From Anchorage you can hike up Denali, the tallest mountain in North America
Though it may be a city – Alaska’s largest – Anchorage is also the first place to visit to witness the state’s extraordinary natural splendor. This is because it’s a base camp to some of Alaska’s wildest spots; head south to the oceanic wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula, or north to hike around the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, which has a 27-mile long glacier snaking through it. Another nearby must-see is Denali – the tallest mountain in North America, whose snow-capped peak has a lilac tint when seen from Anchorage. Stay just outside the city at A Goldenview B&B, sleeping in a wooden chalet with mountain views from the outdoor hot tub.
Sea kayak past mammoth glaciers on the Kenai Peninsula near Seward
A historic railroad port, Seward is located on the Kenai Peninsula and provides easy access to a number of glaciers, coastal fjords and national parks. Sea kayak through still, ice-blue waters, watching ice caps break off and float around you, or climb to the top of Exit Glacier. Stay at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay, with a wooden sun deck that juts out into the water and provides panoramic views of nothing but mountains and glistening sea.
Fairbanks is considered the ultimate place to see the northern lights
Fairbanks is considered the ultimate place to see the northern lights (aka aurora borealis), a natural phenomenon whereby an arc of green light flickers across the sky. However, if you happen to visit outside of northern lights season, this city (with the feel of a small town) has plenty more to offer; Fairbanks is a gateway for Denali National Park and the Chena River State Recreation Area, where you can hike, kayak and camp in the summer, or ski and sled through the snow in winter. Check into Fairbanks Moose Manor B&B, a rural lodge in a forest clearing where you can spot moose roaming around the property and – in season – the northern lights.
Go on a glacier expedition near Juneau, the remote state capital that's only accessible by sea or plane
The state capital, Juneau, is so remote it’s only accessible by sea or plane. The main attraction is the Mendenhall Glacier, stretching for 13 miles from the Juneau Ice Field (a 1,500-square-mile sheer expanse of glistening ice) through the Tongass National Forest (the largest temperate rainforest in the world) before melting into sage-green Mendenhall Lake. Kayaking past the tip of the glacier and watching its icy mass rise up before you is by far the best way to see it. But there are also hiking trails all around, passing waterfalls, wildflower meadows and blissfully-quiet, pine-scented forests. Other highlights include Tracy Arm Fjord, a waterway filled with icebergs the size of houses, or whale-watching expeditions along the wild coastline. Warm up after your sea-kayaking adventures in the rooftop hot tub of Silverbow Inn, located in downtown Juneau.
Girdwood is a gateway to the mighty Chugach Mountain Range
Though it’s primarily a ski resort, this small Alaskan mountain town has an array of nature-based activities and attractions that you can visit year-round. In winter, Girdwood’s considerable snowfall brings the nearby Alyeska Resort to life (the state’s biggest ski area) with hundreds of deep, powdery pistes, dog-sledding adventures and glacier tours (including by helicopter). In summer, it’s a hub for paragliding, alpine hiking, rock climbing and white water rafting. Whatever the season, ride the tram to the top of Mount Alyeska to enjoy the views of the surrounding Chugach Mountain Range and seven glaciers for which the town is widely known. Hotel Alyeska, located by a lake amid the Chugach Mountains, has its own tram taking guests to peaks overlooking the gorgeous, glacier-filled landscape.
**The data scientists at Booking.com dug into internal data to find the most highly-rated destinations in Alaska for ‘nature’.