8 Best Places to Retire in Alaska

8 Best Places to Retire in Alaska

The wilderness of Alaska makes it a popular tourist destination, but some people may be unaware of how wonderful it is to reside in The Last Frontier. Alaska has more coastline than the lower 48 states combined, and its residents certainly know how to enjoy it. Alaska has the most glaciers in the country and an abundance of salmon for angling, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore nature. There is never a monotonous moment in the waters surrounding Alaska.

Alaska offers year-round adventure. From the Midnight Sun in the summer to the Northern Lights in the autumn and winter, Alaska is the ideal place for retirees to remain active.

1. Utqiaġvik

Utqiavik is the ideal retirement community for those seeking tranquility and community. It is the most northern metropolis in the United States and can only be reached by air! Utqiavik is one of the oldest inhabited communities in the United States and, with approximately 4,300 inhabitants, remains one of Alaska’s largest localities. Due to its lengthy history, Utqiavik is rich in indigenous Inuit culture, even changing its name in 2016 to encourage the use of Iupiaq.

The town also commemorates its culture through the Nalukataq Whaling Festival. In addition to cuisine, singing, and dancing, the festival features a blanket toss. This ancient tradition was once a hunting method employed by Iupiaq hunters but is now a community-wide pastime.

2. Fairbanks

Fairbanks, a result of the gold rush, is known as the “Golden Heart of Alaska.” It is the second-largest city in Alaska, with a population of approximately 32,500, and one of the state’s healthiest communities. Locals consider Fairbanks to be an authentic year-round destination, with activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding in the winter, hiking, bird viewing, Chena River floats, and gold panning in the summer.

Pioneer Park best demonstrates Fairbanks’s distinct past. This park features a collection of historic log cabins transformed into restaurants, stores, and museums, as well as family- and visitor-friendly outdoor recreational areas. During the summer, Pioneer Park hosts Gazebo Nights where local musicians can perform and guests can enjoy free live music.

3. Palmer

Residents of Palmer live in a vibrant environment created by a balance of agricultural community and self-declared alpine paradise. About 40 miles northeast of Anchorage, the moderate population of Palmer provides a strong community presence, and the continuing public events keep the community active. In the summer, Palmer holds Colony Days, a three-day event that includes a parade, live music, food, activities, and a farmer’s market, to honor its heritage.

At the head of the Knik River is the Knik Glacier, which serves as one of Palmer’s landmarks. This is one of the oldest and most active glaciers in Alaska, with a width of three miles and a thickness of more than 200 feet. The glacier is only accessible by boat, helicopter excursions, or fat-tire bicycle during the winter months.

Alaska State Fair is the most noteworthy event in Palmer. The fair is a two-week event held annually around Labor Day that features live music from both local and national bands, a carnival, and hundreds of market booths and culinary vendors. There are also agricultural and livestock displays. Included in these exhibits is the enormous vegetable weigh-off, in which contestants from all over the state bring their finest and largest homegrown vegetables in an effort to win the blue ribbon.

4. Kenai

The city with the same name is located in the center of the Kenai Peninsula. It is the main city in the borough, with a population of about 7,800, and is located 80 miles north of Homer along the Sterling Highway. Due to its proximity to the Kenai River, it is a very popular fishing destination, particularly for its exceptional salmon angling. The Kenai River has produced eight of the ten largest king salmon, including a 97-pound catch in 1985 that set a world record!

In addition to the river, the Kenai Soldotna Unity Trail provides residents with an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. This trail connects Kenai to the neighboring community of Soldotna and has approximately nine miles of scenic views. It is ideal for bicycle trips, jogs, and bird-watching walks.

Although golfing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Alaska, the Kenai Golf Course may change your perspective. It is the only 18-hole course with complete services on the peninsula. In the summer, it is open late into the night under the midnight sun, and in the winter, visitors can cross-country ski on the grounds. Golfers can frequently catch a view of Kenai’s abundant wildlife, including sandhill cranes, moose, eagles, and occasionally bears, due to the course’s unique location.

5. Badger

Badger is a small city located approximately 10 miles outside of Fairbanks that takes advantage of Alaska’s expansive landscape by combining the peaceful seclusion of a rural area with the bustling suburban lifestyle. Despite its size, Badger is the fourth largest city in terms of population, with approximately 20,000 people. Badger’s proximity to the Chena River provides residents and visitors with an abundance of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, kayaking on the river, fishing in the summer months, and ice fishing in the winter.

In addition to the short distance to Fairbanks, residents of Badger can discover a unique Alaskan experience just five miles away in North Pole, Alaska! This quaint little town embraces its name with candy cane-shaped streetlights and a year-round Christmas theme. This charming attraction will get you into the holiday atmosphere regardless of the season.

6. Meadow Lakes

50 miles south of Anchorage, Meadow Lakes is located in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Meadow Lakes is one of Alaska’s fastest-growing municipalities, but it retains a small-town atmosphere. Meadow Lakes is surrounded by a number of other excellent cities, such as Houston to the east and Wasilla to the west, which can provide anything Meadow Lakes cannot.

As it is situated in the midst of some of Alaska’s finest trails and mountains, getting outside is simple. The Meadow Lakes Park and Sports Field provide access to two of these trails, and a concealed stream within the park keeps the walk interesting. In Wasilla, you can purchase all of your beloved Alaskan-made products at the Meadow Lakes Market. There are approximately 80 vendors offering the finest preserves, spices, coffees, and locally sourced honey throughout the year. In addition, you can find handmade jewelry, metal and glass art, and fragrances.

7. Kalifornsky

Kalifornsky is a small town with a population of approximately 8,500, but its community is close-knit and its residents are always willing to help out their neighbors. It is bordered by the Kenai River to the east and the Cook Inlet to the west.

The surrounding landscape is part of what makes Kalifornsky so distinctive. At Kalifornsky Beach, locals can swim in the Cook Inlet’s calm waters and fish for some of Alaska’s renowned salmon. Mount Redoubt, the active stratovolcano that overlooks the shoreline, is visible on a clear day.

8. Knik-Fairview

Knik-Fairview, with a population of roughly 19,000, is located in the most southern portion of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Knik-Fairview is located on the western bank of Cook Inlet’s Knik Arm. Other excellent cities, such as Palmer and Meadow Lakes, are within driving distance of Knik-Fairview, contributing to the diversity of the area.

Settlers Bay Golf Course can be found in Wasilla, one of these communities. This 18-hole course introduces Knik-Fairview residents to the area’s natural splendor. This course features a variety of Alaskan landscapes, from forests to wetlands surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Additionally, the club honors its native state by naming each hole after a location along the Iditarod National Historic Trail. And don’t fear, the club’s groundskeepers can handle the harsh winters! Every winter, special measures are taken to guarantee the course’s readiness and safety.

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