St., AK, 888-461-8726,
Tags: family | editor pick | views | things to do | outdoors

Pioneer Park

This historically themed park is a fun, if somewhat hokey, place to spend time with the kids. Highlights include a historic riverboat (the second largest wooden-hull vessel in existence), Gold Rush and Native American artifacts, a railroad ride that encircles the park, Warren G. Harding’s 1923 presidential rail carriage, kayak and bike rentals, mini-golf, a salmon bake, and more.

Outer Fairbanks, 2300 Airport Way, AK, 907-459-1087,
Tags: family | things to do | history | museum

University of Alaska Museum of the North

Fresh from a $42-million expansion and renovation in 2006, this is an art, natural history, and science museum rolled into one; highlights include Ansel Adams photos, lots of gold artifacts, and Blue Babe – a 36,000-year-old mummified steppe bison. The bowhead whale skull and jaw and life-size grizzly and polar bears are pretty cool, too.

907 Yukon Dr., AK, 907-474-7505,
Tags: family | editor pick | things to do | culture | museum | science

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