20 Awesome Things to do in Anchorage, Alaska + Complete City Guide

If you are looking for the best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska then you have come to the right place! Alaska is one of the dreamiest destinations on the planet, and no trip to this state would be complete without exploring Anchorage. Anchorage, Alaska is one of the most remote cities in America, located in the northernmost American state.

Having spent some time exploring Alaska on a road trip, I started my trip in Anchorage and it was love at first sight. Now, I will be sharing all my best tips with you in this ultimate guide to the most amazing things you should do in Anchorage so that your time here can be just as memorable as mine.

In this article, you will not only learn about the most incredible places to visit in Anchorage, Alaska but also, a variety of activities that covers a wide range of interests. Whether you are interested in wildlife, hiking, or nature to learn more about things Alaska is known for – I have got you covered! So without any further ado, let’s discover the best of Anchorage, AK.

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things to do in Anchorage

Read More: What is Alaska is Known for?

Top Things to do in Anchorage, Alaska

1. Flightseeing around Anchorage

Let’s start this amazing list of the best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska with the most exciting experience you can get: Flightseeing!

Flying in Alaska is not only about sightseeing, but it is also about access! So especially if you are short on time, flightseeing offers the endless opportunity of you to see the best of Alaska in only a few hours. Flightseeing tours depart from Anchorage all year round and you will find multiple options to choose from, such as this amazing 2-hour and 3 landings, including walking on Knik Glacier.

There are few roads in Alaska, so flying is a way to reach remote areas inaccessible by any other means. Visit national parks such as Denali National Park, you can also fly to see bears feeding on salmon and foraging for clams. Get dropped off for a multi-day float trip. Soar to a river all your own and fish with no one else in sight. These places will just take your breath away!

things to do in Anchorage

2. Hike the Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain is the most-climbed peak in Alaska and is an impressive 3,510 feet (1,067m) high! Although the trail to the top is relatively rocky and steep; hiking to the summit is one of the most rewarding things to do in Anchorage.

You’ll start from Glen Alps Trailhead which is located around 30-minutes from Downtown Anchorage, although shuttle services do run here. From there, you’ll be hiking for around 3 miles to reach the summit. Just make sure you’ve prepared yourself for the elevation gain too!

Once you reach the top you’ll be thoroughly rewarded. From the summit, you’ll get breathtaking views of Denali, the Aleutian Islands, and Mount Mckinley (if it’s a clear day). The views are truly something else, so leave yourself plenty of time at the top.

things to do in Anchorage

3. Visit the Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum is Alaska’s largest museum and is a must-visit during your stay in the city! It’s the best place to learn about this incredible state’s history and the most interesting facts about Alaska, with exhibits detailing the gold rush era and the early settlers. You’ll also get to learn about the devastating earthquake that hit Alaska in 1956!

Throughout the year, you’ll find plenty of temporary exhibitions at the museum. However, there are also lots of permanent exhibits too including ‘Living Our Cultures’, ‘Art of the North’, and ‘Alaska’ which is one of the most popular displays!

Although you could easily spend hours wandering around the Anchorage Museum, the most popular exhibitions can be visited in a couple of hours. Just make sure you allow at least two hours for your visit as this isn’t a place you want to rush.


4. Anchorage Market

Anchorage Market is another popular thing to do in Anchorage and can be found at Diamond Center Mall on 88th Avenue. The market runs from mid-May to mid-September and is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during this time of year.

Visiting this quirky market is one of the best things to do in Anchorage as you’ll get to enjoy live entertainment and taste delicious food. Not only that but over 100 vendors can be found here selling everything from handcrafted jewelry to photography prints. It’s the perfect place to grab a souvenir, so take your time and appreciate the cool atmosphere.

Did I mention it’s also FREE to get in?

Read More: Fun & Interesting Facts About Alaska


5. Go on a Glacier Cruise

If you’re heading to Alaska then you NEED to go on a glacier cruise. Luckily, I’ve got just the one for you!

The incredible 26 Glaciers Cruise is run by Phillips Cruises and departs from Whittier. It will take you through 140+ miles of the famous Prince William Sound which is one of the best places in Alaska for wildlife watching. As the name suggests, this cruise will take you past 26 awesome glaciers and through two fjords; College and Harriman.

During the trip make sure you keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! If you’re lucky you might get to spot orcas, whales, sea lions, and otters!


6. Take the unique Whittier Tunnel to hike Portage Pass

There are plenty of fantastic hikes in and around Anchorage, but you don’t want to miss out on the Portage Pass Trail. To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to drive through Whittier Tunnel first. Once you’ve exited the tunnel take a sharp left and you’re ready to start!

