ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top Five Things to Do in Anchorage Alaska

Updated on May 26, 2019
RhondaAlbom profile image

Rhonda Albom is a travel writer, photographer, and owner of Albom Adventures. She and her husband have visited 63 countries on 6 continents.

Best things to do in Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska is more than a summertime cruise port or a cold and snowy winter destination. It turns out there are plenty of unique things to do in Anchorage. In fact, Anchorage is an eclectic mix of culture, history, and wildlife in a modern city intermixed with local hangouts with tourist spots.

Anchorage was our first stop of two summertime weeks in Alaska. We were in love with the state from the moment we got off the plane and discovered it was still light outside at midnight. It is an ideal city to begin our Alaska travels.

Tip: Keep your eyes open. Anchorage is surprisingly loaded with wildlife that can be spotted on the hills or in the sea.

Cruising out of Anchorage

Anchorage is a popular cruise port for those sailing the interior passage. The ships leave from either Whittier or Seaward, and passengers need at least half a day to get to their port of embarkation. If you arrive in Anchorage on the day or even the day before, you haven't allocated enough time to enjoy this amazing city.

We stayed for several days and could have stayed longer. We used private guide Steve Busby to transport us to our ship. He took us to three of the destinations below on the way. It is a much better option than simply taking a bus.

1. Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center

Spotting wildlife is a highlight of any Alaskan holiday. But sometimes the animals need a bit of help. This is where the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center comes in. It is a sanctuary for preservation, education, investigation, and quality animal care, with the ultimate goal of protecting Alaska's wildlife.

The animals they take in were either injured or orphaned. Most are rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but those that cannot be released are given permanent homes that visitors can see. The enclosures are huge, therefore it feels very different from a zoo.

Getting here isn't easy. If you are cruising Alaska, it is best seen as part of your transport from Anchorage to Whittier.

Here are some of the animals we saw at the Wildlife Conservation Center

Animals grazing in the distance.
Animals grazing in the distance. | Source
A brown bear taking a swim.
A brown bear taking a swim. | Source

2. Alaska Native Heritage Center

Alaska Native Heritage Center should be on any things to do in Anchorage list.

Through storytelling, dance, demonstrations and life-size working models, we learned about Alaska's indigenous people and their traditions. The wooded grounds are beautiful and we enjoyed our stroll around Lake Tiulana as we "traveled through Alaska." We moved between authentic native dwellings of the Athabascan, Inupiaq/St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Yup'ik/Cup'ik, Aleut, Alutiiq, and the Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples.

At each clan house, we were greeted by native members to answer our questions.

There is a free shuttle bus from downtown.

Our afternoon at the Native Heritage Center in photos

This is one of four totem poles inside the Tlingit house.
This is one of four totem poles inside the Tlingit house. | Source
We met John Baker, 2011 Iditarod winner who keeps and trains several huskies on the property. Here our girls were able to meet a 3 week old puppy  and her handler.
We met John Baker, 2011 Iditarod winner who keeps and trains several huskies on the property. Here our girls were able to meet a 3 week old puppy and her handler. | Source
The larger of the two entrances to the Yup'ik and Cup'ik clan house is for the men; the smaller for the women.
The larger of the two entrances to the Yup'ik and Cup'ik clan house is for the men; the smaller for the women. | Source

Bring home your own piece of native Alaskan culture

What the Elders Have Taught Us: Alaska Native Ways
What the Elders Have Taught Us: Alaska Native Ways

A collaborative effort of 10 writers each representing one of Alaska's diverse native cultures. Each wrote about a specific value that they believe to be common to all, thus sharing the traditional stories that have been passed down through countless generations.

 

3. Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum compliments the Native Heritage Center and is often mistakenly called the Alaska Museum. It highlights both the state's history, as well as its largest city, Anchorage. Interesting exhibits include the pipeline, aviation, native art, and the Imaginarium (hands-on opportunities to explore science).

There is also a planetarium show featuring the northern lights. As we visited Alaska in the summertime, we would not get to see these live, so this was our opportunity. The show is excellent.

