A trip to Alaska would be incomplete without making the trip to Girdwood, Alaska (also known as the home of the Alyeska Resort). Winter, summer, fall, or spring, Girdwood has so much to offer anyone from families to couples to a girl's trip. Growing up in Alaska myself, Girdwood was a place we were always looking forward to go to and we jumped at every opportunity to visit this heaven on earth destination.
To get to Girdwood, you have a few modes of transportation to choose from. One (obvious) way would be to get a rental car and drive yourself, which is definitely not a bad way to see Girdwood. The short 45-minute drive from Anchorage is beautiful, with jagged mountain edges to your left, where you can often spot wildlife such as sheep, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean to your right. There are also many places along the way to stop and climb on rocks for an amazing photo op. Another option (if traveling between May and September) is to take the Alaska Train, which still gives you those amazing scenic views, without the worry of driving one of America’s most dangerous roads. PRO TIP: if traveling when the train is running, opt for the Gold Star Service, which will provide you with panoramic views through the glass dome train ceilings, and outdoor viewing decks.
Once in Girdwood, I would suggest checking out one of the amazing restaurants situated around town. Top choices would include:
- Double Musky Inn: A quirky New Orleans style restaurant that puts an Alaskan spin on Cajun cuisine. Great ambiance, great food, a great time all around.
- Seven Glaciers: Very elegant restaurant nestled at the top of the mountain that offers amazing views from every table, and delicious local signature Alaskan dishes. If your budget can allow, this restaurant is not to be missed.
- Sakura Asian Bistro: Lovely sushi spot that boasts fresh seafood with a Japanese direction; choose from the dining room or sushi bar, and enjoy some sushi the way true Alaskans do.
After your bellies are happily full, there are a couple cool watering holes you might want to check out. The Sitzmark is a true Alaskan gem, with gorgeous stained-glass window ceilings, an outdoor firepit, and often times local live music, the ambiance is perfect to grab a couple of after dinner cocktails. Fun fact: The Sitzmark is where my best friend’s father taught me how to play pool back in the day. The Sitzmark is also the perfect spot during the day if it is slopes season (did someone say aprés ski?) Another fun restaurant to try is Chair 5, it has a sports bar vibe (without the tvs), good pizza, as well as pool tables. Grab a few pitchers and enjoy your evening. And last but not least is the most recent option, the Girdwood Brewing Company, that describes its' self as “a brewery with a powder addiction,” and if you like what you taste you can leave with a growler of your own to enjoy for the rest of your Alaskan adventure. Pro Tip: If you’re staying at the Alyeska Resort, you can call the front desk to get a free shuttle to these three locations.
(Left: Outdoors on the deck at the Sitzmark. Right: Some delicious tasters at the Girdwood Brewing Company.)
Hopefully, after you’ve enjoyed a few drinks, you’ve remembered to book yourself a room at the Alyeska Resort. Once you’ve had time to get all settled in, there is no better way to wind down from a fun filled Alaskan day than spending some time in the hot tub or sauna. Now get your self to bed, because BRUNCH is one of my favorite things to do in Girdwood.
Jack Sprat. Just reading those words make my mouth water. The. Best. Brunch. In. Alaska. Especially if you’re into mimosas and huevos rancheros. I had the lovely luck of stumbling across Jack Sprat the first time due to my friends’ car completely giving up on us just as we were about to head back to the city. Instead of enjoying our 45-minute road trip, I was treated to endless carafes of “pom-pagne,” a delicious twist on the traditional mimosa, made from cava and pomegranate juice. This is the perfect way to get your day in Girdwood started, provided that you’re not the one responsible for getting everyone home safely.
The best day activities in Girdwood include taking the tram, whether it's winter and you’re taking the tram to shred down the slopes or to enjoy the view on a beautiful summer day, it is well worth the journey. Also in order to get to Seven Glaciers, if that was your dinner of choice, you must take the tram. While we're on the Seven Glaciers note, they also have a great somewhat secret drink called the Fizz No. most bartenders here know exactly what’s in it, but believe me when I say, if you make it to Seven Glaciers during daylight, you should give it a try. If you’ve had the joy of enjoying this town during spring or summer, there is an absolutely awesome hike called Winners Creek Trail, that will lead you to a spring, over bridges, and even make you do a little hand tram work of your own. Also a must see, a short drive to Portage Glacier will leave you with views no less than breathtaking. There is also a glacier cruise tour option at this location. After you’ve had time to work up an appetite, stop into the bake shop for a quick snack, and head back to Anchorage to continue the journey.