Over the past 15 years, I’ve been traveling the world as a food and drink journalist, eating my way through far out foods from the likes of Malaysia and Vietnam and drinking wines from South Africa to Spain. Travel is not for the faint of heart, but if you can power through long flights and jet lag, in my opinion the adventure always outweighs the effort. Typically, my assignments have me traveling abroad, but most recently I’ve been stateside touring the 49th and 50th states. As far as journey’s go, both were spectacular, but visiting Alaska was life-changing. While I can think of a million, here are nine solid reasons you should book a trip to Alaska right now.
Ever since I got a taste of Juneau I can’t stop thinking about the waffles, crab bisque, and exotic ice cream. All from separate locales around town, though each equally as memorable. Juneau Food Tours, offers guided walking tours through town that stop off at all the best spots like Tracy’s Crab Shack and Coppa Ice Cream. Coppa offers insane flavors like brown butter birch syrup bourbon and devils’ club Chocolate (made with a locally foraged green). Gonzo, a quaint, inspired Belgian waffle shop off the beaten path, is worth the trek. With waffles loaded with beets and goat cheese to those smothered in chocolate and marshmallow, this is the stuff die-hard foodies seek out around the world.
Alaska is huge. Once you’re there you can boat, fly, and sea plane to farther removed spots within the state. The Alaska Marine Highway is one of the most breathtaking ways to travel. A large, slow moving ferry boat can transport you for days with the most unobstructed views and a look into life in the wilderness. Want a bird’s eye view? Take a sea plane instead and coast over endless glaciers and gorgeous mountains.
Upon my departure my brother said,”Enjoy the great expanse.” Until you see it, words and even pictures can’t do it justice. It’s awesome in the truest sense of the word. The bluest waters, magnificent glaciers, snow-capped mountains and on and on and on. You simply just have to see it with your own two eyes. Since it’s summer there now you can drink in the view for 24 hours a day. Don’t worry you can sleep when you get back home.
Tutka Bay Lodge
A quick boat trip from the Spit transports you to the enchanting Tutka Bay Lodge in just 20 minutes. Home to what might be America’s farthest flung cooking school, this outpost serves up first-class food. Complete with—you guessed it—insane views and offering out of this world meals, sunrise Yoga, a staff naturalist who can guide you on a foraging trek through the woods and rocky beaches, another guide—Gus—who can personally take you bear hunting, whale watching, or to visit a local oyster farmer, this is hospitality at its best. Offering a sauna, a hot tub under the stars and no cell service, this place is heaven on earth.
Homer, Alaska is one of the most impressive settings I’ve witnessed in the world. The Spit is four and half miles of jaw- dropping beauty, polka- dotted by local flavor like the Salty Dog saloon where you can drink to much with the fisherman and hang your dollar on the wall.
Need I say more? These massive, natural ice formations are simply stunning.
Alaska makes tons of delicious beer, and unfortunately we don’t see much of it in the lower 48. From Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau’s Smoked Porter (check out their instagram feed; AlaskanBrewing) to the Homer Brewing Company’s Old Inlet Pale Ale,beer lover’s and the beer curious alike will love Alaska. Anchorage offers Big Swig—a tour and tasting of their breweries—and if you’re a real adventure-seeker you can head to Haines Brewfest, a typical brewfest offering most of Alaska’s pints in one place, though this one turns Woodstock by nightfall, complete with adult slip-and-slide, clothing optional. If you’re a gin drinker, Haines also pours up unique spirits and a delicious, smooth gin that is filtered through orange peels, not to be missed at Port Chilkoot Distillery.
This one may seem like a given but the first time you brush up to a black bear or pull alongside a strolling moose you’ll truly understand what it means to be part of the last frontier. Everything from moose, to whale watching, black and brown bear sightings, a brilliant array of birds, and even baby otters is yours for enjoying. If fishing is your thing, it doesn’t get any better than the King Salmon run. Whether you want to catch them or eat them, Alaska offers an abundance of the freshest salmon, halibut, and my favorite—oysters.
Alaska may have had some media hype over its hunky, eligible bachelors but it’s really the women of the Final Frontier who are most impressive. You probably inferred that Tracy of Tracy’s Crab Shack is quite the skilled chef, but also cooking up those killer waffles is another committed female chef. That amazing cooking school mentioned above is run by a mother/daughter team who are dedicated to bringing the most cutting-edge culinary influences to their customers. And that naturalist guide was another inspiring girl who, native to North Carolina, but returns each year to lodge to lend her expertise. The gin from Chilkoot is being distilled by a super cool not to mention insanely talented chic, and another female distiller former bush pilot is rocking it at High Mark Distillery.
These mere words seem insufficient to express the wonders of Alaska. You’ll just have to trust me on this. You need to book your trip now!