From beer trains to seafood buffets, unique food and drink events are on the menu for Alaska travelers this fall

There’s no disputing it: Fall is in the air. The Alaska State Fair is open and the kids are back in school.

Travel operators sense a chill in the air as well. But the sun still is shining, so some companies are offering steep end-of-season discounts. Others are offering unique food-and-beverage events. These special offers are just one reason September is one of my favorite months to travel.

Land’s End Resort at the end of the spit in Homer is starting its offseason “Getaway” package starting Sept. 5. The package includes dinner for two in the Chart Room restaurant and overnight accommodations, from $193 per night ($179 plus tax). Stay for two nights for an additional $59 per couple. The entry-level price is for one of the resort’s “port” rooms that looks over the parking lot. It’s an extra $30 for a room with a view of Kachemak Bay.

The $59 charge for the extra night (in “port city” rooms) does not include an extra dinner for two. You’re on your own for the second night. Travelers can book the Getaway package through May 6, 2024.

Alaskan Dream Cruises, the small-ship luxury cruise operator based in Sitka, is offering 70% off of the final cruises in the 2023 season. The special end-of-season rates are just for Alaska residents. These seven- and eight-night itineraries feature routes entirely in Southeast Alaska.

The nine-day/eight-night “Inside Passage Sojourn” includes visits to Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, Wrangell Narrows and Misty Fjords, plus visits to Juneau and Sitka. All cruises include accommodations, meals and activities, as well as outdoor gear for kayaking and hiking. The brochure price for the “Sojourn” is $5,395 per person, double occupancy. The Alaska resident special is as low as $1,618.50 per person for the Aug. 27 or Sept. 4 sailing.

Other weeklong cruises are available between now and Sept. 9 from $1,229 per person, based on two people sharing a room. Details of the cruise itineraries are available online, but all reservations must be made by phone: 855-747-8100.


Alaska Bear Trips operates nonstop flights from Lake Hood to Brooks Camp in the heart of Katmai National Park. The beach where the amphibious Cessna 208 “Caravan” pulls in is very close to the campground where bear enthusiasts pitch their tents inside an electric wire enclosure.

The bears are everywhere, but they usually are concentrated at Brooks Falls, which is about a mile-long hike from the camp. The National Park Service has a couple of elevated platforms where you can safely watch the bears up close.

These day-long excursions cost $1,280 per person. But there are four end-of-season departures that are 40% off ($768 per person): Aug. 21, 23, 24 and Sept. 11. The cost includes lunch and a private guide (the pilot).

Each September, the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge hosts a wine dinner in the dining room. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking Talkeetna, with a beautiful view of Denali, Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter. The dining room has big windows, so if Denali is out, you cannot miss it.

This year, the lodge is offering its four-course dinner (plus dessert) on two nights: Sept. 8 and 9.

The special menu features Alaska razor clams with cantaloupe and caviar, rabbit with garlic walnut cream and smoked bison osso bucco. Each course is paired with a special wine from Santa Margherita winery in Italy. Cost is $165 per person. Stay overnight at the lodge for $343 per room (Friday night, Sept. 8 is sold out).

There are more options if you’re a beer lover. The Alaska Railroad is hosting a couple of “beer trains” — one in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. It’s a perfect date for the beer-loving railroad enthusiast in your life.

The Great Alaska Beer Train will roll out of the Alaska Railroad station at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30. This is a “train to nowhere” that just snakes along the tracks on Turnagain Arm all the way to Portage. Then it comes back so everyone can see the sunset on the way back to Anchorage. The train arrives back in Anchorage at 8:30 p.m.

The cost for the evening is $201 per person and includes a multicourse dinner by the Glacier Brewhouse, plus six half-pints of Glacier Brewhouse beer. Call 800-544-0552.

Up in Fairbanks, there’s a special  Alaska Railroad train scheduled on Sept. 24, called the “HooDoo Choo Choo.”  The engineer charts a course to Nenana, with plenty of beer from HooDoo Brewing on board. Riders depart the Fairbanks station at 2 p.m., returning at 6:30 p.m. The food is prepared by students in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Enjoy up to six half-pints of beer from HooDoo Brewing. Keep the glass! The cost is $212 per person.

[Flights to the Lower 48 are trending down. But as usual the devil is in the details.]

In Seward, the Seward Windsong Lodge is hosting a “Brewer’s Dinner” on Saturday, Sept. 2. The dinner features several different craft beers from one of Seward’s local brewmeisters, Gregory Haas of Stoney Creek Brewing.

Courses include halibut dumplings paired with Stoney Creek’s Hazy IPA and smoked wagyu beef brisket, served with a Russian imperial stout.

Cost is $135 per person. Make reservations by phone: 800-808-8068. Overnight accommodations are $379 per night. Alaska residents can trim 20% off the room rate by using dicount code “AKRES.”

Do you love Alaska king crab? The Grand Aleutian Hotel in Dutch Harbor is owned by Unisea, a giant fish processing operation.

Each Wednesday, the Grand Aleutian hosts a sumptuous all-you-can-eat seafood buffet featuring king crab, wild Alaska salmon, Bering Sea cod, ahi, shrimp, rockfish, Pacific halibut, fresh sushi and sashimi. Carnivores are not forgotten, though: There’s a carving table with prime rib and all the fixings. The cost is $67 per person, which I think is a pretty good deal after seeing the sky-high restaurant prices for king crab.

Although the Wednesday night seafood buffet is legendary, local Unalaskans say that the Sunday Brunch also features a nice spread.


Stay overnight at the Grand Aleutian for $215 per night, plus $17.20 tax.

If I took advantage of every special dinner, I could face off Otis or 747 as a contender in Fat Bear Week. But even one of these upcoming food events, cruises or train rides could help me stock up for winter.

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at Subscribe to his e-newsletter at For more information, visit