5 Days in Alaska

An Alaska Travel Guide

WateBearWe spent 5 incredible days in Alaska. They were 5 of the most adventure packed, beauty filled, awe inspiring and educational days we’ve ever had! It was truly a spectacular trip and we cannot more strongly encourage you to visit Alaska! It can be a hard state to plan a visit to as there is so much to see and much of it is very spread out. We had a slightly difficult time planning for the trip which is why we wanted to share our itinerary. In the end, we were able to pack A LOT into our 5 days and we were very satisfied with our trip. Here’s what we did and how we spent 5 days in Alaska.

Day 1:

Road trip time! Anchorage -> Denali

5 Days in Alaska

We took a red eye from LA and arrived at 4am to maximize our time! We picked up our rental car at 6am and started our adventure! We drove from Anchorage to Denali which is about a 4.5 hour drive. It took us way longer because we couldn’t stop taking pictures!

5 Days in Alaska

5 Days in Alaska Itinerary

As soon as we started our drive, we saw a sign stating “Thunderbird Falls” and it sounded so enticing, we had to stop. We went on a mini hike and even though it wasn’t the best scenery in Alaska, we couldn’t stop oohing and aweing.

5 Days in Alaska

After that, we were hungry. We stopped at Abby’s Home Cooking in Wasilla. We weren’t expecting much as it was just a random stop. The place was SO cute and cozy. It’s a family run place and everyone was so sweet. The food took awhile to arrive, but we didn’t care because we were so into our card game. The eggs were delicious and Bassam tried RAINDEER sausage!! Lena loved the homemade grilled sourdough.

Glacier landing expedition in Denali

5 Days in Alaska

We were exhausted when we arrived at our hotel, The Grande Denali Lodge, but we still wanted to do something with our night. We looked through the excursion options and what really caught Lena’s attention was a Helicopter Glacier landing with Era Helicopters*! Bassam is TERRIFIED of heights, but Lena was able to convince him. Chalk it up to sleep exhaustion! The excursion was INCREDIBLE and Bassam was so glad he did it. The views of Denali on the helicopter ride were breath taking, but the experience of landing on the glacier and walking around, was the most impressive part. Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity! You can read all the details of our experience and see tons of pictures here.

Dinner at Alpenglow  

We were too tired at this point to go out, so we ate at Alpenglow* in our hotel. It was our first dinner in Alaska and it didn’t disappoint! The service was fantastic and very friendly. Everyone there gave us lots of tips and recommendations.

We started off our dinner with roasted brussel sprouts that were the perfect blend of sweet and savory. Then, we shared seafood pasta and halibut. Both dishes were light, flavorful, fresh, and extremely delicious!  Finally, we ended with an AMAZING blueberry ice cream. Lena loved it so much she went back again the next night for it!

The night after we left, the Alpenglow hosted a special wine pairing dinner with really creative dishes like blue cheese ice cream. We were so sad we missed this and would definitely dine here if in Denali again!

Day 2:

Denali Park and Preserve

5 Days in Alaska

5 Days in Alaska

Denali is SIX MILLION acres and the highest mountain peak in North America! It’s also an insanely beautiful place! It’s only open May-September, so there’s a pretty short time window to visit. There’s a 92-mile road that you can drive through and discover all kinds of awesome hiking trails and wildlife. Only the first 15 miles are open to public cars. After that, you’d need to walk, bike, or take a hop-on hop-off bus, but you can camp and hike in the park. Only two shuttle companies are able to go to the end of the 92 miles. We went on one of them, Denali Backcountry Adventure*. It was 13 hours (!!!) but so worth it! Read the details and see lots of pictures here!

Dinner at Salmon Bake

It’s supposedly the last Alaskan owned restaurant in Denali and a Denali icon. The food came out FAST and was really tasty. Try the halibut and the halibut tacos!

