Things to do

20 Unique Things To Do In Anchorage Alaska

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Anchorage, Alaska, is a vibrant city located in the south-central part of the state. It’s the largest city in Alaska and serves as a major transportation hub with a port, airport, and road connections to other parts of the state.

This city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including mountains, forests, and waterways. It experiences a subarctic climate, with long, cold winters and mild summers.

Anchorage offers a range of outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing. So, let us explore 20 must-do things in this vibrant Alaskan city.

1. Go Bear Viewing at Brooks Falls

Bear viewing at Brooks Falls is a spectacular wildlife experience located in Katmai National Park, Alaska. This famous site attracts visitors during the summer months, particularly from mid-July to mid-August, when salmon are running upstream to spawn.

The falls provide an ideal vantage point for observing brown bears as they skillfully catch fish leaping from the water. Elevated viewing platforms offer safe and breathtaking views of these powerful predators in action.

The experience is enhanced by the dramatic scenery of the rugged Alaskan wilderness, making it a must-see for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers.

2. Hike the Flattop Mountain Trail

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The Flattop Mountain Trail is one of Anchorage’s most popular hiking destinations, offering stunning panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes. Located within the Flattop Mountain area of Chugach State Park, the trail is a moderately challenging 3.3-mile round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,400 feet.

Hikers are rewarded with breathtaking vistas of Anchorage, Cook Inlet, and the surrounding mountain ranges, including the majestic peaks of Denali on clear days.

The trail is well-maintained but steep in sections, so proper footwear and a moderate fitness level are recommended. During summer, the hike is framed by wildflowers, and in winter, it becomes a popular spot for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing.

3. Explore the Alaska Zoo

The Zoo showcases a variety of Arctic and sub-Arctic animals, including polar bears, moose, musk oxen, and reindeer. The zoo's mission is to promote the conservation of Alaskan wildlife and their habitats, and it often participates in breeding and rescue programs.

Visitors can explore the zoo's well-maintained exhibits and learn about the animals' natural behaviors and conservation needs. In addition to its animal exhibits, the Alaska Zoo offers educational programs, special events, and seasonal activities, making it a valuable resource for both locals and tourists interested in Alaskan wildlife.

4. Visit the Earthquake Park

Earthquake Park in Anchorage, AK, is a unique and educational site dedicated to the 1964 Great Alaskan Earthquake, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. The park offers visitors a chance to explore trails and view exhibits that illustrate the impact of the quake on the city.

The area features informative signs detailing the earthquake's magnitude, the resulting tsunamis, and the changes to the landscape. A visit to Earthquake Park provides insight into the geological forces that shape the region and is a compelling addition to the list of things to do in Anchorage, AK.

It’s a great spot for both learning and enjoying scenic views of the surrounding area.

5. Take a Ride on the Alaska Railroad

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The Alaska Railroad, established in 1914, is a historic and essential mode of transportation that spans 470 miles from Seward in the south to Fairbanks in the north. It serves as a lifeline for communities and industries across Alaska, providing both passenger and freight services.

This scenic railroad is renowned for its stunning views of mountains, glaciers, rivers, and wildlife. Passengers can experience the rugged beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, including glimpses of Denali, the highest peak in North America, and the dramatic cliffs of the Matanuska Glacier.

The train features comfortable accommodations, including panoramic domed cars for optimal viewing, and onboard dining options.

6. Visit the Oscar Anderson House Museum

The Oscar Anderson House Museum is a historical landmark in Anchorage, Alaska, offering a glimpse into early 20th-century life in the region. Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, this well-preserved home was built in 1915 and is named after its original owner, Oscar Anderson, a prominent early settler and businessman.

Visitors to the museum can explore the restored interior, which showcases period furnishings and artifacts, providing a snapshot of Anchorage's past. As a unique stop for sightseeing in Anchorage, Alaska, the museum offers guided tours that highlight the city's history and the development of the area from its early days to the present.

