Latest In


What Are The Best Things To Do In Whittier, Alaska?

From exploring the haunting remnants of its military past at the Buckner Building to embarking on exhilarating glacier cruises in Prince William Sound, Whittier captivates visitors with its diverse attractions.

Apr 17, 20240 Shares74 Views
Nestled amid majestic mountains and the tranquil Prince William Sound, Whittier, Alaska, emerges as a hidden gem, combining captivating natural beauty with a rich tapestry of intriguing history.
This secluded town, best known for its accessibility primarily through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, is a testament to human ingenuity and nature's splendor.
Historically significant, Whittier served as a strategic military port during World War II, leaving a legacy that adds depth to its scenic landscapes.
Today, it beckons travelers with its peaceful remoteness and the Best Things to Do in Whittier, Alaska, ranging from adventurous glacier cruises to tranquil hikes, each activity immersing visitors in the town's spectacular natural canvas and rich past.

Historical Landmarks And Museums

Whittier's landscape is dotted with historical landmarks that echo its past, with the Buckner Building being a standout.
Once a vibrant military hub, this colossal structure now serves as a haunting testament to the bygone era of the Cold War. While safety precautions restrict access to its deteriorating façade, the visible exterior is a stark reminder of the town's crucial military significance in the mid-20th century.
Nearby, the Prince William Sound Museum presents a more accessible glimpse into Whittier's history. This museum, modest in size but rich in content, houses 32 exhibits.
These displays intricately detail Whittier's military past, the construction of the rail terminal, and the town's experiences during World War II and the Cold War.

Outdoor Adventures

Whittier is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering many activities against its breathtaking natural backdrop.
Hiking enthusiasts can embark on trails like the Horsetail Falls Trail, a relatively easy 2-mile trek offering stunning views of waterfalls and the Blackstone Ridge. For a more challenging hike, the Portage Pass Trail provides a rewarding journey with spectacular vistas of Portage Glacier.
These trails are best traversed during summer for optimal safety and visibility.
Fishing is another popular activity in Whittier, with the town boasting some of the best King Salmon fishing in Southcentral Alaska. Anglers can explore private coves and bays in Prince William Sound, with the chance to catch rockfish, lingcod, and the prized halibut.
Kayaking offers an intimate experience with Whittier's marine environment. The town's location in the Prince William Sound, known for its calm waters and the world's densest tidewater glaciers, makes it perfect for this activity.

Whale Watching And Wildlife Tours

Whale watching in Whittier is an exhilarating experience, offering the chance to witness the majestic beauty of these marine giants in their natural habitat—various whale species, including humpback whales, orcas, and gray whales, frequent Whittier's waters.
The prime time for whale watching is from May through September when these whales migrate through the nutrient-rich waters of Prince William Sound.
During these tours, it's not uncommon to spot other wildlife, such as sea otters, seals, porpoises, and a diverse range of seabirds, adding to the richness of the experience.
Operators like Lazy Otter Charters and Phillips Cruises & Tours are well-regarded for whale-watching excursions. They offer guided tours that focus on whale sightings and provide educational insights into the ecology of the Sound.

Local Cuisine And Dining Experiences

Whittier's culinary scene, while modest in size, offers a delightful array of dining experiences that showcase the region's rich seafood and local produce.
For a comprehensive guide to dining options in the area, including reviews and recommendations, check out our partner's dining guide at Restaurantji Whittier Dining Guide.
The town's proximity to the sea means fresh seafood is a staple, with dishes featuring salmon, halibut, and rockfish taking center stage.
For a casual, authentic Alaskan experience, the Whittier Bay Ice Cream and Pizza Parlor is a must-visit. Known for its homemade pizza and various ice cream flavors, it's perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.
Another popular spot is the Inn at Whittier, renowned for its fresh catches of the day and a wide range of options, including burgers and vegetarian dishes.
The dining room here offers stunning views of Prince William Sound, making it an ideal spot for a more upscale dining experience.
Seafood enthusiasts should try the local salmon spread, available at many eateries, including Lazy Otter Cafe, which also boasts an array of delicious pastries.
For those seeking a meal with a view, the harbor area presents numerous opportunities for al fresco dining, allowing you to relish your food amidst the picturesque beauty of the surrounding waters.

Photography Hotspots

Whittier is a photographer's paradise, offering many scenic spots that capture the essence of Alaska's stunning natural beauty.
For breathtaking waterfront views, the Whittier Harbor is an unmissable spot. Here, photographers can capture the picturesque boats against the backdrop of the expansive Prince William Sound. Early morning or late afternoon light provides the perfect ambiance for these shots.
The Horsetail Falls Trail and Portage Pass Trail are ideal for those seeking majestic mountain backdrops. Aim for golden hour shots during sunrise or sunset for the best lighting, when the light casts a warm, soft glow over the landscape.
For a unique perspective of Whittier, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel's entrance is a fascinating subject, combining historical architecture with the ruggedness of the surrounding terrain.

Cultural Experiences And Community Events

Whittier, while small, is vibrant in its cultural offerings, hosting events and festivals that reflect the community's spirit and traditions.
One of the most notable events is the Whittier Fishing Derby, an annual celebration of the town's rich fishing heritage. Typically held in the summer, this event draws locals and visitors for a friendly competition, celebrating the best local fishing with prizes and community gatherings.
Whittier's version of this national holiday is uniquely Alaskan, featuring a parade, local food vendors, live music, and stunning fireworks against the backdrop of the midnight sun.
This event is a perfect opportunity for visitors to mingle with locals and experience the tight-knit community spirit of Whittier.
For arts and crafts enthusiasts, occasional local markets and fairs showcase the handiwork of Whittier's artisans.

