A sunny day at the beach is nice for most people, but I also like small towns with historic homes, harbors full of boats, a cool breeze, and pine woods and tall hills in the background. It feels warmer than a beach blanket on the warm sand when there are fluffy clouds mixed in with blue skies or even gray skies with raindrops.
Here are a few small Alaskan seaside towns that will make you want to put away your swimsuit and get a puffy coat, even if it’s only for a week or two.
Coastal Towns in Alaska
Gustavus is a really small city—only about 640 people live there—and it is ringed by Glacier Bay National Park and snow-capped mountains. It is about a four-hour ferry ride east of Juneau. The weather is pretty mild, with only about half as much rain as in Juneau.
It’s great for being outside and seeing wildlife. The city of Gustavus gets a lot of visitors in the summer because it is the entrance to the national park.
Gustavus feels like a nice small town. It has coffee shops, restaurants, and a range of places to stay, from campgrounds to guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts. Gustavus is home to writers, artists, gardeners, and people who like quiet places.
The town’s past as a homesteader community is still felt in its old-fashioned feel. Local artists’ sculptures, pottery, wood works, jewelry, and more are shown and sold in galleries, studios, and shops.
The town of Skagway is in a small valley and is at the northernmost point of the Inside Passage. The city has a road connection to the Klondike Highway, and it’s also a stop on Alaska’s boat system, the Alaska Marine Highway. Because it is in the north, there are 18 hours of sun in the summer when it is warm and dry.
The cute downtown area of Skagway still looks a lot like it did 100 years ago, with wooden storefronts and houses that look like they did back then.
As part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, buildings from the Gold Rush era are kept alive to remember the events that happened between 1897 and 1898, when gold was found and thousands of people came to the rough terrain to try to find wealth, but most of them failed.
In honor of William H. Seward, who was U.S. Secretary of State and helped buy Alaska from Russia, the city is named after him. Marathon Mountain is very high above Seward. Every year, the city puts on a difficult 3.1-mile run to the top of the 3,022-foot mountain. Runners from all over the world come to the event and to Seward’s Fourth of July party.
Seward is on Resurrection Bay and the entrance to Kenai Fjords National Park. The park is home to the huge Harding Ice Field and tidewater glaciers that break off and fall into the water, where seals, sea lions, and whales can be seen.
People go on day trips to see wildlife and get close to the mountains. Another famous spot is the Alaska SeaLife Center, which is both a public aquarium and the only permanent facility in the state for rehabilitating marine mammals.
It rains about 95 inches a year in Sitka, which is in a temperate rainforest. The weather is mild for Alaska, with normal high temperatures ranging from 37 degrees Fahrenheit in December to 61 degrees Fahrenheit in July.
Sitka is on the Pacific coast of Baranof Island, in the Inside Passage of Alaska. The only ways to get there are by air or sea. A ferry called the Alaska Marine Highway links the island to the mainland, taking both people and cars.