Towering mountains, sparkling glaciers and amazing wildlife: savvy travelers know that Anchorage is the key to finding the best of Alaska, all in one place.
From the serene waters of Cook Inlet to the exceptional natural wonders of the Chugach, Anchorage encompasses incredible adventures and metropolitan appeals that are larger than life. With incredible national parks nearby and 60 glaciers a short drive away, it’s a dream destination.
Only in Anchorage can you meet a moose, walk on a glacier and explore a vast, natural park all in a single day. Between mountains and an inlet, surrounded by national parks and filled with Alaska wildlife, Anchorage combines the best of Alaska in a city that has the comforts of home and the hospitality of the Last Frontier. Our Anchorage Alaska Travel Guide has everything you need to start planning your Anchorage Alaska vacation. Also visit more great Alaska beach locations by <<Clicking Here.>>
When To Visit Anchorage
Spring in Anchorage
In Alaska, grey whales are the first wild sign of spring. They are the first of many species of whale to arrive in rich Alaska waters to feed. Whale watching day cruises depart as early as April 1. Massive flocks of birds also migrate north to summer nesting grounds like Potter Marsh. You can also get a jump on many popular summer activities like hiking and flight seeing.
Summer in Anchorage
Summer is in full swing as new born moose calves arrive in early May. Beluga whales follow fish close to shore, delighting travelers along Turnagain Arm. Salmon return to spawn, meaning good viewing and fantastic fishing. The greatest number of glacier cruises are on the water. Dog sledding heats up, literally; sunny dogsled rides are offered on wheeled carts or atop nearby glaciers in Girdwood and the Matanuska Valley. Summer trains of the Alaska Railroad head into the heart of Alaska. Kayaking, hiking, biking and summer day tours get out and make the most of long summer days. The sun sets, but it’s never dark enough for streetlights.
Fall in Anchorage
Autumn crackles as the northern lights return. You’ll find great fall deals on accommodations and airfares. The seasons are changing, but signs of summer linger; many day cruise companies operate until October or even year-round out of Whittier. Hiking and biking are still great. Birch and aspen trees turn a brilliant yellow, and moose cluster close to the city as forage becomes scarce. It’s also rut, so bull moose sport picturesque racks of antlers as they joust for mates. More than moose compete.
Winter in Anchorage
Mild temperatures and plenty of snow make Anchorage a winter playground. The mountains surrounding Girdwood get more than 42 feet of average annual snowfall. Alaska’s largest ski resort is also a base for heli-skiing. Winter biking and Nordic skiing take over the trails around Anchorage, all groomed and maintained by the ski association or the city. Classic Alaska events including the Iditarod, Anchorage Fur Rendezvous and the Tour of Anchorage fill the calendar.
Getting to Anchorage
More than 240 flights arrive daily at the Anchorage airport. Flights on a variety of carriers connect Anchorage with major U.S. cities as well as Asia and Europe. Cruises and the state ferry system connect the Pacific Northwest with Alaska. One-way cruises depart Vancouver, British Columbia, travel the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska, and into South Central Alaska and the Anchorage area. The ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway System provide regular service between Bellingham, Wash. and Whittier, Alaska, 60 miles south of Anchorage. The Alaska Highway runs more than 1,300 miles between British Columbia, Canada and Alaska. The trip to Anchorage via Canada varies by departure point, but you’ll want to plan on several days of travel time.
Anchorage Area Attractions
At the southern end of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge is Potter Marsh, a wooden boardwalk that winds through a half-mile of marshlands. This is a popular destination for birders, as Canada geese, northern pintails, canvasback ducks, red-necked phalaropes, horned and red-necked grebes and northern harriers come to this wetland from April to September. Summertime visitors can also glimpse gulls, Arctic terns, shorebirds and trumpeter swans. Keep an eye out for eagles and their nests, usually located in the cottonwoods near the base of the bluff.
A staple in the Anchorage arts scene since 1998, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (or, Center of the PAC, as it is locally known) is the place to go in Anchorage when you want to catch a play, show, musical or concert. Conveniently located downtown and with three theaters that vary in size, the center draws everyone from local favorites to Broadway shows like “Peter Pan” and Grammy Award winners like Béla Fleck and David Sanborn.
For a thorough introduction to everything Alaska, head to the Anchorage Museum. The state’s largest museum houses exhibitions that detail everything from local wildlife to native cultures to Alaskan history and art. You’ll also come across touring exhibits that highlight important aspects of the state’s past and present. Even if you aren’t new to the Last Frontier, recent visitors said that this museum is well worth the trip, and mention the interactive kids section and the informative exhibits as true highlights.
