Published: October 2009Best Adventure Towns

Girdwood, Alaska

Plan a long weekend getaway with our Girdwood adventure guide, featuring great outdoor escapes, where to stay, and where to eat. Then chime in with your picks.

Photograph courtesy of Alaska Travel Industry Association

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.

Your Turn: Tell us about your favorite Girdwood adventures, restaurants, and hotels in the comments section below.

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;

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 (

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;

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