Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in Anchorage, AK

  • Published 2023/05/03

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska.

This city is very famous for its culture and has a wide range of activities to offer.

Not only does this city have beautiful cultural sites like the Alaska Native Heritage Center, but it is also a gateway to the wilderness and beautiful mountains that surround the city.

Anchorage is home to famous colleges and craft centers and is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges like Chugach, Kenai, and Talkeetna.

A getaway to this place will not only prove to be extremely divine but will also be refreshing and rejuvenating, thanks to its sparse population and scenic location.

The following are the best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska:

Enjoy Your Pick of Winter Activities at Alyeska Resort

Daytime view of Alyeska Resort

Roschetzky Photography /

Alyeska Resort is a premier destination located just 40 miles from Anchorage.

This resort, with over 300 rooms, is a place where you can locate an endless number of summer as well as winter adventures.

Alyeska Resort first opened its doors in the year 1994.

Snowy slopes of Alyeska Resort

CSNafzger /

At present, the resort offers almost 1,610 acres of skiable land, 76 trails, and a beautiful snow cover.

The place offers luxury accommodations that are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the Alaskan wilderness.

Its amenities include pools, hot tubs, a fitness center, a spa, shops, and a total of seven restaurants that serve delicious food.

Snowboarder going downhill at Alyeska Resort

CSNafzger /

Go Salmon Sport Fishing at Ship Creek

People fishing in Ship Creek in Alaska

stellamc /

Ship Creek is the most promising place to visit in Anchorage if you are interested in salmon sport fishing.

This river is located right in the city’s downtown area.

It is a wonder in itself as it offers extreme fun and joy even if you are running short on time.

People fishing at Ship Creek's banks

Dee Browning /

Even if you have only two hours, you can spend still have an enjoyable time here.

You can also rent complete fishing packages at this place.

Availing of a package will get you all the equipment you need, along with some fishing tips.

The waters of Ship Creek

Jay Juno /

Ride Down the Slopes at Arctic Valley Ski Area

Daytime view of Arctic valley

Matthews_James /

Arctic Valley is one of the first access points to Chugach.

It is packed with rails but has very light to no traffic, giving visitors a feeling of having the whole place to themselves.

Arctic Valley Ski Area is considered Anchorage’s top skiing destination.

When the season doesn’t call for skiing, it is a popular spot for other forms of outdoor recreation like hiking.

The valley offers beautiful views, and you can also cook yourself light snacks.

You can comfortably complete the round trip to Arctic Valley, as the trek is only about six miles.

Embark on a Sea Kayak Adventure

Scenic view of Eklutna Lake

Jacob Boomsma /

Kayaking in Anchorage is one of the best ways to explore Alaska.

You can paddle through the serene Eklutna Lake or in the protected water near Seward.

The natives in Alaska used sea kayaks to travel along the coast and relax at the same time.

Kayaking can be a single-day or multi-day experience, depending on your choice.

There are a lot of travel agencies that can help you make your kayaking experience a fruitful one with their readily available expertise.

Go Hiking and Enjoy Scenic Lake Views

Hiking at a lakeside destination is one of the best outdoor activities one can enjoy in Anchorage and in Alaska in general.

The beautiful lakes in Anchorage are places you need to see at least once in your lifetime.

Lakeside hiking is a complete package in itself.

The view of high mountains on the one hand and the waves on the other, along with a sweet and cool breeze, will release you of all your tensions.

The best way to enjoy hiking is by opting for a guided hike that is quite readily available in the city.

See the World-Famous Northern Lights

Majestic Northern lights view

D Crane /

The Aurora Borealis, famously known as the Northern Lights, is something that you would be lucky to spot in your lifetime.

These effects of colorful light-producing clear dark skies can be viewed from various locations in and around Anchorage.

View of Northern Lights from a winter trail

Mt.8180 /

The Glen Alps, Point Woronzof, Eklutna Tailrace, the Knik River Valley, Girdwood, and the Eagle River Nature Center are some of the places where you have high chances of witnessing the Northern Lights.

For high chances of catching a glimpse of this spectacle, it would be best to visit in mid-August through April.

