Scott McMurren

Alaska has more than its share of great destinations. Look around: mountains, valleys, wildlife, glaciers -- the works. But exploring the state also yields some incredible dining dividends.

Here in Anchorage, we enjoy great eateries on several levels. First, there is God's own pizza house and brewpub at Moose's Tooth. And down the street in a strip mall is Jens' Restaurant, which I love for the "Nearly World Famous Pepper Steak," as well as fresh Alaska seafood dishes.

It really gets interesting outside of Anchorage, though. Several communities have go-to restaurants that you're silly to pass up...

Scott McMurren

After a quick trip to Indiana over Thanksgiving, I'm all about God as my co-pilot. But technology is squeezing into the front seat as my flight engineer and chief navigator, that's for sure.

No kidding. Sitting on the tarmac at the airport after two trips to the de-icing station, I uttered a fervent prayer that we would, indeed, be able to take off on schedule for our nonstop flight on Alaska Airlines from Anchorage to Chicago.

But it's worth noting that the technological improvements at every step of the travel experience really boost the odds for a successful trip--even if we can't control the weather. Yet...

Scott McMurren

Since Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest travel weekend of the year, it makes sense to review some basic strategies. Since I'm traveling this weekend, I'm doing my best to make my trip uneventful, seamless and downright boring. To me -- that's a perfect travel day...

Scott McMurren

Flying with Taquan Air into Misty Fjords National Monument.

Still waters DO run deep--about 1,000 feet here.

Scott McMurren

There are jillions of presents you could get for the traveler on your holiday gift list. But think about your frequent-flyer friend or partner. If they're on the go, you want to give them something that will fit nicely into the Christmas stocking hung above the fireplace: small, light and easy to carry. Here are some of my top picks:...

Scott McMurren
Photos by Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren

Last time, we talked about "leverage" with the airlines when it comes to getting what you want. Sometimes, though, that simply isn't good enough. The fares still are too high, or the travel providers simply are not listening...

Scott McMurren

It's a whole new world in travel today. Periodically, it's important to get a broad view of how to get the most for your travel dollar.

The key phrase these days is "leverage." Most of us have precious little leverage when it comes to the big, bad airlines. Never mind the TSA. But there are ways that you can bring some more power to bear on your behalf.

Let's start with your frequent flyer account. Most Alaskans have an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan account. And a large number also carry a credit card from Bank of America to earn miles. That way, you put miles into your account every time you make a purchase...

Scott McMurren
Laguna Sunset, taken from the deck overlooking St. Ann's Beach. (Photo: Gary Blakely) I am no stranger to California. Whether you're tasting wine in Sonoma County, driving along Highway 1 at Big Sur or observing the glorious Golden Gate in San Francisco, it's easy to see why California is so popular with travelers.

But there are pockets of the Golden State that are absolutely over the top. I'm partial to Lake Tahoe. The crisp air, the icy lake, the glorious mountains--it's fabulous. Add the state's national parks (Yosemite, Death Valley, Kings Canyon) and it's almost enough to make the traffic, taxes and smog worthwhile.

Here's another must-see: Laguna Beach. It's worth the trip, especially in late October...

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren photo

Pike Place Market's iconic sign

Just flip the switch to get me to wax on about Seattle--the perfect Alaskan getaway.

It's all right downtown: shopping, great restaurants, great sports teams, great entertainment, great museums and fun activities. Plus -- since Seattle is the gateway for most of us to come to Alaska -- it's a natural stop when traveling around the country or around the world.

Now summer's gone here in Anchorage. Down in Seattle, there's still a little steam left in the fall -- which means there are quite a few shirt-sleeve afternoons to enjoy before the rains of winter set in...

Scott McMurren

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