Choosing where you want to spend your summer vacation in Alaska can be a tricky decision due to the plethora of towns/areas there are to choose from! Look no further than Girdwood, Alaska if you need a summer trip that is filled with adventure and relaxation and is great for couples and families.
Where Is Girdwood, Alaksa
Girdwood Alaska is found just 35 miles south of Anchorage, making it a very convenient destination for visitors flying to the Anchorage airport. Girdwood is nestled in a beautiful forest east of the Turnagain arm and surrounded by the Chugach Mountain Range. While this may be a great day trip destination, we recommend making this home base for your Alaska summer vacation!
Where To Stay In Girdwood, Alaska
We loved the time we spent at Tanner Mountain Estates! This five-bedroom luxury cabin can hold up to 16 people and with a spacious living area and kitchen, there is plenty of space for everyone to spread out. A few of the highlights of this incredible cabin include-
- Large gourmet kitchen with seating for 10, state-of-the-art appliances and cookware that is totally available for you to use! We loved this feature because we ended up cooking a couple of meals while we were there which saved us money from eating out.
- Unmatched views of Mount Alyeska right from the living room or large deck!
- The theater and bedroom in the loft are accessible by ladder and will be the coveted spot to hang out and unwind after a long day.
- The bedrooms have comfortable beds with storage areas. The master bedroom was our favorite due to the walk-in closet, a spa tub, and a shower with a steam room function!
The cabin itself was incredible but the location made it that much better. It is located just a short drive from many major sites! It only took us about 7 minutes to get to the trailhead of Virgin Creek Falls, 5 minutes to get to Alyeska Resort, and about 10 minutes to get to most of the restaurants and the grocery store. We definitely recommend booking a stay here during your Alaska summer vacation.
What To Do In Girdwood, Alaksa
Hiking In Girdwood
Our favorite trail in Girdwood was to Virgin Creek Falls. This short hike was only about a 1-mile round trip trail and led to an incredible waterfall. I would say this trail is acceptable for all hiking skill levels, but it’s important to wear sturdy shoes as there are a few slippery spots along the way. A few other hiking trails that we wanted to get to but didn’t end up having time for were:
- Winner Creek Trail
- Mulitple trails in Chugach State Park
- Crow Creek
- Bryon Glacier Trail
Visiting Alyeska Resort
Alyeska Resort is very well known, as is one of the main attractions for the town of Girdwood. While there are many summer activities that the resort offers, we decided to take the aerial tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska one afternoon! The views from the top are unparalleled of the Turnagain Arm, seven “hanging” glaciers, and the Chugach Mountain range. The tram ride could take anywhere from three to seven minutes to get you to the 2300 foot elevation platform.
At the top, you’ll find a restaurant called Seven Glaciers that offers fine dining for their guests. You don’t need a restaurant reservation to take the aerial tram though, you can just enjoy the views as we did!
Visit The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
One of the most unique things to do near Girdwood, Alaska is getting to know the Alaska wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. “The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research, and quality animal care.
Fun ways to explore the Center while enjoying the wildlife include riding your bike, walking, or driving the 1.5-mile loop around the sanctuary.” We decided to get out of the car to stretch our legs and walk around the center. I thought this option was great since we were able to access the boardwalk to the bears which you can only do if you are on foot.
While we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the bears, deer, bison, and wolves, the adorable porcupine that lives there stole the show for us! The AWCC offers a free, daily education program where you can learn more about the animals that they take care of.
10/10 recommend visiting while you’re in the Girdwood area!
Take A Boat Tour To Portage Glacier
Find out why Portage Glacier is one of Alaska’s most popular attractions by taking the boat tour! By hopping on the mv Ptarmigan, you’ll get to come within 300 yards from a relic of the Ice Age! What we loved about this boat tour was that it was an hour long, a perfect amount of time if you have babies or kids with you.
The boat tour is fully narrated by a ranger that is on board. Not only did we get to witness this mighty Alaska glacier, but we were able to cruise around the beautiful lake and spot ribbon waterfalls cascade down the surrounding cliffs. This is a must-do tour while spending your summer vacation in Girdwood.
Where To Eat In Girdwood, Alaska
Girdwood is filled with cheap eats, bakery favorites and high end dining so you’ll for sure find something to fit your foodie style! Below are a few of the most recommended places along with our personal favorites of the restaurants that we were able to eat out during our time there.
- Spoonline Bistro- We loved the Thai yellow curry. Perfect for a rainy day in Girdwood.
- Girdwood Brewing Company
- Jack Sprat- Peanut Pan and the Deep Sea Curry
- The Bake Shop
- Sitzmark Bar & Grill
- Alpine Bakery- Get here early to get their fresh donuts!
I hope you have a great summer vacation in Girdwood, Alaska!