Anchorage has something for everyone, whether it’s sightseeing, learning about the local culture, watching wildlife or hiking a nearby mountain trail.
But these days, everyone wants a deal. And a visit to Anchorage doesn’t have to break the bank to discover and enjoy all that this great city has to offer. The Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau offers these 20 opportunities that are $10 or less—many of them even free.
1. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
This spectacular multi-use trail hugs the Anchorage coastline of Cook Inlet from Second Avenue in downtown Anchorage all the way to south Anchorage’s Kincaid Park, located 11 sprawling miles away. Whether walking, running, biking or blading, keep an eye out for dramatic views of Knik Arm, Cook Inlet, six mountain ranges surrounding Anchorage and the beauty of Sleeping Lady mountain across the water, Earthquake Park and Point Woronzof. Wildlife viewing is abundant with many birds, small mammals, beluga whales, moose and even an occasional bear sighting.
Held in downtown Anchorage every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer, this open-air market mixes one-of-a-kind arts, crafts and giant Alaska grown vegetables with live music, street performers and a selection of local and international food.
Wild salmon take to the streets each summer from June through late August, when 20 wacky salmon sculptures “swim” through downtown during Wild Salmon on Parade. The 4-foot statues are original, whimsical designs by Alaska artists. Established in 2003 and modeled after Cows on Parade in Chicago, Wild Salmon on Parade is a fun way to raise awareness and appreciation for salmon habitat, history and its physical properties. As the summer ends and the salmon run slows, the sculptures are auctioned off for charity at the annual Fish Fry & Buy.
4. First Friday Art Walk
Art enthusiasts can gallery-hop and view local Alaska artwork at many of Anchorage’s finest showrooms, coffee shops and eateries the first Friday of each month. A complete list of participating businesses is found in the free Anchorage Press paper.
Music in the Park is a favorite among both visitors and residents. Local musical acts perform at Peratrovich Park, located right downtown in front of the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon throughout the summer.
6. Anchorage Downtown Walking Tour
Visitors can explore Anchorage by foot and see how it has grown from the tent-lined streets of its early years to a cosmopolitan city complete with unique attractions, shops, galleries and historical treasures. Start at the Anchorage Log Cabin Visitors Information Center on the corner of Fourth Avenue and F Street to pick up a map of this three-hour walking tour.
7. Salmon Viewing at Ship Creek
Ship Creek runs through the Port of Anchorage to the ocean waters of Cook Inlet, a favorite local fishing spot set against the backdrop of the Anchorage skyline. Sedge flats and ocean-fed waters provide strong salmon runs, as well as a habitat for migratory shore birds.
Located just south of Anchorage, visitors can hike up Mount Alyeska and visit the historic roundhouse museum. Take in the history of the small community of Girdwood and find out why Alyeska is called the perfect mountain. Hikers get a free ride down via the Alyeska Tramway.
Located in downtown Anchorage, the Alaska Public Lands Building is a great information center with wonderful data and maps about Alaska’s national and state parks, as well as museum displays and informational videos.
Located in south Anchorage along the scenic Seward Highway, bird watchers can stroll along a 1,150-foot wooden boardwalk that stretches into the 2,300-acre Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, where more than 220 bird species are discovered. During the late spring and early fall, the wetlands are a great spot for viewing red-necked phalaropes, horned and red-necked grebes, northern pintails, Canada geese, canvasback ducks and northern harriers. Keep an eye out for moose in the marsh.
Visitors can learn all about the history of law enforcement in the last frontier at this interesting museum. The museum features a fully restored Hudson Hornet automobile among other memorabilia.
If visitors have their own GPS device, they can pick up a geo-caching guide from the Anchorage Log Cabin Visitors Information Center and go on a high-tech treasure hunt.
13. Frisbee Golf
A popular late-night activity is a round of Frisbee golf under the endless midnight sun. Anchorage has four scenic courses. Players often see wildlife wandering around the baskets.
14. Oscar Anderson House Museum
Built in 1915, the Oscar Anderson House Museum is an original Anchorage town-site house and one of the first wood structures built in the city. The 45-minute guided tour provides a great explanation of Anchorage's short history and life before statehood. The house contains many of the Anderson family's original belongings, including a working 1909 player piano around which the structure was built.
15. Crow Creek Mine
Nestled in the Chugach Mountains in the Girdwood Valley, historic Crow Creek Mine offers a unique blend of historical buildings, antiques, rare mining equipment, beautiful gardens, wildlife viewing and hiking trails as well as access to explore the mine’s original claims. Visitors can learn to pan for their own gold and give it a try along Crow Creek.
16. Flattop Mountain Trail
The most hiked trail in Anchorage, Flattop Mountain is great for hikers of all abilities and offers stunning views of the city and surrounding mountain ranges. Located up the hillside from Anchorage, there is ample parking at the trailhead and a shuttle that runs by request from downtown Anchorage (for an extra cost).
Cost for parking: $5
The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center features exquisite artwork by Alaskans, exceptional historical artifacts and traveling exhibits from around the world. In May 2009, visitors and locals will get a first look at the museum expansion project that began in 2006: Alaska’s home for the Smithsonian Institution, new galleries, new shop and café and a planetarium. The Anchorage Museum is a favorite of residents and out-of-state visitors, so this is a highly anticipated opening.
With more than 1,100 species of hardy perennials, and 150 native plant species, the Alaska Botanical Garden is the place to experience the abundance of the summer sub-Arctic growing season and to learn about flora native to South Central Alaska.
19. The Bear Tooth Theatre
Named after Bear Tooth Peak in the Alaska Range near Mt. McKinley, the Bear Tooth Theatre is not your ordinary movie house. The concession counter is a full-service kitchen featuring gourmet pizza, burritos, tacos, salads and desserts. Food is made to order and delivered to you in the theater (with the help of a glow-in-the-dark number), where every other row of seats has been removed and replaced with table tops. The movie house features second-run contemporary, independent, foreign and classic films.
Traveling north of Anchorage, just 20 minutes from downtown Anchorage is the Eagle River Nature Center, located in a glacier-carved valley. The Nature Center is open year-round and offers weekly interpretive programs and guided nature walks for summer visitors. Wildlife abounds here including brown and black bears, Dall sheep, moose, lynx, wolverines, eagles and salmon.
Cost: $1 for self-guided walks; $10 per person for 1.5-hour naturalist guided walk
Explore www.Anchorage.net for more information.