Welcome to our series on autism-friendly holiday destinations! In this post, We will explore the magnificent state of Alaska – from breathtaking scenery to amazing attractions. Alaska is truly one of the top destinations for nature lovers, including those who are autistic.

Being a family who loves to travel and has two autistic children, we have gained a special understanding of the specific requirements and challenges of traveling with autism. In our experience, Alaska is one of the best autism-friendly holiday destinations, where we’ve had our most amazing trips.

Join us as we explore this unforgettable place and discover why it should be at the top of your list for a perfect autism-friendly holiday!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you decide to book through these particular links, we will receive a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you. We are truly grateful for your support!

Alaska offers a variety of activities that are suitable for all nature lovers, including autistic travelers. Here are the main reasons why Alaska is a top choice for us:

Alaska's Serene Natural Beauty

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay Best autism-friendly holiday destination
Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska

One of the main highlights of Alaska is its serene natural beauty. From majestic mountains to magnificent glaciers, from grand rivers to lush green forests, you will be surrounded by breathtaking scenery everywhere you go, and you can immerse yourself in the peacefulness of nature everywhere.

For autistic travelers who appreciate the calming effects of nature, Alaska provides the perfect setting for relaxation and exploration.

Outdoor Adventures for All Abilities

Alaska offers a wide range of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. Easy hiking through panoramic trails, gold panning, scenic flight in small planes, taking a cruise on calm water for glacier and wildlife spotting, dog sledding on a dirt road or a glacier, rafting, kayaking, hiking on a glacier… and much more! There are so many options that are suitable for multiple ages, different interests, and different activity levels.

You Can Enjoy a Wonderful Holiday Away from the Crowd with the right planning

A beach in Homer, Alaska
A beach in Homer, Alaska

If you’re looking for a holiday destination that allows you to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful vacation, Alaska is a perfect choice. With the right planning, you can explore areas that are less crowded, providing a more serene and relaxed experience for you and your family.

Anchorage is a charming city surrounded by beautiful mountains and offers excellent museums. It’s a perfect mix of urban convenience and natural beauty.

Fairbanks is known for its historic gold mining past. This city offers a unique glimpse into the fascinating history of the area through great museums and exhibits, all with a peaceful ambiance.

Even in Juneau, which is known as a busy cruise destination, you can find many spots where you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Just step a bit away from the main tourist routes, and you will be surrounded by stunning nature.

Nugget falls, Juneau, Alaska
Nugget falls, Juneau, Alaska

Consider visiting small charming towns away from the more touristic path. Places like Homer, Valdez, Palmer, and Girdwood are all wonderful. Most of them are easily accessible by car, and all offer many things to do.

More advanced travelers can discover Kodiak for an amazing bear-viewing experience away from the crowd or explore Haines, Gustavus, Wrangell, or Sitka in southeast Alaska.

In all of these places, you can enjoy the local culture, find plenty of outdoor activities, and connect with nature. These hidden gems offer a quieter and more intimate setting, allowing you and your family, including your autistic family member or friend, to relax and enjoy quality time together.

Seward is also a great Alaskan destination. The area is amazingly beautiful, with so many things to do. But on the other hand, Seward is a popular cruise port. It is quite expensive compared to other places, and some of the attractions there are very crowded. Additionally, It’s important to mention that during the 4th of July, Seward hosts a huge celebration and a well-known marathon that draws thousands of visitors from all over Alaska. While the festive atmosphere can be exciting for some, it may not be the ideal setting for autistic visitors. Therefore, we do recommend visiting Seward, but be aware of the potential crowds and plan accordingly – avoid getting there around the 4th of July and consider alternatives for big boat tours.

Please see our article about the 7.5 h Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise for more information.

Kenai Fjords National Park, boat tour, scenic view
Kenai Fjords National Park

Very Friendly locals

Alaskans are often friendly and welcoming. This is especially true in smaller towns and rural areas where there is a strong sense of community. In all of the places we visited, we found it easy to start conversations with locals, who are more than willing to share their knowledge of the area and offer recommendations for places to visit or things to do. In fact, for us, meeting locals was one of the highlights of our trips.

Sure, experiences can differ from person to person, but in general, Alaska’s open and friendly vibe makes it a great place for anyone looking for a welcoming and accepting environment.

