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.
As Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, you can imagine it has plenty to do and see. And if your imagination serves you well, then let me say you’re bang on the money.
Grab onto something because this will be one wild ride, from exploring the most beautiful mountains in the US to sipping on a cold Alaskan craft beer.
So, without further ado, it’s time to dive into the best things to do in Downtown Anchorage that’ll leave you wanting more.
Things to Book in Anchorage Before You Leave Home
Few things are more frustrating on vacation than missing out on that amazing hotel or tour because it is sold out. Here are my top things to book in Anchorage before your vacation.
🏔️ Most Popular Tours in Anchorage:
1. Northern Lights Tour from Anchorage– if you’re determined to see the Northern Lights this is your best chance (I did)
2. Helicopter Tour with Glacier Landing – unforgettable bucket list experience
3. Glaciers and Wildlife – two Alaska highlights together
4. Ride the Alaska Railroad for jaw-dropping scenery
🛏️Where to Stay in Anchorage:
1. Marriott Downtown – surprisingly stylish and great location
2. The Lakefront – stunning location on Lake Spenard and great food
Top Things to Do in Downtown Anchorage
Table of Contents
- Top Things to Do in Downtown Anchorage
- 1. Visit the Anchorage Museum
- 2. Join an Alaskan Brewery Tour
- 3. Take on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
- 4. Discover the Ulu Factory
- 5. Hike up Flattop Mountain
- 6. Learn it Up at the Alaska Native Heritage Center
- 7. Hop Aboard an Anchorage Trolley Tour
- 8. Visit the Oscar Anderson House Museum
- 9. Eat Well on an Anchorage Food Tour
- 10. See Some Drag at Mad Myrna’s
- 11. Explore Historic 4th Avenue
- 12. Discover Anchorage’s Reindeer Mascot
- 13. Attend the Fur Rondy
- 14. Relax in Earthquake Park
- 15. Watch the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
- 16. Pop By the Anchorage Market
- 17. Learn About True Crimes in the Spenard Area
- 18. Go Bar Hopping
- 19. Enjoy the Late Sunset
- 20. Admire the Scenery on the Alaska Railroad
- 21. Smell Wildflowers in Far North Bicentennial Park
- 22. See the Northern Lights
- 23. Walk Through the Alaska Botanical Garden
- 24. Explore Chugach State Park
- 25. Visit the Native Co-Op
- 26. Admire the Anchorage 1% for Art
- 27. Enjoy the Planet Walk
- 28. Take Part in the Summer Solstice Celebrations
- 29. Visit Downtown’s Epic Beaches
- 30. Try a Reindeer Hotdog
- 31. Have Brunch at Snow City Cafe
- 32. Check out the Local Wildlife at Alaska Zoo
- 33. Find out how much Alaskans depend on planes at the Aviation Museum
- 34. Enjoy More Alaskan Wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
- 35. Take to the Water at Alaska’s First Nordic Spa
- 36. Saved the Best for Last – Have a Helicopter Adventure
- Where to Stay in Anchorage
- Marriott Anchorage Downtown
- The Lakefront Anchorage
- FAQs About Anchorage Attractions to Keep in Mind
- 1. How Long Are Summer Days in Anchorage?
- 2. How Many Glaciers Are There in Anchorage?
- 3. How Many Mountain Ranges Are There Near Anchorage?
- 4. Are Wild Animals Common in Anchorage?
- 5. How Many Days Do I Need in Anchorage?
- Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Downtown Anchorage
It’s high time I get stuck into all 31 top things to do in Downtown Anchorage during your visit to this magical city. By the end, you’ll see why Alaska has the claim as one of the most beautiful states in the US.
Tip: Some of the activities on this list are date-specific. If you like the sound of that particular activity, try planning your visit around that time of year. I visited Anchorage in February so have done my best to cover all of the best activities across the year with research.
1. Visit the Anchorage Museum
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. There is a focus on the indigenous communities of Alaska and multimedia is used very well.
The exhibit covering the history of Alaska is particularly interesting as it covers topics more unique to Alaska such as how people figured out how to get around in all of the snow and water in the state.
