13 Best Things to do in Anchorage, Alaska

Discover the best things to do in Anchorage, surrounded by many breathtaking nature and towering mountains in a stunning location in the state’s south centre. Located near numerous stunning lakes, shimmering glaciers, and beautiful landscape, this charming inlet is protected from the sparkling Gulf of Alaska by the Kenai Peninsula.

Magnificent museums may be found adjacent to enthralling cultural hubs in Anchorage, even if most visitors utilise it as a starting point to explore the state’s wild and isolated regions. With more than one-third of Alaska’s population living there, it serves as a major hub for transportation as well as a thriving cultural and commercial centre.

Anchorage is an ideal starting point for discovering the amazing natural surroundings and fauna in the vicinity, thanks to its ample amenities and tourist attractions.

Read Also: 12 Most Charming Small Towns in Alaska

The Best Things to Do in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage offers something for everyone, if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a Cultural Explorer, an Aquaphile, or just someone who wants to unwind and take in the beautiful scenery.

Here are the best things to do in Anchorage to make the most of your visit.

1. Experience the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

One of the best things to do in Anchorage is a visit to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre, the ideal chance to get up close and personal with some of the state’s rarest wildlife. Approximately one hour’s drive from Anchorage, this wonderful community with stunning surroundings is situated at the entrance to Portage Valley.

The sanctuary was established in 1993 and has since saved, healed, and reintroduced a wide variety of Alaskan wildlife into the wild. Visitors can witness a wide variety of animals, including caribou, coyotes, bears, bison, bald eagles, and several moose, all housed in expansive enclosures that closely resemble their natural habitat.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre is undoubtedly one of the best things that Alaska and Anchorage have to offer. It is committed to safeguarding and maintaining the state’s fauna and flora as well as informing tourists about their significance.

2. Portage Glacier

The massive Portage Glacier, with its shimmering snow and ice is among the best things to do in Anchorage, located approximately 1.5 hours’ drive southeast of the city. One of the most approachable glaciers in Alaska, it is located in a ravaged alpine valley at the head of the picturesque lake of the same name.

Visitors now have to take a boat ride to witness the sight, whereas it was previously possible to view the shimmering glacier from the Begich Boggs Visitor Centre. This is because, regrettably, the enormous glacier has been retreating for a number of decades, with an increasing amount of it melting annually.

After marvelling at its incredible size and beauty, tourists can go around the mountains and valleys of the region, which are home to numerous more enormous glaciers. Because it’s so close to Anchorage, Portage Glacier is a popular destination. It’s also worth visiting the nearby amazing Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre.

3. Explore the Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum is a fantastic destination that explores many aspects of Alaska’s culture, history, geography, and populace. Anchorage’s main attraction and a favourite among both inhabitants and visitors is the state’s largest and greatest museum, conveniently located in the city centre.

The museum’s enormous collection has expanded steadily since it opened in 1968; today, it houses over 25,000 objects and over half a million historical images. While some exhibitions give visitors an understanding of Alaska Native art, history, and language, others concentrate on the state’s breathtaking geology and environment.

Moreover, the top-notch institute welcomes guests to engage with and explore their surroundings with a hands-on Imaginarium Discovery Centre and an amazing planetarium. Visiting the museum is also one among the best things to do in Anchorage.

Read Also: 14 Best Places to Visit in Alaska

4. Learn at the Alaska Native Heritage Center

A visit to the wonderful Native American Cultural Centre of Alaska is among the best things to in Anchorage. Located on the eastern outskirts of Anchorage and provides an intriguing glimpse at the history, culture, and heritage of the state’s indigenous peoples. It routinely offers dances, shows, and cultural performances in addition to showcasing artefacts and exhibits.

It opened its doors in 1999 among some amazing landscapes and features six traditional Native dwellings to explore along with a state-of-the-art cultural center. It’s one of the best things to do in Anchorage with galleries stocked with artwork, kayaks, firearms, and other gear, as well as a theater and gathering place for seminars and performances.

The centre not only safeguards and conserves the legacy of eleven prominent Alaskan cultural groups, but also advances them via its jam-packed programme of tales, tunes, and performances.

5. Chugach National Park

The enthralling Chugach State Park is truly a delight to explore and considered as one of the best things to do in Anchorage because of its breathtaking scenery and surrounding. Even though the park contains unspoiled wilderness, it is incredibly accessible a 20-minute drive from downtown Anchorage will get you there.

Anchoragites were given the opportunity to enjoy recreational possibilities and protect the local ecology when the state park was established in 1970. Today, it covers a sizable area. Its borders are filled with everything from roaring rivers and sparkling glaciers to wide valleys and lush woods.

Known for the magnificent mountain range that passes through it, this well-liked park offers a tonne of amazing hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding paths in addition to camping and rock climbing. In addition, skiing is available during the winter, when it’s possible to see wolves, moose, and bears all year long.

6. Visit the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Walking, running, or cycling along this captivating 18-kilometer seaside trail is a treat, as it offers breathtaking views and a variety of creatures to behold. It starts in the town center and winds all the way to Kincaid Park, its serene and scenic endpoint.

The Tony Knowles Trail is named after the previous governor of Alaska. It winds south along the city’s shoreline, passing through wetlands, forests, and wild places. Although seeing moose and eagles is common, its stunning view of Anchorage, Denali, the Chugach Mountains, and Fire Island are unquestionably its most notable feature.

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail stands out among the best things to do in Anchorage as it’s open to everyone and has many beautiful spots for visitors to stop by because it is completely paved and level. A disc golf course, a lake for fishing, and hiking paths are just a few of the fantastic recreational features available to visitors at Kincaid Park.

