A Vi­brant City an Hour Away From a Salt­wa­ter Par­adise

Where Alaska - - The Guide -

With all that An­chor­age has to of­fer as a city, it is no won­der that the city brand is Big Wild Life . Wine bars and sushi hot spots, Broad­way shows and world-class art, and an ex­ten­sive trail sys­tem that can be en­joyed by bi­cy­clists, run­ners and in­line skaters un­til the sun goes down at around 11 pm in sum­mer. An hour’s drive to the south is Whit­tier, gate­way to the pris­tine wa­ters and glaciated coast­line of Prince Wil­liam Sound. AN­CHOR­AGE Alaska’s most pop­u­lated city at nearly 300,000 peo­ple (and 1,500 moose), An­chor­age is an ex­cit­ing des­ti­na­tion that draws more than a mil­lion vis­i­tors an­nu­ally from around the world.

Com­bin­ing cos­mopoli­tan ameni­ties with out­door recre­ation, An­chor­age of­fers res­i­dents an en­vi­able qual­ity of life. The cre­ative en­thu­si­asm of this young and pro­gres­sive city man­i­fests in its ever ex­pand­ing din­ing and night­light scene and a flour­ish­ing arts and con­cert cul­ture. En­ter­tain­ment venues in­clude down­town’s Alaska Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, the neigh­bor­ing 200,000 square-foot Dena’ina Civic and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, mid­town’s Sul­li­van Arena and sev­eral play­houses across the city. Restau­rants of­fer nearly any eth­nic fla­vor you could hope for as well as Alaska seafood ap­pe­tiz­ers and en­trees. Nightlife is most eas­ily en­joyed down­town at wine bars or on a pub-crawl on 4th and 5th av­enues. Or ex­plore lo­cal brew­eries and “beer­centric venues” on your own or with a tour.

An­chor­age lies be­tween the Chugach Moun­tains on the east and the Knik Arm of Cook In­let on the west. Mul­ti­ple moun­tain ranges en­cir­cle its lo­ca­tion—the Chugach, the Kenai, the Tal­keetna, the snow-cov­ered peaks of the Tor­drillo Moun­tains across Cook In­let, and the dra­matic peaks of the Alaska Range, with Denali—the moun­tain for­merly known as McKin­ley—vis­i­ble to the north (weather per­mit­ting).

Wildlife adds to the eclec­tic qual­ity of this city. Moose of­ten me­an­der across the city’s streets, nib­bling on trees and shrub­bery planted by res­i­dents, while black and brown bears nav­i­gate the green­belts along their pre­ferred salmonpro­duc­ing streams. Out­door en­thu­si­asts may have up-close en­coun­ters with wildlife as they share the paved Camp­bell Creek, Ch­ester Creek and Tony Knowles Coastal trails, part of the city’s 135-mile paved trail sys­tem. There are an ad­di­tional 300 miles of un­paved and wilder­ness trails within the city lim­its. The neigh­bor­ing Chugach State Park of­fers even more out­door ad­ven­tures, within sev­eral min­utes’ drive of down­town, in­clud­ing the hike up Flat­top, the state’s most pop­u­lar trail. PRINCE WIL­LIAM SOUND Sit­u­ated off the Gulf of Alaska, this is an area fa­mous for its scenery and wildlife. Glaciers, rain­for­est and moun­tains edge the sound, with much of it ly­ing within the bound­aries of Chugach Na­tional For­est—the sec­ond largest na­tional for­est in the na­tion. Prince Wil­liam Sound is home to a va­ri­ety of wildlife, in­clud­ing hump­back whales, or­cas, bears, seabirds, sea ot­ters and more. Fer­ries pro­vide pas­sen­ger and ve­hi­cle trans­porta­tion be­tween Valdez, Cor­dova and Whit­tier. Valdez (pop. 3,976), largest Prince Wil­liam Sound city and southern ter­mi­nus of the 800-mile trans-Alaska Pipe­line Sys­tem, is also road ac­ces­si­ble via the Richardson High­way.

Glacier and wildlife sight­see­ing cruises of Prince Wil­liam Sound de­part from Whit­tier and Valdez daily in sum­mer.

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