37 Epic Things to do in Anchorage, Alaska
Located in the southwest corner of Alaska, Anchorage is the largest city in the state and the gateway for those looking to explore this wonderful part of the world.
I lived there for almost two months and got to experience a lot of what the city has to offer and let me tell you: with its unique blend of urban and wilderness experiences, Anchorage is a truly one-of-a-kind place to visit.
In this post, you will find the best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska.
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Best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska
From dog-sledding to hiking or trying the local cuisine, there are many fun things to do in Anchorage.
These are some of my favorites:
1- Bike along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of Anchorage’s most popular activities.
Spanning 11 miles from Kincaid Park to Point Woronzof, the trail offers stunning views of Cook Inlet, the Chugach Mountains, and downtown Anchorage. It is also a great place to spot moose and sometimes even bears.
2- See art and learn about Alaskan history at the Anchorage Museum
The Anchorage Museum is one of the nicest museums I have ever visited! It has a great variety of exhibitions on Alaskan history, art, and culture.
I highly recommend checking out the museum if you are interested in learning more about Anchorage and the state of Alaska.
Also, inside the museum, there is a nice coffee shop where you can grab coffee or lunch.
3- Hike Flattop Mountain
Flattop Mountain is a beautiful hike for a sunny day. Located only a few miles from downtown Anchorage, the hike to the top of Flattop Mountain is a moderate one that takes about 2-3 hours roundtrip.
The views from the top are stunning, and on a clear day, you can see for miles. This is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Anchorage!
You can read more about hiking Flattop here.
4- Watch the Iditarod Sled Dog Race
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an annual event that takes place in early March. It is a 1,049-mile-long race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome.
You can watch the start of the race in Anchorage, or you can travel to one of the checkpoints along the route to see the mushers and dogs as they make their way through the Alaskan wilderness.
The Iditarod is an iconic event in Alaska, and it is definitely something you should experience if you are visiting Anchorage in March.
5-Visit the Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park is a 495,000-acre state park located just outside of Anchorage.
It is one of the largest state parks in the United States, and it offers a multitude of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
6- Take a helicopter tour and land on a glacier!
Few activities are as epic as going on an outdoor adventure in Alaska with a helicopter tour with a glacier landing.
In this guided tour, take off on a scenic flight and admire views of the Knik River, Great Gorge, and Whiteout Glacier.
Then, land directly on a glacier and get the experience of drinking glacial water before going on a glacier hike.
7- See the city on a trolley sightseeing tour
Take a comfy seat aboard a cable car for a sightseeing tour by trolley.
As you roll along in the city, delight in sights like moose crossing the road and seaplanes descending on Lake Hood and Lake Spenard.
Gain unique into the local history and culture of Alaska’s most populous city from guides with generational ties to the region.
8- Have brunch at the Snow City Cafe
Snow City Cafe is one of the most popular places in Anchorage for brunch.
The food is fantastic, and the cafe has a really cozy and charming atmosphere.
The menu features a variety of breakfast and lunch items, and there are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available.
9- Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a must-see for anyone interested in learning about the cultures of Alaska’s indigenous peoples.
The center offers a variety of cultural programs and events throughout the year, and it also has an excellent museum with a wide variety of exhibits on Alaska Native history and culture.
10- Go dog sledding!
One of the most fun things to do in Anchorage is to go dog sledding. This is a great activity for both adults and children, and it is a truly unique way to experience the Alaskan wilderness.
Several companies offer dog sledding tours in Anchorage, but these are the ones I recommend:
11- See wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a great place to see Alaskan wildlife up close. The center is home to a variety of animals, including bears, moose, elk, bison, and reindeer.
You can take a self-guided tour of the center, or you can sign up for a guided tour. Either way, this is a great activity for anyone interested in seeing some of Alaska’s amazing wildlife.
12 – Take the train to Seward for a fun day trip
Anchorage is a great base for exploring the rest of Alaska, and one of the best day trips you can take is to Seward.
Seward is a small town located on the coast, and it is home to some great restaurants, shops, and museums. It’s also a popular jumping-off point for glacier cruises and wildlife tours.
