Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Anchorage, AK

  • Published 2022/11/30

Anchorage in Alaska is popular for its nature trails and glaciers.

Most outdoor recreation areas in this city are also free of charge.

In 1915, Anchorage saw development within its community when Congress constructed and completed the only federally-owned railroad in the country.

Agriculture sprung and made Anchorage a popular tourist destination.

Found in South Central Alaska, this city should be on your travel bucket list.

To further convince you, here are free things to do in Anchorage, Alaska, that may capture your interest:

Race on Bikes at Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

A person riding a bicycle along Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Lisa A. Ernst /

If you’re seeking a wild ride while in Anchorage, Tony Knowles Coastal Trail provides you with that refreshing outdoor activity.

This popular trail zooms past greenery and the lovely coastal region of the city.

Enjoy the sweeping vistas and eccentric terrains that North America has to offer.

Along the way, you’ll also find the highest peak of Mount McKinley, making your sightseeing journey more worthwhile.

A person admiring the views from Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Vineyard Perspective /

For something a bit different than your usual nature excursion, learn more about the Solar System with The Anchorage Light Speed Planet Walk.

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail offers this space-based walk from the sun to each planet.

Visit Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage’s downtown on Second Avenue.

View of the waters from Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

akphotoc /

Watch Out for Wildlife at Ship Creek Trail

Spot wildlife when you visit Ship Creek Trail.

This relatively easy trail starts at the Alaska Railroad and ends at William Tyson Elementary School’s parking lot.

The biggest highlight of this trail is its array of wondrous wildlife collections.

Find beavers and bald eagles casually permeating the place.

Ship Creek Trail extends to 2.5 miles.

Learn about the State’s Lands at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center

Exterior of the Alaska Public Lands Information Center

Wangkun Jia /

The Alaska Public Lands Information Center gathers the most relevant information about Anchorage’s past and present.

Most importantly, it gives you a guide on trip planning throughout the city so you don’t miss out on the best spots to visit.

Entrance to the Alaska Public Lands Information Center

Wangkun Jia /

Learn more about the public places and sites within the city, as well as Anchorage’s embedded culture and tradition.

Browse through state-themed exhibits and watch park films to understand the city’s best well-kept secrets better.

The Alaska Public Lands Information Center is in the Old Federal Building on West 4th Avenue.

Go Birdwatching at Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Boardwalk trail at Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Chansak Joe /

Situated on Seward Highway, Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary is the ultimate sanctuary for bird enthusiasts.

Winding down from Turnagain Arm to a 1,550-foot boardwalk, it is home to various birds you may not have seen before.

Stroll down the boardwalk and meet migrating birds, from gulls and northern pintails to Canadian geese.

Observation deck at Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Karel Stipek /

Trumpeter swans may also be around if you visit during fall or springtime.

If you’re lucky, you might even spot an eagle’s nest at the base of the bluffs with your binoculars.

Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary is an ideal spot to relax and appreciate wildlife.

The waters of Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Jay Yuan /

Watch the Northern Lights at Point Woronzof Park

Opened in 1994, Point Woronzof Park is famous for its wildlife diversity and habitats.

It is named after Lt. Joseph Whidbey, who was a part of the Russian ambassador’s Count Simon Romanovitch Woronzof expedition in 1794.

Surrounding this park is a stunning view of the Cook Inlet and the peaks of nearby mountain ranges.

The best part about it is the high possibility of seeing the Northern Lights in the vast expanse of the sky when you come by at night.

Come by this 191-acre park when you drive to Point Woronzof Road.

See the Displays at Earthquake Park

Welcome sign of Earthquake Park

Jay Juno /

Learn more about natural disasters when you drop by Earthquake Park.

As the name implies, this park details the cracked landscape of Anchorage after the 1964 earthquake.

Within this site, you’ll see informative displays that detail the earthquake and its effects on the city.

For a deeper perspective, a walking trail brings to light the uneven landscape caused by the massive disaster.

Earthquake Park also features impressive views of more well-known tourist spots in the city, like the Chugach Mountains.

Visit the park in West Northern Lights!

Catch a Festival at Delaney Park Strip Downtown

Delaney Park Strip Downtown was established in 1917.

In 1922, it served as a golf course and airstrip; in 1929, the airstrip stopped operations.

By 1954, the park became a hub of festivals, events, and various celebrations.

Delaney Park Strip Downtown extends 13 blocks long and offers a variety of amenities for the whole family.

These include ball fields and an ice rink.

You can also play soccer or tennis with the family.

Visit the strip on 9th West Avenue.

Go Hiking at Flattop Mountain

A hiker at Flattop Mountain's summit

Katerina_Aro /

Experience being on top of the world when you go on a day hike to Flattop Mountain.

