Top 25 Things To Do in Anchorage

Where urban sophistication meets untamed wilderness, Anchorage offers a unique blend of cultural richness and outdoor adventures in the Last Frontier.

West Parker
West Parker
July 18, 2024

You're sipping a craft cocktail in a trendy downtown bar, gazing out the window at snow-capped mountains where moose roam freely. This isn't a scene from a surrealist painting – it's just another day in Anchorage, where wilderness and urban life collide in the most spectacular way.

This juxtaposition of city life and raw nature isn't just a quirky feature of Anchorage—it's the essence of Alaska's largest city. From world-class museums showcasing indigenous art to glacier-filled bays teeming with wildlife, Anchorage serves as both a cultural hub and a gateway to wild adventures. It's a place where you can start your day with a gourmet brunch, spend the afternoon hiking alongside bears and moose, and end the evening at a cutting-edge art gallery.

Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a culture vulture, or simply someone who appreciates the finer things in life, Anchorage has something to offer. So grab your hiking boots (and maybe your opera glasses), and let's explore the 25 best things to do in this captivating city where the urban and the wild aren't just neighbors – they're best friends.

Explore the Anchorage Museum

Visitors exploring modern art exhibit at Anchorage Museum, showcasing Alaska's cultural heritage
Spent the afternoon getting lost in the Anchorage Museum. The blend of traditional and contemporary Alaskan art is mind-blowing!

Step into a world where art, history, and science collide at the Anchorage Museum. This isn't your average stuffy museum – it's a vibrant, interactive space that brings Alaska's rich culture and natural wonders to life. From stunning contemporary art installations to fascinating exhibits on indigenous cultures, you'll find yourself lost in the stories of the Last Frontier. Don't miss the Planetarium for an out-of-this-world experience, or the Discovery Center where hands-on exhibits will bring out your inner child (or actual child, if you've got them in tow).

  • Location: 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm (summer hours may vary)
  • Admission: $20 adults, $17 seniors/military, $15 students, free for children under 3

Why visit: It's the perfect starting point to understand Alaska's complex history, diverse cultures, and breathtaking natural environment.

Insider tip: Visit on a First Friday for free admission and special events.

Immerse Yourself in Native Culture at the Alaska Native Heritage Center

Traditional Alaska Native dance performance at Heritage Center, preserving indigenous cultures
Watching this mesmerizing dance at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. It's like stepping back in time!

Prepare for a journey through time and tradition at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. This living cultural center isn't just about observing – it's about experiencing. Watch skilled artisans craft intricate works of art, join in traditional dances, and explore life-sized village sites representing Alaska's diverse indigenous groups. The center's lake-side setting adds to the authentic atmosphere, making you feel like you've stepped back in time.

  • Location: 8800 Heritage Center Dr, Anchorage, AK 99504
  • Hours: Open daily 9am-5pm (May-Sept), Fri-Sat 10am-5pm (Oct-Apr)
  • Admission: $29.95 adults, $25.95 seniors, $19.95 children (7-16)

Why visit: It offers an unparalleled opportunity to engage with Alaska's rich indigenous cultures in an authentic and respectful setting.

Insider tip: Time your visit to catch one of the daily dance performances – they're truly mesmerizing.

Bike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Cyclist on Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage with Cook Inlet view, popular outdoor recreation spot
Rented a bike and hit the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The views of Cook Inlet are unreal!

Grab a bike and hit the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail for an 11-mile journey that'll make you question if you're still in a city at all. This paved path hugs the coastline, offering stunning views of Cook Inlet, the Chugach Mountains, and even Denali on a clear day. Keep your eyes peeled for moose munching on bushes, bald eagles soaring overhead, and if you're lucky, beluga whales breaching in the inlet. It's like a wildlife safari, but with the chance to grab a latte at the end.

  • Location: Starts at 2nd Avenue and P Street, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Open 24/7, best enjoyed during daylight hours
  • Admission: Free

Why visit: It's the perfect way to experience Anchorage's natural beauty without leaving the city limits.

Insider tip: Rent an e-bike for an easier ride, especially if you're tackling the whole trail.

Hike Flattop Mountain

Hikers ascending Flattop Mountain trail with panoramic view of Anchorage, popular hiking destination
Made it to the top of Flattop Mountain! The climb was tough, but this view of Anchorage makes it all worth it.

