Below, I have our itinerary by day, links to everything we did, and some food recommendations as well from various places we ate. I highly recommend anyone interested to visit Alaska, as it truly is the Last Frontier.
Day 1: Fly In
We left DSM around 1pm, landed in MSP, and then left for Anchorage. We landed in Alaska around 6pm and went straight to the hotel to hopefully calibrate the baby properly for the new time zone (3 hours different for us). I ordered take out from Lucky Wishbone and Josh had to get some last minute things from Cabelas so he grabbed food at the Bear Paw and Grill. My biggest tip when it comes to a new time zone- go to bed at your normal time and do not take any naps!
Blog Link: 8+ Hour Flight with A Baby Tips
Day 2 Anchorage:
Josh and our cameraman left for their part of the bear hunt early in the morning. Oakley and I took them to their float plane and then came back to the hotel for her nap. She napped for nearly 2 hours and I was able to get a ton of work done! We then started our drive to Eagle River Nature Preserve where I had mapped out two different hikes for us to do that were deemed “easy” and “well manicured”. On the way, we drove through downtown Anchorage and saw a moose in a cemetery, so naturally, we had to stop to go say hi to him. Oakley kept calling it a kitty the entire time.
We then made it to Eagle River which is about 35 minutes outside of Anchorage. We spent a few hours hiking, taking photos, and having snacks with the most beautiful mountain views. Afterwards, we went to pick my mom up from the airport and then ran a few errands to get her diapers, snacks, etc. For dinner, we went to Simon and Seaforts where I highly recommend getting the crab and artichoke dip as well as the reindeer sausage fettuccine. Traveling with a baby means your days are pretty much over at 6:30pm for their bedtime but we were able to just hang out (as her pack n play is in the bathroom where it is pitch black)!
Day 3 Anchorage:
My mom and I headed to the Snow City Cafe as it was highly recommended by social media. Unfortunately, with the limited capacity in some restaurants, the wait was over an hour long. With a hungry baby, we knew that wasn’t going to be an option. We walked a block down the road to the Sandwich Deck and had an amazing breakfast, the reindeer sausage breakfast sandwich was amazing!
We then headed East on the Seward highway- I have never taken this route before and the inlet with the mountains was absolutely breathtaking.
I found the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on TripAdvisor and knew we had to go! So many Alaskan animals such as brown bears, musk oz, bison, wolves, etc! It is a sanctuary dedicated to protecting animals through research and rescue- we had an amazing time. The location is hard to find on google but it is located at Mike 79 Seward Highway in Anchorage. We spent about an hour walking around and looking at the animals- it is about a 2 mile loop if you do it by foot and go to all of the animals. We then spent about 30 minutes in the gift shop and eating reindeer bratwurst from a food truck outside.
On the way back from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, we stopped at Turnagain Arm Trail in Chugach State Park for a hike with again, some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen! As always, it is recommended to bring bear spray and to know what to do to protect yourself with a wildlife encounter. Please, never approach a moose calve and never, EVER, approach a bear cub if you see one. We started on the Potter trail head at mile 115 and did a 2 mile loop- there is a little trail off the path once you hit the summit of the hike that I highly recommend taking for an overlook view!
My two sisters flew in and we picked them up that evening. We had ordered Moose Tooth pizza, as again- it came highly recommended. If you order from there- expect at least a 90 minute wait! But totally worth it! We tried the mac and cheese with reindeer sausage, white pizza, and chicken ranch.
Day 4: Valdez:
When Josh and I last came to Alaska, with Arrow, we stayed in Copper Center (as he was on a hunt). I just came for the adventure and to go on a ton of hikes with the dog. During those ten days, I learned so much about the area and I also drove to Valdez twice! I knew I wanted to take my mom and my sisters to the little seaside town. For reference, it is a little over ra 5 hour drive if you don’t stop. I told my mom and my sisters I would stop as much as they wanted, we weren’t on a time crunch.
If you are planning to do this drive- you will not have many options for a bathroom, food, snacks, gas, etc until you hit Palmer and then not much until you hit Copper Center. We stocked up on snacks before we left and didn’t stop once for gas or snacks until we made it to Copper Center- there is a very cute gas station there at the intersection of HWY1 and HWY4 that has a gift shop with a ton of locally sourced Alaskan souvenirs.