Read Also: 14 Best Places to Visit in Alaska

7. Ski at Alyeska Area

Alyeska Resort Activities | Downhill Skiing & Winter… | ALASKA.ORG

Among the best things to do in Anchorage is the remarkable Alyeska Ski Area, located slightly southeast of the city, with the highest percentage of snow-covered slopes and skiable terrain in the state. Well-liked by many, it offers first-rate amenities, breathtaking views, and, of course, snow to play in.

Established in 1959 amidst the untamed Chugach Mountains, it has expanded subsequently. You may now ski or snowboard down 76 different runs. With a 975-meter total vertical drop, many chairlifts service its slopes, and an aerial tram can carry you part of the way to the top.

There are comfortable cabins and a variety of lodges scattered across the numerous mountainsides for visitors to stay in. The resort also has a few spas, shops, and restaurants. The warm summer months are ideal for hiking and mountain biking, with breathtaking views to be enjoyed all year round, even though the majority of visitors come for the excellent snow activities.

8. Alaska Railroad Seward Day Trip

Taking a picturesque train ride to the small town of Seward from Anchorage is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even though it’s located 200 kilometres to the south in a remote area, the breathtaking scenery you traverse en route and the gorgeous setting make it well worth the day journey.

Unquestionably one of the most amazing railway routes in the entire United States and one of the best things to do in Anchorage, it passes through some amazing nature and is adorned with gorgeous mountains, sparkling waterfalls, and shimmering glaciers. You’ll reach Seward, which is located in a picturesque location on the Gulf of Alaska, after spending about four hours staring out of the window.

After that, you can take a breathtaking glacier and animal viewing cruise through the breathtaking Kenai Fjords National Park, returning to Anchorage in the evening. Travellers on a tight schedule can make the most of their Alaska Railroad Seward Day Trip to take in as much breathtaking landscape and wildlife as possible, even if Seward is undoubtedly worth a longer visit.

9. Lake Eklutna

Lake Eklutna is a charming lake located northeast of Anchorage, approximately one hour’s drive from the city centre. The wonderful lake offers a wide range of amazing outdoor activities for guests to enjoy. It is situated in a very picturesque, quiet, and secluded spot surrounded by many magnificent mountains.

Its gorgeous 11-kilometer shoreline, which is wholly included inside Chugach State Park, reaches a maximum width of approximately 1.5 km. When the eponymous river was dammed many years ago, an artificial lake was created, and Anchorage currently gets its drinking water primarily from this reservoir.

Visitors can go fishing, hiking, and picnicking at different picnic spots, in addition to kayaking on the reflected waters. A comfortable tent is also available. Visitng lake Eklutna is among the best things to do in Anchorage.

Read Also: 15 Most Amazing Volcanoes in Alaska

10. Flattop Mountain Trail

The most well-known trek in Alaska is the amazing Flattop Mountain Trail, one among the best things to do in Anchorage, which is close by and provides breathtaking views of Anchorage and the surrounding area. The walk, which is located just southeast of the centre, leads you past several picturesque scenes and verdant forests before reaching a panoramic viewpoint.

Rising sharply above Anchorage to a height of 989 metres, Flattop Mountain is fully contained inside Chugach State Park. There is breathtaking landscape and wildlife everywhere you look along the 2.4 km of the scenic trail that leads to the peak’s prominence. The path winds through large valleys and beneath enormous mountains.

You have to scramble over a few stones in the last stretch before reaching the top of the massive mount, but the majority of it is rather simple and manageable if uphill. In addition to soaking in the amazing vistas, guests can explore the hiking trails in the area. Popular activities in the park include rock climbing and running.

11. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted by the charming Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, which is located just south of the city. Situated astride the rugged peaks of the Chugach Mountains and the untamed waters of Turnagain Arm, it is a portion of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge.

Comprising stunning wetlands and marshes, the sanctuary safeguards the native environments of a minimum of 130 bird species. You may expect to see lots of Canadian geese and canvasback ducks, as well as salmon spawning in the creek and the occasional moose meandering around.

Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary stands out among the best things to do in Anchorage, a must-visit for ardent birdwatchers due to its abundance of species, but anybody may enjoy the charming surroundings and stunning boardwalk.

12. Alaska Zoo

The amazing variety of creatures in Alaska Zoo makes it well worth a visit, even if it is a rather small facility. Situated in the shadow of the Chugach Mountains, southeast of the city, this zoo is the only one in Alaska and North America dedicated exclusively to Arctic species.

Following Jack Snyder’s victory in a contest with a young elephant, the zoo was established in 1969. Other exotic creatures were added since Annabelle was so well-liked by kids and families. These days, Tibetan yaks, snow leopards, and polar bears coexist with Amur tigers and alpacas.

Alaska is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including caribou, moose, and wolverines, despite its international bird and mammal population. The Alaska Zoo is a fun family outing that is fascinating, captivating, instructive and one of the best things to do in Anchorage

13. Experience the Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis Experience - Day Tours - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

One of the most mesmerizing natural phenomena to witness, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is a must-see for anyone visiting Anchorage, Alaska. The vibrant, dancing lights in the night sky create a breathtaking spectacle that attracts visitors from around the world.

Head to places with minimal light pollution, such as Flattop Mountain or Kincaid Park, for the best views of the aurora borealis. Witnessing the Northern Lights is an unforgettable experience that adds a magical element to any visit to Anchorage.

It is one of the best things to do in Anchorage, whether you’re a seasoned aurora chaser or a first-time viewer, the natural beauty and awe-inspiring spectacle of the Northern Lights are sure to leave you with lasting memories of your Alaskan adventure.

Read Also: 7 Common Travel Mistakes First Time Travelers Make in 2024

Anchorage’s diverse destinations offer something for every type of traveler. with each place providing a unique glimpse into the raw beauty and dynamic activity of this majestic state. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, Anchorage has it all.

Leave a comment