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Update June 2023

What to see in Anchorage, Alaska? Anchorage is where most travelers start their Alaska dream RV adventure. There are many things to see and do, and these are just a few ideas. Here are 14 of the best things to see in Anchorage and add to your Alaska itinerary.

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, is a captivating blend of urban amenities and breathtaking natural beauty. From rugged mountains to vibrant cultural scenes, this northern gem offers a myriad of attractions that will leave you awe-inspired. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the must-see sights and hidden gems of Anchorage, ensuring an unforgettable Alaskan adventure.

Anchorage Downtown Mural
Anchorage Downtown Mural

Today, we wake to overcast skies and drizzling rain; the temperature has dropped from the high 70s to the low 60s. We get an early start, making the most of our last day in Alaska. Because we have a late evening flight, we get to spend the entire day in Anchorage. However, we needed to return the RV to the Great Alaskan Holiday RV by 6 PM. There was very little traffic traveling down the George Parks Highway, making it into Anchorage around 10 AM.

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Views of Downtown Anchorage from Point Woronzof park
Views of Downtown Anchorage from Point Woronzof
“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

What to Explore Anchorage, Alaska: 15 Must-See Attractions and Hidden Gems

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking adventure, Anchorage has something for everyone. Here are 15 must-see attractions and hidden gems to explore in this Alaskan gem:

Moose on the Tony Knowles Trail Anchorage Alaska
Photo Credit: Cindy Moss

1. Anchorage Log Cabin Visitor Information Center: Your Gateway to Alaska’s Urban Wilderness

Want to see more information on Anchorage? Places to visit, things to do. This should be your first stop before walking around in downtown Anchorage. They house it in an authentic log cabin with a grass roof on the corner of 4th Avenue and F Street. Step inside the Anchorage Log Cabin Visitor Information Center, and you’ll be greeted by friendly and knowledgeable staff who are eager to help you make the most of your time in Anchorage. They can provide you with maps, brochures, and personalized recommendations to tailor your experience to your interests. The garden flowers and huge vegetables were unbelievable. This is a reoccurring theme. There are beautiful flowers all over the city. Open daily, except for major holidays: mid-May to mid-September: 8 am- 7 pm.

What to see in Anchorage Alaska-Visit Anchorage Visitor Center
Anchorage Visitor Center

2. Alaska Native Heritage Center: Discovering Alaska’s Indigenous Cultures

Alaska Native Heritage Center Logo

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a cultural education institution along the Glenn Highway just outside Anchorage, Alaska. The facility sits on 26 wooded acres, the center welcomes visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – May through September. At the entrance, we stopped the RV to watch a momma moose and her little one munching on the underbrush. We never tire of seeing these magnificent animals. The center is a quiet place of reflection for many. You would never know it is located so close to the Glenn Highway.

Alaska Native Heritage Center Island Yupik Village Site Dwelling
Island Yupik Village Site

The museum is a must-do when in Anchorage. It takes about 1-2 hrs to view all the presentations and activities. The entrance cost is about $30 dollars very reasonable. The center provides in-depth education on the various native cultures–their clothing, their houses, their art. You could literately spend hours engaged in fascinating and educational conversations with cultural experts. Since my husband is Native American, I always enjoy learning more about Alaska’s indigenous people. This is a great learning experience with lots of fascinating information.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center offers a multi-sensory and immersive experience that transports visitors into the vibrant world of Alaska’s indigenous cultures. Explore authentic Native dwellings, known as “cultural houses,” representing different regions and tribes across Alaska. Immerse yourself in captivating stories, art, and performances that showcase the rich traditions and history of Alaska Native peoples

What to see in Anchorage Alaska-Earthquake Park

3. The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964: Exploring Earthquake Park and its Historic Significance

We first visited the park on the Anchorage Trolley tour. I wanted to spend more time, so we returned to our rental car and drove over to spend an hour or so getting a more in-depth understanding of the event. On March 27, 1964, the Great Alaskan Earthquake rocked the state, leaving a lasting impact on the landscape and communities of Anchorage. Earthquake Park stands as a memorial to this significant event, offering visitors a glimpse into the devastating power of nature and the resilience of Alaskans. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the history of the 1964 earthquake and the significance of Earthquake Park as a place of remembrance and reflection..

