Whittier Alaska is the entrance to wildlife and glacier filled Prince William Sound and home to the famous Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel.
Whittier Alaska was the last stop on our cruise to Alaska with Princess Cruises! It was a sad day, saying goodbye to our friends as we all scattered back across the continent, but we made sure to take lots of pictures and see one last glacier before we left.
This article is published in partnership with Princess Cruises. All content and opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
Cruise to Whittier Alaska
Whittier Alaska is one of the few Alaskan towns you can drive to from the mainland, but seeing as how it would take 79 hours of straight driving (4,800 miles!) for us to get there from our house, we chose the more fun way and took an Alaskan Cruise with Princess Cruises.
Whittier is famous for the long one way tunnel you have to take to get in and out of town, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, as well as the fact that almost the whole town lives in one building! Also, whales and glaciers. Lots of those too!
Things to do in Whittier Alaska
- Prince William Sound – Boasting more tidewater glaciers than anywhere else in North America, this gorgeous deepwater sound is home to a host of rich marine life.
- Portage Glacier – This giant wall of ice is one of Alaska’s most popular and exciting attractions. It’s your chance to witness glacier calving and hear the thunderous roar when a huge block of ice crashes into the sea.
- Turnagain Arm – The journey along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet is one of the world’s great drives, boasting breathtaking views of mountain scenery and the inlet and the chance to see wildlife.
- Mt. Alyeska Tram – Climb 2,300 feet above sea level to a viewing deck with panoramic vistas of hanging glaciers towering mountains, expanses of evergreen and glistening streams. Telescopes on deck intensify the view.
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
Whittier Alaska Excursions
- Seward Highway – The Seward Highway linking Anchorage and Seward is a National Scenic Byway and one of 15 routes designated as an “All-American Road” in the United States. Dramatic views of wild Alaska abound.
- Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – Dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through public education, this refuge for injured and orphaned animals includes moose, elk, caribou, bears, musk oxen, bison, deer, lynx and eagles.
- Outdoor Adventures – Enjoy what is truly an outdoorsman’s paradise, with activities you won’t find anywhere else.
- Anchorage – A modern city surrounded by spectacular wilderness and the state’s largest community. Enjoy world-class attractions, Native Alaskan culture, shopping and dining in this four-time All American City.
- See details about these excursions at the Princess Cruise website.
What we did in Whittier Alaska
We took a bus tour and glacier cruise in Whittier Alaska and then drove on the scenic Seward Highway to get to the Anchorage airport. During the tour we stopped at a cafe for lunch and then the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
It was really convenient – we booked the tour through Princess Cruises so they helped us deal with our baggage and made sure we were at the airport in plenty of time.
The glacier cruise was incredible. Our boat had an enclosed first floor for those who wanted to stay warm and an open top deck if you wanted to get up close and personal with the glacier. Which, of course we did!
The cruise took us within a few hundred feet (maybe less!) of the spectacular Portage Glacier.
Where to eat in Whittier Alaska
- Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Cafe
- Inn At Whittier
- Wild Catch Cafe
- China Sea Restaurant
- Anchor Inn
What to pack for Whittier Alaska
Whittier Alaska is far north, so even toward the end of May we were chilly – especially when cruising by the glacier. I like to recommend layers for most trips (even the Caribbean!). For the glacier tour, I wore a light military style jacket with a waterproof windbreaker over it. I also wore a hat and gloves.
While we were walking around the conservation, a light jacket and long pants was enough. Wesley wore a slightly heavier jacket that he used for the whole trip.
Whale watching in Whittier Alaska
Whale watching season in Whittier Alaska is mid May through mid September. If you take a whale spotting tour from the Whittier area be sure to have your camera ready.
The most common whales in Prince William Sound are humpbacks and orcas, with sightings of minke whales as well. You may also spot wildlife on land, such as bears and mountain goats. Of the 200 species of bird life inhabiting this area, bald eagles are very prominent.
Fun facts about Whittier Alaska
- Whittier is wet! In fact, it’s the wettest city in the United States, receiving an average of 197.8 inches of rainfall each year.
- Everyone’s under one roof! The 218 citizens of Whittier Alaska almost all live in the same building. It’s called the Begich Towers apartment building and in addition the apartment units, it has a post office, a general store, hospital, the Whittier Police Department, the mayor’s office, a church, a grocery, laundry, a small hotel, conference room, and a play area with an indoor pool within the complex!
- There’s only one way in! The only way to drive to Whittier is via the 13,300 ft. long Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel that goes through Maynard Mountain. Both trains and highway traffic take turns using the tunnel.
Weather in Whittier Alaska
Whittier Alaska is very wet. Definitely be prepared with a good waterproof windbreaker and some warm socks. Whittier receives an average of 197.8 inches of rainfall each year and an average of 249 inches of snow each winter.
The temperatures during tourist season (May through September) range between 40’s and 60’s Fahrenheit.
Where is Whittier Alaska
The tiny town Whittier Alaska is located on the west coast of the United States, north of Canada and 58 miles southeast of Anchorage – at the head of Passage Canal on the west side of Prince William Sound.
What time is it in Whittier Alaska
Whittier Alaska operates on the AKST (Alaska time zone). AKST (Alaska time zone) is four hours behind EST (Eastern time zone), three hours behind CST (Central time zone), two hours behind MST (Mountain time zone), and one hour behind PTD time zone (Pacific time zone).
Where we cruised before Whittier Alaska
- Vancouver (British Columbia) – Where we started!
- Hoonah (Alaska) – Our second stop. Whale spotting and a sunset hike.
- Juneau (Alaska) – Kayaking near a glacier, a fun bar, good beer, and great ice cream.
- Skagway (Alaska) – Canoeing to a glacier, the best fish and chips, and fun shopping.
- Whittier (Alaska) – A scenic bus tour, a scenic glacier cruise, and sad goodbyes.
More places we’ve visited with Princess Cruises
Recipes inspired by our travels
- Chicken Zoodle Soup
- Nutella Cookies
- Mango Pineapple Salsa
- Pickled Green Tomatoes
- Whole Fruit Popsicles
- Chocolate Overload Cake
- Smoked Salmon Dip
- Cracker Recipe