What makes Alaska truly unique are the cultures that thrive there. For example, you can learn all about the Last Frontier’s indigenous people at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which is devoted to preserving customs that have been around much longer than the cities that now call Alaska home. There are three main parts: A gallery that displays native artifacts, a performance hall where members of native communities tell stories, dance and show off their athletic abilities and a grouping of seven traditional dwellings that represent the lifestyles of some of the tribes.
For a family-friendly outdoor excursion, grab your camera and hit the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, named for the for former Alaska governor Tony Knowles. Winding its way from the downtown area past the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum to Kincaid Park, this 11-mile paved path is perfect for biking, rollerblading, cross-country skiing and strolling. If you’re visiting during the summer, keep your eyes peeled over Cook Inlet for beluga whales, while winter trailblazers should look out for moose in Kincaid Park.
Things to Do in Anchorage
Alaska ATV Adventures focuses on small groups, providing excellent wildlife viewing and unrivaled scenery accompanying a ride specifically tailored to the group. This awesome trail winds through the northern reaches of the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest about ½ way between Anchorage and Girdwood. For more information call 907-20-0007, or visit them on the web at Alaska ATV Adventures.
Alpine Air Alaska is a helicopter tour company in Girdwood, Alaska. They offer scenic flight seeing, glacier landings, and glacier dog sledding in the Summer. For more information call 907-783-2360, or visit them on the web at Alpine Air Alaska.
Visit and experience a unique Alaskan wilderness on our authentic glacier adventures. Within an hour of Anchorage we can have you on a glacier, and enjoying real Alaska on a spectacular guided hike. An amazing train ride gets us to the Spencer Whistle Stop which offers excellent Iceberg viewing and Glacier hiking. Your family can even paddle a Tandem Sea Kayak past icebergs to climb on the Spencer Glacier itself. For more information call 907-783-0505, or visit them on the web at Ascending Path.
Explore Alaska’s glaciers, rivers, wildlife and amazing scenery on one of our Alaska adventure tours from Girdwood, Alaska — Alaska’s best mountain resort town & only 45 minutes from Anchorage. The Chugach National Forest is one of the most accessible mountain landscapes in all of Alaska and is very easy to explore. Their locally owned & operated guide service provides many options to get up close into the Chugach Mountains & Glaciers- Rafting, Kayaking, Canoeing, Camping, & Heli Hiking. For more information call 907-783-1860, or visit them on the web at Chugach Adventures.
Off-road adventures for all ages. Get out of cell phone range and be surrounded by towering mountains, pristine glaciers and monstrous rivers. For more information call 907-278-0157, or visit them on the web at 49th State Motor Tours.
Best Anchorage Restaurants
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$$ – $$$ ORSO
ORSO is a specialist in wild Alaskan seafood with perfectly prepared seafood dishes paired with an extensive drinks menu including beers from Glacier BrewHouse, as well as a varied selection of cocktails and wines. ORSO brings some of the choicest fresh seafood to Alaskan diners. Specialties include halibut, salmon, cod and king crab. During the summer ORSO’s menu also features seasonal vegetables that are grown locally. Menu favorites include ORSO’s Alaskan crusted halibut and calamari appetizer. For more information call 907-222-3232, or visit them on the web at ORSO.
$$ – $$$ Kinley’s Restaurant & Bar
Kinley’s Restaurant and Bar specializes in fresh Alaskan seafood. Kinley’s Restaurant and Bar is a welcoming combination of friendly service and classically cooked cuisine, which is complemented by the contemporary rustic décor.n For more information call 907-644-8943, or visit them on the web at Kinley’s Restaurant & Bar.
$$ – $$$ Ginger
Serving the cuisine of the Pacific Rim, Chef Conley brings his great passion for Alaskan cuisine and local ingredients to Ginger, taking the form of an experimental fusion of Asian flavors and fresh Alaskan seafood. Chef Conley creates exciting flavor profiles using a blend of Alaskan and Asian meats and ingredients. Try Ginger’s Kalua pork sliders on Hawaiian sweet roll, lobster glazed duck breast and the panang beef curry for a truly unique Alaskan dining experience. For more information call 907-929-3680, or visit them on the web at Ginger.