Lace up your hiking boots and conquer Flattop Mountain, Anchorage's most popular hike. Don't let the name fool you – this 3.3-mile round trip trail is anything but flat. The climb is steep and challenging, but the panoramic views of Anchorage, Cook Inlet, and the surrounding mountain ranges from the summit are worth every huffing, puffing step. On a clear day, you might even spot Denali in the distance. Just remember, the mountain's weather can change faster than you can say "Where did the sun go?" so come prepared.

  • Location: Glen Alps Trailhead, 13229 Glen Alps Rd, Anchorage, AK 99516
  • Hours: Open 24/7, best hiked during daylight hours
  • Admission: $5 parking fee

Why visit: It offers the best views of Anchorage and surrounding areas, all just a short drive from downtown.

Insider tip: Bring microspikes if hiking in shoulder seasons – the trail can get icy.

Watch for Wildlife at Potter Marsh

Wooden boardwalk at Potter Marsh wildlife viewing area, Anchorage's prime spot for birdwatching
Spotted so many birds at Potter Marsh today! The boardwalk makes it easy to get close to nature without disturbing the wildlife.

Swap your binoculars for a camera at Potter Marsh, where the wildlife watching is so good, you might think you've stumbled onto a movie set. This 564-acre wetland habitat is a bird-watcher's paradise, home to everything from majestic trumpeter swans to tiny Arctic terns. The elevated boardwalk lets you get up close and personal with the marsh's inhabitants without disturbing their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for moose wading through the shallows or salmon swimming upstream – it's like a real-life nature documentary unfolding before your eyes.

  • Location: 2999 E 154th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99516
  • Hours: Open 24/7, boardwalk best visited during daylight hours
  • Admission: Free

Why visit: It's a convenient spot to experience Alaska's diverse wildlife without venturing far from the city.

Insider tip: Visit during different seasons to see a variety of migratory birds.

Experience the Northern Lights

Northern Lights dancing over snowy Alaskan landscape near Anchorage, spectacular natural phenomenon
Stayed up late to catch the Northern Lights and it was totally worth the wait. Nature's light show is truly magical!

Prepare for a light show like no other as you chase the elusive Aurora Borealis. Anchorage's location makes it a prime spot for viewing this natural phenomenon, with the best chances occurring from late August to mid-April. Picture curtains of green, purple, and pink light dancing across the night sky – it's like Mother Nature decided to throw a disco party. While sightings are never guaranteed, the thrill of the hunt is part of the adventure. Just be prepared for late nights and early mornings – the aurora doesn't run on a schedule.

  • Location: Various spots around Anchorage, including Glen Alps Trailhead and Point Woronzof
  • Hours: Best viewed on clear nights from 10pm to 2am
  • Admission: Free

Why visit: Witnessing the Northern Lights is a bucket-list experience that'll leave you in awe of nature's power.

Insider tip: Download an aurora forecast app to increase your chances of a sighting.

Explore Chugach State Park

Hiker enjoying panoramic view in Chugach State Park, Anchorage's wilderness playground
Hiking in Chugach State Park feels like you're a million miles from civilization, but it's right on Anchorage's doorstep!

Step into Chugach State Park and you'll find yourself in a half-million-acre playground that makes Central Park look like a backyard. This vast wilderness area is Anchorage's backyard, offering everything from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry adventures. Hike through lush forests, fish in crystal-clear streams, or simply sit back and watch for wildlife. With over 280 miles of trails, you could spend a lifetime exploring and still not see it all. It's like having a national park right on your doorstep – if your doorstep happened to be in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

  • Location: Multiple access points around Anchorage
  • Hours: Open 24/7
  • Admission: Free entry, parking fees may apply at some trailheads

Why visit: It offers unparalleled access to Alaskan wilderness just minutes from downtown Anchorage.

Insider tip: Pick up a detailed trail map at the Eagle River Nature Center for the best hiking recommendations.

Ride the Alaska Railroad

Scenic Alaska Railroad journey with mountain and lake views, popular tourist attraction from Anchorage
Taking the Alaska Railroad out of Anchorage. The views from the dome car are absolutely stunning!

All aboard for a journey that'll make you forget planes and automobiles ever existed. The Alaska Railroad isn't just a mode of transport – it's a moving panorama of the state's most breathtaking scenery. Whether you're heading south to Seward or north to Fairbanks, you'll be treated to views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife that you just can't get from the road. The glass-domed cars offer 360-degree views, so you won't miss a thing. Who knows, you might even spot a bear fishing for salmon as you chug along.

