Summer Festivals in Alaska

state-fair-pumpkinAlaskans like to celebrate Alaskan summers and there is no better way then community events such as festivals and fairs to celebrate the Alaskan way of life. Many towns also have weekly markets that locals and visitors attend as well where you can purchase local produce, seafood, and arts such as Anchorage’s Downtown Weekend Market but today we’ll concentrate on once a summer seasonal fairs and festivals.

The Alaska State Fair is the largest fair in the state and runs 12 days during late August and early September. The State Fair is located in Palmer, Alaska, 50 miles north of Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad offers special train service for the fair but the space is limited so be sure to make reservations. Otherwise we recommend renting a car for the day to visit the Alaska State Fair. For 2014 the fair will run from August 21 to September 1. This fair features the annual Giant Cabbage Weigh Off – the record stands at 138.25 pounds! See many over-sized vegetables caused by the extra hours of daylight this area receives during the growing season. The State Fair offers carnival rides for the young and young at heart. My favorite fair activity is eating! Be sure to try the unique Alaskan fair food like a salmon quesadilla, a grilled reindeer sausage or deep fried halibut. Of course you can also find the more traditional fair food such as corn dogs, pork chops on a stick or a barbecued turkey leg.

Below is a list of dates for fairs and festivals throughout the state. Be sure to wander by if you find yourself in one of these locations at the right time!

May 15-18, 2014 Little Norway Festival Petersburg, Alaska
May 22-27, 2014 Crab Festival Kodiak, Alaska
June 6-29, 2014 Sitka Summer Music Festival Sitka, Alaska
June 20-21, 2014 Midnight Sun Folk Festival Nome, Alaska
June 21-22, 2014 Gold Rush Days Juneau, Alaska
June 22, 2014 Midnight Sun Festival Fairbanks, Alaska
July 4-6, 2014 Pink Salmon Festival Valdez, Alaska
July 4-6, 2014 Girdwood Forest Fair Girdwood, Alaska
July 16-20, 2014 Golden Days Fairbanks, Alaska
July 23-27, 2014 Alaska BearFest Wrangell, Alaska
July 31-Aug 3, 2014 South-east Alaska State Fair Haines, Alaska
August 1-3, 2014 Sitka Seafood Festival Sitka, Alaska
August 1-3, 2014 Salmonstock Music Festival Ninilchik, Alaska
August 1-9, 2014 Tanana Valley State Fair Fairbanks, Alaska
August 15-17, 2014 Kenai Peninsula Fair Ninilchik, Alaska
August 21-Sept 1, 2014 Alaska State Fair Palmer, Alaska

Vacationing with Kids in Alaska

Alaska traditionally has been a vacation destination for retirees who seek to see their first glacier or to experience the scenic wonder of Mt. Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley). But more and more families are traveling to Alaska. There are a number of great activities to experience in Alaska with children and a couple that are best avoided! Certainly the age of the children you are traveling with will dictate what you can and can’t do but there are many tours and destination suitable for people of all ages.

When booking hotels and excursions within Alaska, keep in mind that the child rate applies to children 11 years of age or younger and those over the age of twelve are considered adults. Another important aspect of traveling with children is becoming familiar with the car seat regulations. If you are traveling with a child under 65 pounds you will need to bring a car seat or booster seat along.

How to Travel
You have many options on how to travel around Alaska with your children. The most economical route is to travel by rental car. This allows you the most flexibility and if you are required to use car seats then you only have to secure them once. However, kids love a train ride as well! I would recommend traveling by car between Anchorage and Denali and then visiting Seward by train and bus. The train ride to Seward is about four hours and is the most scenic stretch of railbelt in Alaska. (more…)

Experiencing the Glaciers of Southcentral Alaska

Matanuska GlacierA glacier is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as a very large area of ice that moves slowly down a slope or valley or over a wide area of land – a fairly bland description of a breathtaking sight! A common Alaska definition of a glacier is a river of ice. Glaciers common to Alaska include tidewater glaciers, hanging glaciers and valley glaciers. Tidewater glaciers flow down mountains and end in the sea, hanging glaciers rest on mountain sides and only descend a part of the way down the mountain and valley glaciers fill mountain valleys.

Glaciers are one of the top Alaskan attractions. Alaska is home to 100,000 glaciers, two-thirds of all of the glaciers on earth. Whether seen from the air, from the water or on a hike, your first sight of a glacier can be an awe-inspiring, humbling experience. It is amazing how accessible these massive rivers of ice can be! Below is a guide to the glaciers of Southcentral Alaska. (more…)

50th Anniversary of The Great Alaska Earthquake – Sites to Visit

sb-earthquake-park-monumentMarch 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake, the strongest earthquake to ever hit North America. This 9.2 magnitude quake was the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded, the first being the 1960 earthquake in Chile. The earthquake struck at 5:36pm and lasted over four minutes. Strong aftershocks were felt throughout the South-central Alaska region for days and weeks after the initial earthquake.The earthquake itself was responsible for 15 deaths and 124 people perished as a result of subsequent tsunamis. The tsunami death toll includes 5 killed in Oregon and 13 killed by the tsunami in California. (more…)

