Off the Beaten Path: What to Do in Alaska That Doesn't Make You Look Like A Tourist

April 4, 2022

We’ll bet you never thought of driving to Alaska! Well, that’s exactly what Bella and Wayne, along with their friends Marv and Francine are doing. Even before they arrive at their destination they won’t be mistaken for tourists -- unless Wayne and Marv wear their fishing hats the entire trip!

Decisions, Decisions: Where do Seniors Travel for Vacation?

“Bella, what’s the number one travel destination in the world?” Wayne looks up from the laptop resting on his knees. His wife looks up from her flower patch. “I don’t know, Wayne. I wish your number one travel destination was over here in the garden with me.” She smiles, and Wayne gets up from his chair beneath the tree and walks over.

“Nag, nag, nag.” He kneels down and passes her a flower pot filled with Black-Eyed Susans. “Here. You can’t say I don't ever help you.” He leans over and kisses Bella on the cheek. “I wanted to find a nice city to visit together. I think we’ve been to all the top destinations. France, Italy, Spain, England, even Japan.”

“Did you check for top travel destinations for seniors?” Bella winks at her husband.

“Ha! I did not. I’m not a senior. Yet. Wait.” Wayne clicks loudly on the laptop. “It says seniors go to Disney World, Hawaii, that they take river cruises, and visit Tuscany. Well, we’ve been to Tuscany.”

“How about Alaska?” Bella places the flowers in the ground and gently pats them into place. “Please pass me another pot.”

Wayne obliges. “Alaska? As in Juneau, Alaska? The United States of America’s Alaska?”

Bella laughs. “It’s the only one I know of. Is there another Alaska?”

Wayne thinks. “Probably. I thought you were the smart one of us. Let me see … Okay, there is an Alaska in Wisconsin, one in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana … there’s even an Alaska in Brazil!”

Bella chuckles. “I was thinking about the Alaska that’s fifty-five miles across the Bering Strait from Russia.”

Wayne pauses. “Ohh … that sounds exciting. Perhaps we’ll find gold! Or see polar bears!” He sits back dreamily and thinks to himself.

“Oh, Wayne! Such a dreamer. Pass me those last flowers and give Marv and Francine a call. I talked with her last night. It was actually her idea. We can all go together.” 

“Gold mining is not just a part of Alaska's past, but it is still an important activity in many areas of the state today. You might like to try your hand at finding some of the precious metal. Recreational gold panning and prospecting are permitted, with some restrictions, on most public lands in Alaska.” Alaska Centers 

You Can Drive to Alaska from Anywhere in the USA. Except for Hawaii.

Marv and Wayne are studying the map while Bella and Francine freshen up in the ladies' room. After stopping at the US-Canadian border the two couples enjoyed a delicious lunch in a small diner. “So it looks like we should take highway 16 over to Prince George, stay overnight, then take the 97 up to Dawson Creek.” Marv nods.  “Then we can take the Alaska Highway all the way to Anchorage.” Marv nods.

The women return and chide their husbands. “Why don’t you boys use the car navigator?”

“Hmph!” The two fold up the map. “I was in the army. I can read a map better than the car can.” Wayne sticks out his tongue and everyone laughs. “Come along. It’s a long drive.”

Bella nods. “Five days each way. Talk about long-distance travel! It’s good it’s summer and there are so many nice places to stop in. It will be a nice change from all those busy cities with so many tourists.” She turns to Francine, “And what a great idea to spend a couple of days with Rick in Whitehorse. It’s nice he can put us all up at his place.” 

Francine nods. “He’s been asking when we’d be visiting. We haven’t seen him since he moved. It’s too bad he’s so far away..” 

“I’m glad Katrin lives closer to us than your Rick. It’s sad when the kids move so far away.” Bella adds in agreement.

Wayne follows everyone into the car and puts on his seatbelt. “Well, I love kids, but I hate tourists. I’m looking forward to the open road and no tour buses.” Everybody laughs again, and the four start off on the long trip north.

On Your Way to Whitehorse, You Must Visit the Juneau Ice Caves

“Can we rest for a bit? My feet are killing me.”

“I suppose. I really want to get in my daily steps before lunch though.” Wayne smiles, standing over Bella who happily sits down on a bench.

“How many steps do you walk a day, Wayne?” Marv nods toward Wayne as he checks his pedometer. 