  • Location: Anchorage Depot, 411 W 1st Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Varies by route and season
  • Price: Varies by route and class of service

Why visit: It's one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, offering unparalleled views of Alaska's diverse landscapes.

Insider tip: Book a seat on the right side of the train when heading south to Seward for the best views.

Visit the Alaska Zoo

Polar bear in natural-looking habitat at Alaska Zoo, Anchorage's wildlife conservation center
Met this beautiful polar bear at the Alaska Zoo. It's amazing to see these Arctic animals up close!

Where else can you see polar bears, snow leopards, and Tibetan yaks all in one place? The Alaska Zoo isn't your average animal park – it's a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of Arctic and sub-Arctic species. Stroll through the wooded pathways and you'll come face-to-face with some of Alaska's most iconic creatures, from playful river otters to majestic wolves. The zoo's commitment to education and conservation means you're not just gawking at animals – you're learning about their habitats and the challenges they face in the wild.

  • Location: 4731 O'Malley Rd, Anchorage, AK 99507
  • Hours: Summer 9am-6pm, Winter 10am-5pm
  • Admission: $17 adults, $13 seniors, $9 children (3-17)

Why visit: It offers a chance to see Arctic animals up close and learn about conservation efforts.

Insider tip: Check the zoo's event calendar for special after-hours programs like the popular "Zoo Lights" in winter.

Savor Local Flavors at the Anchorage Market

Vibrant vendor stalls at Anchorage Market, showcasing local Alaskan crafts and produce
Love the vibe at the Anchorage Market! Found some amazing local crafts and the freshest salmon I've ever tasted.

Forget your average farmer's market – the Anchorage Market is a feast for all senses. This weekend bazaar is where locals and tourists alike come to sample the best of Alaska's bounty. From fresh-caught seafood to handcrafted souvenirs, you'll find a little bit of everything here. Munch on a reindeer sausage while browsing through stalls of native artwork, or sip on locally roasted coffee as you tap your foot to live music. It's like a crash course in Alaskan culture, all wrapped up in one lively package.

  • Location: 3rd Avenue & E Street, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, May-September
  • Admission: Free entry

Why visit: It's the perfect place to experience local culture, food, and crafts all in one vibrant setting.

Insider tip: Come hungry and make a meal out of the diverse food stalls – it's like a culinary tour of Alaska in one spot.

Take a Glacier Cruise from Whittier

Glaciers and icebergs on Prince William Sound cruise from Whittier, popular day trip from Anchorage
Took a glacier cruise from Whittier today. The scale of these glaciers is mind-blowing – photos don't do it justice!

Hop on a boat in Whittier and prepare for a day of "oohs" and "aahs" as you cruise through Prince William Sound. This isn't your average boat ride – it's a front-row seat to one of nature's most impressive shows. Glide past towering glaciers, keeping an ear out for the thunderous crack of calving ice. Along the way, you might spot seals lounging on ice floes, sea otters floating on their backs, or even a pod of orcas slicing through the water. It's like stepping into a National Geographic documentary, but with the added bonus of hot cocoa on deck.

  • Location: Departures from Whittier, AK (about an hour's drive from Anchorage)
  • Hours: Varies by tour operator, typically full-day excursions
  • Price: Varies by tour, typically $150-$200 per adult

Why visit: It offers an up-close encounter with Alaska's marine life and dramatic glacial landscapes.

Insider tip: Book a tour that includes a stop at a tidewater glacier for the best chance to see calving.

Discover Aviation History at the Alaska Aviation Museum

Historic bush plane exhibit at Alaska Aviation Museum, showcasing Alaska's rich aviation history
Checked out the Alaska Aviation Museum today. It's incredible how these bush planes shaped Alaska's development!

Prepare for takeoff at the Alaska Aviation Museum, where the state's high-flying history comes to life. Nestled on the shores of Lake Hood, the world's busiest seaplane base, this museum is a treasure trove of vintage aircraft and captivating stories. From bush planes that opened up the Last Frontier to military aircraft that played crucial roles in World War II, each exhibit tells a tale of adventure and innovation. Don't miss the chance to climb into a flight simulator – it's the closest you can get to piloting a bush plane without leaving the ground.

  • Location: 4721 Aircraft Dr, Anchorage, AK 99502
  • Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm
  • Admission: $17 adults, $14 seniors, $10 children (5-17)

Why visit: It offers a fascinating look at how aviation shaped Alaska's development and culture.