There is no guarantee or a particular time at which this phenomenon can be spotted, as it greatly depends on the darkness of the night.

Northern Lights over a mountain

Roman Krochuk /

Explore the Great Outdoors at Chugach State Park

Scenic view of Chugach state park

Susan R. Serna /

You can spend a few days in the lap of beautiful mountains that are more than perfect for all the dramatic and rejuvenating activities.

Chugach State Park is one of the biggest state parks in Alaska.

Attached to it is the second-largest forest in the US.

Together, the area comprises a place that is suitable for hiking, rafting, kayaking, and fishing.

A boat near the waters of Chugach State Park

Kannan Sundaram /

Flattop Mountain, part of the Chugach Mountains, is the most frequently climbed mountain in Alaska.

It is also important to note that more than 60 glaciers located in Alaska can be found near Chugach.

With its breathtaking views, Chugach State Park is the perfect place to visit with your family or with your partner.

A hiker at Chugach State Park


Meet the Animals at the Alaska Zoo

Alpaca in Alaska zoo

Huanle /

A zoo is a place that excites people of all age groups.

On top of that, imagine visiting a zoo located in a place covered with ice.

Seems like a wonder in itself, doesn’t it?

A bear in Alaska Zoo

Steve Boice /

The Alaska Zoo is home to more than 100 animals of about 50 species, including orphaned and injured animals who require proper care.

You can take a walk inside the wild zoo.

Don’t be surprised if you see polar bears or other arctic animals walking alongside you, as that will be one of the highlights of your visit.

An eagle in Alaska Zoo

Gray Moeller /

Hike or Bike along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

The waters of Tony Knowles coastal trail

akphotoc /

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is located along coastal marshes and is covered with forested hills.

It is one of the most dramatically located places in Anchorage, which makes it perfect for walking and cycling.

The trail is about 11 miles long.

You can rent a bike and explore the city at a stretch.

A person riding a bicycle along Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Lisa A. Ernst /

At the end of the trail, there is an excellent view of Mount Susitna, which is also famously known as “Sleeping Lady.”

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail also crosses a famous historical site that is a landmark of one of the most disastrous earthquakes, which took place in 1964.

You can also participate in events like Anchorage RunFest, the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon, and many other running events along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Learn about Alaska’s Many Cultures at the Alaska Native Heritage Center

View of Alaska Native Heritage Center from across a lake

Skvader, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a one-of-a-kind attraction.

As its name suggests, the center showcases Alaska’s native cultures in a beautiful manner.

The center displays 11 major cultures that are followed in Alaska.

Whale bones on the grounds of Alaska Native Heritage Center

Frank K. from Anchorage, Alaska, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors are always left spellbound by the dance performances, story depictions, and more fun activities.

If you are the type of traveler who enjoys learning about your destination’s history and culture, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is the place for you.

Walk the Trails at Kincaid Park

Moose in Kincaid park

CSNafzger /

At over 1,500 acres, Kincaid Park is one of the largest parks in Anchorage.

It boasts over 40 miles of walking trails, 20 miles of single-track bike runs, and the possibility of bear sightings.

The park is itself a jewel hidden in the mountains.

Direction sign of Kincaid Park

EQRoy /

You can play disc golf, go fishing in Campbell Lake, or seek a sandy beach getaway and cook yourself some snacks.

Kincaid Park also witnessed a Cold War military installation at a point in time, due to which some visitors may notice maintenance sheds, old bunkers, and more.

You can also drive on Raspberry Road, which is as beautiful as it sounds.

A man fly fishing on Kincaid Park's pond

Rob Crandall /

Be Awed by the Displays at the Anchorage Museum

Display at Anchorage museum

Robert Szymanski /

The Anchorage Museum is the largest museum in Alaska.

It pretty much tells the story of Alaska and the North.

The collections from various institutes, native cultures, and masterworks of Alaskan artists combine to form a decent story depicting the social, political, cultural, scientific, historical, and artistic pleasures present in Alaska.

The museum organizes various exhibitions, one of which is based on 13 themes that were essential aspects of the life of people living in Alaska.