You can catch the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward, and along the way, you’ll get some stunning views of the Alaskan countryside.
Pro-tip: Train tickets are cheaper if you book a round trip like this.
13- Try a reindeer sausage hot dog from the famous Red Umbrella
Red Umbrella is famous for its reindeer sausage hot dogs, and they are definitely worth trying! The hot dogs are made with locally sourced reindeer meat, and they are served on a toasted bun with all the fixings.
14- Hike Little O’Malley Peak
Hiking Little O’Malley Peak provided me with some of the best views I had in my time living in Alaska.
Located in Chugach State Park, Little O’Malley Peak is a popular destination for both locals and visitors. The hike to the top is about 3 miles round trip, and it is a moderate trail.
The views from the top of the peak are absolutely beautiful!
15- Visit the Alaska Zoo
The Alaska Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Anchorage. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including bears, moose, lynxes, and foxes.
17- Shop for exquisite Qiviut items at Oomingmak
Oomingmak is an Alaskan co-op owned by more than 250 native women from across the state.
The co-op sells a variety of items made from qiviut, which is a soft and warm underwool fiber harvested from musk oxen.
Qiviut is eight times warmer than wool, and it is incredibly soft and light. Items sold at Oomingmak include sweaters, scarves, hats, and gloves.
18- Catch a movie and have dinner at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub
The Bear Tooth Theatrepub is a movie theatre and restaurant all in one. You can order food and drinks from your seat while you watch the latest blockbuster or an independent film.
The menu features a variety of items, including burgers, pizza, salads, and sandwiches. I would highly recommend the Bear Tooth Theatrepub if you are looking for a fun and unique dining experience in Anchorage.
19- Go on a day tour to Matanuska Glacier
Nature lovers can spend the day exploring the Matanuska Glacier on a hiking tour that traverses the glacier’s picturesque terrain (it is not possible to visit the glacier on your own, trust me: I tried!).
20- Go on a foodie tour of Anchorage
If you love food, then you need to go on a foodie tour of Anchorage! The tour takes you to some of the best restaurants in the city, and you’ll get to try a variety of different dishes.
You’ll also learn about the history and culture of Anchorage through the food, and you’ll get to meet some of the city’s top chefs.
21- Go on a nocturnal adventure to see the Northern Lights
Leaving from Anchorage, in this Northern Lights from Anchorage tour you will travel north in search of clear skies and the best possible viewing conditions for the night.
After sunset, you’ll head out into the wilderness to find a prime spot to settle in and watch for the Northern Lights.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it is definitely something that you won’t want to miss if you are visiting Anchorage in winter.
22- Salmon fishing
Salmon is Alaska’s state fish, so it is only fitting that you try your hand at fishing for salmon while you are in Anchorage!
There are a variety of ways to fish for salmon, and you can even go on a guided fishing tour.
The best place to go fishing salmon in Anchorage is near the Bait Shack, located just a short walk from downtown.
Whether you are an experienced fisherman or someone who has never held a rod before, this is an activity that everyone will enjoy.
23- Explore the cute shops on 4th Street
4th Street is a quaint street in downtown Anchorage that is home to a variety of cute shops and businesses.
Here, you’ll find everything from handmade Alaska Native art to locally made clothing and jewelry.
Some of my favorite souvenir shops were Once in a Blue Moose and Grizzly Gifts.
24- Experience the breathtaking landscape of the Turnagain Arm
Turnagain Arm is a scenic drive that follows the Cook Inlet south of Anchorage. The road winds along the edge of the inlet, and there are many pull-offs where you can stop to enjoy the views.
The landscape is absolutely stunning, and you might even spot some wildlife along the way.
25- Spot belugas at the Beluga Point Wildlife Observatory
Beluga Point is the perfect place to see belugas in their natural habitat.
Located on the Turnagain Arm, it offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and you can also spot other wildlife, including eagles and otters.
26- Go on a craft brewery tour
The beer culture in Anchorage is thriving, and there are several craft breweries worth visiting.