Insider tip: Time your visit to watch seaplanes taking off and landing on Lake Hood – it's aviation history in action.

Relax at Kincaid Park

Cross-country skier on groomed trail in Kincaid Park, Anchorage's year-round outdoor recreation area
Perfect day for cross-country skiing in Kincaid Park. Can't believe this wilderness is right in the city!

Kincaid Park is where Anchorage goes to play – and with 1,400 acres of diverse terrain, there's plenty of room for everyone. In summer, hit the trails for hiking or mountain biking, keeping an eye out for the park's resident moose. Come winter, the park transforms into a snowy playground, with groomed trails for cross-country skiing and sledding hills for the young (and young at heart). The park's western edge offers stunning views of Cook Inlet and the Alaska Range, making it a prime spot for picnics and sunset watching. Who says you can't have wilderness and wifi in the same place?

  • Location: 9401 Raspberry Rd, Anchorage, AK 99502
  • Hours: Open daily, 6am-11pm
  • Admission: Free

Why visit: It offers year-round outdoor recreation opportunities just minutes from downtown.

Insider tip: Visit the Coastal Trail section of the park for a chance to spot beluga whales in Cook Inlet.

Step Back in Time at the Oscar Anderson House Museum

Oscar Anderson House Museum in Anchorage, preserved early 20th century home showcasing pioneer life
Stepped back in time at the Oscar Anderson House. It's fascinating to see how Anchorage's early settlers lived!

Travel back to the early days of Anchorage at the Oscar Anderson House Museum. Built in 1915, this unassuming little house was one of the first permanent homes in the city. Step inside and you'll find yourself transported to the frontier days of Alaska, with period furnishings and personal artifacts telling the story of Oscar Anderson and his family. It's like peeking through a window into Anchorage's past, giving you a sense of what life was like for the city's early settlers. Who knew time travel could be so cozy?

  • Location: 420 M St, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Open seasonally, typically June-August, Thursday-Sunday 12pm-4pm
  • Admission: $10 adults, $7 seniors (65+), $5 students (6-17)

Alaska Center for the Performing Arts

Elegant theater interior at Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Anchorage's cultural hub
Caught an amazing show at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Anchorage's art scene is seriously impressive!

Why visit: It offers an intimate look at Anchorage's early days through the lens of one of its first families.Insider tip: Join a guided tour for fascinating stories about the Anderson family and early Anchorage life.Catch a Show at the Alaska Center for the Performing ArtsWho says culture is hard to find in the wilderness? The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts proves that Anchorage can rival any big city when it comes to the arts. This state-of-the-art facility hosts everything from Broadway shows to local theater productions, symphony concerts to modern dance performances. With three theaters under one roof, there's always something happening. So trade your hiking boots for dress shoes (or don't – this is Alaska, after all) and prepare for a night of world-class entertainment in the heart of the Last Frontier.

  • Location: 621 W 6th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Box office open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, also open before performances
  • Price: Varies by performance

Ship Creek Fishing

Anglers fishing for salmon at Ship Creek, popular urban fishing spot in downtown Anchorage
Tried my luck fishing for salmon at Ship Creek. Where else can you catch wild salmon with skyscrapers in the background?

Why visit: It's the cultural heart of Anchorage, offering a diverse range of high-quality performances year-round.Insider tip: Check out the "Anchorage Concert Association" series for some of the best touring acts.Fish for Salmon at Ship CreekEver dreamed of catching your own wild Alaskan salmon? At Ship Creek, that dream can become a reality – right in the middle of downtown Anchorage. This urban fishery is a surreal sight: anglers casting lines with skyscrapers as a backdrop. During the summer months, you can try your luck at hooking king and silver salmon as they make their way upstream. Even if you don't catch anything, the sight of massive fish fighting their way up the creek is a spectacle in itself. Who needs a generic fish market when you can catch your own dinner?

  • Location: Ship Creek Viewing Platform, 150 E Ship Creek Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Best fishing typically June-July for kings, August-September for silvers
  • Price: Fishing license required, available online or at local sporting goods stores

Alaska Botanical Garden

Vibrant wildflower display at Alaska Botanical Garden, showcasing subarctic flora in Anchorage
Surprised by the diversity of plants at the Alaska Botanical Garden. The colors are so vivid in the long summer daylight!