Northern Lights

5 Days in Alaska

A huge item on our Alaska Bucket List was to see the Northern Lights. We knew our last night in Denali was our only chance due to the clear skies. If we weren’t so tired, we would’ve driven to Fairbanks where the skies are clearer and you’re closer to the North Pole, but we stayed in Denali, and got a great viewing! How crazy are those colors? There is nothing like seeing the pretty colors dancing in the sky. We always say this, nature is truly the best artist. Here are some tips to get good Northern Lights pictures:

  • Pre-download a night photography app if you will be using your phone. There are many great free options
  • If using a professional camera, the camera and lens should be manual focus. Set the shutter speed to 15 seconds. Mess around with the aperture until you find what works for your camera, for us it was 2.8. Setting the camera on a tripod is a must! Here’s an inexpensive and lightweight tripod we love
  • If you don’t have a manual camera, you can also try this trick, but keep in mind the photos may not come out that great. Find something to focus on like the moon, a light in the distance, or a house, and then take your shot
  • Try to find the darkest place possible to take photos, the lights will show up better that way. Any other lighting will detract from the Northern Lights
  • Be patient! It sometimes can take a few hours to get a really good glimpse of them

Day 3:

Road trip again! Denali -> Seward

5 Days in Alaska Itinerary

Big driving day, 8.5 hours! We woke up late to rest a bit from our nonstop two days. We stopped at Creekside Cabins and Café and had a lovely breakfast at a charming little place. Try the breakfast skillet and the cinnamon rolls!

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

Next, we stopped at Mile 135, Denali View South. We took an easy 1/2 mile hike to a spectacular view point! Well worth the stop!

5 Days in Alaska

5 Days In Alaska

Our final stop was in the adorable town of Talkeetna. It’s a very small and quaint town with a CAT as their MAYOR (!!!). Definitely stop by The Roadhouse. It’s a really unique and charming place with GREAT pastries. If we had more time, we would’ve taken a jet boat tour. We heard great things about it!

Day 4:

Kenai Fjords National Park cruise

5 Days in Alaska

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

We took a 6 hour cruise through the Kenai Fjords National Park with Major Marines*. The contrast of the greener than green landscape and fog was just stunning! We also saw tons of sea animals (including orcas!) and the impressive Holgate Glacier! Read the details and see lots of pictures here.

Alaska Sealife Center

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

The Alaska Sealife Center is one of the most interactive learning centers we’ve ever been to! There’s a wealth of information here that is presented in a really fun way. We took a quiz to see what kind of friend we are to the ocean {based on sustainability efforts}, touched a variety of sealife like starfish, got to see puffins and sealions, played a game to see if we could walk along diminishing glaciers like some sea animals must, and much more! We have to say, all that we learned about how human behavior is affecting the sea and sealife really opened our eyes to the importance of sustainability practices. We will really be upping our sustainability game now that we are back home!

Dinner at Chinooks

All the fish here is locally sourced and sustainable which was a nice follow-up to our visit to The Alaska Sealife Center. From drinks to dinner to dessert, everything was SO good!! We way over ordered and way over ate. One of our best meals in Alaska!

Day 5:

Exit Glacier

sustainability ideas

Alaska Guide

This is a must stop when in Seward! It’s a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield. We took a moderate 2 mile hike to the glacier. The glacier was really cool to see! You can no longer go all the way up to it but you can get pretty close. The hike was also a bit sad, as along the way there were signs stating years that indicted how far out the glacier was that year. It was eye opening to walk through and see how much the glacier had receded every 5 years. The experience really stressed to us how important sustainability efforts are. If we had more time, and better gear, we would’ve done the strenuous 9 mile hike through the entire Harding Icefield. Next time! If this sounds interesting to you, we highly recommend going soon! The glacier is getting smaller each year and may not be in existence very much longer.

Girdwood

Alaska Guide

Alaska Guide

Alaska Guide

This adorable little town is just 45 minutes outside of Anchorage and was the perfect place to spend our last few hours! We would love to come back and spend more time here! We spent some time relaxing at the charming Alyeska Resort and then took the Alyeska tram 2,300 feet up in elevation. We were treated to the most AMAZING views!! There are TONs of KILLER hiking trails and we went for a mini hike. If we had more time we would’ve hiked up instead of taking the sky tram. Finally, we capped off our trip with a fantastic dinner at Seven Glaciers. The perfect end to one amazing trip.