Exterior of Anchorage Museum

Linda Harms /

You can discover all the facts that you want to learn about Alaska at this museum.

The discovery center, spread over an 11,000-foot area in the museum, is another work that will surprise you.

You can get massive information about technology, interactive installations, artwork, marine life tanks, and more.

The Anchorage Museum is considered to be one of the 10 best museums around the world.

Traditional clothes displayed in Anchorage Museum

Robert Szymanski /

Climb to the Top of the Famous Flattop Mountain

Scenic view of Flattop mountain

UltraBlue1215 /

Flattop Mountain is one of the most accessible and hikeable mountains in Alaska.

It is the state’s most hiked mountain and has a rocky and steep summit that offers beautiful sights.

Hiking trail at Flattop Mountain

Parker Everett /

The mountain also has a short stop that offers delicious food and pretty views of the surrounding mountains and nearby cities.

Even for those who are not very comfortable with hiking, this mountain is a thumbs up.

Do yourself a favor by visiting this spectacular place.

A hiker standing on the edge of Flattop Mountain's summit

Katerina_Aro /

Go on a Tour around the Alaska Aviation Museum

Aircraft on the grounds of Alaska Aviation Museum

EQRoy /

The Alaska Aviation Museum is the greatest seaplane base in the world, with over 87,000 takeoffs and landings annually.

Visitors can watch planes take off and land directly from the museum.

Exterior of Alaska Aviation Museum

EQRoy /

With displays, memorabilia, pictures, videos, and artifacts from the private collections of Alaska’s pioneer aviators, the museum gives one of the best exhibitions of Alaskan aviation history.

The Alaska Aviation Museum is a great place to explore and learn.

Visit the Ulu Factory

A really fascinating experience awaits you at Alaska’s most distinctive industrial plant, the Ulu Factory.

The Ulu Factory, located in the heart of Anchorage, has been producing top-notch northern ulu knives for more than 25 years.

It serves as a sort of mini-heritage museum in addition to being one of the best places to purchase one of these ancient northern blades.

Visitors may come and see skilled artisans make the knives in the same manner they did hundreds of years ago.

There is a gift shop plus a garden area on the site as well.

Grab a Delicious Breakfast at Snow City Cafe

Exterior of Snow City Cafe

Jay Juno /

Snow City Cafe is a well-known brunch restaurant in the city where the service is pleasant, the cuisine is delectable, and breakfast is available all day.

Its goal is to provide food exactly how customers want it, using the best local and fresh ingredients imaginable.

The cafe’s bright environment is filled with natural light, and the staff is always cheery.

Interior of Snow City Cafe

Jay Juno /

At Snow City Cafe, you can get layers of pancakes with Canadian maple syrup, gluten-free breakfast selections, and one of the best eggs Benedict dishes in the area.

Grab breakfast at Snow City Cafe, the city’s best place to begin the day.

Go Skiing at Hilltop Ski Area

Daytime view of Hilltop Ski Area

Xnatedawgx, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hilltop Ski Area is a must-visit destination for families visiting the city.

The site is only a quick 15-minute drive from the center of downtown Anchorage.

It’s a great place to put on your skis or wax up your snowboard.

It features one slope, a modest chairlift, and a few drags, making it ideal for inexperienced skiers.

A ski school, as well as an equipment rental facility, are available on-site, plus a small terrain park for thrill-seekers.

Check Out and Buy Different Items at the Anchorage Market

Both locals and visitors enjoy the Anchorage Market, which is a kid-friendly attraction in the Dimond Center.

They offer a wide range of products thanks to numerous renowned producers.

You may purchase gifts and souvenirs at the Anchorage Market, which has over 100 merchants featuring painters, photographers, and other local business owners.

The Anchorage Market is the place to go if you’re seeking items from handcrafted jewelry or regional honey to books that describe life in Alaska.

Furthermore, the market offers a wide selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood.

The market is a terrific spot to get a quick and delectable supper.

Go Wildlife Viewing at Potter Marsh

Boardwalk at Potter Marsh

Chansak Joe /

Potter Marsh is one of the most scenic wildlife viewing locations in Anchorage.

