Whittier is one of the most beautiful cities in Alaska. Just getting there is a unique experience as you’ll have to go through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which is the longest highway tunnel in the world. Once you’re there you’ll be able to go fishing, glacier hiking, kayaking, or cruising through the towering glaciers in Prince William Sound.
1.Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
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The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in the world to travel through a mountain. It is the only way to get to Whittier by road and rail, so you’ll definitely go through it during your travels there. The tunnel itself is over 2 ½ miles long and was specifically designed for the fluctuating temperatures of the area. The one-lane tunnel is shared by trains and cars and has a unique design which allows for vehicles to travel directly over the railroad track. While there, keep in mind that there is a toll for private vehicles to go through the tunnel and that there may be a delay before you can enter.
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Whittier Harbor is a full-service establishment that is open all year long and aims to meet the needs of all boaters. It is an ice-free port that has 350 slips for both transient and permanent berth holders, holding boats up to 54 feet long. There are many boats there for rent if you’re up for a day on the water, otherwise, you can take in the view and enjoy exploring the harbor; there’s a chance that you’ll see salmon leaping up enthusiastically. Many locals and visitors head over there to spend some time water skiing and kayaking in addition to boating and/or fishing.
3.Prince William Sound Museum
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Located within the Anchor Inn Hotel, the Prince William Sound Museum is a tribute to Alaska’s many legends. It is a small but interesting museum that will give you an in-depth look at Whittier’s history. The museum has been collecting and displaying exhibits and artifacts which tell the story of the area’s rail terminal, military port, and its heritage during the Cold War and World War II. There are thirty-two exhibits dedicated to events such as the building of the Whittier Tunnel. One of the most interesting artifacts housed at the museum is a highly-detailed, museum grade model of the S.S. Northwestern which was built in 1889, used in trade routes with Cuba, and was lost during the Dutch Harbor attack in 1942.
Department 102, 743 Whittier St, Whittier, AK 99693
4.Horsetail Falls Trail
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Horsetail Falls Trail is a wonderful way to spend the day outdoors in Whittier. The trail takes less than half an hour and has an easily-accessible boardwalk on 90% of the mile-long tail. It’s a super adventure as you walk by Whittier Creek, a number of waterfalls, blueberries, and various other flora and fauna. At the very top you’ll reach a desk that offers phenomenal views of Passage Canal, the many boats docked at Whittier Harbor, and the rest of Whittier. Camping is allowed on the deck at the top, but because of the limited space you might not always get an opportunity to openly camp there.
5.Granite Bay State Marine Park
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Just a short ride away from Whittier, Granite Bay State Marine Park is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors. The pristine park has not been affected by human activity, leaving it at its natural best. There are protective islands, two bays, and forests, while most of the shoreline is filled with boulders and granite cliffs. It’s the perfect place to go hiking and a climb to the top will provide panoramic views of the park and the rest of the surroundings. Other activities that are available at Granite Bay State Marine Park include fishing and camping; there are several campsites scattered throughout and you can choose to stay beachside, lakeside, or high up on the cliffs.
6.South Esther Island State Marine Park
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South Esther Island State Marine Park is wonderful for a day or overnight trip to really explore Alaska’s natural beauty. You are able to navigate through many aspects such as the undisturbed Quillian Bay or Lake Bay, which houses one of the world’s largest salmon hatcheries, the Wally Noerenberg Hatchery. The hatchery is the only permanent settlement in the park and raises three different species such as Coho salmon, Chum salmon, and Pink salmon. There are various campsites, some of which are along Esther Lake and others beside forested areas and muskegs. Go on a quick hike to one of two scenic overlooks; the Esther Falls Overlooks offers breathtaking views of the Lake Bay Area.
7.Surprise Cove State Marine Park
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Located near the mouth Cochrane Bay, Surprise Cove State Park is one of the most popular outdoor areas near Whittier. The forested uplands are wonderful for hiking and backcountry camping. There are seven camping sites on various terrains throughout the park; one of the most popular is located on the gravel beach and can house approximately twelve tents within comfortable distance from each other. Amenities near the campsite include a bathroom, bear-proof lockers, and a take-off point for kayaks and small motorboats. While exploring the area be sure to adventure into the tide pools found at Point Cochrane.
8.Crazy Rays Adventures
© Crazy Rays Adventures
Crazy Rays Adventures offers one of the best fishing experiences in the state of Alaska. You’re sure to have a memorable time as you head out for a world-class saltwater fishing trip. Visitors are taken out on to the pristine waters of Prince William Sound, where you will be greeted with spectacular views of the surroundings as well as several species of fish like halibut, ling cod, salmon, and rock fish. As you leave the boat harbor you’ll go across the passage canal and see abundant marine wildlife and magnificent glaciers. Crazy Rays also offers fishing and lodging packages which lets you have an extended experience and maximize your fishing time.
