Dream Vacations: Alaska, an icy winter wonderland
Most people have a dream vacation destination. Maybe your desktop background is of a tropical beach in the Bahamas, or you have a Pinterest board full of tips for touring Europe. If you love to travel, our “Dream Vacations” series will help you pick the perfect location for your next trip (if you can convince your parents to take you).
The great northern wilderness of the U.S., Alaska, is a land full of beauty and natural wonder. Many parts of the land are still untouched by the heavy industrialization of human civilization. The state’s wilderness is a very popular vacation spot, and it offers many amazing sites to see.
Must Sees/Must Dos
Margerie Glacier (Glacier Bay)
Margerie Glacier is one of the many glaciers located in Glacier Bay. This glacier is often viewed by boat and is commonly frequented by cruise ships. Although you won’t be able to view it from up close, it is still an amazing sight to behold. The landscape is beautiful, and the sheer amount of ice you can see is very impressive. The best part of visiting Margerie Glacier is a natural phenomenon know as “white thunder.” White thunder is the thunder-like sound that is created when a part of the glacier breaks away and falls into the ocean.
Alaska is well known for both its glaciers and wildlife. In a hovercraft tour, you can to experience both at once. While you hover across the water, there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings. When I went on one of these tours to the Taku Glacier, I saw many bald eagles and even caught sight of a grizzly bear. The hovercraft takes you up to the bottom of a glacier, and from there you will embark on a short walk up to the edge of the glacier. You are actually able to get close enough to touch the glacier.
Every major travel destination has their speciality food, and Alaska’s is seafood. Since fishing is a major industry in Alaska, restaurants are able to get seafood fresh and from the source.
Two great dishes to try in Alaska are the king crab legs and the halibut burger. The king crab legs were very tender and the flavors of the halibut burger blended together very well. The best place to try these would be at local restaurant. In my experience, restaurants on a cruise ship can’t compete with the freshness of the seafood at many local establishments.
Be sure to pack your winter clothes, including a winter coat, some sweaters, and long pants. Even in the summer, you shouldn’t expect the weather to be clear and sunny all the time. The weather may often be damp, foggy, and perhaps rainy, especially if you travel through the Inside Passage, which is Alaska’s coastal islands and waterways.
A good way to visit Alaska is by cruise. I recommend taking a one-week cruise, which is what I did. It allows you to stop by multiple cities and towns and provides a relaxing getaway as you travel between destinations. Going on a cruise is convenient, as it allows you to visit multiple destinations without the hassle of booking all the flights and hotels, and it also provides passengers with many opportunities to see wildlife. For instance, I spotted a couple of sea otters swimming near the ship several times on my cruise.
Things to Consider
Still not sure if a trip to Alaska is right for you? Consider the following to help you decide.
- What kind of weather do you like? Alaska is relatively cold, even in summer months.
- Do you like the outdoors? The wilderness? There isn’t much of a city life in Alaska. Alaska is very outdoorsy; it’s definitely a departure from the type of lifestyle we know here around Conant with the Streets of Woodfield and Woodfield Mall.
- Do you like seafood? There is a lot of seafood in Alaska, and it is what a lot of restaurants serve. However, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing besides seafood there.
- Do you like being active? Alaska isn’t really where you would go to get yourself pampered and just lay back and relax. You should go on excursions to take in the unique terrain and amazing wildlife. Go explore!
Photos courtesy of David Zhang and Michelle Zhang