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Anchorage, Alaska

Great Destination:

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • There more than 50 glaciers within the Anchorage municipality.
  • Anchorage has more espresso stands, per capita, than any U.S. city.
  • On a clear day, Mount McKinley can be seen from downtown.
  • Anchorage, covering about 1,961 square miles, is the size of Delaware.
  • Anchorage is as far west as Honolulu, as far north as Helsinki, Finland.

Urban setting, Alaska style

Anchorage is much like any other place in Alaska, meaning a starting point for outdoor adventures that can range from wildlife viewing and fishing for salmon to flightseeing or ice climbing.

The difference is that it also is an urban center, and in fact is Alaska’s largest city.

As for the outdoorsy stuff, start with the city’s mountainous skyline, specifically the Chugach Mountains to the east. The Chugach State Park borders Anchorage and offers a full range of options for backpackers, climbers, hikers, skiers and snowshoe fans.

Next, consider the glaciers, available for viewing either within the city or in surrounding areas. Observers can plan a viewing from a large restaurant window or choose a cruise to watch these icy giants in Prince William Sound. More active visitors may walk on glaciers, climb a glacier or mush sled dogs on the ice.

Then, there is water. Aside from cruising to watch glaciers, whales or other wildlife, choices include boating, kayaking on glacial lakes, trophy fishing, rafting — or ice skating where some of that water has frozen. In addition, bird-watchers stake out their favorite spots to watch migrating waterfowl.

Then, there is water. Aside from cruising to watch glaciers, whales or other wildlife, choices include boating, kayaking on glacial lakes, trophy fishing, rafting — or ice skating where some of that water has frozen. In addition, bird-watchers stake out their favorite spots to watch migrating waterfowl.

As for urban amenities, Anchorage promises the full array of restaurant types (with lots of salmon and the like on menus), as well as nightspots, particularly the local brewpubs. Stage performances range from classical dance and Broadway shows to heritage programs offered up by native Alaskans.

The city encompasses a lot of ground. Many in-town attractions are within walkable distances, but Anchorage offers free shuttles from downtown to several attractions for journeys that are less walkable.

Finally, the weather: Summer temperatures hover in the mid-60s whereas winter temperatures are surprisingly mild, due to the maritime climate, dropping only to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Paddle a kayak through glacial lakes, avoiding little floating pieces of ice. Or, learn to drive a team of sled dogs.
  • End any day sampling the beers made by local microbreweries.
  • Take a hike. Make that a walk on a glacier. Or take advantage of the city’s 135 miles of paved trails and 300 miles of unpaved and wilderness trails. Or rent a bicycle and use the paved trails as another way to see the city.
  • Book a helicopter or bush plane flight for a flightseeing trip over area sights or to Denali National Park.
  • Book a visit to coincide with Anchorage’s late-winter Fur Rendezvous, with snowshoe softball, outhouse racing and a fun run in weird costumes, among other activities.
  • Go vertical. Make a summertime ascent into the Chugach Mountains. Or climb ice at Eklutna Canyon, 30 minutes out of the city, or at numerous other sites within two to three hours.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Ski at the in-town Hilltop Ski Area, 15 minutes from downtown, offering gentle slopes for skiing or snowboarding, or the adjacent Far North Bicentennial Park for cross-country skiing. At the other end of the spectrum, Alyeska Resort offers options for the most advanced skiers, as well as beginners.
  • Fish for salmon in Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage. Catches have weighed in at more than 50 pounds.
  • Go horseback riding or fishing in Chugach State Park, the park that is dubbed Anchorage’s playground.
  • Don snowshoes for a walk in the snow at Chugach State Park.
  • When birds are migrating in the spring, watch the winged creatures at Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge or at the Westchester Lagoon, also in Anchorage, among other choices.
  • Watch traditional dance groups at the Quyana Alaska, which is part of the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, held in the autumn. Look in on the Alaska Native Art Fair, as well.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Eat fresh Alaskan salmon, then buy more to ship home. Also, buy scarves or other goods made of qiviut, the wool of a musk ox.
  • Drink Big Wild Life coffee, tapped as the city’s official coffee.
  • Pan for gold at the Crow Creek Historic Gold Mine at Girdwood. Rent equipment or bring your own.
  • Take a cruise exploring the glaciers of Prince William Sound. Or, watch ice shear off the face of the Portage glacier, 30 minutes away from the dock in Anchorage.
    Also, for wildlife fanciers, consider a whale watching cruise.
  • Head to Anchorage’s Alaska Native Heritage Center for one of its events, offered throughout the year, that allow interested visitors to interact with native Alaskans.
  • Attend a theatrical performance at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, or seek out a local theater presenting an original work by an area playwright.

Additional Resources

For additional information, Visit Anchorage at www.Anchorage.net