Anchorage is a city with fantastic shopping, top-notch dining, and inspiring cultural centres – but, found in the US state of Alaska, it’s also one of the northernmost cities on the planet, and one which has around 50 glaciers within the city limits. It also has incredible wilderness, wildlife, and parks within easy reach, and is a great spot from which to explore the rest of the state. Not bad for a city that was only founded a hundred years ago. Take a look at our Anchorage guide for the best things to do during your stay.
With a wealth of world-class art, historical artefacts, and scientific objects and exhibits on display (it even has its own Planetarium), the Anchorage Museum in Downtown Anchorage is a must-visit for culture lovers. And if the kids are travelling with you, make sure to take them to the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature, just 10 minutes from the Anchorage Museum – they’re sure to love the ice age and dinosaur exhibits in particular.
To learn more about Alaska and its indigenous cultures, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is the place to go. Spread over 26 acres in Northeast Anchorage, the Center is the largest cultural institution in the state. Watch demonstrations of Native Alaskan dancing and games, take in the art, listen to stories, and find out about 10,000 years of history and culture.
And for art, as any Anchorage guide will be sure to tell you, the First Friday gallery events are a wonderful way to gain an insight into the contemporary art scene, with the city’s best local artists on display each and every month.
Food and drink
First things first: if you like fresh fish and seafood, then you are going to eat very well in Anchorage. Try eateries like ORSO for delicate Alaskan Weathervane scallops and house-smoked salmon; Simon & Seafort’s Saloon and Grill for amazing views of Cook Inlet and Alaskan King Crab; Kinley’s Restaurant & Bar for fresh oysters and halibut; and seafood served with microbrews at Glacier BrewHouse.
For those after something a little earthier, the wood-fired pizzas at Fat Ptarmigan offer a range of locally sourced toppings, from reindeer sausage to beer cheese sauce. Meat lovers should also try the Pacific-Rim cuisine at Ginger (try the Szechuan-Coconut Crusted Snake River Farms Wagyu Strip), the steak at Club Paris and the Alaskan pub fare at Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria.
Oenophiles will want to hustle over to Crow’s Nest (it has delicious French and New American food, too) to explore and enjoy vintages from its 10,000-strong bottle wine cellar. Beer is also a big deal in Alaska, with plenty of local brews to sample while in town – try brews from Midnight Sun and Sleeping Lady, for some of the city’s best.
Lose yourself in amongst the stacks at the largest bookstore in Alaska; Title Wave Books is basically nirvana for bibliophiles, plus it has a great kids section, should you be in town with the little ones. Chocoholic travellers, meanwhile, should set aside some time to explore the Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge for decadent artisanal treats.
For Alaskan souvenirs and local crafts, there’s nowhere better than the Alaskan co-operative Oomingmak for Quviut items. And for local arts, the three-block radius of Third to Fifth Avenue (between H and E Streets) is the ideal spot for art lovers to shop, with plenty of small boutiques and galleries ready and waiting to be explored. Also worth a visit, make your way over to Artique for paintings, pottery and handmade jewellery.
And should your trip to Anchorage fall between May and September, head downtown for the Anchorage Market and Festival. Spread over seven acres (it’s the largest outdoor market in Alaska), this market takes place every weekend, offering up plenty in the way of food, drinks, gifts, paintings and more.
Green spaces and nature
No Anchorage guide would be complete without mentioning the city’s proximity to a wealth of natural attractions. Not only can you see brown bears in their natural habitat, go fishing for salmon mere minutes from the city centre in Ship Creek, and (depending on the time of year) see the dazzling Northern Lights, but you can also take a cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park for some whale and seal spotting while gliding past ancient glaciers. For an unforgettable visit, you could even see the region’s dramatic scenery from above with a flightseeing tour over Anchorage.
Just 20 minutes outside of the city centre, you’ll find Chugach State Park – one of the four largest State Parks in the United States. With lakes, ocean shoreline, mountains and more, it’s a veritable playground for active types. Flattop Mountain, within the Park’s boundaries, is an unmissable treat for hikers and bikers. Popular with locals and visitors alike, Flattop’s summit, on a clear day, offers incredible panoramic views, which take in Mount McKinley and the Aleutian Islands.
Back in the city, the Alaska Botanical Gardens offer a peaceful (and fragrant) retreat from the city bustle. Alternatively, explore some of Anchorage’s 220 parks, from Valley of the Moon Park (perfect for family outings with its well-appointed playground), to picnics with a view at Elderberry Park.
From skiing to snowboarding, dog sledding to snowmobiling, those visiting Anchorage in the winter months will have a smorgasbord of great activities to enjoy as the city is blanketed in soft mounds of snow. And, of course, come summer, visitors should prepare themselves for the phenomenon of midnight sun; since daylight hours last so much longer this far north, it just means more time to enjoy this incredible city.
Partnering with Delta means we can connect you to numerous destinations across the United States and Canada, booking flights to Anchorage couldn’t be easier.
Have you been to any of the places in our Anchorage guide? What are some of your favourite things to do in the city? Tell us in the comments section below.
Written by Giverny Tattersfield