Located on the southern portion of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, you can access the 1,550 feet boardwalk on East 154th Avenue.

From Seward Highway, you can already have a glimpse of the spectacular Turnagain Arm.

The wooden boardwalk leads you to the vast wetlands which are home to various bird species in different seasons; the marsh also has an abundance of cottonwoods, spruce, and alders.

If you visit around April to September, you’re sure to spot some northern pintails, red-necked phalaropes, and canvasback ducks, along with northern harriers, Canada geese, and horned and red-necked grebes.

Cow moose at Potter Marsh

Paul R. Jones /

Ready your spotting scopes or binoculars and see eagle nests along the cottonwood areas or catch these mighty eagles soaring overhead looking for prey.

Come by the marsh from May to August to see migrating birds in the spring and fall seasons like yellowlegs, Arctic terns, gulls, and trumpeter swans on some occasions.

Aside from birds, you can also spot some muskrats swimming around the wetlands; likewise, you’ll see some moose rummaging for woody plants.

Running along half the Potter Marsh boardwalk, you’ll also find Rabbit Creek with plenty of coho, humpback, and chinook salmons mostly from May to August.

Northern pintail at Potter Marsh

Juno Kim /

Have a Family Camp Out at the Centennial Campground

A popular jumping-off point for travelers in Alaska, theCentennial Campground lies east of Anchorage and the Glenn Highway.

The camp season opens from May to September offering a perfect place to camp out with the family.

The campground has 84 campsites that include 21 RV sites with electricity and 20 RV sites with no electric supply.

You can also go primitive camping at any of the 42 RV/tent sites; they also have two group sites for larger groups.

Visit the historic log cabin office for information and concerns about your stay, or just simply drop by to meet the host for the season.

If you need to go online, Wifi access is available​ near the Centennial Campground main office.

Enjoy Water Activities at the Lakes in Anchorage

The waters of Goose Lake

Joey Mendolia /

Your family will enjoy plenty of water activities around the Anchorage lakes.

Two of its Municipal beaches include Jewel Lake located on West 88th Avenue and Goose Lake right on UAA Drive.

Both lakes are open from mid of May to mid of August with lifeguards available during the weekend, although adult supervision is still a must especially if your kids are swimming.

Go boating and explore the calming lake area.

Aside from enjoying the waters at Goose Lake, you can also play sports like basketball and softball, or go biking on the trail.

The waters of Jewel Lake

Jay Juno /

Let little ones have fun at the playground, then gather around for a family picnic at the shelter or picnic tables.

Jewel Lake also has a beach and swimming area, and you can also go boating and fishing at the lake.

Play softball on the field, enjoy a friendly game of sand volleyball, or zoom your way around the bike trail; likewise, little tots can have as much fun at the playground and your family can enjoy lunch at the covered picnic shelter or tables.

Two other lakes in Anchorage along Eagle River are Mirror and Beach Lakes which are both good for canoeing, fishing, hiking, and having a picnic; Mirror Lake is located on Mile 24 on the New Glenn Highway while Beach Lake is accessible on Beach Lake Road.

The waters of Mirror Lake

Venkata abhilash babu /

Go Mountain Biking at the Moose Loop Trails

Put on your biking gear and speed your way along theMoose Loop Trail.

The trail is said to be one of the country’s top trail systems which includes miles of multi-use trails connecting the city.

The bike loop stretches over 32 miles and resembles a shape of a moose when you see it on the map.

The loop starts from the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail, winding up to the scenic Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

You’ll then pass along the Campbell Creek Trail and complete the loop along Ship Creek Trail.

Enjoy the breathtaking views along this mountain-to-sea adventure from Chugach State Park’s bike trails to the single-track Hemlock Burn running through paths and parks and finally ending at downtown Anchorage.

You can also join the celebrations at the Moose Loop Trail Challenge held every last week of September.

Explore the Beautiful Alaska Botanical Garden

Flowers at Alaska Botanical Garden

Enrico Blasutto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Alaska Botanical Garden features more than a hundred acres of Boreal forest and eight acres of lovely gardens and scenic nature trails.

Located on Campbell Airstrip Road between Benny Benson School & Far North Bicentennial Park, you can visit this attraction from Friday to Saturday.