7. Try Dog Mushing

If you're wondering what is there to do in Anchorage, Alaska, dog mushing is a thrilling experience to consider. Dog mushing, also known as sled dog racing, is deeply rooted in Alaskan history and culture.

In Anchorage, you can take part in guided tours that let you ride in a sled pulled by a team of enthusiastic sled dogs. These tours often provide an introduction to the sport, including the chance to meet and interact with the dogs and learn about their training and care.

During the winter, you might glide across snowy trails, while in the summer, some tours use wheeled sleds.

8. Take a Glacier Cruise

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A glacier cruise in Anchorage, Alaska, offers an unforgettable adventure through some of the most stunning and remote landscapes in the state. Departing from the nearby port of Whittier or Seward, these cruises navigate through the pristine waters of Prince William Sound or Kenai Fjords National Park, where massive glaciers meet the sea.

Passengers are treated to spectacular views of calving glaciers—where chunks of ice break off and plunge into the water—along with majestic fjords and diverse marine wildlife like sea otters, seals, and humpback whales.

Some cruises also offer the chance to go kayaking or take guided hikes on the glacier. These cruises typically range from half-day to full-day excursions, and their scenic routes provide an immersive experience of Alaska's dramatic natural beauty.

9. Explore the Alaska Botanical Garden

The Alaska Botanical Garden, a must-visit destination among things to do in Alaska Anchorage, showcases the diverse flora of the region. Located in Anchorage, this 110-acre garden features a variety of plant collections, including native Alaskan species, alpine plants, and vibrant wildflowers.

Visitors can explore scenic walking trails, thematic gardens, and well-maintained landscapes that highlight the beauty of Alaskan flora. The garden also offers educational programs, seasonal events, and volunteer opportunities, making it a great place to learn about and appreciate the natural environment of Alaska.

Located in the heart of the city, the gallery features a diverse collection of handmade crafts, jewelry, and artwork created by native Alaskan artists. Visitors can explore intricate carvings, vibrant beadwork, and traditional garments, reflecting the rich heritage of the Aleutian and other indigenous peoples of Alaska.

The gallery also hosts cultural events and exhibitions, providing a deep dive into the artistic traditions of the region. For those looking for things to do Anchorage, a visit to the Aleutian Arts and Crafts Gallery offers a meaningful way to connect with Alaskan art and culture.

11. Go on a Whale-watching Tour

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Whale-watching tours in Anchorage are among the top Anchorage tourist spots for an unforgettable experience. These tours typically depart from Whittier or Seward, which are accessible from Anchorage and provide access to the pristine waters of Prince William Sound or Resurrection Bay.

On a whale-watching tour, you might see humpback whales breaching, orcas hunting, and gray whales migrating. The tours often include knowledgeable guides who provide insights into whale behavior, ecology, and the region’s marine environment.

Alongside whales, you may also spot sea otters, seals, and various seabirds, making for a rich and memorable wildlife experience. The breathtaking landscapes of fjords, glaciers, and rugged coastline add to the scenic beauty of the adventure.

12. Visit the Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum, a key destination for things to do in Anchorage, Alaska, is a prominent cultural and educational institution in the city. The museum features a rich collection of Alaskan artifacts, contemporary art, and scientific displays.

Highlights include exhibits on Alaska Native cultures, showcasing traditional art, clothing, and tools, as well as the history of the region. The museum also houses a state-of-the-art planetarium that offers immersive shows about space and astronomy.

Visitors can explore interactive exhibits on natural history, including local wildlife and geological formations, making it a great destination for families and those interested in learning about Alaska's unique heritage and environment. The museum's design incorporates elements of Alaskan culture and landscapes, providing an engaging experience for all ages.

13. Take a Seaplane Flightseeing Tour

If you're wondering what to see in Anchorage, Alaska, a seaplane flightseeing tour offers a spectacular view of the area's natural beauty. During the tour, you'll board a small seaplane and soar over stunning landscapes, including glaciers, mountain ranges, and pristine lakes.