Accessibility and Accommodations in Alaska

As a tourism-focused destination, many places will listen to your specific requests and try accommodating your needs. It is important, though, that you contact the relevant properties and service providers in advance to discuss your specific requirements and to inquire about their offerings to ensure a smooth and comfortable experience during your visit.

Additionally, there is an increasing awareness among businesses and attractions in Alaska about accommodations for sensory sensitivity and accessibility for individuals with autism. For example, the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward offers sensory sensitivity bags that you can borrow during your visit. These bags provide tools that help manage potential sensory overload.

Alaska offers so many activities suitable for anyone, including autistic travelers. Some of those activities are:

Wildlife Viewing

Kodiak Bears cubs
Kodiak bears, Kodiak Alaska

Alaska is an amazing destination for wildlife lovers, including autistic ones. There are so many activities you can enjoy, as well as spontaneous sightseeing. For example:

Eagles – You can spot eagles by the water and inland in many places. Some boat tours in several places will also show you specific points where eagles nest. There are great chances to spot eagles near salmon hatcheries as well as in any fishing harbor when the fishing boats return from the sea and the fishermen fillet the fish caught.

Moose – You have a good chance to see moose in the Anchorage area, especially in Earthquake Park, Kincaid Park, or Potter Marsh.

Please be aware that certain areas have a greater chance of moose sightings near roads. It is important to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you if there is one, and stay alert to the roadside as moose may appear unexpectedly.

Sea otters, seals, and sea lions – On almost any boat tour, you will see sea otters, seals, and sea lions. You can spot sea otters from land in several harbors.

Whales – Alaska provides excellent opportunities for whale watching. Depending on the time of year and location, you may see humpback whales, blue whales, grey whales, fin whales, and orcas.

Seward and Juneau provide guided whale-watching tours, while Prince William Sound boat tours from Valdez and Whittier, as well as Homer, Kodiak, and other places in the southeast, also offer chances to spot whales.

Humpback whale, Juneau, Alaska
Humpback whale, Juneau, Alaska

If you are an avid whale enthusiast, a tour to Point Adolphus in the Icy Strait is a must. The nutrient-rich waters of Point Adolphus are renowned as one of the best whale-watching locations in the world. We had the pleasure of enjoying four exceptional whale-watching tours from Gustavus on several occasions, and all of them were no less than superb!

Bears – Alaska is a bear country, and you can see black and brown bears around with some luck. You may also be lucky enough to spot bears from the water on glaciers or whale-watching boat tours.

You can also take bear-viewing tours, which guarantee that you see bears. These tours take you to prime bear locations, where you can observe bears in their natural habitat. Note that those tours tend to be pricey.

glacier viewing boat tours

Columbia Glacier, Alaska
Columbia Glacier, Alaska

One of the highlights of a trip to Alaska is getting up close to a majestic glacier. Glacier-viewing boat tours in Alaska offer an amazing experience that can leave you speechless. The crisp air near the glacier and the sound of cracking ice create a truly unforgettable experience. And if you are lucky, you may see massive chunks of ice calving into the water. Witnessing this amazing natural phenomenon is truly breathtaking.

You can find glacier-viewing boat tours in several places in Alaska. One of the best places to embark on such a tour is the stunning Prince William Sound. Tours are available in Whittier and Valdez, offering access to different parts of the sound. Prince William Sound waters are quiet, and the tours in this area are also suitable for those prone to seasickness.

Another popular destination for glacier-viewing boat tours is Kenai Fjords National Park from Seward. Several tours are available here that vary in the number of glaciers visited. It is important to note several things here:

  • Some tours only focus on wildlife and do not visit glaciers.
  • In order to get to the glacier area, the boat has to pass through the open sea for a short while, which might be a bit rough (depending on the weather). Consider this if anyone in your company is prone to
  • Kenai Fjord National Park is a popular destination, and the large tour boats could be crowded. This wasn't a big issue for us as we got our seats at a table and had our own space, but it's worth noting that. If this is a problem, consider taking a tour on a smaller or private boat (which is more expensive).

Reference: please see our post about the 7.5 hour Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise.

Seward, Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park

Another popular location is Portage Glacier at Portage Lake, close to Whittier, which can be viewed on a short but beautiful tour.

In the southeast, you can find boat tours to the breathtaking TracyArm from Juneau to LeConte Glacier from Wrangell and the crown Jewel – Glacier Bay National Park boat tour from Gustavus.