Welcome to Earthquake Park-Anchorage Sign

While much of the affected area has been reclaimed by nature, visitors to Earthquake Park can still observe remnants of the earthquake’s impact. The park showcases a preserved section of the damaged coastline, where the land subsided (15 feet) and the remnants of destroyed houses and structures serve as a poignant reminder of the forces at play during the earthquake. There are lots of walking trails throughout the park for hikers and bikers to enjoy, including the Tony Knowles Trail. Closely follows the water’s edge of Cook Inlet. There are mosquitoes, but they did not bother us.

Women in front of tunnel on the Tony Knowles Trail Anchorage
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail Tunnel

4. Exploring Anchorage’s Scenic Gem: The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

If you want to see Anchorage on foot, try this trail. Stretching 11 miles along the scenic coast of Anchorage, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail offers an unforgettable outdoor experience for visitors and locals alike. Named after former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, this picturesque trail winds its way through stunning natural landscapes, providing breathtaking views of the mountains, wildlife sightings, and a chance to immerse oneself in the beauty of Alaska’s wilderness. The trail begins at the downtown Anchorage area, near the Second Avenue and H Street intersection. Its endpoint is in Kincaid Park. Keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead, moose grazing in the nearby fields, and beluga whales swimming in the Cook Inlet during the summer months.

The views along the trail are amazing! You definitely have a high chance of seeing wildlife. We saw a momma moose and her twins on our way to Earthquake Park. We keep our distance until they moved off the trail. Earthquake Park commemorates the 1964 earthquake, which devastated the city of Anchorage and the surrounding region. Take your camera for unimpeded views of the Anchorage skyline, and on a clear, sunny day you can see the Sleeping Lady or Mt. Denali. Point Woronzof at milepost 4 is beside Terry Steven’s Airport runways and a good place to watch the jets land and take off.

 TRAVEL TIP: Keep an open eye on bikes as they zip by quickly, without warning.

Credit: Pixabay

5. A Delightful Stroll to Remember: Exploring the Alaska Zoo on Foot

Alaska Zoo provides a unique opportunity to get up close and personal, with an array of fascinating wildlife from the Last Frontier. A small zoo that encompasses 25-acres has mostly animals native to Alaska. Only a 20 minute drive or you can take the free shuttle from the information center in downtown Anchorage. Most of the animals here are rescues they rehabilitate. Returning them to the wild, the animals would not survive. However, it is worth the price of admission if you have a few hours to spare in the afternoon. I love watching wolves, but today the snow leopard captured my heart.

Alaska Zoo sign-What to see in Anchorage Alaska
Alaska Zoo

I do not think that it is as good as the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Most of the animals are in cages not very conducive to photography – unlike the AWCC. The animals appear well cared for, and they offer educational interactions throughout the day. The Alaska Zoo isn’t enormous; you can do the entire thing in less than an hour. The zoo is open year-round. The gift shop had a modest selection of gifts and there is a little shop for food, snacks or coffee, overall an enjoyable experience and fun for the family.

Flattop Mountain Trail
Flattop Mountain Trail

6. Conquer the Iconic Flattop Mountain: A Thrilling Climb in Chugach State Park

Want to see Anchorage from above? You cannot be in Anchorage and not attempt Flattop Mountain Trail in Chugach State Park. Rising majestically above Anchorage, Flattop Mountain stands as an iconic symbol of adventure and natural beauty. For those that do not have rental cars, consider booking the Flattop Mountain shuttle. Shuttle departs at 12:15pm and returns from Flattop at 4pm. There is a $5/per vehicle day-use fee for the parking area.

Flattop Mountain View of Anchorage
Flattop Mountain View of Anchorage

Chugach State Park is a vast wilderness playground on the doorstep of Anchorage, encompassing rugged mountains, sparkling lakes, and sprawling valleys. At the heart of the park, Flattop Mountain beckons climbers with its distinctive flat summit, providing a challenging but achievable ascent. Take the 0.3-mile overlook trail where you can take amazing panoramic shots of Anchorage and Cook Inlet. For those that do not want to hike, there is no need to climb higher along the trail unless you want to.

The 1.5-mile blueberry loop trail itself is a fairly easy hike and is very popular with locals. It is advisable to arrive before midday, as the car park can be full early on a sunny weekend day. Definitely wear good hiking shoes, warm windbreaker, trekking poles are helpful and plenty of water. Lots of blueberry bushes in flower along the trail. The trail is above the treeline so it exposes you to the elements. Luckily, we had an absolutely perfect day in terms of weather for the entire time on the mountain. So lace up your boots, prepare for an unforgettable experience, and embark on the remarkable ascent of Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park.

