Located 500 miles from the nearest state, Alaska is a bit of an enigma to most Americans. It’s part of the US, yet feels completely otherworldly. With incredible landscapes and attractions you’d never find in the lower 48, once a hidden gem, Anchorage was voted one of the Top 10 "US Destinations on the Rise" by TripAdvisor, making it an incredible adventure destination you don’t need your passport for. If you haven’t looked at Alaska lately, it’s time for a fresh take.

The town reindeer is often spotted out for a stroll in Delaney Park.

A great place in downtown Anchorage for a walk or picnic, if you happen to be out on a Sunday, you might catch Star the reindeer out for a walk. The town’s unofficial mascot, she is actually just a personal, albeit strange, pet as reindeer are not native to Alaska.

Photo Credit: Mike Juvrud

Dog mushing is the official state sport, but outhouse races also get competitive.

With a slogan of “you don’t want to be No.2,” outhouse races are a cornerstone of the quirky and eccentric Fur Rondy winter festival. Get crafty with your port-a-potty, strap a couple skis to the bottom and prove you truly are king or queen of your throne. A 10-day event in February, other fun activities include snowshoe softball and running of the reindeer, a mellower version of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. We have more about this crazy, awesome event here.

Photo Credit: Mike.Reyes

Seventeen of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S. are located in Alaska.

Sure, Alaska has some oddball hobbies (that winter would drive anyone insane), but it’s also ridiculously gorgeous. Denali’s Mt. McKinley leads the pack towering over 20,000 feet so for peak baggers, it’s a must hike or climb. Intrigued? Check out our list.

Photo Credit: Cecil Sanders

Alaska has more coastline than the other 49 states combined.

People don’t realize just how massive Alaska actually is. In fact, it’s bigger than Texas, California, and Montana combined. Boasting 6,640 miles of coastline, there’s plenty of water to kayak the fjords and then some.

Photo Credit: Amy Meredith

You can visit the North Pole, a town just outside of Fairbanks.

Despite it’s name, the city is about 1,700 miles south of the Earth's geographic North Pole. Nonetheless, the town is a year-round Christmas attraction with Santa’s house you can visit and other candy cane striped businesses forever promoting the holiday spirit.

Photo Credit: Image Editor

Most hotels offer a wakeup call for the Northern Lights.

Incredibly, the Aurora Borealis can be seen an average of 243 days a year in Fairbanks. That’s over 2/3 of the year! Peak viewing hours in winter are from 11:30 p.m.–3:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.– 4:30 a.m. in the spring and fall, so whenever you arrive, your accommodations can ensure you get the best chance to see them in all their glory.

Tutka Bay | Photo Credit: Within the Wild Adventure Lodges on Facebook

Winterlake and Tutka Bay are two of only three hotels in the U.S. to make National Geographic’s prestigious list of most unique lodges in the world.

Both owned by Within the Wild Adventure Lodges, Winterlake and Tutka Bay are rugged and completely off the grid. If you have to pick just one, though, Winterlake is our choice for adventure. Part of the Finger Lake checkpoint on the Iditarod trail, they feed hungry mushers and dogs by the dozen. Oh yeah, and you must arrive by floatplane or ski plane.