Just Back: Alaska

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Advisor Report

A dog lover's must-do vacation.

Anchorage, Alaska.

“If you love dogs and admire world-class athletes, this experience offers an unbeatable combination,” says Columbus, Georgia-based travel advisor Trish Mercer, referring to the 1,000-mile Iditarod dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, held every March. “It commemorates a lifesaving dogsled transfer of vital medicines, and today it’s the Super Bowl of Alaska, with up to 80 teams of dogs and mushers attempting the grueling race.”
Your travel advisor can help map out your itinerary and arrange behind-the-scenes access to the Iditarod. Here, Mercer, who has been to Alaska 20 times, reveals her tips for experiencing this famous race – and where to eat in Anchorage.
  • “Fur Rondy is a big festival in Anchorage leading up to the Iditarod, with a carnival-type atmosphere. There are outhouse races, the Running of the Reindeer, and Fur Rondy pins that you have to wear or you’ll get playfully ‘arrested.’”
  • “I love the Musher Banquet, a hub of excitement and activity where mushers draw for starting position. Each pulls their bib number, gives a short speech, and, in friendly Alaska fashion, signs autographs and takes photos with fans.”
  • “The ceremonial starting line is on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage. You see all of the teams with their boxes of dogs. The dogs rest in silence – you’d think the boxes were empty!”
  • “We traveled to Willow Lake, the official starting line (called the restart), by mini coach, about 1.25 hours north of Anchorage, and had prime viewing right near the starting chutes.”
Originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Virtuoso Life.