The hike to Portage Glacier is around 2 miles (3.2 km) long and offers stunning views of Maynard Mountain and Shakespeare’s Shoulder. You’ll also be hiking past Divide Lake and deep trenches before you begin your descent to Portage Lake.

Although you can’t get up close to Portage Glacier anymore, you’ll still get breathtaking views of it! If you listen carefully, you might even get to hear ice falling from the glacier as it continues to retreat.

Things to do in Anchorage Alaska

7. Alaska Native Heritage Center

If you’re looking for things to do in Anchorage then make sure you head to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Alaska is a complex state as it’s home to eleven major cultures, and the heritage center is the best place to learn about them!

During your visit, you’ll get to take an in-depth look into the native way of life but that’s not the most special part about this place. At the Alaska Native Heritage Center you’ll get to learn about the cultures through first-hand stories and dances from the local people.

Not only that but there’s a life-size traditional Alaskan longhouse just outside too which you can explore!

things to do in Anchorage

8. Take a scenic drive along Seward Highway

To fully appreciate the beauty of Anchorage and its surroundings, I’d recommend renting a car (or even better an RV). This gives you endless road trip opportunities but you’ll want to make sure that the Seward Highway is at the top of your Alaska bucket list!

The Seward Highway runs from Anchorage to Seward and is one of the most scenic drives you’ll ever come across. The first part of the route will take you along the Turnagain Arm where you’ll get breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountains. If you’re lucky you’ll also get to spot beluga whales! From there, you’ll continue through the Kenai Peninsula.

To make the most of this drive, allow plenty of time as there are lots of attractions to visit along the way! This includes the charming town of Girdwood and Potter Creek Viewpoint.

things to do in Anchorage

9. Enjoy the Bird Creek

As soon as you start your driving south out of Anchorage on the Seward Highway (AK 1), you will already see the stunning mountain views. Stop at some of the viewpoints along the road to admire the views and take some great pictures.

You will see signs on the side of the right side of the road for Bird Creek. There is a nice parking lot and a very short walk with incredible views. I visited during fall and the foliage made the views even more special. You will see the views of the Turnagain Arm, with great opportunity for photos.

things to do in Anchorage

10. Watch the whales at the Beluga Poing Sight

Continuing on Seward Highway, along the Cooke Inlet, you will see signs for the Beluga Point View on the right side of the road. Beluga Point is located at milepost 110.5 on the Seward Highway and only 6.5 miles south of the Anchorage city limits.

This is a great point to see Beluga whales and see the 180-degree views of the breathtaking Turnagain Arm. This is a great spot to visit at high tide when you have the highest chance of spotting the Belugas’ whiteheads popping out of the water. I drove here twice, once in the morning and another time in the mid-afternoon, and the second time I saw at least 6 beluga whales – I have to say that this sight was one of the highlights of my amazing road trip to Alaska.

If you walk along the shore, be very careful with the mudflats, as they can be more deadly than quicksand.


11. Take a scenic train ride on Alaska Railroad

Now, this is an experience I can’t recommend enough! One of the best things to do in Anchorage is to take the Coastal Classic Train that runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks or to Seward.

You’ll be traveling alongside the Turnagain Arm and will get stunning views of the Chugach Mountains, the rugged coastline, and Alaska’s backcountry wilderness along the way. Not only is the scenery spectacular, but you’ve also got a great chance of spotting wildlife too.

If you’re not planning to rent a car then hopping on this train is a great way to appreciate the area’s incredible beauty. This ticket even includes a return journey for the same day which allows you enough time to explore some of Seward too.


12. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center lies on the shores of the stunning Turnagain Arm,11 miles from the Girdwood turnoff, and roughly 45 miles from Anchorage. if you’re driving from Anchorage to Seward or anywhere in the Kenai Peninsula. – Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is 1 hour from Anchorage

Spread across 200 acres of land, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a sizeable habitat that accommodates different species of wild animals. There are hundreds of wild species that call this center home. This includes elks, moose, caribou, lynx, black and brown bears, and many more. Stroll around on foot or drive around the 1.5-mile loop.

PRO-TIP: Check out their full schedule here and book your tickets in advance. If you are in a rush, a great option is to take this half-day tour to the Alaska Conservation Center along with visiting the Portage Valley and the Glaciers in the Valley. Another option is this tour to the Alaska Wildlife Day Tour with Free Hotel Pickup.