Anchorage Trolley Tour
Anchorage Trolley Tour

7. Anchorage Trolley Tour: Exploring the City’s Charms on a Captivating Journey

Hop aboard a charming trolley and embark on a guided journey through the city’s fascinating history, iconic landmarks, and breathtaking scenery. They offer a 15-mile historic and scenic tour of Anchorage for $20 per adult. Our guide Donna was very information. She shared family stories of her time in Anchorage that added to the history. We enjoyed the 45-minute trolley tour. However, later we took time to go back to many of the sites to further explore and take better pictures.

The basic trolley tour does not let you get off. Unfortunately, all pics are taken through the windows. I would have preferred the extended tour which allows they limited stopping and getting out for pictures but on time. I wish it had shown more of the city but understand they constrict it because of time. Worth the price to get the lay of the land or if you do not have a rental car.

Anchorage Museum
Anchorage Museum

8. Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center: Where History Comes to Life

This is well worth the visit, particularly combining it with the Native Heritage Center. This premier museum offers a captivating journey through time, showcasing a diverse range of exhibits and artifacts that tell the stories of Alaska’s indigenous cultures, its unique natural environment, and the dynamic history of Anchorage itself. The many halls are easily accessible for everyone with lots of detailed information.

The “Art of the North” Gallery housed several historical paintings from the 1800s and beyond, and it was outstanding. Such beautiful art from early explorers of Alaska as very thought-provoking art works.

We also really enjoyed the exhibit on the native Alaskan people, called the “Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center”, where they showcased historical clothing, tools, toys and other artifacts from the Smithsonian Institutes National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian. We found it most interesting how the First Nations they portrayed the historic timeline from Nanuk of the North to present day, Very realistic exhibits portraying Alaskan life through the ages including salmon fishing. Take the time to listen to the native presenters telling their stories on the large video screens.

Bear Artwork-Anchorage
Bear Artwork-Anchorage

Definitely recommend visiting this museum. It was a good use of our time as we started off our Alaskan Adventure. The Imaginarium Discovery Center is great for kids.

The giftshop had fantastic items including native jewelry and fine art and many books on Alaskan heritage. Cafes and restaurants are good and give you space to relax. We had lunch at the museum restaurant, “Muse” and enjoyed it immensely. They have a varied menu and our choices were delicious. Admission charges are reasonable, with discounts for seniors amongst others. This is a great museum and I would highly recommend a visit.  

Anchorage Flower Mining Sled
Anchorage Flower Mining Sled

9. Embrace the Spirit of Alaska: Exploring Markets and Festivals

Anchorage Market bear paws

When you visit Anchorage, do not miss the Anchorage Market. There is ample parking near the market for a reasonable cost for your RV. In the heart of downtown Anchorage, and outside the Dimond Center Mall at 88th Street. This market has over 100 vendors spread over 3-acres. Open Fridays–10am-6pm, Saturdays–10am-6pm & Sundays 10am-5pm throughout the summer, vendors sell a wide variety of Alaskan-made goods and local foods. The market creates a festive atmosphere. The entry is free with lots of entertainment. The Anchorage Market & Festival is a convenient, fun place to browse the stalls, sample foods, or just sit back and enjoy the live music. I liked they had a trail of bear paws etched into the pavement for you to follow. Very cute!!

Alaska Fireweed display
Photo Credit: Cindy Moss

What to See at the Market?

What to see in Anchorage Alaska-Anchorage Market & Festival
Anchorage Market & Festival

You may think that this is full of touristy trinkets, but it offers many uniquely Alaskan gifts and experiences. Highly recommended by many of the locals, the Anchorage Market has live music. Many of the food vendors offer Alaskan foods such as fresh fish, seafood, and bison burgers. There are representations from other countries such as Hawaii, Asian, and Russian if you prefer.

We purchased a few items, mainly soap and jam. The vendors only take cash. If you see something you like, don’t hesitate-just buy it. I regret we did not purchase the beaver fur slippers. It impressed me with the number of local wares from the local artist. Vendors were selling Ulu knives, and various carvings made of wood, bone and antler, different fur products, honey, reindeer sausage, and art/photography products. Most of the items sold here are of high quality. If you need a T-shirt, you can find one here! We planned to do a quick walkthrough but still ended up browsing for about an hour.

