Special Report

Best Weekend Trips on the West Coast This Fall

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Anchorage, Alaska

Dig out your lederhosen and dirndls, it’s Oktoberfest time. The German Club of Anchorage celebrates its 52nd annual Oktoberfest October 4-5, at the Egan Convention Center. There’s German-style food and beer on the menu, bell-ringing performances, and two bands. The activities lineup includes bench dancing, which could be just the thing for anyone not feeling up to busting their best moves to Marge Ford & the Alaska Polka Chips.

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Seward, Alaska

The theme is Jurassic Alaska at the Seward Music and Arts Festival, set for September 27-29 at Seward’s Dale R. Lindsey Alaska Railroad Intermodal Facility. There are more than two dozen bands on the lineup, as well as art exhibitions, dance performances, and hands-on activities for kids. There’s a beer garden on the premises, along with crafts and food vendors offering regional specialties. Besides aiming to be fun, entertaining, inspirational and educational, the event has a low-environmental impact philosophy.

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Denali National Park, Alaska

It’s not too late for a ranger-led walk in the woods at Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. The two-hour nature walks continue every Saturday and Sunday through the end of October. The easy-paced activity covers up to three miles on a heavily forested trail with slopes ranging from easy to moderate. Hikers will venture through habitats of animals from petite (red squirrels) to massive (moose), plus birds, vegetation and more. Plan to wear sturdy shoes or boots; trail conditions may require mandatory snowshoes or grippers.

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Nome, Alaska

You’ve gotta love a town with a Chamber of Commerce that uses “There’s no place like Nome” as its slogan. And it’s probably true. The far western Alaska town has earned a place on lists of best places to view the aurora borealis (Northern lights), because of its low level of light pollution. By November, Nome has fewer than eight hours of daylight daily, and the weather is comparatively mild, with an average low of 11 degrees and average highs about 12 degrees warmer. The town’s road system shuts down as winter approaches, so you may have to fly in to see the sky show.

Kodiak, Alaska

You’ve already seen leaf season in New England, why not try it on another coast? The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is the home of the Kodiak brown bear, but also a great place to see the reds and yellows of fall in all their glory. Though the very word “Alaska” brings to mind frigid temperatures, that’s not the case in the southeast portion of the state. Fall temperatures in Kodiak range from a relatively balmy 56 during the day in September and a cool 29-degree average for November nights.

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