However, my favorite exhibit was the colorful polar bears of Paola Pivi, a local artist. These big colorful bears are in different poses and provide some great photo opportunities.
While they have rotating exhibitions on show, there are some pieces in the permanent collection that you can always see. The museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays until 6 pm, with tickets costing $20. But you can visit free from 6 pm until 9 pm on First Fridays.
Anchorage and beer go hand in hand, much like the pint you’ll down during this epic Alaskan brewery tour. With 13 unique brewing companies across the city, you can spend the day hopping from one to the next. However, this tour will take you to the three best.
You can taste everything from Pilsners to Pale Ales at the King Street Brewing Co. Then hop over to Turnagain Brewing, where some funky flavours await. Try Citrus Sour Ale or Hazy IPA before jumping to the next destination.
The Midnight Sun Brewing Co. is one of the oldest and best in town, and you’ll know why after sipping blueberry vanilla Stout or trying a classic Grisette. There’s no better way to explore Downtown Anchorage than this.
Top Tip: Alternatively, join a Pedal Anchorage experience. It’s a truly unique way to explore the city with a beer in hand.
3. Take on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
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.
Several of Anchorage’s top beaches are along the trail and Telequana Park. You’ll continue past several Downtown Anchorage viewpoints before arcing around and ending in Kincaid Park.
Walking can take over five hours so why not look at taking a three-hour Tony Knowles Biking Tour instead? That way you can just kick back and enjoy the view and let the guide lead the way.
4. Discover the Ulu Factory
Learn about ancient crescent blade making at the historic Ulu Factory. You’ll find this Alaskan classic at 221 W Ship Creek Avenue, where the old cabin-style factory awaits your arrival.
Take a tour to discover exactly how these iconic knives are made, including their 3,000-year history with the region’s indigenous communities. After you’re all sufficiently knifed up, why not buy one of these classy blades and an ulu bowl to go with it at their gift shop?
Top Tip: If you visit between July and August, you can take their vintage trolley from Downtown to the store for free.
5. Hike up Flattop Mountain
It’s a short half-hour drive (22 km) to the Glen Alps Flattop Trailhead, a quintessential hike in Anchorage. This 5.3 km loop trail takes you through fragrant pine forests to the summit of this majestic mountain.
The elevation gain of 436 meters does make this a somewhat difficult climb, but it’s definitely worth the effort. It’ll take you around an hour to hike to the top of the mountain, where sweeping vistas of Anchorage and Chugach State Park await.
Spend around two and a half hours on this hike, with some time snapping epic photos at the summit. You’ll need to pay $5 for parking and access to the park.
PS. The views from the top personify why Anchorage is one of the most beautiful cities in the US.
6. Learn it Up at the Alaska Native Heritage Center
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.
You can join a private tour or visit the center in your own time. Either way, it’s going to be an enlightening experience. You can watch traditional Alaska Native dancing at the Gathering Place or walk through the grounds to its many culturally specific buildings. I most enjoyed walking around the grounds and visiting the small huts that displayed different elements of native life.
It’s a unique space to visit, and one you can remember by purchasing some authentic Alaska Native art at eh Ch’k’iqadi Gallery. Or even better there was some fantastic jewelry for sale at reasonable prices. And don’t miss the stunning totem poles.
Read more about Anchorage and Alaska:
2 Day Anchorage Itinerary
Anchorage Itinerary 4 Days
Best Time of Year to Visit Anchorage Alaska
Facts about Alaska
How to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage
3 Day Anchorage Itinerary
Ice Caves near Anchorage
While San Francisco has cable cars, Anchorage has a quaint trolley system. Okay, you can’t use the trolley system to get around Downtown Anchorage like in San Francisco. But the tours on offer are a great way to explore the city.
I recommend you join the deluxe city tour to get the full experience. You’ll hop aboard an iconic red trolley at 545 W 4th Ave and journey through the city. You’ll stop at the iconic sights of Earthquake Park, Lake Hood Harbour, Point Woronzof, and Lake Spenard.