13. Ride the tram and hike the new Girdwood

If you’re looking for superb views then make sure you take a trip on the Alyeska Aerial Tram! It will take you up to the top of Mount Alyeska where you’ll get panoramic views of the surrounding glaciers and the Turnagain Arm.

Once you’ve got to the top, there are plenty of things to do like dining at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant or going paragliding. However, the best thing to do up here is to hike!

There are plenty of hikes starting from Alyeska Resort including the iconic North Face Trail which is a 2.2-mile hike. The Upper Tram Terminal Trails and the South Bowl Trails also start from here so you’ve got lots of choices.


Other Fantastic Things to do in Anchorage AK

14. Visit the Eagle River Nature Center

Visiting the Eagle River Nature Center is a must as it’s located just 40-minutes from Downtown Anchorage. It’s easily one of the most scenic areas in Alaska and acts as the gateway to Chugach State Park (which I’ll talk about in a minute).

With a striking glacier river valley, plunging waterfalls, and towering mountain peaks – this place has so much to offer! It’s another fantastic place to hike as there are a variety of trails in the area.

If you’re looking for easy trails then I’d recommend hiking the Albert Loop Trail or the Rodak Nature Trail which offers a beaver and salmon viewing deck. However, if you’re up for a challenge then why not tackle the 23-mile Crow Pass Trail?


15. Go hiking in the Chugach State Park

The amazing Chugach State Park is famous for being one of the largest state parks in the United States and is a must-visit during your time in Anchorage. With stunning landscapes and lots of wildlife-watching opportunities, it’s a great day trip from the city.

Like many of the parks in Alaska, Chugach also offers lots of hiking trails. You’ll find 16 specific trailheads throughout the state park and over 280 miles of trails which is insane!

Whether you’re looking for a short hike or something more challenging – there’s something for everyone! However, some of the most popular trails include the Anchorage Overlook Trail, the Thunderbird Falls Trail, and the O’Malley Peak Trail.


16. Head out on a trolley tour of the city

There are plenty of things to do in Anchorage so you won’t be short of options, but going on a trolley tour of the city is a must! It’s a great way to learn about Anchorage’s history, and if you’re lucky you might come across some urban moose too.

This activity will take you on a 15-mile tour of the city and will drive past all of the iconic attractions including Earthquake Park, Lake Hood, and Westchester Lagoon.

There are two options for this activity; the standard 1-hour Trolley Tour and the Deluxe Trolley Tour. The difference between the two is that with the deluxe tour you’ll actually be able to stop at the sites rather than just drive past them.


17. Chase the Northern Lights

Seeing the Northern Lights is on everyone’s bucket list and it’s not hard to see why! Luckily for you, Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see this natural phenomenon so be prepared for plenty of late nights.

It can be difficult to decide where to start when looking for the Aurora Borealis, which is why I’d recommend checking out this Northern Lights Photo tour! The tour lasts for around 6 hours and you’ll be picked up from your hotel before heading out into the night in search of this natural wonder.

Not only that but you’ll get personalized photography trips from the tour guide so you’ll have plenty of incredible photographs to look back on. Just keep in mind that you’re not guaranteed to spot the Northern Lights as they’re a random occurrence.

things to do in Anchorage

18. Go dog sledding near Anchorage

Going dog sledding is one of the most popular things to do in Anchorage and there are plenty of tour operators you can choose from. Some of the most highly-rated companies in the city include Alaska Mushing School and Greatland Adventures.

Exploring the Alaskan wilderness whilst being towed along by gorgeous dogs is quite honestly one of the coolest experiences you’ll ever have! Many of the tour operators even let you spend time with the dogs afterward so be prepared for cuteness overload.

If you’re looking for an adventure then this fantastic tour includes a dog sledding experience along a glacier and a helicopter ride – two of the BEST ways to experience Alaska!


19. Enjoy the GOOD food in Anchorage

  • Moose’s Tooth: A popular place in Anchorage to get great pizza
  • Bear Tooth: the same company as Moose’s Tooth which also has a movie theater.
  • Glacier BrewHouse: is Anchorage’s premier celebration of local seafood, wood-grilled meats, and house-brewed beer. 
  • Crow’s Nest: You can book a table for dinner and stunning views
  • Kinley’s Restaurant and Bar: is the debut restaurant by Chicago-born Chef Brett Knipmeyer, who has won over Alaskans with his innovative approach to fine dining.
  • Kaladi Brothers Coffee Company is Alaska’s top coffee roaster, Kaladi’s iconic leaping red goat logo can be seen in 13 locations around the city, as well as one in Seattle; its original café can be found at 6921 Brayton Drive.