Why visit: It offers a unique urban fishing experience and the chance to catch wild Alaskan salmon.Insider tip: Rent gear at The Bait Shack nearby if you didn't bring your own.Explore the Alaska Botanical GardenThink nothing grows in the frozen north? The Alaska Botanical Garden will make you think again. This 110-acre garden showcases the surprising diversity of plants that thrive in the subarctic climate. Stroll through themed gardens, from the Herb Garden to the Rock Garden, and marvel at the riot of colors during the short but intense growing season. The Wildflower Trail offers a glimpse of Alaska's native flora, while the mile-long Lowenfels Family Nature Trail lets you experience the natural boreal forest. It's like a crash course in northern horticulture, with a side of forest bathing.

  • Location: 4601 Campbell Airstrip Rd, Anchorage, AK 99507
  • Hours: Open year-round, daily 9am-7pm (summer), 10am-4pm (winter)
  • Admission: $12 adults, $6 children (6-17), free for children under 6

Turnagain Arm Scenic Drive

Scenic Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm, breathtaking coastal drive near Anchorage
The drive along Turnagain Arm is unreal. Had to keep pulling over to take in the views!

Why visit: It showcases the surprising diversity of plant life that thrives in Alaska's challenging climate.Insider tip: Visit during the "Midsummer Night's Garden and Art Gala" for music, food, and art amid the blooms.Take a Scenic Drive Along Turnagain ArmBuckle up for one of the most scenic drives in America along Turnagain Arm. This stretch of the Seward Highway south of Anchorage offers jaw-dropping views at every turn. On one side, the rugged Chugach Mountains plunge dramatically into the sea. On the other, the silty waters of Turnagain Arm stretch out to the horizon. Keep your eyes peeled for Dall sheep on the cliffs, beluga whales in the water, and the bore tide – a wall of water that rushes in with the changing tide. Just try to keep your eyes on the road – we promise the pullouts are worth the wait.

  • Location: Seward Highway, south of Anchorage
  • Hours: Accessible 24/7, best driven during daylight hours
  • Price: Free

Alaska Jewish Museum

Historical exhibit at Alaska Jewish Museum, exploring Jewish contributions to Anchorage's development
Learned so much at the Alaska Jewish Museum. The stories of Jewish pioneers in the Last Frontier are fascinating!

Why visit: It offers some of the most spectacular roadside scenery in Alaska, if not the entire U.S.Insider tip: Time your drive to coincide with the bore tide for an extra special show.Visit the Alaska Jewish MuseumTucked away in a quiet corner of Anchorage, the Alaska Jewish Museum tells a fascinating story of cultural preservation and adaptation in the Last Frontier. This small but mighty museum chronicles the contributions of Jewish immigrants to Alaska's development, from the Gold Rush era to modern times. Through personal artifacts, photographs, and interactive exhibits, you'll learn about characters like "Frozen Moses" and discover how Jewish traditions have been maintained in the far north. It's a unique slice of Alaskan history that you won't find anywhere else.

  • Location: 1221 E 35th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99508
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 1pm-6pm, Friday 1pm-4pm (closed Saturdays)
  • Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students

Far North Bicentennial Park

Mountain biker on trail in Far North Bicentennial Park, Anchorage's vast urban wilderness area
Epic mountain biking in Far North Bicentennial Park. Can't believe this wild terrain is right in the city!

Why visit: It offers a unique perspective on Alaska's multicultural history and the Jewish experience in the far north.Insider tip: Don't miss the "On the Wings of Eagles" exhibit about the Alaska Air Transport program that helped Soviet Jews emigrate in the 1990s.Enjoy Nature at Far North Bicentennial ParkIf Anchorage's other parks aren't quite wild enough for you, Far North Bicentennial Park is your ticket to the true Alaskan backcountry. This massive 4,000-acre park on the east side of the city offers everything from easy nature walks to challenging mountain bike trails. The Campbell Creek Science Center provides educational programs, while the Hilltop Ski Area offers downhill skiing in winter. Keep an eye out for moose, bears, and other wildlife – this is their territory, after all. It's like having a national park right in the city limits.

  • Location: 4970 Campbell Airstrip Rd, Anchorage, AK 99507
  • Hours: Open daily, 6am-11pm
  • Admission: Free

Alaska Experience Theater

Visitors experiencing simulated earthquake at Alaska Experience Theater, unique Anchorage attraction
The earthquake simulation at the Alaska Experience Theater was intense! Really puts Anchorage's history into perspective.