You can snap some fantastic photos at each stop. Also, look out for the Captain Cook Monument and other memorable landmarks throughout the city.
NB: The Anchorage Trolley doesn’t run in winter.
8. Visit the Oscar Anderson House Museum
You can’t visit Anchorage and not pop into one of the oldest houses in town. It’s also the only House Museum in Anchorage, so you know it’s a special place.
Oscar Anderson was among the first people to settle in Anchorage, a simple tent town, in 1915. He’s seen as one of the town’s pioneers, and here, you can better understand what life was like in Anchorage in 1915.
From the original fireplace to the classic wallpaper, it will feel like you’re going back in time. It costs $10 to enter this idyllic house at 420 M Street, but it’s worth the extra bucks for the unforgettable experience.
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.
Allow your tastebuds to run wild with various flavors, from Russian dumplings to reindeer sausages. Don’t worry. Alaskan classics, such as fresh salmon and halibut, are also on the menu.
You can wash all these tasty flavors down with some Anchorage special craft beers. What’s there not to love about this tour?
10. See Some Drag at Mad Myrna’s
There’s been a lot of talk about history, so I think it’s about time you dive into some local fun at Mad Myrna’s. Anchorage has been a welcoming space to all for a while now, and this gay bar at 530 E 6th Ave has been inviting everyone for over 30 years.
Sing your heart out at karaoke nights on Wednesdays and Sundays, or get your giggle on every last Thursday at the Comedy Showcase. If it’s some drag-tastic fun you’ve come for, visit the Diva Variety Show on Fridays and Saturdays.
No matter when you choose to visit, it’ll go down a treat with their quirky cocktail and appetizers menu.
11. Explore Historic 4th Avenue
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 court house snacking on leaves.
There’s more, as art is on the menu, with Sevigny Studio and the Alaska Centre for the Performing Arts also in the area. You can also see the Balto Statue next to the start of the Iditarod historic trail, which the classic 1995 animation Balto is based on.
And when you’re done exploring, you can pop into one of the many restaurants that line the district.
12. Discover Anchorage’s Reindeer Mascot
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.
No, this reindeer isn’t over 60 years old. Rather, this is the seventh such majestic creature with this title, and boy, is it beautiful. It’s a bittersweet visit, as seeing one of these glorious creatures up close is magnificent. But at the same time, they’re all alone, and you can’t help but feel sorry for this solitary soldier.
I visited Anchorage in February and I was able to see the latest incarnation of Star. However, as you can see it wasn’t easy to get a decent photo! Star’s house is literally on the corner of the street – and connected to a house.
NB: There is a nice park and World War Two Memorial diagonally opposite Star’s house.
13. Attend the Fur Rondy
If it’s a festival you want, then it’s a winter festival you’ll get at the Fur Rondy. For 10 days at the end of February each year, Anchorage hosts one of the liveliest winter events in Alaska.
You can join in all the winter sports like sled dog racing and reindeer running. Or, if you’re more interested in the cultural aspect of Alaska, visit the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market and the amateur photo contest.
No matter what interests you, there will be something here you’ll enjoy, as the food stalls also serve up some tasty treats. And to cap off an already epic festival, there is a fireworks extravaganza in the midday moonlight (yes, it’ll be dark most of the day).
14. Relax in Earthquake Park
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.
This region of Anchorage literally slid into the ocean and took around 75 houses with it. Now, this park serves as a fantastic space to walk amongst nature and see the sheer power of Planet Earth.
Earthquake Park also has fantastic views of Anchorage. If you want a classic photo of downtown Anchorage with mountains in the background, this is the place to go. And it is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights around Anchorage.
Top Tip: There’s a great chance you’ll see moose within the park, and if you walk towards Knik Arm, you’ll meet up with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.
15. Watch the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
You may find this to be an odd inclusion, but trust me. You won’t be disappointed. The Anchorage Symphony Orchestra is a professional group of musicians that regularly host events worth a standing ovation.