Guided Hikes in Alaska

k2-ultimateIf you are like most independent visitors coming to Alaska, you are seeking active experiences that thrust you into Alaska’s scenic wilderness. As a result, one of the most popular activities you may take part in are guided hikes into Alaska’s backcountry. Alaska Tour & Travel offers guided hiking tours in Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali State Park, and at Denali National Park and the great news is that when surveying our past clients, we discovered that the guided hikes we offer were among the highest rated tour experiences included in packages. Hiking allows you the opportunity to “get off the beaten path” and to experience Alaskan destinations which even many Alaskan’s haven’t seen. Typically, guided hikes tend to have a smaller maximum number of participants to reduce the impact on the environment. Your safety is always the priority on any professionally guided hiking excursion. Most guiding services keep the guide to hiker ratio to less than six to one, which allows participants to not only to get to know their guides personally, but also provides the guide the opportunity to provide more interpretation about the ecosystem.

Alaska’s wild expanses result not having any two hikes being alike, which is terrific for avid hikers who want to include multiple hiking trips in their trip. Difficulty wise, hikes range from novice hikes which are little more than a walk through the woods to more technical hikes which require participants to suit up with glacial gear while hiking on accessible glaciers. Hikes also range by the means of transport it takes to “being able to hit the trail” – whether the trail head is just outside a lodges front door, a short van ride, a ride on a tram up to the top of a mountain, or by helicopter or float plane to a remote location all of these options are available. Here are a few hikes to consider including in a travel itinerary.

Anchorage

chugach-hikingRising to the east of the city of Anchorage are the Chugach Mountains and one of Alaska’s best state parks – the Chugach State Park. The Anchorage Day Hike provides visitors a chance to explore an alpine environment with beautiful vistas of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and on a clear day view as far away as Mt. Denali. Transportation is included, and the name itself doesn’t do the experience justice as the best thing that the Anchorage Day Hike does is quickly transport you away from the city up into one of Alaska’s most accessible and scenic wilderness areas. Our staff loves spending time in Chugach State Park and the views from our office of the Chugach Mountains beckon us often into the mountains during summer months. Each Anchorage Day Hike is tailored to your fitness level and transportation is included from Anchorage hotels. (more…)

2013 Alaska Travel Photo Contest Winners

chaney.j5Alaska Tour & Travel received over 400 photos this summer from visitors and Alaskans whos travels and photographs covered much of the State of Alaska. For the past five years we have given an award to the photographer whose photo best depicts Alaska’s spectacular wildlife, scenery, people or adventure. The 2013 Grand Prize is a 32GB WiFi iPad. This year in addition to the Grand prize, we are giving a 16 GB iPad MINI to the photographer for their Alaska Railroad themed photo as well. This year’s Grand Prize photograph was selected as “Eagle Hunting” by John C from Houston, Texas. John submitted several beautiful wildlife photographs of wildlife which he took during trips to Alaska. We’ve seen many photographs of eagles over the years, and our staff and other judges were particularly impressed with “Eagle Hunting”. (more…)

2013 Alaska Travel Photo Contest

iPad_PFV_PFVLF_Springboard_Alaska Tour & Travel’s Photo Contest is back for 2013. Over the past few years, we have been able to share over 1500 photos of Alaska submitted to us by residents and visitors. Each year we award the Grand Prize to the photographer that submits the best photograph depicting Alaska’s spectacular wildlife, scenery, people or adventure. This year’s Grand Prize Winner will again receive a 32 GB Wi-Fi iPad valued at $599.

2013 is our 5th Anniversary for our Photo Contest. To celebrate, we will offer a 2nd Prize – a 16 GB iPad mini for the winning Alaska Railroad themed photo. The Alaska Railroad photo selected to win must depict passenger travel on the Alaska Railroad, its dome cars, trains traveling in Alaska, or even activity at rail depots.<--more-->

Fall Colors at Riley Creek by Jeff BellLast year’s Grand Prize winner was Jeff Bell from Weatherford, Oklahoma who’s photo Fall Colors of Denali impressed the judges with its colorful scene of popular and accessible Riley Creek near the entrance to Denali National Park. You can view all the photos submitted in past years on our Alaska Tour & Travel’s Photo site.

The contest is open to visitors and residents alike. To enter, photos must be submitted by email to photos@alaskatravel.com in a jpeg (.jpg) format, with a maximum file size 3 mb no later than October 31, 2013. Please include a brief description of the photo along with your name and hometown. We will post select entries on our Photo Contest Gallery at AlaskaTravelPhotos.com. Be sure to read all of the contest rules here!

A Visit to Fairbanks’ Antique Auto Museum

Calling all antique car enthusiasts; Jay Leno is not the only one who has an impressionable car collection in his garage! Recently on a trip to Fairbanks my family and I visited the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. This is a great activity for families, as well as those visitors that are interested in early 20th century post-Gold Rush Alaska history, or just love old cars!

kh7bWith more than 75 exceptionally rare and beautiful antique cars on display in North America’s northern-most auto museum, the Antique Auto Museum is a great addition to any visit to Fairbanks. The museum shares stories and hardships faced by Alaska’s automotive pioneers. Alaska’s pioneering motorists faced many challenges like severe climates as well as horrendous road conditions. From pre-1900 horseless carriages to magnificent ’30’s classics, nearly every one of the autos are in running condition. (more…)

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