Why visit: It offers a true wilderness experience within city limits, with activities for all skill levels.Insider tip: Check out the Smokejumper Trailhead for a less crowded hiking experience.Learn About Earthquakes at the Alaska Experience TheaterBrace yourself for a shake-up at the Alaska Experience Theater. This unique attraction offers visitors a chance to "experience" the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 – the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America. Through a combination of archive footage, sound effects, and a hydraulic shake platform, you'll get a sense of what it was like during those four terrifying minutes. It's educational, it's thrilling, and it's probably the only time you'll be excited about feeling the ground move beneath your feet.

  • Location: 333 W 4th Ave #207, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Open seasonally, typically May-September
  • Admission: Check website for current prices

Coastal Trail Winter Activities

Cross-country skiers on snow-covered Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, popular winter activity in Anchorage
Who needs summer? The Coastal Trail is magical in winter. Cross-country skiing with these views is unforgettable!

Why visit: It offers a unique, immersive way to learn about a significant event in Alaska's history.Insider tip: Combine your visit with a trip to nearby Earthquake Park for a full seismic education.Bike or Ski the Coastal TrailThe Tony Knowles Coastal Trail isn't just for summer strolls – it's a year-round recreation destination. In winter, the trail transforms into a wonderland for cross-country skiing and fat-tire biking. Glide along the snowy path, taking in views of the frozen inlet and snow-capped mountains. You might even spot a moose nibbling on winter buds or a hardy biker pedaling through the snow. It's like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but with more exercise and better scenery.

  • Location: Starts at 2nd Avenue and P Street, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Open 24/7, best used during daylight hours
  • Admission: Free

Alaska Native Medical Center Craft Shop

Authentic Native Alaskan art at Alaska Native Medical Center Craft Shop, unique shopping in Anchorage
Found some amazing authentic Native art at the Alaska Native Medical Center Craft Shop. Love that buying here supports the artists and the hospital!

Why visit: It offers year-round outdoor recreation with stunning coastal views, right from downtown Anchorage.Insider tip: Rent fat-tire bikes or cross-country skis from downtown outfitters for winter trail fun.Experience Native Culture at the Alaska Native Medical Center Craft ShopHidden within a working hospital, the Alaska Native Medical Center Craft Shop is a treasure trove of authentic Native Alaskan art. This isn't your typical gift shop – it's a vital link between Native artists from across the state and art lovers looking for genuine pieces. From intricate beadwork to stunning ivory carvings, every item tells a story of Alaska's rich indigenous cultures. The best part? Proceeds support both the artists and patient care at the medical center. It's shopping you can feel good about.

  • Location: 4315 Diplomacy Dr, Anchorage, AK 99508
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-2pm
  • Admission: Free to browse

Thunderbird Falls Hike

Thunderbird Falls near Anchorage, picturesque waterfall and popular short hiking trail
The hike to Thunderbird Falls was easy and the payoff is huge! Such a beautiful waterfall so close to the city.

Why visit: It offers a chance to purchase authentic Native Alaskan art directly from artists while supporting a good cause.Insider tip: Look for the "Made in Alaska" seal for guaranteed locally made items.Hike to Thunderbird FallsJust a short drive from Anchorage, the Thunderbird Falls trail offers big rewards for minimal effort. This easy one-mile trail winds through a beautiful birch forest before opening up to a viewing deck with a spectacular view of the 200-foot waterfall. The roar of the falls, the mist in the air, the lush green of the forest – it's nature's version of a spa day. In winter, the frozen falls transform into a glittering ice sculpture. It's the perfect quick escape when you need a dose of nature but don't want to commit to a full-day hike.

  • Location: Eklutna, AK 99567 (about 30 minutes north of Anchorage)
  • Hours: Open 24/7, best hiked during daylight hours
  • Admission: $5 parking fee

Sullivan Arena

Exciting hockey game at Sullivan Arena, home of UAA Seawolves and popular Anchorage sports venue
Caught a UAA Seawolves hockey game at Sullivan Arena. The energy here is electric – Anchorage loves its hockey!