One such event is the Symphony of Wines. You can sample over 100 wines from over 50 vendors, all with the orchestra’s beautiful renditions of Bach and Mozart. Or, you can enjoy some classical pieces with an Anchorage twist at the reacquiring Kaleidoscope concert.
Most events are at the Alaska Centre for the Performing Arts, but they do hit the road sometimes and visit places in town like Hotel Captain Cook. So keep an eye out for the venue of your concert.
16. Pop By the Anchorage Market
In a city where community and togetherness are a huge part of life, it’s almost a given there will be a fantastic market. The Anchorage Market is one such community-building space, and as a matter of fact, it’s actually the largest market in Alaska.
Every Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm during the summer, locals and tourists pop over to 88th Avenue. You can find everything from the freshest local produce to warm baked goodies here, and it’s not just the food you can enjoy.
Pop over to the craft tents section and learn how to make everything from pots to cheese. And to keep everyone in a joyous mood, live music, and local art performances are regularly on show throughout the day.
Anchorage may be a beautiful escape within the heart of Alaska. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t seen its fair share of crime.
Don’t worry; you can learn about the city’s dark past on a friendly true crime tour through the Spenard Area. In the 1960s and 1970s, Anchorage went through what was known as the Boomtown Days, when the city was busy building an oil line.
The influx of workers and the wealthy resulted in an increase in organised crime, and thus, the basis of this epic tour. You’ll learn the tragic stories of Johnny’s Girl and Wicked Wanda, all while indulging in some of the best Anchorage food around.
Note: Anchorage is beautiful, but it also makes it onto my list of the most dangerous cities in the US. Don’t let this deter you, though, as it’s still a wonderful place to visit.
18. Go Bar Hopping
While walking through Historic 4th Avenue, it’s also worth doing a little bar hopping along the way.
Here are some of my top suggestions for your bar-hopping extravaganza:
- Darwin’s Theory — It may be small, but this welcoming bar serves up all kinds of drinks and free popcorn. You can’t go wrong with that.
- Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse — Made famous by Man vs Food, this iconic bar serves up some of the best ale in town.
- Glacier Brewhouse — From Moscow Mules to Barrel-Aged Sazeracs, you can drink whatever comes to mind at this fantastic brewhouse.
- 49th State Brewing — They also may not have been on the beer tour, but this spot is definitely worth a visit with 28 different beers on tap.
19. Enjoy the Late Sunset
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.
There are plenty of vantage points to watch the sun go down, from Flattop Mountain to the rooftop bar at Williwaw Social. No matter the case, watching the sky dance a myriad of colors is well worth missing out on the extra shut-eye.
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.
The afternoon sky in Anchorage is even comparable to the majestic sunsets in San Francisco.
Top Tip: You can also kill two birds with one stone on this sunset city tour.
Technically speaking, this isn’t in Downtown per se, but it does start there. Hop aboard the Coastal Classic Train and head south through the stunning Turnagain Arm towards the quaint town of Seward.
This is a return trip, so you’ll get to admire some of Alaska’s most breathtaking scenery not once but twice. You’ll pass through the Chugach Mountains and Girdwood, where sweeping vistas await.
Admire the picturesque Tern Lake and Moose Pass before arriving at Resurrection Bay in Seward. You can explore Seward or the Kenai Fjords before returning to Downtown Anchorage.
21. Smell Wildflowers in Far North Bicentennial Park
June marks the start of the beautiful blooming flowers of summer in Anchorage. There’s no better place to enjoy the sweet scent of over 1,500 wildflower species than at Far North Bicentennial Park.
It’s a short 20-minute (12 km) drive from central Downtown to the park, where you can spend the day walking through fields of color. You can admire the vibrant northern bluebells, musky chocolate lilies, and everything.
Top Tip: Grab this Alaska trees and wildflowers pamphlet before heading out and see how many plants you can identify.
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. I have written a dedicated article about how to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage (I’ll give you the heads up – the best way to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights is to take a tour).
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.
Top Tip: September to April is your best chance to see the Northern Lights dance at night. I visited Anchorage at the end of February and saw the northern lights.