You can go on a guided tour of some of the best breweries in town, and you’ll get to sample a variety of different beers. This is a great way to learn about the brewing process and taste some delicious local beer!
27- Take a free yoga lesson during the summer
The Alaska Club offers completely free yoga classes in the park during the summer. These classes are open to all levels, so it is a great way to try yoga for the first time.
You can check the schedule here.
28- Walk on the beach in Kincaid Park
Kincaid Park is a large park located just outside of downtown Anchorage. The park has miles of trails, and it is also home to a beach on the shores of Cook Inlet.
This is a great place to go for a walk or a run, and you can even go swimming in the inlet if you are brave enough.
29- Learn about aviation history at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum is the perfect place to go if you are interested in aviation history.
The museum is located on the grounds of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and it houses a collection of over 50 historic aircraft.
30- Try rock climbing at Alaska Rock Gym
Alaska Rock Gym is the perfect place to go if you want to try your hand at rock climbing. The gym offers a variety of different routes, so there is something for climbers of all levels.
31- See Alaska’s native flora at the Alaska Botanical Garden
The Alaska Botanical Garden is a beautiful oasis in the middle of Anchorage. The garden is home to a variety of different plants, including many that are native to Alaska and the tundra.
32- Enjoy the midnight sun during summer
One of the best things about Anchorage is that you can enjoy the midnight sun during summer. This is because Anchorage is located so far north that the sun sets only for a couple of hours during the longest days of the year.
If you want to experience this phenomenon, then you should definitely plan a trip to Anchorage during the summer. You’ll be able to enjoy about 22 hours of daylight, and it is truly an unforgettable experience.
33- See Alaska’s famous Bore Tide
Alaska’s Bore Tide is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the incoming tide rushes up a narrow river valley. This can create a wave that is up to 10 feet high, and it is truly a sight to behold.
If you want to see the Bore Tide, then you should head to the Turnagain Arm just south of Anchorage. This is one of the best places in Alaska to see this phenomenon.
34- Ride the Alyeska Tramway
Take a three to seven-minute scenic ride from Alyeska Resort to the top of Mt. Alyeska in Girdwood.
The tramway is 2,300 feet long with a vertical drop of 2,500 feet and provides spectacular views of the area.
35- Go hiking at Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass is a scenic mountain pass located just outside of Anchorage. The pass is home to several hiking trails, and it is a great place to get away from the city for a day.
36- Shop local at the Anchorage Market
The Anchorage Market is the perfect place to go if you want to shop locally. This market features a variety of vendors selling everything from produce to jewelry.
37- Hike Portage Pass for unbelievable views
Portage Pass is a popular hiking trail located just outside of Anchorage. that offers incredible views of Portage Glacier.
The hike to the top of the pass is about 4.2 miles long and is considered to be moderate in difficulty.
The best way of getting to Anchorage
If you are planning a trip to Anchorage, then you probably already know that the best way to get to Anchorage is by flying into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
The airport is located just outside of downtown, and it is served by a number of major airlines.
What to pack for Alaska
Having a good packing strategy is essential when planning for a trip to Alaska.
Here are some essentials you should have in your bag:
Where to stay in Anchorage
There are several different places to stay in Anchorage, and it all depends on your budget and preferences.
If you are looking for a place to stay that is centrally located and convenient to all of the best attractions, then you should consider staying downtown.
These are some of our favorite hotels to stay in Anchorage:
- Hyatt House Anchorage
- Four Points by Sheraton Anchorage Downtown
- Residence Inn by Marriott Anchorage Midtown
Best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska
The best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska is definitely during the summer months.
This is because you can enjoy almost 22 hours of daylight and there are a variety of different festivals and events taking place.
If you want to avoid crowds, however, then you should plan your trip for early summer or late fall. You can also find some great deals on hotels and flights if you travel during these off-peak times.
Wrap-up: Best Anchorage activities
That’s a wrap! These are just some of the best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska. From enjoying the midnight sun to riding the Alyeska Tramway, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful city.
I hope this guide was useful and that you have a lovely time there.
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