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16 Things Not to Miss in Anchorage Alaska

You can call Anchorage the gateway to all things good in Alaska because this magnificent city keeps on giving. Whether you’re visiting to explore the nearby glaciers or want to learn a little bit about Alaskan native culture, you’re in for a real treat either way.

1. Visit the Anchorage Museum

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There’s no better place to learn about this city’s diverse history than at the Anchorage Museum on C Street. Over 27,000 artifacts, ranging from Alaskan Native cultures to the complicated Russian-American period in the 19th century.

The modern building home to the Anchorage Museum is worth a look, particularly the moose statues. The museum features quite a bit of modern Alaskan art, which I enjoyed seeing. It focuses on the indigenous communities of Alaska and uses multimedia very well.

2. Take on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

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Tackle the 17 km Tony Knowles Coastal Trail for a truly breathtaking experience. Access the trail from Elderberry Park and get ready to see some genuinely majestic sights.

Stop and admire the views at Rock and Bronze Girl before passing the massive Orca Sculpture. You’ll then pass some more sculptural wanders at Eagle Wind Vein before heading to the famous bird-watching spot Audubon Wayside.

3. Learn it Up at the Alaska Native Heritage Center

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In a picturesque setting around Lake Tiulana, you’ll find one of the cultural gems of Anchorage. The Alaska Native Heritage Center supports all walks of life, with a deep dive into the Native heritage of Iñupiaq, Unangax̂, and Haida, to name a few.

4. Eat Well on an Anchorage Food Tour

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I was so pleasantly surprised with how good the food was in Alaska! And the best way to get a real taste of Anchorage’s culinary diversity is on a Downtown food tour. While the main event will be the food, you’ll also hear stories of the frontier families that made the cold hard trek to Anchorage in the late 19th century.

5. Explore Historic 4th Avenue

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Some might say 4th Avenue is the heart of the Last Frontier in Anchorage, and I’m inclined to agree. This part of town has iconic buildings, historic parks, and trendy shops around every corner.

Snap photos at the Old Anchorage City Hall and pop into the log cabin visitor center. You’ll also find Petrovich Park next to the city hall dedicated to a Tlingit couple who fought for Native Alaskan rights. When I visited, I was lucky enough to see two moose hanging outside the courthouse snacking on leaves.

6. Discover Anchorage’s Reindeer Mascot

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Anchorage is packed with quaint charms, none more so than their town mascot Star. Since 1960, Anchorage has had a reindeer living on the corner of I Street and 10th Ave in the heart of town.

7. Relax in Earthquake Park

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Aptly named after the devastating Prince William Sound earthquake, this park is the perfect place to enjoy nature in Downtown Anchorage. 

You can see this earthquake’s dramatic effect on Anchorage in the rippling forest of Earthquake Park. These waves in the ground are a simple reminder of Mother Nature’s power and what happened in Turnagain Heights.

8. Enjoy the Late Sunset 

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It’s crazy to think, but the summer sun only sets at midnight. You may not visit Anchorage in the summer. But whenever you do, watching the sun go down over the Gulf of Alaska is an absolute must.

I recommend combining the sunset with a drink at 49th State Brewing. They have two large outdoor decks that provide a fantastic view of the Anchorage sunset.

9. See the Northern Lights

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If you’re planning a winter visit and want a truly magical experience, then go hunting for the Northern Lights. This is one of the world’s many wonders, and luckily for you, it’s something you can witness in Anchorage.

The aurora borealis occur all year round in Anchorage, except for summer, as you need clear skies and dark nights. There are a few fantastic spots to see this natural phenomenon, with Glen Alps and Point Woronzof being the best of the bunch.

10. Admire the Anchorage 1% for Art

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Since 1978, Anchorage has set 1% of its public construction budget to set up art installations across the city. That’s a fair bit of money that supports local artists and helps create a prettier and more unique city space for all.

11. Try a Reindeer Hotdog

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Head to the International House of Hot Dogs (a van, not a house) and try a reindeer dog. I found my reindeer dog very tasty. The texture is chewier than a standard hut dog but not quite at the cured meat level. I added onions, mustard and ketchup to mine, making for a great light meal.

12. Have Brunch at Snow City Cafe

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Appropriately, there was a lot of snow the morning I visited Snow City Cafe for brunch. This bright, cheerful restaurant in downtown Anchorage was the perfect antidote for a cold, snowy morning. The breakfast menu is vast and very appealing.

13. Check out the Local Wildlife at Alaska Zoo

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I visited Alaska Zoo on a very cold February day, and I think I was the only person there! But it was well worth braving the cold to see such a mix of animals from the musk ox to a tiger to llamas and even a polar bear. The zoo does have brown bears, but they were hibernating when I visited. The zoo is spread across 25 acres in south Anchorage.

14. Find out how much Alaskans depend on planes at the Aviation Museum

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This quirky museum was one of the highlights of my time in Anchorage. It isn’t actually in downtown Anchorage, it is near the airport of course, but it is an easy uber from downtown. The main hangar of the Alaska Aviation Museum contains the featured exhibits. I discovered that only 3% of Alaska can be accessed by road and that one in 10 Alaskan residents has a pilot’s license and one in 100 owns a plane!

15. Enjoy More Alaskan Wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

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Again, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is not located in downtown Anchorage, but it is only a one hour drive away and well worth a visit. As a conservation center, it looks after injured and orphaned animals with the goal of taking them back into the wild.

16. Take to the Water at Alaska’s First Nordic Spa

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Located just one hour by car from Anchorage at Alyeska Resort, is Alaska’s first Nordic Spa. Multiple circuits are possible throughout the spa with a mix of steam rooms, saunas, and multiple pools at different temperatures (including an ice-cold plunge pool). Visit the spa as a day guest or as part of your stay at the lovely Alyeska Resort.

2 Day Anchorage Itinerary

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Planning a weekend in Alaska’s biggest city? Use my 2 day Anchorage itinerary to ensure you have a fantastic visit to beautiful Alaska.

Two Days in Anchorage

Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Anchorage

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Planning a trip to Anchorage and dying to see the Northern Lights? I saw them when I visited so this article contains all of my top tips plus the best places to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage

Where to See the Northern Lights in Anchorage

Ice Caves Near Anchorage

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Planning a trip to Alaska? While you’re there you’ll want to explore all the things that make the great north unique – like these 5 ice caves near Anchorage you’ll love

Ice Caves Near Anchorage

Best Time to Visit Anchorage Alaska

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Find out the best time to visit Anchorage Alaska by understanding what happens each season in this beautiful city

When to Visit Anchorage

4 Day Anchorage Itinerary

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Planning a few of days in Anchorage? There is so much fantastic stuff to do – use my 4 day Anchorage Itinerary to plan the perfect trip

4 Days in Anchorage

This article was originally published on The Boutique Adventurer.

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