Licensed by the United States Coast Guard, the captains at Stories and Legends ferry spectators over the sea and amid pods of cetaceans during guided whale-watching tours. When the season begins in late February, shuttles bring explorers from airports, hotels, or cruise ships to Auke Bay, where boats carrying up to 24 passengers depart at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. If they wish, guests may provide their own transportation to the dock via car, bike, or land whale.
Alaska Snow Safaris organizes snowmobile tours of the Alaskan backcountry scheduled daily from November through May. Tours include one-day adventures on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race or multiday excursions along the Susitna River and past breathtaking views of Mount McKinley.
The final collaboration between famed musical duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music presents a tale of romance and political intrigue set in pre-World War II Austria. Based on true events, the plot follows the tale of the multitudinous von Trapp family and their singing governess Maria as she brings joy back to the house, falls in love with the stern patriarch Georg, and uncovers the sinister secrets planted in Salzburg's foothills. The show delights audiences with classic musical magic, enchanting ears with such beloved songs as "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things," and "Sixteen Going on Seventeen." Soprano Katrina Thurman headlines the cast, ably supported by Chad Sloan, whose baritone and theatrical chops led the Baltimore Sun to deem him a "show-stealer" and then make him turn his pockets inside out.
What began as a colony farm built by the U.S. Army in 1935 became, by the mid-1950s, the childhood home of Reindeer Farm's head honcho, Tom Williams. After studying the habits of Scandinavian and Siberian reindeer herders in high school, Tom began to understand why the antlered creatures were considered the "cattle of the North": The brisk Alaskan climate suited their dense coats and languid presence at pool parties. In 1987, after years of practicing law throughout Alaska, Tom ventured to Canada to meet his first herd of reindeer, which he kept corralled next to a tiny sign and donation jar on the modest farm. Since then, that initial herd has blossomed into 150 reindeer, who graze beside 35 elk, 13 horses, one bull moose, and one surprisingly well-adjusted bison. Now a petting zoo, the farm has grown alongside the herd, with guided tours, scavenger hunts, and horseback rides treating guests to an up-close and hands-on experience with the majestic animals. Located in the colony's original chicken coop, a gift shop provides guests with any number of collectibles to commemorate their visits.
The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum takes visitors on a flyby of the the state's aeronautical history. The vast facility—composed of five hangars of planes and exhibits, a restoration hangar, and three theaters—covers aviation history from the early days of flight to modern military aviation. More than 20 vintage aircraft can be found throughout, including a 1931 Fairchild Pilgrim 100B, a 1943 Grumman G44 Widgeon, and a 1981 Boeing B737-290C. Meanwhile, the museum's spot on the south shore of Lake Hood—the busiest seaplane base in the world—gives visitors a glimpse of modern planes in action.
Salmon Berry Tours' Big Rig Experience unveils an exclusive look at the life of Alaskan Ice Road Truckers before letting guests pilot their own computer-simulated rig. Accommodating guides scoop up tourists from their respective locations and outfit them with their own safety vests to match the latest in three-piece safety-suit fashions. During fully guided two-hour excursions, guests get a glimpse of the Carlile Transportation truck yard and peek inside a genuine sleeper-truck cab. The tour's final leg puts visitors behind the wheel of a computerized rig simulator designed to illustrate life on the Dalton Highway, complete with pixilated traffic and 100-mile-per-hour construction horses.
Moose saunter through the Alaskan wilderness in the warmer months; salmon and grizzlies fill the streams. When visitors mount ATVs or snowmobiles behind the local guides of Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours, they count themselves among these lucky inhabitants of the woodsy Alaskan landscape. Patrons can also opt for hiking, camping, and rafting day trips or overnight stays in lodges and log cabins cozier than a sleeping bag stuffed with marshmallows. During summer, they can drink in the monolithic majesty of Knik Glacier, and awe-inspiring mountain peaks and glaciers backdrop each of the excursions, some of which include campfire meals cooked up in front of the natural grandeur.