Photo: A woman hiking in mountains

Hiking to the top of the tram on Mount Alyeska above Girdwood, Alaska

Photograph by Alaska Stock LLC, Alamy

Pop. 1,588
GPS: 60°56'33N 149°9'59W

Alyeska Resort's $20 million revamp has put adjacent Girdwood on the map with the four-star skier set. But savvy adventurers know skiing is just the beginning here. This bump-in-the-road town borders the half-million-acre Chugach State Park—home to countless glaciers, epic rafting, salmon fishing, mountaineering, cross-country skiing, and even windsurfing on Cook Inlet's narrow Turnagain Arm.

PLAY

Rafting is a must-do in Girdwood, and the three-canyon Sixmile River is the best place to start. Beginners can take on its first two canyons ($95) or attempt the Class IVs and Vs of the third canyon ($139; www.nova-alaska.com).

EAT

Try the beef tenderloin and blue cheese potato cake, followed by some Alaskan bread pudding (blueberries and white chocolate, covered in warm bourbon sauce) with a “Pom-pagne” (pomegranate juice and champagne) at Jack Sprat (www.jacksprat.net).

SLEEP

Alta House Vacations provides a private village cabin for two all the way to a chateau for the family. Staying here will allow easy access to Mt. Alyeska (doubles from $125; www.thealtahouse.com).

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