Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, which happens to be the largest U.S. state, is a destination for those wanting to see a unique part of the North America. You may be stopping in Anchorage as part of a longer tour of Alaska or this might be your only destination. Either way, there are a multitude of unforgettable things to see here!
- Iditarod Sled Dog Race - One of the most famous races in the world, featuring teams of sled dogs and their rugged owners. You may have seen this 1000 mile race through the wilderness on TV, but if you visit Alaska in March you can see it in person. Anchorage is the starting point. For information on being a participant, volunteer or spectator visit the Iditarod If you want to experience your own sled dog adventure, albeit on a smaller scale than the Iditarod, you can check out Seavey’s Ididaride Sled Dog Tours.
- Trails and Outdoor Activities -Some of the places in or near Anchorage for hiking and other outdoor activities include Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which is popular for biking as well as hiking. Many spots offer great views of Anchorage and nearby mountains. Flattop Mountain Trail has a number of hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. Another great place to hike, as well as for viewing birds and other wildlife is Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, which is close to Seward Highway.
- Museums -Anchorage has quite a few distinctive museums, such as Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, which explores the culture and history of Alaska; Imaginarium Discovery Center, an interactive science museum that’s great for kids; Alaska Museum of Natural History, which has exhibits on everything from rocks and gems to dinosaurs. The Alaska Native Heritage Museum is one of the best places to learn about indigenous Alaskan culture.
- Tours -There are many ways to see Anchorage -from the air, by water, by rail and by car, to name just a few. Companies such as Regal Air offer flying tours of the area, where you can see bears and other wildlife and some amazing scenery. Segway Tours of Alaska provide a fun way to see downtown Anchorage.
Dive Alaska will take you on boat tours, scuba diving and snorkeling trips that let you explore the waters and see animals such as whales and porpoises. Another breathtaking way to see Alaskan scenery is via the Alaska Railroad, which passes areas such as Denali State Park, Fairbanks, Seward and Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop.
Dining and Nightlife
You’re sure to work up an appetite exploring the wilderness around Anchorage. The following are just a few of the area’s choices for dining and nightlife.
- For breakfast and lunch, a popular place to dine is Snow City Cafe on W. 4th Avenue. In addition to staples such as eggs, pancakes, omelets, seafood and meat, they also have vegetarian and gluten-free selections as well as espresso and coffee drinks.
- Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, in midtown on Old Seward Highway, has great pizza as well as oven-baked sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts and a bar featuring Broken Tooth Brewing beers, which are local favorites.
- Anchorage is a good destination if you like seafood, and Simon & Seafort’s Saloon & Grill on L St. is one of the best spots for fresh seafood as well as steaks, prime ribs and other American favorites. The restaurant also provides amazing views of surrounding areas such as Mount Susitna.
- Orso, on W. 5th Ave., is another great choice for contemporary American cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh Alaskan seafood, grilled meats, pastas and homemade desserts. There’s also an extensive drinks menu.
- Gwennies Old Alaska Restaurant, on Spenard Road, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is famous for its huge portions and distinctive Alaskan decor.
For entertainment, you can see what’s going on at Alaska Center for the Performing Arts or at the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. Anchorage also has some innovative local theater companies, such as Cyrano’s Theatre Company and Bear and Raven Adventure Theater.
Daytime it’s always fun to browse the Downtown Saturday Market, a flea and street market, where you can find food and all kinds of goods for sale.
Like many cold-weather destinations, nightlife in Anchorage centers largely on pubs. Many of these offer live music and a friendly atmosphere, with a good mix of locals, part time residents and tourists. Some good choices include Chilkoot Charlie’s on Spenard Road, which is often quite crowded; Mad Myrna’s, a popular LGBT club on E. 5th Ave; Hard Rock Cafe Anchorage, on E. Street, for the reliable Hard Rock Cafe experience, Alaska style and Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge on D Street, with a nice outdoor patio for when it’s not too cold.
Where to Stay
Some of Anchorage’s highest quality hotels include Homewood Suites by Hilton Anchorage, near downtown on W. 48th St., which has a gym, pool, business center, airport shuttle and lots of other amenities and The Hotel Captain Cook, on W. 5th Ave., a beautiful historic hotel right in the center of downtown.
Clarion Suites Downtown, on W. 8th Ave., offers clean and comfortable accommodations at a reasonable price. Also offering excellent value is Quality Suites Historic Downtown on W. 8th Ave., offering basic but spacious and comfortable rooms in a location close to both downtown and the airport.
If you prefer an inn or B & B, your choices include Wildflower Inn on I Street, a cozy spot within walking distance of many downtown shops and restaurants; Judy’s Touch of Class B & B on Churchill Drive, in a nice home in a suburban location and Susitna Place, on N Street, another fine downtown B & B with views of both the mountains and the sea.