We must also mention Hubbard Glacier, which is mostly accessed by cruise ships but can also be accessed by a boat tour from Yakutat for advanced travelers.

In most of those locations, you can find a range of tours with varying durations and boat sizes. While a smaller boat offers a more intimate experience, it is usually more expensive. Additionally, larger boats provide greater stability and a smoother ride for those who are prone to seasickness.

Many tours offer snacks and drinks; the longer tours mostly provide sandwiches or hot meals. Also, on many tours, a naturalist or a guide will provide information throughout the journey, adding value to the experience. There are ranger activities on some National Park cruises in Kenai Fjords and in Glacier Bay, and the young travelers can earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Glacier viewing by boat is a magical experience for us, and we try to go on such tours whenever possible. However, many of those tours can take several hours (up to 8.5), so not every tour is suitable for everyone. Consider this when selecting the right tour for you and your company. On the tour itself, be prepared with snacks, reading material, and other activities to keep you and your kids entertained during the long hours of sailing.

hiking on a glacier

Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier

Glacier hiking in Alaska is a unique and enchanting experience that allows you to experience the stunning beauty of Alaskan nature from a close distance. During the hike, you will see towering ice formations, crevasses, and crystal-clear blue glacial pools up close. The surreal beauty of the pristine ice creates a powerful yet peaceful and serene atmosphere.

Please note that a glacier landscape is very dangerous and should only be explored with the guidance of experienced professionals!

Also, it is important to mention that glacier hiking requires a certain level of physical fitness and mobility. Make sure to consult with the tour operator before booking a tour to ensure that it suits you and your company if you have any concerns.

The most popular (and easily accessible) glacier is the stunning Matanuska Glacier on the Glen Highway. Other options for non-professional visitors are Exit Glacier near Seward and Root Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.

There are several tour companies that offer guided glacier hikes, ensuring the safety of all participants. Tours are usually offered in small group tours or private tours. When you go on the tour, the guide will provide you with the required safety gear, like helmets and crampons, and teach you how to safely hike on the icy landscape.

hiking in nature

Byron Glacier
Byron Glacier

Immerse yourself in one of the most breathtaking landscapes on Earth. Alaska’s natural beauty is exceptional! From lush forests to snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes. You may even encounter diverse wildlife like bears, eagles, and moose. Make sure you are familiar with the safety guidance regarding wildlife encounters.

You can find hiking trails suitable for different difficulty levels almost everywhere. Marked trails, picnic spots, and occasional restroom facilities are available in many places.

Note! Alaska is a bear country. To stay safe while hiking, be mindful of your surroundings and make plenty of noise. For extra safety measures, consider bringing along bear spray or bear bells with you.

unique museums

There are many museums in Alaska that display the state’s diverse history and culture. These museums cover various topics such as art, science, native culture, and local history. Some of our top recommended museums include:

Anchorage Museum

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Location: Anchorage

One of Alaska’s premier cultural institutions. The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center displays art, history, and science. You can explore a wide range of exhibits, from traditional Native Alaskan artifacts to contemporary art pieces that reflect the modern life in Alaska. The Discovery Center offers great interactive exhibits for children.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

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Location: Anchorage

This museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of Alaska’s native communities through fascinating exhibits, storytelling, and traditional performances such as songs, dances, and sports. We enjoyed this museum very much!

Museum of the North

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Location: Fairbanks

Located on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, the Museum of the North Provides an overview of Alaska’s wildlife, people, and landscapes and offers a unique glimpse into Alaska’s ecosystems and the adaptability of life in the far north. The exhibits include extensive collections of Alaskan art, archaeological finds, and comprehensive displays of the Arctic wildlife. Notable features include a display of the state’s dinosaur fossils, a woolly mammoth skull, an 8 foot 9 inch (2.67 meter) stuffed brown bear, and a gallery dedicated to the Aurora Borealis.

Alaska Aviation Museum

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Location: Anchorage

Alaska Aviation Museum is located near Lake Hood, the largest floatplane harbor in the world. The museum showcases Alaska’s rich aviation history, including vintage aircraft and interactive exhibits. You can learn about the first flights in Alaska, bush pilots, and the role of aviation in the state’s development.

Sealaska Heritage Institute

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Location: Juneau

This cultural hub is committed to preserving the native cultures of the southeast: Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures. The institution provides exhibits, art, and educational programs that teach about the region’s heritage and how it has influenced modern Alaskan society.