20. Take a Private Full-Day Tour in Anchorage and Turnagain Arm

Last, but not least on this amazing list of things to do in Anchorage, is this amazing 8-hour private tour option. Especially if you are in a rush, and only have one day to explore Anchorage and the stunning area of Turnagain Arm, this is a perfect option for you!

You will start with an Anchorage city highlight tour, then you will embark on Turnagain Arm, arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the US. You will take a tram at Mt. Alyeska and catch the bird’s eye view of the stunning Turnagain, and enjoy lunch at the top of the mountain. Next, you will have a VIP visit to the Wildlife Conservation Center to see Alaska’s most famous animals.

things to do in Anchorage

Where to Stay in Anchorage

TOP OVERALL PICK: Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown

Rated: 8.7 Excellent

Hyatt Place Anchorage-Midtown provides accommodations with a restaurant, free private parking, a fitness center, and a bar. Excellent location close to most attractions. Buffet and American breakfast are available.


BUDGET: Lake Front Anchorage

Rated: 7.3 God

The Lake Front Anchorage is located on the shore of Lake Hood with amazing views and a 24-hour shuttle service from the airport. Guests can see views of the seaplane airbase from meeting rooms, the dining areas, and the outdoor green space.


BEST LOCATION: Hotel Captain Cook

Rated: 8.6 Very Good

The Hotel Captain Cook has an excellent location, just downtown Anchorage. It features 4 restaurants, 15 retail stores, and spacious and very comfortable rooms.


Anchorage Travel Information

How to Get to Anchorage, AK?


FLYING TO ANCHORAGE

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is the main airport in Anchorage. Most of the flights from the United States and Canada arrive at Anchorage Airport (ANC) and the busiest time is from 10 pm to 2 am when most flights arrive from Seatle. If you arrive earlier, you can pick up your car at the airport and head to dinner, and head to your hotel. View direct service from domestic airports; Look for flights to Asia and Europe for international connections.


CRUISES TO ANCHORAGE

Cruises and the state ferry system connect the Pacific Northwest with Alaska. One-way cruises depart Vancouver, British Columbia, and travel the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska, and into Southcentral 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

DRIVING IN 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.

I drove from Anchorage to Seward, and the drive is long, but don’t you worry! This is a scenic road, with great views of mountains and the coast. You will take the scenic Seward Highway once again. Drive along the Cooke Inlet and Turnagain Arm – don’t forget to keep an eye for Belugas 😉

You can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.

Weather in Anchorage, AK?

The summers are cool, wet, and overcast and the winters are long, freezing, snowy, windy, and mostly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 22°F to 62°F and is rarely below 6°F or above 70°F.

The warm season lasts for 3.5 months, from May 31 to September 14, with an average daily high temperature above 56°F. The hottest month of the year in Seward is July, with an average high of 61°F and a low of 50°F.

The cold season lasts for 4.2 months, from November 7 to March 15, with an average daily high temperature below 37°F. The coldest month of the year in Seward is January, with an average low of 23°F and a high of 32°F.

What to Pack for Anchorage, AK?

  • Complete Packing List: If you are short on time, check my Ultimate Packing List for Alaska with a FREE printable packing list
  • Portable water bottle: Remember to bring and drink a lot of water and if you need to refill, a LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle is the best option. You will find stations to refill your water along the hiking trails
  • Day-Backpack: I love my day backpack; it is very handy for hiking.
  • Excellent and warm boots: It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Anchorage, make sure to wear comfortable and warm boots. I love my Sorel boots and I highly recommend investing in a pair.
  • Warm Layers: Early morning or late night can get cold so it is important to bring layers, a lightweight puffy jacket is a must, and I love these warm leggings too!
  • Packing for winter: During winter make sure to have a good quality hiking jacket and pack a warm pair of pants for your hike.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses: It is always important to protect yourself against the sun. Bring a hat with a good face cover like this one and don’t forget to pack a pair of polarized sunglasses
  • Bring your Camera: You will see some incredible views during your hiking, so don’t forget your camera, or check out some great value options here

Read More: What to pack for Alaska + FREE printable packing list

Things to do in Anchorage, Alaska Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Anchorage Alaska – from enjoying the stunning views of the mountains, and going on a tour to observe the wildlife and glaciers, to exploring nature and the views of Anchorage.

You won’t be bored here, and you will definitely find amazing things to do in Anchorage for any taste or adventure level. I recommend spending at least 2 days and 1 night in Anchorage to explore and take advantage of one of the best places in Alaska.

If you are planning a trip to Alaska, here are some very helpful articles for you:

Things to do in Anchorage Alaska

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