“I mean, how many steps are enough for you?” Everybody laughs.

“Haha. I like staying fit. Nothing wrong with that. Besides, it’s a good way to warm up after those ice caves.” Wayne winks. “I also have a beautiful, young, wife to keep up with, you know.”

Bella howls with laughter. “Oh Wayne, I can’t wait to meet her! Hahaha!”

“Those ice caves were beautiful weren’t they?” Francine joins Bella on the bench. “I wonder how ice caves are formed anyway? It’s also a bit scary. I wonder how safe they are?”

“We were in the salt caves in Austria once. It felt weird to be so far underground. It was perfectly safe, but you feel a bit scared.” Bella and Francine exchange nods.

“I’m sure if they weren’t safe, they wouldn’t let us in,” Marv observes. “That ice looked really thick!”

“Just 12 miles from Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, the ice caves are an absolute wonder to explore and are ever-changing due to the glacier’s constant movement and flow. The ice caves have been formed by the melting glacial ice and flow of water and this melted water runs under and through the glacier. This carves out new caves and the bright blue caves look spectacular from the inside.” Canadian Affair 

You’ll Find More Than Precious Metal When You Visit McCarthy and Kennicott.

“Have you two struck gold yet? Francine and I were hoping for a necklace or two to take back with us.” The women wink at each other and are met by scowls from their husbands.

“You two should stand up and take in all this beautiful scenery! It’s absolutely beautiful.”

“Copper. The mine here was a copper mine. Though gold is still pretty common in Alaska.” Marv nudges Wayne. “Wouldn’t that have been a hoot, back in the Klondike times? Panning for gold, sitting in the saloons at night watching the dancing girls?” 

Wayne pokes Marv and gestures toward the women. “Dancing girls?” Bella and Francine laugh. “But we can do the can-can for you two right here.” They join arms and begin a parody of the famous dance routine, laughing as they go.

“Thanks, Marv.” Wayne shakes his head as the women kick their legs up in the air.

“Travelling with you two, I never have to worry about getting bored!” Francine laughs, and Bella joins her. Marv and Wayne roll their eyes and continue sifting through the sand and water.

“Maybe we get lucky and strike it rich, Marv. Then we can charter a private jet back. Alone!” The two men laugh and shift faster.

“Deep within the wilderness of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park sits the tiny community of McCarthy and its nearest neighbor, the abandoned Kennicott copper mine. Today McCarthy and Kennicott provide a rich experience worthy of the long trip. Using the local Kennicott Glacier Lodge as a home base, there's much to do.” Alaska Travel  

All that Adventure Can Make You Hungry. Time for Dinner With a View in Anchorage!

“Hasn’t it been a wonderful trip?” Bella leans back and smiles. “I’m so glad you suggested it, Francine.”

Francine nods. “I’m glad you decided to join us. We would just have taken a cruise ship otherwise.”

Both Marv and Wayne cough on their drinks. “What?! We could have taken a cruise ship?” The two men speak in unison.

“Hahaha! That was a joke. I spent the cruise ship money on the bathroom renovations.”

“Oh. Okay.” Marv turns to Wayne. “Francine has always wanted a bidet and a steam room.”

Wayne nods. “Shh! Not so loud. Bella will get ideas.”

“I heard you, Wayne!” Bella and Francine laugh. “Can I have a piece of your cheese Darling?”

Marv looks on enviously. “I used to love eating cheese, but my doctor suggested I lay off the dairy. Too much fat.”

Wayne shakes his head. “I can’t live without my milk and cheese. Even if it is less than I used to have.”

“He used to drink his weight in milk. I almost bought a cow for the backyard.” Bella whispers to Francine.

“I heard that!” Wayne nudges his wife beneath the table.

“Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, Alaska’s Hotel Captain Cook offers the best cultural, retail, and natural highlights just steps from your door. A world-class menu, 360-degree views, and attentive staff await your arrival. Crow’s Nest is next-level dining! This place offers fine French and New American cuisine overlooking the entire city.” The Wayward Way

Are You Ready to Travel, Unlike a Tourist?

How will you be traveling this summer? Are you driving, taking the train, or the bus? Will you be flying again this year? We’d love to know. Then go ahead and share this with your friends. Want to read more articles like this? We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter where we send weekly emails with helpful and fun articles

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