$$ – $$$ Spenard Roadhouse
Spenard Roadhouse is an eclectic local favorite for its creative take on all-American classics. Diners rave about Spenard Roadhouse’s tater tots served with smoked paprika aioli and its bacon jam burger, which is a delightfully messy stack with a fresh ground eight oz. ground beef patty, cambozola, grilled apple, rocket, house mayo and smothered with bacon jam atop a toasted bun. Be sure to try Spenard Roadhouse’s Alaskan reindeer Polish sausage. To top it all off, Spenard Roadhouse is infamous for having the best selection of whiskies and bourbons in Alaska. For more information call 907-770-7623, or visit them online at Spenard Roadhouse.
$$ – $$$ Glacier BrewHouse
Another favorite among locals, Glacier BrewHouse is Anchorage’s premier celebration of local seafood, wood-grilled meats and house-brewed beer. The dining room with timbered rafters and ample seating all around the large fireplace gives the space a rustic, gastro-pub ambiance. The restaurant favorites include BBQd baby back rib rack with Jamaican jerk rub and spicy BrewHouse signature whiskey BBQ sauce and Bering Sea king crab legs. For more information call 907-274-2739, or visit them on the web at Glacier BrewHouse.
Best Bars in Anchorage
A classic local favorite and popular “tourist trap”. Located on G st. in the heart of down town. It’s a great stop to wind down while exploring the many shops around the area. Known for being the number 1 seller of cinnamon schnapps in the world with a drink called “Red Hot.” This is bound to warm you right up. For more information call 907-277-5322, or visit them on the web at Darwin’s Theory.
49th Brewing Company
The 49th Brewing Company is located on W 3rd, and is a down town bar. A new comer to the scene, it just opened in late 2016. But it’s already made a name for itself with an award winning beer and rooftop patio overlooking the Cook Inlet and Alaska Range. For more information call 907-277-7727, or visit them on the web at 49th Brewing Company.
Koot’s is known for having something happening every night. It’s a huge nightclub with 3 stages, 3 dance floors & 10 bars that host DJs, comedians & live music. This local favorite is located on the end of Spenard Rd. For more information call 907-272-1010, or visit them on the web at Koot’s.
Reilly’s Irish Pub
If you’re looking for something a little more casual and/or traditional then Reilly’s Irish Pub is for you. Known for their cold Irish ales and warm Irish coffee, this pub is a great spot any time of the year to receive some great Alaskan hospitality. For more information call 907-274-6132, or visit them on the web at Reilly’s Irish Pub.
Midnight Sun Brewery
Midnight Sun Brewery offers crazy cool beers and fresh food with a modern industrial twist. They even have a gift shop so you can take something home to remind you of the cold days and cold beers you had while up in Alaska. For more information call 907-344-6653, or visit them on the web at Midnight Sun Brewery.
Best Anchorage Hotels
Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, Alaska’s Hotel Captain Cook is a perfect base camp for adventure, offering the best cultural, retail and natural highlights just steps from your door. In the mood to stay in? Indulge in one of our four distinctive restaurants, shop for gifts or unique souvenirs in our 12 shops or take in the views of neighboring Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains from any one of our 546 rooms and suites. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Hotel Captain Cook.
With its central location in midtown Anchorage, Hyatt House Anchorage doesn’t fall short on things to do. Whether the day’s itinerary consists of exploring the Last Frontier’s trails or enjoying the city’s entertainment and business districts, take comfort in knowing the accommodations of Hyatt House Anchorage await. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Hyatt House Anchorage.
Their convenient location places you within walking distance to Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Pacific University and Alaska Airlines Center. Retreat to modern rooms and suites boasting spectacular views of the area’s beauty plus 25% more space than standard hotel rooms. Accommodations also feature free Wi-Fi, luxury bedding and separate spaces to sleep and work. Start your day by fueling up at our free breakfast buffet. Their 24-hour fitness center and indoor pool will help you get your daily exercise. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit SpringHill Suites Anchorage University Lake.
Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa places you near all of the city’s best things to do, see, and experience. Whether you’re traveling in Alaska for business or pleasure, our hotel is in the center of it all – and our team is ready to help you discover the city’s most noteworthy attractions. Read our list below to learn more about things to do in Anchorage today, this weekend, and throughout the year. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa.
Stay on the shore of Lake Spenard, next to Lake Hood, one mile from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and just four miles from downtown Anchorage… the perfect locale. Flight seeing operators and fishing guides pick up daily at the hotel’s own dock, offering an easy way to partake in Alaska’s exciting activities. Check in, enjoy charming hospitality and relax in newly renovated, well-appointed lodge-like guest rooms. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit The Lakefront Anchorage.