The members of the Alaska Horticultural Association had an idea to put up an arboretum way back in 1983; it became a reality when the Garden was opened to the public ten years later.

Today, you can have a glimpse of over a thousand plant varieties and more than 150 distinct plants growing in the region.

Wander around the peaceful Lile’s Garden featuring a wide collection of geraniums, tulips, primrose, and other lovely perennials.

Pergola at Alaska Botanical Garden

Enrico Blasutto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

See other Southcentral Alaska perennials at the Lower Perennial Garden including poppies, Asiatic lilies, phlox, rockcress, and more; peonies and Himalayan blue poppies are in full bloom from late June through July.

Drop by the Rock Garden and observe over 350 species of specialized alpine plants, then head out to the Herb Garden which showcases an array of cooking and medicinal herbs.

Stroll the old-style Anchorage Heritage Garden, enjoy the colorful blooms along the Trailside Gardens, and pass through the Verna Pratt Wildflower Trail.

Kids can also have fun and learn about growing food and plants in the Outdoor Classroom.

Likewise, you’ll also get to see and appreciate the sculptural elements dotted around the Alaska Botanical Garden.

Close view of flowers at Alaska Botanical Garden

Enrico Blasutto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other Things to Do Nearby

See the Glaciers at Kenai Fjords National Park

Scenic view of Kenai fjords National park

Sekar B /

Kenai Fjords National Park, located in the south-central area of Alaska, is one of the most amazing and beautiful destinations where you can explore life underwater.

The park is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away from Anchorage.

It is surrounded by glaciers, waves, and mountains, which give it a divine view.

The glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park

Saurabh13 /

You can also explore fishing opportunities or try day cruise boats that are readily available in the park.

Kenai Fjords National Park is spread over a vast area that gives you the perfect setting for learning about the environment.

Go on a Helicopter Tour with Alpine Air Alaska

A helicopter of Alpine air Alaska

Sovxx, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the town of Girdwood, Alpine Air Alaska is your gateway to experience the extraordinary wonders that this beautiful state has to offer.

This helicopter tour will give you an aerial view of the famous Resurrection Bay as well as Kenai Fjords National Park.

As you fly in the sky, you will witness blooming wildlife, the blue ice of the Godwin Glacier, serene meadows, and beautifully rugged cliffs all at once.

This memorable experience will leave you in awe with its rich offerings and beautiful scenes.

Make Your Way to Portage Glacier

Glaciers in Portage valley

Conchi Martinez /

An hour away from Anchorage, Portage Valley is one of the most accessible places that are home to a large number of glaciers in Alaska.

The main attraction, Portage Glacier, is miles long, almost 10 stories tall, and sits at the far end of a lake.

You can visit the glacier via boat.

A person admiring the Portage Glacier

Alan T Bassett /

Alternatively, you can travel there by taking the Portage Pass Trail, which goes to the toe of Portage Glacier.

There is also the Trail of Blue Ice, which is an almost five-mile trail with broad walks connecting many glaciers and campgrounds for hikers and bikers together.

Apart from the glaciers, you can also visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center from Portage Valley.

Scenic view of Portage Glacier

Mariia Suvorova /

Tour the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Animals in Alaska wildlife conservation center

Amy Tseng /

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, located an hour away from Anchorage, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the wildlife in Alaska.

It takes major steps such as conserving, educating, researching, and taking care of wild animals in order to keep them alive.

A wolf sleeping in Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Geoffroy Chasle /

This organization organizes a large number of educational as well as guest programs on a daily basis.

The place provides permanent shelter to injured and orphaned animals.

You can encounter a large variety of moose, bears, lynx, reindeer, foxes, deer, wolves, elks, and many more while touring the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Bears in Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Jagannathan Narayanan /

Final Thoughts

The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage is renowned for its museums, parks, glaciers, and other attractions.

Many travelers come here for a holiday and to have a good time with their loved ones.

Knowing that Anchorage provides outdoor and indoor activities, fresh air, and adventure makes it tough to resist visiting.

Get inspired and begin making travel plans to Anchorage, Alaska!

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