23. Walk Through the Alaska Botanical Garden
In southern Downtown, you’ll find one of the best-kept secrets in Anchorage. Walk through 11 acres of majestic scenery and experience all Alaska offers within 10 distinct garden spaces.
Start in the perennial garden and learn about the hardy plants of Alaska before passing through the indigenous herb space. The Verna Pratt wildflower trail is a fantastical walk, while the trailside gardens offer a beautiful range of bee balms and azaleas.
Note: Walking through these glorious gardens costs $5 per person.
24. Explore Chugach State Park
This is a breathtaking natural forest that teems with plenty to see and do, from exploring glaciers to hiking picturesque trails.
Speaking of hikes, the Trail of Blue Ice is a gentle 11.4km trek that takes you past the Portage Glacier. For something slightly more challenging, take on the 17.7 km Colorado Creek Trail, which will take you past a hidden lake in the Summit Creek Valley.
I visited Spencer Glacier via snowmobile when I visited Anchorage in February and it was absolutely fantastic. In the summer the lake thaws and can be visited on a kayak. From Anchorage, the best option is to take a guided tour. Do not leave Alaska without seeing at least one glacier; this was fantastic.
Other fantastic sights to look out for include Etlukna Lake and Beluga Point. If you want to admire Chugach’s scenery and catch a glimpse of some wildlife along the way, consider joining this half-day wilderness experience.
You might enjoy reading my article on Ice Caves near Anchorage.
25. Visit the Native Co-Op
Discover the wonderful world of Alaskan Qiviuts. What are these exactly? They’re exquisite handknits made from the underwool of the Arctic musk ox, and they’re seriously cosy pieces worth purchasing.
At Oomingmak on 604 H Street, you can discover these elegant wearables and get a few pieces for yourself and as gifts. Grab anything from scarves and smokerings to warm beanies. You’ll also support a Native Co-Op business, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
26. Admire the Anchorage 1% for Art
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.
You can admire the 121-metre-tall Wyland Whaling Wall overlooking Town Square Park or the bespoke botanical mural titled Common Ground. There are 16 murals to admire, but there are also some fantastic sculptures to take in. Pay a visit to Caption Cook in Resolution Park or admire the colorful centrepiece across from Boney Courthouse known as The Last Blue Whale.
27. Enjoy the Planet Walk
Learn about the solar system while burning those extra calories along the engaging Light Speed Planet Walk. Starting at the Sun Station on 5th Ave and G Street, then continue down 5th Ave past Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
You’ll pass head along Westchester Lagoon past Jupiter and on to Lyn Ary Park, where you’ll find Saturn. You’ll then walk past Uranus at Point Woronzof Hill and meet with the Coastal Trail.
Next up is Neptune and then you’ll end at Pluto near the Kincaid Chalet. The walk will take around five and a half hours, with each planetary sculpture having interesting details about the solar system.
28. Take Part in the Summer Solstice Celebrations
Every year in mid-June, Downtown Anchorage has an epic summer solstice celebration. Let the sun warm your cheeks as you walk through Downtown central and enjoy live music, delicious food, and an atmosphere that could warm any winter’s day.
You can sip craft drinks at the Beer Garden or shake it up with some lessons at Dance Social. Say hello to some furry friends at the petting zoo and let your imagination run wild at the Arts Market.
No matter your taste, there will be something for you on a joyous summer day in beautiful Anchorage.
29. Visit Downtown’s Epic Beaches
Not many associate Downtown Anchorage with breathtaking beaches, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few hidden gems. Kincaid Beach may not be the most comfortable for sunbathing, but it is the best place to admire the Kenai Mountains.
If it’s sunbathing you seek, then Goose Lake and the idyllic Mirror Lake have the perfect sandy shores. But the best of the bunch has to be along the Coastal Trail just west of Fish Creek. The sandy shore is great for relaxing, while beluga whales often come close to the beach at high tide.
Top Tip: It may have gone under the radar, but Anchorage has some of the prettiest lakes in the US that are well worth exploring.
30. Try a Reindeer Hotdog
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.
31. Have Brunch at Snow City Cafe
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.
