The USA has 50 wonderful states, each with it’s own unique sights, and attractions. There is the endless summer of Hawaii, or the excitement of Hollywood, LA, and San Francisco in California. There is the west coast of Florida and the Keys, or good old New England where our country really began. There are so many interesting choices, but if I had only one choice I would visit Alaska. Let me tell you why Alaska is the best place to visit in the USA.
Alaska is very rich in culture and beauty. When you first fly into Anchorage, you can’t help but notice how huge the city is Anchorage has almost 4 times the total land mass of Los Angeles–and not even a quarter of the population. Everything in Alaska is modern. Perhaps you remember the Earthquake of 1964–it almost destroyed Anchorage–but it resulted in all structures still standing and all new buildings to be constructed “earthquake proof”. What this means is that the structures no longer buckle or topple, but now the floors roll and the buildings sway in response to severe seismic activity. Despite the fact that up to 4000 incidents of seismic activity occur in Alaska each year, the probability of you even knowing it happened is small, and if a deep quake (the worst kind) does occur, Even if a deep quake hits, the structures are built to withstand the stress and the worst that might happen is your coffee cup will jump off your desk and make a mess.
One thing people rarely consider is that the Pacific Rim Area (the top of the world) contains perhaps the greatest number of volcanoes in the world–130 of them, all of which have been active within 2 million years. In addition, more than 90 of them have had eruptions in the last 10,000 years, and close to 50 of them have been active in recorded history, which for Alaska is begins around 1760. There are 4 major volcanic mountains that can be seen from Anchorage–Mt. Spurr, Illiamna, Augustine and Redoubt–and might have negative effects such as heavy falling ash–but the chance of lava flowing into the city is moot. You don’t want a volcano to explode while you are there, but if it does, just pour yourself a drink and watch the light show–but watch it from inside so you don’t end up covered in ash!
There are so many things to see in Alaska, I don’t know where to begin. If you go downtown in Anchorage, the first thing you will notice is the abundance of Native Alaskan art–it is everywhere–and colorful and very unique. The Native Alaskan cultures range in social and modern sophistication in degrees. Yes, there are igloos in Alaska, but not in any of the cities. They are used for temporary shelters when out in the vast uninhabited areas of the state.
To help you explore the history, people and culture of Alaska, Anchorage has 10 very special museums, where you can explore more than 10,000 years of rich Alaskan Native culture as well as the geological history of the state. The Oscar Anderson house and museum is filled with information about the lives of early white settlers in Anchorage. Andersen’s home was the first wood-frame house built in Anchorage, and has been restored to it original state and filled with the tools and other item relevant to early settler’s lives there.
Another that is very unique and popular is the Roundhouse Museum at the top of Mt. Alyeska, where you can sit and eat an elegant meal while looking out over the magnificence that is Alaska. Alyeska is know for its snow-related sports–snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling to name a few.
You can learn all about the people and culture and see their art and historical artifacts at several museums–The Alaskan Native Heritage Center, the Alaska Heritage Museum, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature, and the Alaska Experience Theater with its awesome Earthquake exhibit.
Other museums are the Anchorage Museum, The Alaska Aviation Museum, the Veteran’s Museum and the Trooper’s Museum, all of which will give you a look into Alaska and the people who live there.
Night life abounds in Anchorage–there are plenty of restaurants and clubs. But best of all are the festivals when the Natives dress in their ceremonial garb and fill the main streets of Downtown Anchorage with dancing, chanting and songs.
Finally, there is the Alaskan Railroad. Take a ride through the state and see what you are really missing. The best times to go to Alaska are late spring and early fall, as both those times will give you the best “balance” of day and night that Alaska has to offer.
So get out your warm clothes, purchase a jar of Vaseline (to cover exposed skin) and hop on a plane in Portland or Seattle and go north. It’s long flight no matter where you are coming from in the Lower 48, as it takes almost 9 hours to fly there from Seattle! But it is well worth the trip. It is the best place to visit in the USA!