What to see in Downtown Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage Alaska Photo: by 12019- Pixabay

10. Searching the Enchanting Touristy Shops of Bear Square

The touristy shops of Bear Square are a treasure trove of Alaska-themed souvenirs. From T-shirts and hoodies adorned with bear motifs to keychains, magnets, and postcards featuring stunning Alaskan landscapes, you’ll find a wide variety of keepsakes to commemorate your visit. Take your time to browse through the shops, and choose the perfect memento to remind you of your Alaskan adventure.

Lots of entertainment here; Bear Paw Mining Co. where kids learn how to pan for gold, Bear & Raven Adventure Theater (E Street Theater), and Bear-Ly Enough Ice Cream with flavors of ice cream you would never see in the lower 48. Many tours are located here. You can board the Anchorage City Trolley or hop on Segway Tours of Anchorage for a unique exploration of the city.

Aspens in Earthquake Park near Anchorage Alaska
Earthquake Park

11. Shopping the Gift Stores for Local Art & Crafts or Locally Made Products

What to see in Anchorage Alaska-Bear Square, Alaska
Bear Square

There are a few gift stores on 4th Avenue. Grizzly Gifts are the best one if you are looking for one-stop shopping for gifts to take home from Alaska. This is your place! This business has a wide and varied selection of reasonably priced Alaskan souvenirs. There are large stuffed animals sitting out in front of the store. Be sure to get a picture!!

Trapper Jack’s Trading Post has a great selection of T-shirts and hats. The quality of the merchandise seemed excellent and there’s a vast array of shirts. Many are budget-friendly. You can save with a gift coupon from the Alaska Tours Book. I loved the selection at this store.

Iditarod Start Point-Anchorage
Iditarod Start Point-Anchorage

12. The Iconic Iditarod: Celebrating Balto, the Wonder Dog

One thing I loved about Anchorage was the number of beautiful flowers in planters and hanging baskets scattered along the street. The city is also spotless and the people are very friendly. The Iditarod sled dog race begins on Fourth Avenue at D Street. Commemorated by a statue with a dedication plaque, this is the unofficial start line for the race. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is a legendary event that showcases the indomitable spirit of Alaska and the remarkable bond between humans and their canine companions. Among the many tales that have emerged from this iconic race, one name stands out—Balto, the Wonder Dog.

Balto was a very brave hero who lived from 1919 – March 14, 1933. In 1925 Balto, a Siberian Husky sled dog led his team on the last leg of the serum run to Nome. The serum run delivered the diphtheria antitoxin started by train from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska. Dog sled was the only mode of transportation to Nome. They needed the vaccine to combat an outbreak of disease. Balto’s heroics saved the lives of many children. The annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race celebrates this “Serum Run”.

Eisenhower Alaska Statehood Monument
Eisenhower Alaska Statehood Monument

13. Eisenhower Alaska Statehood Monument: Honoring a Milestone in Alaska’s History

This significant landmark commemorates the journey of Alaska towards statehood and the contributions of those who played a pivotal role in shaping its future. The Eisenhower Alaska Statehood Monument commemorates the signing of the Alaska Statehood Act by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 7, 1958. This act paved the way for Alaska’s admission as the 49th state of the United States on January 3, 1959. The monument stands as a symbol of Alaska’s journey towards self-governance and the rights and privileges that come with statehood.

It is best to take in this site with a guide who can give you the big picture view of the site, especially the Alaska Railroad history. The small monument overlooks the train depot. The centerpiece of the monument is a bronze statue of President Eisenhower, depicted holding a pen and standing on a granite base.

Lake Hood Seaplane Base
Lake Hood Seaplane Base

14. Lake Hood Seaplane Base: Anchorage’s Gateway to Aerial Adventures

Lake Hood is thought to be the largest floatplane harbor in the world. The base is next to Lake Spenard and Ted Stevens International Airport. We stopped at one area around the lake to watch planes taxi, takeoff and land. There are varying types of seaplanes parked along the shores of the lake. On the trolley tour, our guide told us that approximately 1 in 5 people have a pilot’s licenses in Alaska.

Pilots can fly as young as 14-years of age, even before they have their learners permit for a car. Really brings to the forefront the importance of bush planes. Excellent place to find excursions for fishing, bear viewing and flightseeing fly directly from the seaplane base. If you have additional time to check out the Alaska Aviation Museum found nearby. Lake Hood is not just a transportation hub; it is a thriving community of pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and support services.