Wasilla, AK, Phone: 907-315-5382
9.Major Marine Tours - Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise
© Major Marine Tours - Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise
Going on the Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise with Major Marine Tours will be one of your most memorable moments while in Whittier, Alaska. There are two half-day options to choose from, both of which take you through the calm and protected waters of Prince William Sound. You will get up close and personal with waterfalls and towering tidewater glaciers from which giant chunks of ice break off and crash into the water. There’s a high chance of coming across marine wildlife and you may be able to see harbor seals, sea otters, seabirds, bald eagles, and whales during your cruise. The cruise is narrated by an onboard National Forest Ranger and a buffet meal of Alaskan salmon and prime rib can be enjoyed during your trip.
9170 Jewel Lake Road, Ste 202, Anchorage, Alaska 99502, Phone: 800-764-7300
10.26 Glacier Cruise by Phillips Cruises and Tours
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Phillips Cruises and Tours was founded by Brad Phillips, who pioneered glacial cruising in the 1950s. The Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise brings you face to face with an array of marine wildlife and towering tidewater glaciers as you glide through the serene waters of Prince William Sound. The incredibly friendly crew will make sure that you have the best experience as you navigate through the fjords on their luxurious high-speed catamarans; the cruises are accompanied by fun facts about the area’s surroundings and history as told by the onboard US Forest Service Ranger. This cruise tour is perfect for solo travelers, couples, families, nature lovers, and ornithology aficionados.
Whittier Dock: 100 West Camp Road, Whittier, AK 99693/ Reservations Office: 519 W. 4th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501
11.Glacier Jetski Adventures
© Glacier Jetski Adventures
Glacier Jetski Adventures is one of the most exciting, hands-on ways to view the glaciers. They are the very first company in the world to offer glacier tours on jet skis, pioneering what has quickly become one of the most popular ways to see Alaska’s waterfalls and glaciers. The jet skis are comfortable, easy to operate, are eco-friendly, and lets you get closer than any other glacier viewing tour offered in the area. You’ll be navigated on this once in a lifetime adventure with friendly local guides who are professional and know the area in and out.
Billings St, Whittier, AK 99693, Phone: 907-830-4001
12.Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Cafe
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Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Cafe offers the freshest shrimp, halibut, and pacific cod, locally sourced straight out of Prince William Sound. Popular choices on their varied menu include their homemade clam and seafood chowder as well as homemade rhubarb crisp. The cafe is renowned for the ‘Home of the Left Handed Halibut’ which is hand-battered with their own secret recipe. Be sure to pair your meal with a delicious imported, domestic, or craft brew or wine. You can enjoy the great Alaskan maritime atmosphere while you dine in the beautiful downtown location. During the summer months Varly’s also offers homemade ice cream and pizza for the entire family to enjoy.
Harbor Rd, Whittier, AK 99693, Phone: 907-472-2550
13.Inn At Whittier
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The Inn At Whittier offers a true Alaskan dining experience inside a casual, yet stunning, environment with unparalleled views of Whittier Harbor and the Prince William Sound. The restaurant has a diverse menu which includes fresh seafood straight from the Sound; the menu is constantly changing to ensure that they use readily available, fresh ingredients which are available to them. Attached to the restaurant is the lovely intimate fireside tavern which is a perfect place to end your dinner - you can have cocktails and enjoy the live music which is performed there on weekends. The restaurant is more than happy to accommodate a unique or private dining experience so you have the most memorable time during your trip to Whittier.
5A Harbor Loop Road, Whittier, Alaska 99693, Phone: 907-472-3200
© Anchor Inn
Have a delicious and hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Anchor Inn’s restaurant. The setting is cozy, allowing you to get a real feel for the town and have an authentic dining experience. The restaurant is often visitors by locals, visitors from out of town, and you may even meet the fishermen who supply fresh seafood daily. The restaurant is known for serving good food and having good company, and is a great place to relax, hang out, and get to know the people from the community. The menu has a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and baskets of halibut fish and chips, scallops, prawns, and fried chicken.
743 Whittier Street, Whittier, Alaska 99693, Phone: 907-472-2354
14 Best Things to Do in Whittier, Alaska
- Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, Photo: Courtesy of Lee - Fotolia.com
- Whittier Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of Christopher Boswell - Fotolia.com
- Prince William Sound Museum, Photo: Courtesy of dmitrimaruta - Fotolia.com
- Horsetail Falls Trail, Photo: Courtesy of wildnerdpix - Fotolia.com
- Granite Bay State Marine Park, Photo: Courtesy of bummi100 - Fotolia.com
- South Esther Island State Marine Park, Photo: Courtesy of Frank Fichtmüller - Fotolia.com
- Surprise Cove State Marine Park, Photo: Courtesy of GCapture - Fotolia.com
- Crazy Rays Adventures, Photo: Crazy Rays Adventures
- Major Marine Tours - Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise, Photo: Major Marine Tours - Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise
- 26 Glacier Cruise by Phillips Cruises and Tours, Photo: Courtesy of idoerenberg - Fotolia.com
- Glacier Jetski Adventures, Photo: Glacier Jetski Adventures
- Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Cafe, Photo: Courtesy of filirochka - Fotolia.com
- Inn At Whittier, Photo: Courtesy of nvcstudio - Fotolia.com
- Anchor Inn, Photo: Anchor Inn
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of NoraDoa - Fotolia.com