Open any travel magazine these days and you’re likely to see some sort of news about a new lodge setting up shop in the Kenai Peninsula, a new foodie destination opening in Anchorage, or some photo essay about one of the many picturesque towns in Southeast Alaska (many of which are accessible only by boat). The fact is, Alaska is trending. It’s been trending for a while, but something in particular over the past couple of years has drawn more tourists than ever to "The Last Frontier.” Maybe it has to do with climate change and people discovering a newfound appreciation for America’s wildest state, or maybe it’s because Alaska Airlines always seems to launch new, affordable routes, opening up the state like never before. Either way, if you and your significant other are intrigued by all that Alaska has to offer, we know it can be difficult to know where to start. There’s a lot to see here—enough for two lifetimes, at least—and that’s why we’ve whittled it down to this checklist of the state’s greatest hits. Consider it a choose-your-own-adventure for any Alaska honeymoon.
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A day or two in Anchorage
As this is most likely where you’ll fly into, Anchorage is a great place to catch your breath for a day or two before delving into the state’s wilder places. Alaska’s largest city is living proof that Americans can build thriving communities no matter how remote. A visit to the Eklutna Historical Park gives an in-depth look into the Russian influences and native culture at work in this area. The Alaska State Trooper Museum and Alaska Aviation Museum are quirky diversions that give a different view of the state’s history. For a romantic dinner, there’s nowhere better than Crow’s Nest located 20 stories up—the salmon belly crudo is the stuff that Alaska foodie dreams are made of.
A cruise through Southeast Alaska
Love them or hate them, cruises are a foolproof, surefire way to see huge swathes of Alaska at once. And while most of the state’s cruises focus on the “Inside Passage” (the southeast part of the state, basically between Anchorage and Vancouver), not all cruises are created equal. You’ll want something large enough to offer a variety of excursions so the two of you can tailor-make your itinerary, but also something small enough to still feel intimate and romantic. Regent Seven Seas hits the mark in that ideal middle-zone. Most excursions are included in your fare, but it’s also possible to order off their menu of upgrades, with such experiences as held-hiking atop glaciers, or private Alaskan king salmon dinners for two.
Adventure-seeking in the Aleutians
Make no mistake—with parts that are closer to Russia than to Seattle, Alaska’s ultra-remote chain of Aleutian Islands are not for the luxury-seeking couple. They are expensive and time-consuming to get to, and there is very little there in terms of tourism infrastructure (you might be better off searching for Airbnbs than proper hotels, in some instances), but the sheer act of journeying to a place like the island of Unalaska together is exactly the kind of once-in-a-lifetime adventure that thrill-seeking couples crave. Just imagine spending a day in Dutch Harbor, the town where hit TV show Deadliest Catch is filmed: After a morning of watching tanker-sized fishing ships processing the day’s wild Alaska pollock catch, the two of you can go for a hike up Mount Ballyhoo before settling in for happy hour at the infamous Norwegian Rat Saloon, talking about the day’s adventures and wondering how such a remote town can somehow be the biggest, most important fishing port in the United States.
A backcountry sojourn
No trip to Alaska is complete without some sort of stay in the wilderness. What could be more romantic than being off-the-grid, with nothing to distract you two aside from the Northern Lights and the occasional grizzly? There are so many lodges to explore here, but here are some highlights: spotting the world’s largest grizzly bears from the comfort of your luxury one-bedroom cabin at the Kodiak Brown Bear Center on Kodiak Island; falling asleep under the northern lights just south of Denali National Park at Chelatna Lake Lodge; or indulging in glacier-stream-fed, home-grown oysters at Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge. Bring some hiking boots, perhaps some bug spray, and an adventurous attitude—there’s so much to do at these places that you two won’t miss having cell service.
If the two of you are real thrill-seekers, there’s nothing that will get your pulse pounding faster than a couple days of heli-skiing. Depending on the operator you choose, it’s possible to find some premium Alaska powder as late as June in some areas. There are a number of operators—Silverton Mountain Guides, Black Ops Valdez, Points North Heli-Adventures, Chugach Powder Guides—so it’s just a matter of figuring out which company has availability at a time that works with your itinerary. As you’ve probably gathered by this point, our country’s Last Frontier is truly filled with nothing but options for a special, once-in-a-lifetime romantic getaway.