Considered the most climbed mountain in Alaska, this attraction offers trails for both beginners and experts.

Numerous loop trails at the bottom of this site are ideal for those new to hiking.

A trail at Flattop Mountain

Parker Everett /

The rocky trail on the main pathway leads you to Anchorage’s best views.

With an elevation gain of over 1,500 feet and a distance of 3 miles, Flattop Mountain’s trail features wide benches for you to take a break in.

The trail starts at Blueberry Loop Trail.

Mountain views from Flattop Mountain

Jay Juno /

Appreciate Artworks at First Friday Art Walk

See stunning works of art at First Friday Art Walk.

This art-focused event takes place in downtown Anchorage and showcases masterpieces from local artists.

Various establishments all over the area open their doors to art enthusiasts.

Every venue may have varying hours of exhibit presentations, so take note of their schedules.

At First Friday Art Walk, you’ll meet the artists and discover the story behind every exhibit!

Remember to mark your calendars, particularly the first of every month in Anchorage, so you won’t miss out on this unique art expedition.

Go Jogging at Kincaid Park

Welcome sign of Kincaid Park

EQRoy /

At the end of Raspberry Road is Kincaid Park, a family-friendly park that spans 1,500 acres.

Its trails are something to look out for because of their included single-track mazes.

Its open glades are also home to various wildlife.

Grassy trail at Kincaid Park

Jay Juno /

You can challenge your loved ones to a quick game of tag or football on the grassy fields.

Watch out for ski competitions you can watch or join.

Kincaid Park is the premier ski venue for races.

A moose at Kincaid Park

Rob Crandall /

Enjoy a Picnic at McHugh Creek Recreation Area

In South Anchorage, the McHugh Creek Recreation Area stands a few miles from the parking area of the McHugh Creek Day Use Area.

Just like the trails on this list, prepare to lose yourself in the serenity of the forest and the beauty of nature.

Unlike said trails, McHugh Creek Recreation Area is home to a 20-foot waterfall.

Stay and bask in the calming sound of the water.

Small trails will lead you to various locations within the area, including the Turnagain Arm and McHugh Lake.

Remember to be on your guard when traversing and making your way around the dense forest because bears may surprise you.

Drive down Seward Highway to get to this nature site.

Enjoy Stunning Views of Glaciers at Byron Glacier Trail

A stream near Byron Glacier Trail

Chansak Joe /

For the ultimate Alaskan experience, you can never go wrong with a trail offering majestic glacier views.

At Byron Glacier Trail, sprouting cottonwood trees offer shade and comfort while you go up.

Close view of Byron Glacier

Sara Koivisto /

With a large grove of tall trees, you may have to walk further up to watch the icy caps.

Tourists come by and have snowball fights within this area.

Byron Glacier Trail starts on Byron Glacier Road near Seward Highway.

Pose for a Picture in Front of the Whaling Wall

In downtown Anchorage, the Whaling Wall is one of the most prominent points of interest.

This wall, dedicated in 1994, goes by the name “Alaska’s Marine Life.”

This is a part of American artist’s Robert Wyland 100-mural painting program that showcases ocean life in its best form.

With an astounding height of 50 feet and 400 feet long, it’s easily an eye-catching sight.

The Whaling Wall also depicts seals and whales native to Alaska.

If you want to take a photo of this mural, head to the west side of the J.C. Penney building on West 5th Avenue.

Take a Road Trip Down Seward Highway

Looking for a thrilling adventure with lots of sightseeing?

Get in your car and drive down Seward Highway, which extends to over 127 miles.

Peek at historic and recreational sites, including the Turnagain Arm and the tops of the Chugach Mountains.

Along your drive, admire the stunning turquoise lakes and the jaw-dropping Alaska skyline.

From Tern Lake, head to Alaska Route 9 to start your picturesque drive down Seward Highway.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Stroll by the Waterfront at North Fork Eagle River Trailhead

Opt for North Fork Eagle River Trailhead on Eagle River Road for a bit more challenge to your usual hiking getaway.

Though the hike is short, it suits those with an adventurous streak.

Extending one mile through the woods, this trail also runs parallel to Eagle River.

During winter, this river is an ideal spot for skijoring.

North Fork Eagle River Trailhead in Eagle River, a suburb of Anchorage, is only a half-hour drive away from downtown Anchorage.

Final Thoughts

With Anchorage’s range of leisure spots and natural wonders, it’s no wonder many people come by to explore the city.

This city brings the best of nature, from trails to more eccentric paths overlooking waterfalls and glaciers.

In the list above of the best free things to do in Anchorage, AK, which tourist attraction will you visit first?

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