I ordered the biscuits with sausage patties, gravy and hashbrowns, which was absolutely fantastic. Their fresh orange juice was also excellent. A must eat when in Anchorage!
32. Check out the Local Wildlife at Alaska Zoo
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.
33. Find out how much Alaskans depend on planes at the Aviation Museum
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 museum has several components.
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!
I also discovered that during World War Two Alaska came under attack from the Japanese. At that time Alaska was a US territory rather than a state. The battle to reclaim the land taken by the Japanese had the second-highest number of US fatalities in a single battle during World War Two after Iwo Jima.
The museum is really fun and quirky and uses multimedia well plus there are lots of opportunities to sit on old plane seats.
Finally, pop into the air traffic control tower. This used to be the air traffic control tower for Anchorage Airport. It has been surpassed with a more modern version, but it is still possible to hear air traffic control live from the old tower.
Another smaller hangar contains a number of planes in various states and the men who restore them. An old Alaska Airlines plane sits next to the hangar.
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.
During my visit, I saw moose, bison, bears (hibernating when I visited), reindeer, caribou and even porcupines. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center has a 200-acre park and some fantastic views (it is located at the head of the Turnagain Arm).
If you love wildlife and want to see Alaska beyond downtown Anchorage, I highly recommend taking a wildlife-focused tour that includes the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre.
35. Take to the Water at Alaska’s First Nordic Spa
Located just one hour by car from Anchorage at Alyeska Resort, is Alaska’s first Nordic Spa. Multiple circuits are possible through the spa with a mix of steam rooms, saunas, and multiple pools at different temperatures (including an ice cold plunge pool).
Bring your bathers with you and the spa will provide a cute tartan robe, towel and rubber shoes. There is a restaurant within the spa area eg you can wear your bathrobe. No mobile phones allowed.
Visit the spa as a day guest or as part of your stay at the lovely Alyeska Resort.
36. Saved the Best for Last – Have a Helicopter Adventure
The best way to get a sense of the size and scope of Alaska is from above. The highlight of my visit to Anchorage was riding with Outbound Heli Adventures. The company is based in Parma, about 45 minutes north of Anchorage. They are locally owned.
They have 14 helicopters and require their pilots to have at least 1000 hours of flying experience. Many pilots head to Alaska to get their flying hours up eg they are not very experienced. Outbound Heli Adventures only works with experienced pilots, and that experience has usually been gained in Alaska. So their pilots know where to go and what to do based on the ever-changing weather. I felt a lot more relaxed up in the air when I knew this was their recruitment policy!
Outbound Heli Adventures offers helicopter rides, but this can be combined with snowmobiling or many other activities. They are great at personalizing trips. They have all the cold weather gear so you can wear jeans and a t-shirt.
We landed literally next to a glacier and I could get out and walk around and touch the amazing glacier. They are so beautiful close up! Flying over the glaciers is terrific. The landscape was so unexpected. It was very jagged when I though it would be like a large block of ice!
Don’t miss taking at least one helicopter ride when you visit Alaska – they are worth every penny!
Where to Stay in Anchorage
🌟Rating: 7.6/10 I 📍Location: Downtown Anchorage I 🏩View on Booking.com
I really enjoyed my stay at the Marriott Anchorage Downtown. Normally I am all about boutique hotels but there weren’t many boutique hotel options in Anchorage and I was getting a special media rate at the Marriott so I decided to give it a go – and I loved it!
The Marriott Anchorage Downtown has a fantastic location in the middle of downtown. All the main things to see and do in downtown Anchorage can be accessed on foot even in the snow (as you might imagine Anchorage is very good at shoveling sidewalks etc).
My room was on the eighth floor and I had beautiful views of Anchorage and the surrounding mountains – most of the rooms at the Marriott have great views but make sure you request this so you don’t end up on one of the lower floors.
The rooms are a great size and decorated in a modern style with calming stone blues and greys. My room had two huge queen size beds with mattress toppers and many many pillows. It was extremely comfortable.
