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Anchorage is full of fun, exciting, and free things to do all year long. A visit to Anchorage is a highlight of any trip to Alaska and here are 15 of the best things to do in Anchorage to have a fantastic time while saving on precious travel dollars. Start your camping or fishing trip off right with a visit to the Alaska Public Lands Information Center. Imagine 11 miles of paved walkways with fantastic views that are reserved entirely for walkers, bicyclists, and rollerbladers in the summer, as well as cross-country skiers in the winter. Explore a little or a lot, but be prepared to be amazed by the postcard-like setting.
Consider the top 20 things to do in Anchorage as you plan a visit and make the trip complete. There are more than a thousand of these iconic, antlered animals in Anchorage alone. In a pinch? The landscape surrounding Anchorage is studded with these gems. Want to see a bunch all at once? Take a day cruise from nearby Seward or Whittier, or take to the air on a sightseeing flight. The Alaska Native Heritage Center is one of the best places for an introduction to diverse Alaska Native traditions and language. Anchorage is located within the traditional homelands of the Dena'ina Athabascan people and the Native Village of Eklutna, and Alaska is home to many more distinct groups, each with its own features and lifestyles based on the surrounding environments.
Learning about these important Indigenous cultures and histories is a big part of any visit to Alaska. The railroad is what gave Anchorage its start, and first linked broad stretches of Alaska together.
15 amazing and free things to do in anchorage
The city is still the starting point for rail travel in Alaskawith trains departing daily in the summer for Seward, Prince William Sound, Denali, Talkeetna and Fairbanks. Rent a bike downtown, and take off on the mile shoreside trail. The Anchorage Museum is the largest museum in the state. These art and history galleries are the best primer for a trip through Alaska.
Flightseeing is one of the best ways to explore the mountains, soar over glaciers, and spot wildlife from above. Anchorage has more pilots and planes per capita than any place in the U. Chugach State Park is the closest wilderness area and one of the largest state parks in the country, with access points a short drive from anywhere in the city. Find a piece of this 9,square-mile Chugach mountain range to call your own for the day. Take a hike, raft the rapids, or relax and soak up endless views from a serene alpine meadow.
Anglers find five species of salmon in local waters, not to mention trout, grayling and Arctic char. King and silver salmon return to Ship Creek every summer, and the popular Slam'n Salm'n Derby held annually in June is a family-friendly way to compete for the biggest catch. Beluga whales chase salmon runs just off the coast.
Take a trip down Turnagain Arm to spot them. These white whales get as big as a car. Looking for bigger species? Continue on to Seward or Whittier for a day of whale watching. Indian Valley and Crow Creek were the site of gold strikes at the end of the 19th century. Gold panning is still a common pursuit, and with a pan, persistence and a little patience, anyone has a shot at finding flakes of Alaska gold.
Alaska is the only place in the U. Anchorage bear viewing often involves a short flight to a salmon-filled stream in Katmai or Lake Clark national parks or nearby Chinitna Bay. Here visitors can view the good first dates in Anchorage AK, big coastal browns, without disturbing the bears. Find bears closer to the city at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and keep an eye out while hiking or biking local trails throughout Anchorage — black bears can occasionally be spotted meandering through underbrush in parks and greenbelts around town.
Active from September through April, the northern lights dazzle. Night owls can pursue the shifting colors of the auroras near Anchorage: Eklutna Tailrace, Girdwood, and the Knik River Area are all popular spots for a night of viewing. The state sport may be a winter pursuit, but mushers welcome visitors to their kennels year-round. Learn about racing sled dogs, take a ride on a cart, and hold a whole litter of cute puppies. To get sliding on snow even in summer, several mushers camp out atop glaciers for the summer, with helicopter access to the seasonal retreats.
Between March 20 and September 22, Anchorage has more daylight than anywhere in the other 49 states. The city gains five minutes a day — as much as a half hour each week — meaning plenty of time for outdoor evening activities. Hike a nearby mountain peak, follow a bike trail through sun-dappled woods, cast a line for salmon in a local stream, and enjoy dinner al fresco surrounded by vast Alaska views. Find authentic Alaska works straight from the artist. Whether you seek out traditional Alaska Native art, innovative crafts from a young entrepreneur, or salmon or local candy to take home and share, Anchorage is the spot to find it.
Here's something to sweeten the deal more: shopping in Anchorage is tax-free. The Alyeska Tramway swoops over treetops, taking passengers 2, feet up Mount Alyeska. Seven named glaciers, kettle ponds and sparkling Turnagain Arm are all visible from the tram.
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Local fare includes king crab, halibut and salmon, naturally. But there are a few curveballs in Anchorage cuisine. Try reindeer sausage, or veggies fresh from the nearby Matanuska Valley.
Anchorage is also an under-the radar beer town, with more than a dozen breweries in the city. What Alaska visit is complete without exploring the national parks? Fly over Denali, check out Kenai Fjords on a day cruise or kayak trip, and take off for Lake Clark or Katmai for bear viewing. Tides in Anchorage are extreme, with some of the highest tides in the world.
The shallow, narrow waters of Turnagain Arm help form a bore tidea wave up to 6 feet tall that rolls for miles along the inlet. The Seward Highway is dotted with good vantage points to watch this natural phenomenon, and perhaps even spot the intrepid surfers who seek to ride the wave. Find Moose There are more than a thousand of these iconic, antlered animals in Anchorage alone. See and Hear Glaciers The landscape surrounding Anchorage is studded with these gems. Ride the Rails The railroad is what gave Anchorage its start, and first linked broad stretches of Alaska together.
Go Flightseeing Flightseeing is one of the best ways to explore the mountains, soar over glaciers, and spot wildlife from above. Enjoy Nearby Parkland Chugach State Park is the closest wilderness area and one of the largest state parks in the country, with access points a short drive from anywhere in the city. Fish Ship Creek Anglers find five species of salmon in local waters, not to mention trout, grayling and Arctic char.
Strike it Rich Indian Valley and Crow Creek were the site of gold strikes at the end of the 19th century. Bear Viewing near Anchorage Alaska is the only place in the U. Try Dog Sledding The state sport may be a winter pursuit, but mushers welcome visitors to their kennels year-round. Enjoy the Midnight Sun Between March 20 and September 22, Anchorage has more daylight than anywhere in the other 49 states. Alaska Art and Shopping Find authentic Alaska works straight from the artist.
Taste Alaska Local fare includes king crab, halibut and salmon, naturally. Visit National Parks What Alaska visit is complete without exploring the national parks? Watch the Bore Tide Tides in Anchorage are extreme, with some of the highest tides in the world. Alaska Fits In Your Mailbox.
The official guide to Anchorage is free! Places to Stay. Things to Do. Plan Your Trip. National Parks. our e-newsletter.