Sleeping Lady Mt Susitna from Point Woronzof Park
Sleeping Lady Mt Susitna from Point Woronzof Park

15. Point Woronzof: Revel in the Breathtaking Coastal Views

One of the main attractions of Point Woronzof is its stunning coastal scenery. From the point, visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas of Cook Inlet, with its vast expanse of water, distant mountains, and the potential to see wildlife. On clear days, the view includes the Alaska Range and the impressive Mount Susitna, also known as “Sleeping Lady.”

Point Woronzof is named after the Woronzof family, who were early settlers in the area. It has historical significance as a landing site for early aviators, including the famous aviator Wiley Post, who made history with his solo flight around the world in 1933. Point Woronzof has a commemorative plaque honoring Wiley Post and his contributions to aviation. Did I mention that many of the locals come here just to watch planes landing at the airport?

Ginny's Lakeside Retreat-Jewel Lake
Ginny’s Lakeside Retreat-Jewel Lake

Unveiling Anchorage’s Finest Accommodations: The Best Places to Stay

Choosing the best place to stay in Anchorage depends on your preferences, budget, and the purpose of your visit. Remember to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your preferred choice. Consider factors such as location, amenities, and reviews to find the best place that suits your needs and enhances your Anchorage experience. Here are some top recommendations for accommodations in Anchorage:

  • The Hotel Captain Cook in downtown Anchorage, The Hotel Captain Cook is a luxurious and iconic hotel known for its impeccable service and stunning views.
  • The Lakefront Anchorage on the shore of Lake Spenard, The Lakefront Anchorage provides a serene and picturesque setting. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, an on-site restaurant specializing in Alaskan cuisine, and a lakeside deck where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets. It’s conveniently near the airport.
  • Ginny’s Lakeside Retreat-We stayed at this Airbnb before/after our Brooks Falls Trip. Ginny is the perfect host. We arrived late and had clear communication. The setting is beautiful. The lake and dock are an added bonus. We felt right at home with the dogs & cats. Will definitely stay on our next Alaska trip!
Crab Leg Dinner Anchorage
King Crab Legs

Savor the Flavors of Alaska: Dining Gems in Anchorage

Anchorage, Alaska’s vibrant and cosmopolitan city, is not only a gateway to outdoor adventures but also a culinary destination that delights food enthusiasts. From fresh seafood caught in the nearby waters to innovative interpretations of traditional Alaskan cuisine, Anchorage offers a diverse dining scene that showcases the unique flavors and ingredients of the Last Frontier.

We could not leave Alaska without having a meal of snow crab legs. Established in 1978, we choose to eat at Simon & Seafort’s Saloon & Grill based on reviews from TripAdvisor. This is a very upscale restaurant. It is not only renown for the incredible food but also for the panoramic views of the Cook Inlet and the mountains from the window seats. You need a reservation for dinner. We split a large order of crab legs that were fresh and sweet-tasting. We ordered macadamia & crab stuffed halibut, halibut cheeks, and sea scallop entrees.

Everyone in the restaurant seemed to enjoy the food. The server answered our questions and recommended foods from the menu. The hostess was very attentive, checking to see that our food had arrived in about 15 minutes.

Lupine in Spring Alaska
Lupine in Spring Alaska

What Additional Dining Options when in Anchorage

  • Glacier Brewhouse – Not just about the beer, you must eat at the Glacier Brewhouse! This place was amazing! Try sitting at the bar and order appetizers, especially the seafood chowder.
  • Kincaid Grill and Wine Bar – Close to the airport, great stop for your last meal before heading home. Highly recommend the tasting menu- the shrimp and cheese grits are outstanding, both texture and flavor.
  • Snow City Café – Try the tundra scramble with Reindeer sausage or the deadliest catch of salmon or the king crab cakes benedict. Absolutely delightful!
Eklutna Lake-Chugach State Park
Eklutna Lake-Chugach State Park

Final Thoughts Saying Goodbye-What to See in Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska, is a destination that seamlessly blends nature’s wonders with urban delights. From the rugged mountains to the captivating cultural experiences, the city offers a wealth of attractions to explore. Whether you’re drawn to the outdoors, art and culture, or wildlife encounters, Anchorage promises an unforgettable adventure that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. So, pack your sense of adventure and embark on a journey to discover the diverse charms of this remarkable Alaskan city.

With the gas tank on empty, we just make it back to the Great Alaskan Holidays facility and return the RV. The check-in process goes quickly and smoothly. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Alaska, boarding the shuttle as we head to the airport. This has been the adventure of a lifetime-our Alaska dream vacation. We have enjoyed our travels to Denali National Park, Seward, Sterling, and Homer. Alaska will get in your blood. We will be back!!!!

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