Find Your Alaska
Best of, tips and how to’s
At nearly 300,000 people, and celebrating 100 years in 2015, Anchorage is Alaska’s biggest city and rewards visitors with many opportunities for exploration, adventure and dining—along with a very special history lesson this centennial year.
Start your visit with the 1-hour, $20 city tour on the Anchorage Trolley. Not only do you learn about the city, but it will provide the foundation for further exploration of various tour highlights on your own. Departures are from the downtown visitor center and last only one hour. It’s the perfect way to get an overview of the city.
Till the Sun Goes Down
With the seemingly endless daylight hours of summer, there’s no reason to stop playing and exploring until you feel like it. In the evening, meet at 4th Ave and L Street at 7:30 pm to learn the who’s who of Anchorage history. This 1.5- to 2-hour Ghost Tour for history and the paranormal costs $15 and is offered Tuesday–Sunday starting mid-May and running through the summer season.
Hike, Bike, Golf
Take the Flattop Mountain Shuttle from downtown for a 30-minute tour of Anchorage, culminating at the trailhead of the state’s most popular trail; round-trip is $23. Flattop’s 360- degree view includes Mount McKinley and Mount Foraker, Cook Inlet, Tordrillo Mountain Range and the city of Anchorage. The shuttle allows you 2.5 hours of hiking time, enough for the average hiker to summit and return on this 3-mile hike.
There are oodles of trails throughout the city if you want to go for a leisurely stroll, bike ride or for a jog. Bicycle rentals are located in downtown Anchorage (ask for helmet, lock and a trail map with your rental). The municipality maintains 120 miles of paved bike strails and multi-use trails—but don’t stop there. Tons of great single-track trails travel the hills and foothills of the Chugach Range (the east boundary of the city) and connect to the 495,000-acre Chugach State Park. There are also numerous single-track trails within 1,400-acre Kincaid Park , which lies between the airport and the inlet. A favorite route is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, that begins in downtown, edges Cook Inlet’s shore and ends 11 miles later at Kincaid Park.
Guided wilderness adventures are another option. Nova will take you on a half- day glacier trek on the Matanuska Glacier or whitewater rafting. Nova also provides whitewater raft tours on Six- Mile Creek on the Kenai Peninsula.
If golfing is more your speed, the 18hole public Anchorage Golf Course just off of O’Malley Road, includes fantastic city and mountain views from its hillside location. Expect wildlife sightings (wildlife ALWAYS has the rightof-way) and enjoy the endless hours of play, compliments of the midnight sun. ( Tip: Schedule your teetime online.)
Witness the aurora borealis from your hotel room window; go cross- country night skiing on 24 miles of lighted ski trails; enjoy ice-skating on hot-mopped rinks at lagoons and ponds; work- out on the competition- length speed skating oval; or try bicycling like most Alaskans do in winter, on a fat-tire bike. Anchoragebased “fat-bike” designer 9Zero7 Bikes are available for rent through Chain Reac tionCycles.com.
Eats & Drinks
In between your city explorations, enjoy scrumptious breakfasts, lunches and dinners downtown and in the greater Anchorage area. ( Tip: Reserve ahead for dinner.) Go to WhereTraveler.com/Alaska for more dining ideas.
For breakfast, Snow City Café on 4th Avenue combines a coffee house feel with a bistro-style kitchen. The fresh-squeezed orange juice mimosas pair nicely with the crab and avocado omelets!
No stay in Alaska is complete without a visit to Humpy’s. The popular eatery has 40 beers on tap, fantastic fish and
chips, and a halibut sandwich that may be requested if not on the menu.
Simon and Seafort’s makes the best Key Lime pie in Anchorage. A top seafood restaurant, try their open-face crab sandwich topped with Tillamook cheddar for lunch. Enjoy a Lavender Martini at Simon’s classy saloon.
The Glacier Brewhouse is known for its wood-fired pizza, cedar plank grilled salmon, seafood pasta, luscious bread pudding and brewery beer.
Club Paris’s unassuming location— tucked between other 5th Avenue businesses—is almost as surprising as its sublime 4-inch thick filet mignon.
Orso serves up wild Alaskan salmon salad niçoise and crab-stuffed Kodiak cod. Catch them for happy hour and get in on a blueberry martini. Tip: Try the spicy calamari!
The Crow’s Nest, on the 13th floor of the Hotel Captain Cook, is a perfect place for dinner. ( Tip: Dine late if you want to see the sunset over Cook Inlet in summer.) On the first floor of the hotel, the Whale’s Tail wine bar offers 32 different vintages from a self-serve dispensing kiosk. Pair your wine with appetizers like the kobe beef sliders or tuna tacos.
Crush Wine Bar, just across the street from Nordstrom, offers 40 types of wine by the glass plus a full lunch and dinner menu (tapas start at 2:30 pm). Try their sherried crimini and spinach over polenta, the beef carpaccio or melted brie with apples on focaccia.
Museums & Cultural Centers
Don’t miss the Anchorage Museum at the corner of 7th Avenue and C Street, with its themed docent-led tours. Another must-see attraction is the Alaska Native Heritage Center, located east of downtown, and featuring traditional village sites, songs, stories and dance. Get the Alaska Culture Pass (alaskaculturepass. org) and see both these attractions for a sweet price! (Includes shuttle). More tips at www.wheretraveler. com/alaska.
Downtown Anchorage buildings rise above Westchester Lagoon
Hiker overlooks Williwaw Lakes, Chugach State Park
Tlingit Apron, Anchorage Museum