Why visit: It offers a relatively easy hike with a big payoff – stunning waterfall views.Insider tip: Bring a picnic to enjoy at the viewing platform – just remember to pack out what you pack in.Catch a Game at Sullivan ArenaWho says you can't find world-class sports action in Alaska? The Sullivan Arena is home to the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves hockey team, and catching a game here is a quintessential Anchorage experience. The atmosphere is electric, with passionate fans cheering on their team amid the clash of sticks and the swish of skates on ice. Even if you're not a hockey fan, the energy in the arena is contagious. Who knows? You might leave as a die-hard Seawolves supporter.

  • Location: 1600 Gambell St, Anchorage, AK 99501
  • Hours: Varies by event schedule
  • Price: Varies by event

Why visit: It offers a chance to experience Alaska's passion for hockey and join in the local sports culture.Insider tip: Check the schedule for the annual Governor's Cup series against rival University of Alaska Fairbanks for an extra intense experience.Structuring Your Anchorage Adventure: A 7-Day ItineraryNow that we've explored the best things to do in Anchorage, let's put it all together into a week-long adventure. Remember, this is just a suggestion – feel free to mix and match based on your interests, energy levels, and of course, the ever-changeable Alaskan weather!Days 1-2: City Exploration and Cultural Immersion

  • Start your trip with a visit to the Anchorage Museum to get grounded in Alaskan history and culture.
  • Take a stroll through downtown, stopping at the Alaska Experience Theater for a seismic education.
  • Spend your second day at the Alaska Native Heritage Center for a deep dive into indigenous cultures.
  • In the evening, catch a show at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.

Food tip: Try local seafood at Glacier Brewhouse or 49th State Brewing Company.Travel tip: Use the People Mover bus system to get around downtown easily and affordably.Days 3-4: Outdoor Adventures

  • Dedicate a full day to hiking in Chugach State Park. The Flattop Mountain trail is popular, but there are options for all skill levels.
  • Spend the next day biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, with stops at Earthquake Park and Kincaid Park.
  • If you're visiting in winter, swap the bike for cross-country skis or a fat-tire bike.

Food tip: Pack a picnic from New Sagaya City Market to enjoy on the trail.Travel tip: Rent bikes (or skis in winter) from Downtown Bicycle Rental for convenient access to the Coastal Trail.Day 5: Day Trip

  • Take a day trip to Whittier for a glacier cruise in Prince William Sound.
  • Alternatively, hop on the Alaska Railroad for a scenic journey to Seward or Talkeetna.

Food tip: If in Seward, don't miss the fresh seafood at The Cookery.Travel tip: Book your day trip in advance, especially during peak summer season.Day 6: Wildlife and Nature

  • Start your day early with a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
  • On the way back, take a scenic drive along Turnagain Arm, stopping at Beluga Point and Bird Point.
  • End your day with wildlife viewing at Potter Marsh.

Food tip: Grab breakfast at The Rustic Goat before heading out for the day.Travel tip: Keep your camera ready – wildlife sightings can happen at any moment!Day 7: Final Explorations

  • Start your last day with a morning fishing session at Ship Creek.
  • Visit the Alaska Aviation Museum to learn about the state's flying history.
  • Spend your afternoon at the Anchorage Market picking up last-minute souvenirs.
  • If it's winter, end your trip with a nighttime Northern Lights viewing tour.

Food tip: Cook your fresh-caught salmon or try a local favorite like Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria.Travel tip: Check the aurora forecast if you're hoping to see the Northern Lights.Remember, Anchorage is full of surprises. Don't be afraid to wander off this suggested path if something catches your eye. After all, some of the best adventures are the unplanned ones. Whether you stick to this itinerary or chart your own course, you're sure to leave Anchorage with amazing memories and a desire to return to the Last Frontier.From the urban delights of downtown to the wild wonders just beyond the city limits, Anchorage offers a unique blend of experiences that you won't find anywhere else. So pack your sense of adventure (and maybe some bear spray), and get ready to explore this city where the urban and the wild come together in perfect harmony. Who knows? You might just find yourself planning your return trip before you even leave.

West Parker
West Parker
Article updated:
July 18, 2024 8:36 AM

West Parker, a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration graduate, has spent two decades as the secret weapon of the jet-set elite, crafting bespoke adventures that redefine luxury travel. Now a resident writer for Town & Tourist, this 45-year-old "Architect of Extraordinary Journeys" combines razor-sharp insights with unparalleled industry connections to deliver experiences that even the most discerning globetrotters can't help but rave about. West's expertise spans from exclusive real estate to fine dining, making him the go-to strategist for those who demand nothing but the extraordinary in their travels.

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