Our first stop was Mirror Lake right outside of Anchorage. It’s a calm lake with the reflection of the mountains and trees and looks just like a mirror. We then hit the road and stopped about 5 more times before hitting Copper Center- many scenic overlooks! You will lose service for about 3 hours of the drive as well so if you have waypoints you want to hit, it’s recommended to have them mapped out ahead of time with mile marker references.
Once we left Copper Center, we drove about 15 minutes down the road to the Princess Lodge. It has an amazing view and very easy hiking trails to stretch the legs. We spent about 30 minutes there and hopped back in the car and didn’t stop again until we hit the Thompson Pass pull off. We stopped again at the Horsetail Falls and then finally made it into Valdez!
After checking into our hotel room, we did the 1 mile loop hike called Dock Point Trail (it’s at the end of the pier near the marina). We ate at the Fat Mermaid and I highly recommend the halibut or red salmon as it is caught fresh and you will most likely see the boat come in with your dinner if you sit at the marina in the afternoon! Traveling with the baby, as mentioned earlier, means early dinners and accommodating to their schedule- so we put the baby down and played Euchre- luckily there are 4 of us! With her waking up at around 6 each day, we have all been ready for bed before 9pm so it has really worked out!
Day 5: Drive Back to Anchorage:
We spent the night in Valdez, woke up, walked to a cute coffee shop for breakfast called Latte Dah. We enjoyed our coffee and pumpkin rolls on the pier near the marina and then walked to the Prospector Outfitter. Before leaving Valdez, we drove to the Valdez Glacier Lake (turn onto airport road and follow the road down). Unfortunately the glacier itself is changing and the lake was less full than it usually is but it was still a beautiful site with the ice chunks and silt water. Had it been Josh and me on this trip, we would have went fishing out of Valdez- I highly recommend looking into fishing charters!
On our way home, we took a 20 min detour to hike Liberty Falls and have a packed lunch at the base of the waterfalls. We also stopped at Matanuska Glacier with the intent to hike it but they are no longer allowing self guided tours. They do offer tours every few hours but you have to time it perfect. Instead, we sat up at the lookout point and had several moose feeding around us. As we got into Anchorage, we ate dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse (highly recommend the harvest salad, halibut, and the cinnamon bourbon donuts for dessert)!
Day 6: Denali and Talkeetna:
We woke up with breakfast donuts from Dino’s Donuts, let the baby play and crawl around in the hotel room until it was time for her first nap, and then started the 4 hour drive to Denali. We stopped 2 hours into the drive at Talkeetna, had lunch at Denali Brewing Company (the sweet potato fries and reindeer meatloaf are a must) and picked up some gifts at various local shops in their downtown area! On our way up to Denali, we stopped at a few scenic viewpoints. I had rented a log cabin for us for the night and made reservations at 49th State Brewing in Healy for dinner (please do yourself a favor and order the homemade blueberry cream soda and the yak burger). We spent the evening drinking protein hot chocolate and playing euchre!
Day 7: Drive Back to Anchorage:
Our morning in Denali was spent hiking Horseshoe Lake Trail (it took us about 90 minutes with all of the photos we took plus exploring the Nenana river). I surprised my family with an airplane ride out of Talkeetna to fly to see Mount McKinley (also known as Denali as the mountain keeps getting renamed back and forth) and to land on a glacier. Unfortunately our flight was not able to leave due to weather. I knew my sisters wanted to see sled dogs so we found a man who runs Iditarod that offers tours! His company is called Snowhook (I couldn’t find a link but it was through TripAdvisor). We got to play with his 60 dogs and 15 puppies and earn about the race and the history of it!
We made it back to Anchorage around dinner time but we were all exhausted so we decided to just have some food delivered to the hotel and pack everything up for our flights out the next day!
Day 8: Fly Out
After a week in Alaska, our trip came to an end! We all left in the morning! It was an absolutely incredible trip and I hope this itinerary helps you if you plan to make it up to the Last Frontier!