Follow the midnight sun to America's frontier, where the coffee is fair trade, the oysters are outrageous, and adventure beckons.
Here, northern (high)lights of great food, great drink, and the great outdoors in beautiful Alaska.
1. Hot Start
SteamDot coffee takes brewing as seriously as coffeehouses do in Brooklyn, but they also sell seasonal pastries, including reindeer-sausage hand pies. Which coffeehouses don't do in Brooklyn.
2. Big Breakfast
Snow City Cafe puts out the best breakfasts in Anchorage. Peak experience: the Deadliest Catch Benedict, featuring a smoked salmon cake and an Alaskan king crab cake.
3. Style Setter
Julia Foland’s Design House Alaska is a frontier-inspired, superbly curated shop full of design-conscious, Nordic- and Alaska-born products for home and body.
4. Best Brew
Anchorage takes its beer seriously, and Moose's Tooth pairs its excellent brews with terrific pizza and some of the best live music in town.
5. Cocktail Must
Pine-forward is the password for the Sitka Rose, a spruce tip–perfumed gin- and-tonic at South Restaurant + Coffeehouse (pictured below), where the fresh plates complement a stellar drink roster.
The splendid backbar at South Restaurant. Photo: Tracey Minkin
6. Culinary Find
Just steps from some scruffy old-Anchorage blocks, the Bubbly Mermaid Oyster Bar shimmers like a Parisian mirage with breathtaking bivalves harvested in ice-cold local waters, as well as a stunning collection of hard-to-find Champagnes.
7. Sightseeing Splurge
Things are really far away in Alaska … until you have the good sense to hire Rust's Flying Service to whisk you out of Anchorage and into the wilderness for an hour or a whole day of gaping at peaks and Alaska brown bears.
8. Choice Spirit
Distilled from glacier water and grains from northern Alaska, the spirits at Anchorage Distillery have adventure in their DNA. Try the Glacier Melt Vodka and Aurora Borealis Gin at the tasting room.
9. Wild Ride
Punch a ticket on the Alaska Railroad for Denali National Park & Preserve, home of North America's tallest peak. And don't miss a meal at 229 Parks, Laura Cole's remarkable restaurant right in the middle of the bush.
The massive massif of Denali (a.k.a. Mt. McKinley). Photo: Jeff Schultz/Design Pics/Getty Images
10. Detour Worth Taking
The colorful, tiny town of Talkeetna (114 miles north of Anchorage) is the base for flights to and from Denali's glaciers and home of two mountaineering legends: the bar at the Fairview Inn and the blueberry-sourdough hotcakes at the Talkeetna Roadhouse.
A wilderness-style lodge with the requisite trophies mounted on the lobby walls, the Lakefront Anchorage sits (true to its name) on the shores of Lake Spenard, and is the stay of choice for adventurers hopping float planes that pull up practically to the back door. It's also a colorfully authentic alternative to downtown's high-rise hotels. Rates start at $90.
Photos: kaleigh/Getty Images; Tracey Minkin; Jeff Schultz/Design Pics/Getty Images