Have more than 5 days?

Alaska Guide

If we had more time in Alaska, we would’ve gone to Homer, spent a night in Girdwood, went on a full day hike, went kayaking through the glaciers in Seward, and gone dog sledding in Juneau. We could easily spend 2 weeks in Alaska but we feel like we got a great taste in 5 days!

Packing List:

  • LOTs of layers! The sun is HOT and the cold weather gets VERY cold. Bring lots of layers so you can be ready for any type of weather! Bassam says Thermals are a must!
  • A guide book. We rarely had reception or wifi so looking up spots on our phones was tough. A travel book will be very helpful!
  • Binoculars. You’ll want to get an up close look at all the wildlife you’re bound to see. There’s something magical getting to see the animals doing their thing in their natural setting.
  • Bear spray. A must if you’re planning on going hiking or camping.
  • Lots of snacks! Helpful for some of the excursions and all the road trips!
  • Pre download audio books or make a playlist for the road trips!
  • Waterproof pants and Waterproof hiking shoes. The weather is unpredictable and can very rainy!

We hope this guide to Alaska has inspired you to visit and has helped streamline your travel planning! Have you been to Alaska? Planning a trip? Talk to us in the comments!

5 Day Alaska Itinerary

Full disclosure: starred items were either sponsored or partially sponsored. All opinions and pictures are always our own. The linked Amazon products are affiliate links.

20 Comments

    • Yes! We hope you go and love it as much as we did! Hope you see the cat, we didn’t get a chance to, and say hi to him for us!

  1. So loved reading this and seeing all the pics..we thought we are hardcore travelers but you guys have packed so much, loved all the details! The cruise looks fantastic, so we will definitely be sure to check it out when we go there. Thanks

    • Thank you for your comment! We are so happy to hear you enjoyed the post! We always have so much we want to do, we try to pack in as much as possible! We hope you go to Alaska soon and enjoy it as much as we did! Where have you gone that you packed in a ton?

      • We generally tend to pack a lot on every holiday, but the most we’ve done is when we went to iceland, drove atleast about 100-150 odd kms each day for about a week, and then hiked mountains, walked the valleys or canyons, we saw some breathtaking scenery but we’re shattered by the end of the day!

        • Wow! But that sounds incredible and like something you have to do in Iceland! When we go I’ll ask you for recommendations.

  2. What a great post on Alaska! It seems like you got so much done during your trip. I wish I saw the northern lights when I visited last month. I went to seven glaciers as well and it was gorgeous!

    • There was SO much we wanted to do, so we packed in as much as we could! Your Alaska photos were beautiful! Now you’ll have to go back to see the Northern Lights…

  3. What an amazing trip, I really want to do this. All your pictures are amazing, but I think my favorite are the Northern Lights ones. Thanks for the photography tips too!

    • Thank you! The Northern Lights were truly a once in a lifetime experience! I hope the photography tips help if you see the Northern Lights!

  4. Oh my goodness, how gorgeous does Alaska look?! We’re off to Iceland over Christmas for the first time on the hunt for Northern Lights but it looks like you had great success in tracking them down yourself. Thanks for your photography tips, I’m sure they’ll come in handy.

    • Alaska was amazing! We are dying to go to Iceland! Hope you have a great time!! Can’t wait to see your pictures!

    • We went super randomly, but it was one of the best travel decisions we’ve made. The pictures don’t do it justice. Seriously one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been!

  5. Looks like a perfect trip! Alaska is high on my list of places to visit. I’d love to go to Denali and the Kenai Fjords, and definitely do the nine mile hike :). And it is so devastating how fast the Arctic is warming.

    • There are so many bucket list worthy things to do and see in Alaska! We hope you get to go soon! We want to go back!

  6. What a fantastic itinerary. I didn’t realize all this could be fitted into 5 days. I visited Alaska by cruise but have always wanted to go back for a road trip. When I go I hope we are as lucky and also see the Northern Lights.

    • Yes! We had limited time, but we wanted to make the most of it. We hope you do go back for a road trip; it’s a very different experience.

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