The non-profit Alaska Native Heritage Center honors the diverse indigenous peoples of our 49th state by chronicling Native cultures, languages, and traditions and instilling pride in Native communities. Alongside a serene lake, a wooded path winds through six life-size dwellings in the center's outdoor facilities. These re-creations of ancient homes showcase Alaska's 11 cultural groups, and at each site, cultural representatives perform Native dances, demonstrate games and art, and tell stories about life in the past. The Alaska Native Heritage Center utilizes education and celebration to spread knowledge of Alaska's unique Native cultures across the globe, while also preserving and perpetuating indigenous traditions. Inside the museum, a collection of tools, artwork, and drums provides a tangible representation of contemporary Native people’s lives. The museum covers all native cultures in exhibits such as the Inupiaq exhibit and the Athabascan exhibit, which features a hand-woven birch-bark basket and moccasins made of moose hide and beads. To supplement the interactive displays, the Heritage Center conducts cultural outreach through a variety of programs, including the Walking in Two Worlds program, which connects 6th- through 8th-grade students with their cultural roots. The Alaska Native Playwrights Project helps Native people to find an outlet for their stories through theatrical productions and eloquent playbills.:
With its craggy mountains, monochrome tundra, and verdant valleys, Alaska itself stands as a monument to the beauty and power of nature. Focusing on the state's prehistory, the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature's sprawling collection of artifacts educates the public with engrossing and educational dioramas and displays. Among the museum’s notable exhibits is its newest installation, Ice, which delves into the profound geological changes wrought by the last Ice Age. Likewise, the Schmidt Mine exhibit lets visitors touch and pick up craggy specimens from the collection, including meteorites and fluorescent stones. Ancient mammoth bones and fearsome saber-tooth tiger jaws show patrons the fauna encountered by Alaska's first human inhabitants, whereas fully assembled dinosaur skeletons transport viewers even further back in time, way before the Jurassic Park movie came out.
Dedicated to studying and rescuing the animals of Alaska’s unique marine environments, the keepers of Alaska SeaLife Center facilitate encounters with marine life at an array of exhibits. Integrating the terrain of Resurrection Bay, the exhibits give guests an up-close view of animals at their most natural. Harbor seals sun themselves on the rocks, 2,000-pound steller sea lions glide ballerina-like through the water, and a giant Pacific octopus gestures with all eight arms during a solo rendition of “Y.M.C.A.” Alaska SeaLife Center’s veterinarians also work behind the scenes at the I.Sea.U, a refuge for rescued marine mammals that has helped rehabilitate otter pups, walrus calves, and beluga calves.
Nestled in the heart of the spruce-laden wilderness, Diamond M Ranch Resort's 80 acres host both ranch animals and, in cozy quarters such as the Greentree Suite, humans escaping the stress of urban living. The suite’s luxurious bed, with a sheer white canopy, lends itself equally to sleeping and impromptu ghost costumes, and the two showerheads in the double-size jacuzzi offer bathing options galore. Vacationers enjoy verdant views on the 30-foot porch and, on colder nights, snuggle up on the vintage-style floral couch to watch a DVD on the suite’s TV or burn now-unacceptable parachute pants in the electric fireplace. Complete with fluttering lace-trimmed curtains and fresh magnolias, the suite is both a romantic place for a couple and a relaxing one-person getaway.
Racing enthusiasts Travis Beals, set to run the Iditarod this year, and Sarah Stokey care for the energetic and high-speed pups of Turning Heads Kennel. Together they lead dog-sled tours in winter and summer, giving tourists an authentic glimpse into a sled dog’s life before setting them loose on the trails of Seward on unique, custom-build dog sleds. Tours are designed to be easygoing enough for beginners, giving them time to stop for a snack, enjoy the scenery, and take pictures.
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.