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Barrow, Alaska

Barrow is 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and the northernmost settlement in the U.S. 61% its 4,500 residents are Inupiat Eskimo. Many still hunt for subsistence. Profits from the Alaska Pipeline have brought in some modern amenities. Rustic cottages may have fox or wolverine skins drying outside, while people inside enjoy cable TV and Internet access. The Inupiat Heritage Center can tell you about local whaling culture. The Nalukataq traditional spring whaling festival happens in June.

Freshwater Lake just south of Barrow offers exceptional bird watching--take a vehicle rather than walk there, as this is polar bear country. Barrow locals come to Pigniq Station near Point Barrow to hunt ducks, seals, and walrus in the summer - it is possible to sight polar bears from a distance there.

Walk on the summer beach near town and watch turquoise ice float gracefully in the pristine sea. Arctic Pizza offers very good pizza and a great view of the Arctic Ocean. The Northern Lights Restaurant serves Chinese cuisine, and you can get sushi at Osaka on Stevenson Street. Stop by Illisavik College to see the whale skull outside - and imagine the sea hunts of the Inupiat.