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Alaska Chain hotels and travel tips?

Alaska Chain hotels and travel tips?

Old Mar 5, 16, 12:05 pm
  #1  
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Alaska Chain hotels and travel tips?

I am planning to go there with my high school-ers as a family. We are not looking for adventurous activities. Would Anchorage be the destination in Alaska? We will be flying from California - is it worth taking award tickets, hopefully 25k x 4 (party of four)?

I see chain hotels over there with whom I have reward nights available - anything else I should consider?

What are the things to do and see? Rent a car?

I am considering Feb next year - what is the best time to go there - are there advantages in going there in off-season?
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Old Mar 7, 16, 3:45 pm
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What kind of activities would your family be interested in? Much of what makes Alaska great is the outdoor activities but I don't know what you'd consider to be adventurous.

Regarding award nights there, they're expensive in points, that's about all there is to say. Only you can decide if its worth it, although, for me, rates are low enough in the winter that I'd prefer just paying outright and getting a better value for my points/miles elsewhere. For flights, award tickets depend on the airline, United and American (for flights booked after March 22) charge more than the usual 25k for flights to Alaska. AS miles will be your best bet if you have those.

If you're looking at going in February you will be limited by what you can do, but you can still have fun if you enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, looking out for the northern lights (better the farther north you go. Fairbanks would be much better than Anchorage, and Barrow best of all). If you enjoy winter activities you could have a great time. If you want to do the typical Alaska activities (i.e. flightseeing, kayaking, hiking, etc.) but want to avoid the crowds September would be your best bet.
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Old Mar 7, 16, 5:22 pm
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Originally Posted by Big4Flyer View Post

If you're looking at going in February you will be limited by what you can do, but you can still have fun if you enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, looking out for the northern lights (better the farther north you go. Fairbanks would be much better than Anchorage, and Barrow best of all). If you enjoy winter activities you could have a great time. If you want to do the typical Alaska activities (i.e. flightseeing, kayaking, hiking, etc.) but want to avoid the crowds September would be your best bet.
Anyway to move my amex MR to Alaska and get the tkt with AS?
I can move AMEX MR to Delta and get it for 25k!

We don't fancy activities to do with snow - so Sept seems an idea.

So Barrow, or Fairbanks - outdoor activities fine but not skiing. Whatever location, I do Not want it to be nowhere, quiet and scary - I want people shops, and hotels, there - so which one would be the location for me?

If I want to see the Northern lights, when is the good month, preferably during school holidays and not when it is cold - it seems not visible between March and late Sept?

Uber or Lyft does not have service in AK?

Last edited by sciconf; Mar 7, 16 at 11:35 pm
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Old Mar 8, 16, 3:31 am
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If you want to see Northern Lights, you'll typically need to visit during the winter months and venture outside of Anchorage, away from light pollution... the farther north, the better, as Big4Flyer stated. I recommend following one of the Northern Lights report pages on Facebook to get an idea of when/where you might see them.

If you come in late February/early March, you can enjoy Fur Rendezvous activities and watch the ceremonial start to the Iditarod in Anchorage. You could even drive to Willow (~80 miles) for the official Iditarod start.

If you want people, shops, and hotels, Anchorage is probably your best bet in the winter. However, it's a lot less quiet both in and outside of Anchorage in the summer months. Girdwood, Seward and Homer are fun little towns to visit in the summer/fall. The drive along Turnagain Arm is beautiful, with scenic views and whale watching opportunities.

Regardless of your destination, a car will be necessary unless you don't plan to venture far from your hotel. Rideshare services are not available and public transportation is spotty within Anchorage.
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Old Mar 8, 16, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by wanderlove View Post
If you want to see Northern Lights, you'll typically need to visit during the winter months and venture outside of Anchorage, away from light pollution... the farther north, the better, as Big4Flyer stated. I recommend following one of the Northern Lights report pages on Facebook to get an idea of when/where you might see them.

If you come in late February/early March, you can enjoy Fur Rendezvous activities and watch the ceremonial start to the Iditarod in Anchorage. You could even drive to Willow (~80 miles) for the official Iditarod start.

If you want people, shops, and hotels, Anchorage is probably your best bet in the winter. However, it's a lot less quiet both in and outside of Anchorage in the summer months. Girdwood, Seward and Homer are fun little towns to visit in the summer/fall. The drive along Turnagain Arm is beautiful, with scenic views and whale watching opportunities.

Regardless of your destination, a car will be necessary unless you don't plan to venture far from your hotel. Rideshare services are not available and public transportation is spotty within Anchorage.
@wanderlove - you gave a lot of info about Anchorage. Would Fairbank a compromise when it comes to people and eating places - and more chance of seeing Northern lights?

Drive around Turnagain Arm - are the roads are hilly? Need chain in the winter?

If I go in late Sept to Fairbank, I could see Northern lights?
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Old Mar 8, 16, 8:46 pm
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Originally Posted by sciconf View Post
@wanderlove - you gave a lot of info about Anchorage. Would Fairbank a compromise when it comes to people and eating places - and more chance of seeing Northern lights?

Drive around Turnagain Arm - are the roads are hilly? Need chain in the winter?

If I go in late Sept to Fairbank, I could see Northern lights?
I have little experience visiting Fairbanks outside of the summer months, so perhaps someone else can speak to that. My June-August recreational visits to Fairbanks have been fun, although I most enjoy the scenic drive from Anchorage.

I wouldn't describe Turnagain Arm as particularly hilly...maybe winding in some places with plenty of straight or wide-curved stretches. It's best in the summer and fall. I'm a lifelong Alaskan and I still cringe at the idea of driving that road in the winter. That said, I've never actually had to use chains for traction anywhere in Southcentral Alaska.
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