Pioneer Park

Fairbanks, Pioneer Park

Location: Fairbanks

Pioneer Park is a charming historical park that offers a glimpse into the pioneering past of Alaska. It is a family-friendly destination with attractions and activities for all ages.

One of the highlights of Pioneer Park is a replica of a Gold Rush Town. Walking through the streets, you can experience what life was like during Alaska’s gold rush days. You can explore old saloons and shops with authentic artifacts. There are also several mini-museums showcasing the days of Alaska’s early settlers.

Wildlife conservation & rehabilitation centers

Wildlife conservation and rehabilitation centers are important for preserving and protecting Alaska’s unique wildlife. Two prominent centers in the state are:

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

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Location: Portage Valley

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, located at the tip of Turnagain Arm, is surrounded by magnificent scenery. The center focuses on rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned animals. You can see native Alaskan species like brown and black bears, moose, wolves, eagles, bison, muskox, and more. The center also educates the public about wildlife conservation in the state.

The Alaska SeaLife Center

Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward

Location: Seward

Situated in the picturesque town of Seward, the Alaska SeaLife Center focuses on marine wildlife conservation and research. The facility offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the diverse marine life of Alaska. Through interactive exhibits and educational programs, you can better understand the importance of protecting the oceans and the life that inhabits them. The Alaska SeaLife Center also plays a vital role in rescuing and rehabilitating injured and stranded marine animals.

The Center was founded following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, aiming to learn about and reduce the effects of human activities on marine ecosystems.

The Alaska SeaLife Center was the first organization in the state of Alaska to be certified sensory-inclusive by KultureCity. The staff have received training and are prepared to assist individuals with sensory disabilities during their visit. The facility provides sensory bags containing noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads at no cost. Visitors are also informed about areas with high noise levels and can use a designated quiet area when necessary.

Other activities in nature

Seward Alaska, Ididaride, dogs kennel, Iditarod
Ididaride dogs kennel, Seward Alaska

For those looking for a different kind of outdoor adventure, here are some more ideas to consider:

  • Go tide pooling. Explore marine life and learn about the local ecosystem.
  • Embark on a guided kayaking tour by a glacier.
  • Try dog sledding: the dogs are being trained on a dirt road in the summer. You can experience the experience of sitting in a cart led by a group of huskies while learning about the fascinating history of dog sledding in Alaska. You can also find dog sledding on a glacier, which requires a helicopter ride and is much more expensive.
  • Fishing, if you are a fishing enthusiast, either at the sea or in pristine rivers and lakes.
  • If you're adventurous, consider rafting. Alaska provides rafting opportunities suitable for all skill levels.
  • Go Gold panning For a unique and enriching experience. This activity allows you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of the Gold Rush era.

Modern Facilities and Infrastructure

As a US state, Alaska offers modern facilities and infrastructure that ensure a safe and comfortable trip. Here are some highlights:

1. Major cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau have international airports offering easy access to the state.

2. Transportation: The road network in Alaska allows convenient travel between many cities and towns in the southcentral and interior areas. Additionally, car rental services are available for those who prefer independent exploration.

Although Alaska lacks an extensive railway system, it does provide a few scenic train journeys through stunning landscapes.

Additionally, the ferry system in Alaska provides a unique and scenic way to explore the state’s coastal beauty and remote communities.

3. Accommodations: From luxury resorts to modern hotels, from cozy cabins and wilderness lodges to camping sites. Whether you prefer modern amenities or a rustic experience, you can find a wide range of accommodations

4. Medical Facilities: you can find well-equipped modern medical facilities in Anchorage, ensuring access to healthcare services if needed during your trip.

5. Supermarkets and restaurants: When sticking to the south central area and other major cities, there are many supermarkets and restaurants that provide a range of local and international cuisines. You can easily find options to suit your dietary preferences and requirements.

6. Communication: Cell phone coverage is available in populated areas. Note that cell phone coverage may be limited or unavailable in more remote or rural parts of Alaska. This includes some of the roads that connect different communities.


In conclusion, Alaska is an ideal destination for travelers with autism due to its serene natural beauty, friendly locals, a wide range of autism-friendly activities, and modern infrastructure.

So, if you’re planning your next holiday and are looking for a destination that caters to the needs of individuals with autism, consider exploring Alaska. For us, it is the best autism-friendly destination.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, please leave us a comment below.

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