Accommodation Options

Whittier offers a range of accommodation options catering to different preferences, from cozy hotels to unique cabin stays, each providing a distinct experience of this Alaskan town.
Hotels like the Inn at Whittier are popular for their convenience and comfort. This establishment, known for its picturesque views of the Prince William Sound, combines modern amenities with a rustic charm.
Enhanced by its historical importance as a local landmark, this spot's allure is heightened, attracting those with an appreciation for comfort and culture.
Visitors can opt for cabin stays for a more immersive experience in nature. Public-use cabins, often set in scenic locations, offer a true Alaskan wilderness experience.
These rustic accommodations provide a serene escape, allowing guests to unplug and unwind amidst the natural beauty of the surrounding forests and waterways. It's important to book these cabins well in advance due to their popularity and limited availability.

Shopping And Souvenirs

Shopping in Whittier, though limited due to its small size, offers a delightful experience for those seeking unique Alaskan crafts and souvenirs.
The town's shops and markets focus on locally made products, showcasing the artistry and traditions of the region.
A shopping essential is the Whittier Bay Ice Cream and Pizza Parlor, a haven for delightful treats and home to a delightful gift shop, making it a must-visit spot.
An assortment of souvenirs awaits visitors, from locally crafted jewelry to Alaskan-themed memorabilia, providing the perfect souvenir to carry a piece of Whittier back home.
For those interested in native Alaskan crafts, the local markets occasionally set up in town offer a variety of handcrafted items. These can include hand-carved totem poles, woven baskets, and traditional beadwork, all made by local artisans.

Day Trips And Excursions

With its strategic position in Prince William Sound, Whittier is the perfect starting point for diverse day trips and excursions. It offers a gateway for exploring the awe-inspiring Alaskan wilderness and its natural marvels.
One of the most popular destinations for a day trip is the mesmerizing glaciers in the vicinity, particularly the nearby Blackstone and Beloit Glaciers.
Visitors can embark on a boat tour with operators like Phillips Cruises & Tours or Lazy Otter Charters, which offer guided excursions to these glaciers.
These tours often include up-close views of the glaciers, opportunities to see wildlife and commentary on the area's natural history.
The Chugach National Forest offers trails ranging from easy to challenging for hiking. The Portage Pass Trail, easily accessible from Whittier, provides stunning views of Portage Glacier and is a relatively easy hike suitable for most fitness levels.

Travel Tips And Practical Information

Transportation: The primary access to Whittier is via the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America. It operates on a schedule, alternating between vehicle and train traffic, so checking the tunnel timings in advance is crucial.
Weather Considerations: Whittier's weather can be unpredictable, with frequent rain and changing conditions. Packing waterproof and windproof clothing is essential, regardless of the season.
Gear for Outdoor Activities: Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots are a must if you plan on hiking. Local operators can usually rent appropriate gear for water-based activities like kayaking or fishing.

Seasonal Tips

  • Summer (June-August): The best time for outdoor activities, with milder temperatures and longer daylight hours. It's the peak season for wildlife viewing and fishing.
  • Fall (September-October): A quieter time to visit with fewer tourists. Given the weather's unpredictable nature, readiness for rain and early snowfall is advisable."
  • Winter (November-March): Ideal for snow-based activities like skiing. Daylight hours are limited, and many services operate on a reduced schedule, so plan accordingly.
  • Spring (April-May): The transitional period can be wet and muddy. It's a great time for bird watching as migratory species return.


What Are The Top Attractions In Whittier, Alaska?

Whittier's top attractions include glacier cruises in Prince William Sound, hiking trails like Horsetail Falls and Portage Pass, kayaking among glaciers, the Prince William Sound Museum, the Buckner Building, and the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel.

How Do I Get To Whittier?

The primary access to Whittier is via the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, the longest highway tunnel in North America. You can also reach Whittier by the Alaska Railroad's Glacier Discovery Train or by sea via the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system.

What Wildlife Can I See In Whittier?

In and around Whittier, marine wildlife like humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, seals, and various seabirds can be seen. You may spot eagles, goats, and bears in the surrounding forests and mountains.

What Are The Best Outdoor Activities In Whittier?

Popular outdoor activities include day cruises to see glaciers, sea kayaking, jet skiing, hiking on local trails, and fishing in the rich waters of Prince William Sound.

What Kind Of Accommodations Are Available In Whittier?

Accommodations in Whittier range from hotels like the Inn at Whittier to rustic public-use cabins and unique stays on yachts or small ship cruises.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Whittier?

Ideal for a visit, Whittier shines in the summer, from June to August, boasting milder weather and full operational tourist services, along with a plethora of outdoor activities; each season offers its unique attractions and experiences.


Whittier, Alaska, is a destination that offers an extraordinary blend of history, natural beauty, and adventure.
From exploring the haunting remnants of its military past at the Buckner Building to embarking on exhilarating glacier cruises in Prince William Sound, Whittier captivates visitors with its diverse attractions.
Whether hiking scenic trails, engaging in world-class fishing, or experiencing the thrill of whale watching, this secluded town promises unforgettable experiences. The local cuisine, vibrant community events, and unique shopping opportunities add to the charm of this Alaskan gem.
Jump to
Latest Articles
Popular Articles