From the air, you can see Anchorage's skyline juxtaposed against the dramatic scenery of the surrounding wilderness. The flight often includes a chance to see wildlife, such as moose or bears, and offers a unique perspective on the region’s rugged terrain.

14. Flightseeing over Denali

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Anchorage, AK, United States, is a gateway to unparalleled natural wonders, including the opportunity for flightseeing over Denali. Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, stands as North America's tallest peak at 20,310 feet.

Flightseeing tours from Anchorage offer breathtaking aerial views of this majestic mountain and the surrounding Denali National Park and Preserve. These tours often include sightings of glaciers, deep crevasses, and pristine wilderness that stretch as far as the eye can see.

It's a chance to witness the vast scale of Alaska's wilderness and experience the awe-inspiring beauty of one of the world's most iconic peaks, making it a must-do adventure for visitors to Anchorage.

15. Go Fishing in Ship Creek

This creek is renowned for its excellent salmon fishing, particularly during the summer months when king and silver salmon run. The creek is easily accessible, making it convenient for both locals and visitors. Anglers can fish right from the shore or use nearby access points to cast their lines.

The fishing season typically peaks from June to September, with the best fishing often occurring during early mornings and late evenings. Ship Creek's proximity to the city provides a rare opportunity to enjoy a tranquil fishing experience without leaving the urban environment.

16. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) is a non-profit organization located just outside Anchorage, Alaska. It focuses on the conservation and rehabilitation of Alaska’s native wildlife.

Founded in 1993, the center provides a sanctuary for animals that cannot be returned to the wild due to injury or other reasons. Visitors can see a variety of species, including bears, moose, bison, caribou, and lynx, in spacious, naturalistic enclosures.

The center aims to educate the public about wildlife and their habitats through interactive exhibits and educational programs.

17. Attend the Fur Rendezvous Festival

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The Fur Rendezvous Festival, commonly known as Fur Rondy, is one of the top attractions in Anchorage, Alaska. Held annually in late February to early March, this lively winter festival celebrates Alaskan culture and heritage with a variety of exciting events.

Highlights include snow sculpture competitions, a famous sled dog race, and traditional events like the "Running of the Reindeer," where participants run alongside a herd of reindeer through downtown Anchorage.

The festival also features live music, cultural performances, and a range of family-friendly activities.

18. Check out the Anchorage Brewing Company

Known for its innovative and high-quality beers, the brewery has gained a reputation for its unique and experimental brews. It offers a variety of craft beers, including barrel-aged ales, sour beers, and IPAs, often incorporating local ingredients and distinctive flavors.

The brewery is celebrated for its commitment to pushing the boundaries of brewing and producing exceptional craft beers. Visitors can enjoy tastings at the brewery’s taproom, where they can sample a diverse range of styles and learn about the brewing process from knowledgeable staff.

19. Go Ice Climbing at the Matanuska Glacier

Located about 100 miles northeast of Anchorage, this glacier is one of the most accessible and popular ice-climbing destinations in Alaska. Climbers can explore the glacier's crevasses, ice formations, and rugged terrain with the help of professional guides.

The experience typically involves scaling icy walls and navigating through intricate ice formations using specialized gear like crampons and ice axes. The breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the pristine blue ice make the adventure not only thrilling but also visually spectacular.

Guided tours ensure safety and provide instruction, making this activity a memorable way to engage with Alaska's frozen wilderness.

20. See the Northern Lights

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In Anchorage, the Northern Lights are a spectacular natural wonder visible due to the city's northern location. The best time to view the Aurora Borealis in Anchorage is from late August to April, with peak visibility often occurring between September and March.

During these months, the long, dark nights and cold, clear skies provide ideal conditions for seeing the lights. The Aurora can often be seen in shades of green, but red, violet, and even blue hues can occasionally appear.

Popular spots for viewing include Kincaid Park, Earthquake Park, and Flattop Mountain, where light pollution is minimal. Local tour operators offer guided excursions to prime viewing locations, often including warm gear and expert insights on the aurora.