The room also had a lovely chaise lounge by the window with a light where I got some work done. The room also had a desk but it was under the television and faced the wall.
I was delighted to find power sockets and USB charge points in multiple places across the room. And even better the coffee in the room was actually quite good quality which was a welcome surprise.
There is a large room service menu for in room dining and a QR code makes ordering easier. I only had room service on one evening and it was delicious. It is also possible to order wine and bring it to the room.
The ground floor has a stylish and very comfortable bar with many different seating options. The bar has high ceilings and lots of windows, which gives it nice lighting.
🌟Rating: 7.2/10 I 📍Location: Anchorage I 🏩View on Booking.com
I also stayed at The Lakefront Hotel which is near Anchorage Airport and of course on a lake. The weather was pretty awful the one night I stayed so I wasn’t able to get a clear view of Lake Spenard – I am sure it is beautiful. Apparently, Lake Spenard is the busiest lake in the world for seaplanes.
This is a large hotel, and my room was a good size. The hotel has a strong taxidermy theme so if you don’t like wall-mounted animals, this might not be the best choice of accommodation for you. My room was absolutely fine but fairly plain and the decor was a bit dated.
The Lakefront has a couple of restaurant options. An outdoor restaurant was closed when I visited in February but I imagine it is wonderful in the summer. I had a fantastic meal of halibut at the Fancy Moose Lounge.
FAQs About Anchorage Attractions to Keep in Mind
Before I bid you farewell, here are a few interesting facts about Anchorage that may pique your interest.
1. How Long Are Summer Days in Anchorage?
You can enjoy as much as 22 hours of sunlight in Summer. You heard that right, as Anchorage is 61 degrees North, it has one of the longest days in the US.
So, packing your days with plenty of exciting activities is very much an option. This means it’ll feel like the middle of the day at 10 pm, so if you’re an early sleeper, winter may be more your cup of tea.
Although you only get five and a half hours of sunlight, it’s still one of the sunnier cities in Alaska in winter. So you can enjoy skiing and all the top winter sports if you can bear the average temperatures of -4°C.
2. How Many Glaciers Are There in Anchorage?
There are 60 glorious glaciers surrounding this vibrant city. The most accessible is Portage Glacier and Eklutna Glacier in Chugach State Park. The most impressive is Matanuska Glacier, 160 km from Anchorage along the Glenn Highway.
3. How Many Mountain Ranges Are There Near Anchorage?
With six stunning mountain ranges surrounding Anchorage, It’s fair to say the city is blessed with a wealth of natural scenery. You can enjoy the rolling landscape from pretty much anywhere in the city.
Take in the views of the Talkeetna Mountains, Kenai Mountains, Chugach Mountains, Aleutian Range, Tordrillo mountains, and the Alaska Range. Let me just say you won’t be disappointed.
4. Are Wild Animals Common in Anchorage?
Don’t be surprised if you see a giant moose blocking traffic or wolves walking through your backyard. That’s easier said than done, but it’s such a regular sight in Anchorage that you’ll see all the locals just going on with their daily business.
That said, stay indoors and keep a safe distance from wild animals when you do see them.
5. How Many Days Do I Need in Anchorage?
I recommend you spend at least three days in Anchorage. This will give you enough time to explore Downtown and the natural scenery that surrounds the city.
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Downtown Anchorage
Whether visiting Anchorage for work or as a dreamy vacation destination, you’re in for a treat. From exploring Historic 4th Avenue to sipping on some classic craft beer, there are plenty of things to do in Downtown Anchorage.
So, is it a bubbly summer holiday or winter wonderland you seek? Whatever the answer, I think it’s fair to say Anchorage won’t disappoint.
While you’re in this neck of the woods, how about exploring the other beautiful towns in the US, each with its own enchanting atmosphere?
I paid for my flights to and from Alaska. I paid a media rate for my hotel but many of my meals and excursions were covered by Visit Anchorage through the GoWest Summit. As always, my opinions are my own. This article on things to do in downtown Anchorage also includes affiliate links. That means if you click through on some of the links in the article and end up making a purchase I may receive a small commission.