Along with unforgettable landscapes, unique wildlife, and thrilling adventure, a trip to Alaska also includes a bounty of opportunities to shop for souvenirs and gifts. After all, what better way to commemorate the fun you had than by bringing home Alaska souvenirs that will remind you of your vacation?
With a storied history with various influences that include a mix of Native American, Russian, and Canadian cultures, Alaska has a number of local items that are perfect vacation souvenirs or gifts to bring back to loved ones. If you’re planning on visiting the Last Frontier soon, here are the best souvenirs from Alaska you should look out for during your trip.
The Ulu is an ancient tool that dates back to 2500 B.C. Traditionally used by Inuit, Yupik, and Aleut tribes, the Ulu was used for a variety of tasks, including skinning animals, sewing boots, cutting ice, and even trimming children’s hair. Ancient Ulu blades were made out of thin rocks, slate, and jade, while the handles were constructed from wood, ivory, or bone. While ancient Ulus are displayed in museums around Alaska, modern versions of the Ulu knife are available in a number of stores.
This multi-purpose knife is a great Alaska souvenir because not only is it a keepsake that represents Alaskan Native culture, it’s also a wonderfully practical kitchen tool. Its curved blade makes it easy for cooks to chop and mince everything from meat to vegetables using only one hand, and its striking shape and handle make it the perfect souvenir to display in a corner of any kitchen.
Pay tribute to Alaska’s Russian history by buying a set of Russian nesting dolls, also known as Matryoshkas dolls. While traditional Russian nesting dolls focus on Russian fairy tales, they’re also inspired by other themes like dog mushing, polar bears, whales, eagles, and other designs highlighting Alaska’s nature and outdoors. Use them as home decor or give them to one of the younger kids in your family, who will no doubt have fun unveiling the dolls hidden within each other.
Alaskan Native Art
Aside from ancient tools, another great Alaska souvenir to bring back home is a piece of artwork. There are all kinds of artistic works to bring home, including masks, sculptures, blankets, carvings, and wall art made by Alaskan Natives. These artworks are usually colorful and a fantastic way to represent Alaskan history and culture.
Alaska is famous for its fresh seafood. During your Alaska vacation, you should sample as much of this local specialty as possible, especially if you happen to stop in Ketchikan, which is known as “the salmon capital of the world.”
If you’re left craving more of Alaska’s fresh seafood after your trip is over, don’t worry—you can arrange for authentic Alaskan salmon to be shipped right to your doorstep on a monthly basis. A number of companies have subscription delivery boxes that ship Alaskan fish all over the United States.
If you don’t want to sign up for one of these boxes, you can pack a few smoked salmon packages in your suitcase to take home and enjoy with some bagels and cream cheese at a later date.
Alaska’s state stone is jade, so you can rest assured you’ll find plenty of jade jewelry during your trip to the Last Frontier. Accessories such as necklaces, earrings, and bracelets made from this precious stone are perfect Alaska souvenirs to buy for yourself or a loved one back at home. Aside from jewelry, you’ll also find jade knives, dolls, and figurines.
Even though the original Billiken charm was created in Missouri, this tiny good luck token eventually became a staple in Alaskan souvenir shops. This popular souvenir is usually made out of ivory, and it’s the perfect gift to give to people who are superstitious.
Billikens are usually sold as earrings, key chains, or necklace pendants, so you can buy a few of these items without having to worry about taking up too much space in your suitcase.
Sure, you can buy tea anywhere—but not exclusive varieties like chaga tea and wild rose tea. Alaska has its own special blends of tea, and during your trip, you can hunt for bags of their unique hand-mixed blends, which usually have a Made in Alaska stamp on the bag. The next time you’re brewing a cup of tea at home, don’t be surprised if the aroma and tastes transport you back to your trip to Alaska.
If you like to entertain or know someone who likes to throw dinner parties, a set of bear claws is one of the best Alaska souvenirs to bring back as a gift. These unique, wooden salad servers are shaped as bear claws and are a fun decorative element to add to any dining table.
If you want to go the extra mile, pair a set of bear claws with a wooden burl bowl. These bowls are made from trees with burls (a type of malignancy that generally causes trees to decay). Although burls are damaging to trees, they are highly prized by furniture makers and wood sculptors because of the beautiful patterns and marks they leave on wood. Cooks and hostesses will be sure to appreciate this practical and pretty pairing.
Alaska has a fascinating gold rush history that you will learn all about during a trip to Skagway, the site of the famous Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Board the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad and journey through the trail that gold prospectors once took in their fated attempts to strike gold, or try your hand at gold panning.
However you choose to experience this important time in Alaskan history, you should make sure to bring back a small nugget or flake of gold you discover while panning for gold, or buy a piece of this precious metal in a store, where they are also sold as Alaska souvenirs.
Vermont has maple syrup, but Alaska has the equally delicious birch syrup. This sweet confection, made from the sap of birch trees, is found in stores all over the state and is used on everything from pancakes to ice cream and waffles.
Bring back a bottle for friends, family, or yourself, but be warned—you might want to stock up on a few as you’ll find yourself drizzling this delicious syrup on every kind of breakfast treat and dessert that you eat.
If you want to keep your feet warm during your trip to Alaska or back home during the cold winter months, then buy a pair of mukluk boots. These cozy boots were traditionally made with reindeer skin and were worn by Native American tribes including Inuit, Iñupiat, and Yupik tribes.
Today, you can find updated versions of the boot, which are usually fur lined and have laces that run up and around the exterior of the boot. They come in a variety of designs and colors, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
One of the highlights of an Alaska vacation is the opportunity to see a magnificent glacier up close. And while that life-changing experience is hard to bottle up and bring home, you can capture a bit of that magic by bringing back a bit of glacial mud in your suitcase.
Mainly sourced from the mineral-rich Copper River, glacial mud has several healing and detoxifying properties that can soften and transform skin. You can find it in specialty stores in products such as facial masks and mineral soap bars, which are all incredible gifts for beauty junkies and green beauty fans back at home.
Now that you know the best souvenirs from Alaska to buy during your trip, it’s time to plan your cruise to Alaska.
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