Having fun at the Anchorage Museum

This Tlingit totem pole stood two stories in the museum and was carved in the 1800s.
This Tlingit totem pole stood two stories in the museum and was carved in the 1800s. | Source
A cross section of the Alaska oil pipeline.
A cross section of the Alaska oil pipeline. | Source
Kids of all ages had fun in the Imaginarium Discover Center. Here my teen has encased herself in a giant bubble.
Kids of all ages had fun in the Imaginarium Discover Center. Here my teen has encased herself in a giant bubble. | Source

4. Lake Hood Sea Plane Base

The seaplane base in Anchorage is the busiest in the world. On average, 190 planes either take off or land each day. While we didn't fly anywhere, we enjoyed watching the activity and looking at the planes.

Watching the seaplanes is one of many things to do in Anchorage.

A plane sails across the water, ready for take off.
A plane sails across the water, ready for take off. | Source

5. Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge

The popular boardwalk and viewing area at Potter's Marsh is a great spot to view the birds at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. This safe haven covers a 16 mile stretch along the Alaskan coast. It is abundant with birdlife and chicks including many migratory bird species like Canadian geese, swans, yellowlegs, and grebes.

Tip: Take caution if you are heading inland, as black bears are amongst the wildlife that lives in the woods.

Bird at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge

From the Potter's March boardwalk
From the Potter's March boardwalk | Source

Where is Anchorage?

A
Anchorage is the northern most city in the United States with more than 100,000 residents.:
Anchorage

get directions

Travel Tips for Visiting Anchorage

  1. The free shuttle bus to the Alaska Native Heritage Center from downtown also stops at the Anchorage Museum.
  2. If the salmon are running, be sure to stop at Ship Creek to watch the action.
  3. There is a log cabin visitor information center downtown and the staff are extremely helpful.
  4. If driving in and out of town, be sure to keep your eyes open for wild sheep, bald eagles, and beluga whales.
  5. Wear layers. The weather changes frequently, even in the summer.

© 2013 Rhonda Albom

What tops your list of things to do in Anchorage?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      We have family in Alaska, so I always enjoy good information about the state! Thanks for sharing! ;-)

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      The dome car was definitely worth the extra money to me. However, if you are going to rent a car in Anchorage, you could drive to Denali.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      4 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Alaska is one of the few states I've never visited. After reading this, I'm thinking that maybe I could do a car/train tour ( definitely in the dome cars). Good info.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @Ruthi: I don't like the cold either. I could live there in the summer, especially since I live in the Southern Hemisphere, so that is my winter. I think two years and I would miss the heat.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 

      5 years ago

      As much as I do not like the cold, I would love to live in Alaska for at least a year or two. It has long been on my list of states to see. Your tour of Anchorage has reignited that desire.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @WinWriter: We did both, we flew to Anchorage, took the train to Denali and then took a cruise to Vancouver. We wanted to be there in summer, so we didn't see Northern Lights.

    • profile image

      WinWriter 

      5 years ago

      I would love to go. Trying to decide between taking a cruise or flying there. It would be a highlight to see the Northern Lights too!

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: Thanks.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @Scott A McCray: I hope you get there!

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @MontseB: Barcelona is another one of my favorite cities.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @DebMartin: Go soon, it's still summer.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @jennabeezer: If you get the opportunity to go with them, take it. Especially if you can stay with them. Anchorage could be quite affordable if you had a place to stay.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @CampingmanNW: What a great story. Thanks for sharing it here. I can see why someone would want to stay in Anchorage. It was a really cool city. Does he fly now too? There were lots of pilots around.

    • profile image

      jennabeezer 

      5 years ago

      Some colleagues of mine bought a business in Anchorage last year, and they spend a couple of weeks each month there. It looks like a beautiful place. Perhaps I can talk them into taking me with them once or twice (or maybe stow-away in their luggage)! Very nice lens. Thank you for sharing all of your lovely photos.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: Thanks Lester, glad you enjoyed them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      You've shown some fabulous pictures of Alaska / Anchorage.

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 

      5 years ago

      A friend of mine moved to Alaska in the 70's to work on the pipeline. Saved his money and bought a food truck in Seattle and drove it back to Alaska to sell Tacos and Burritos to the Southwestern USA (Texas, Arizona and New Mexico) oil workers who did not want deli-sandwiches. After the completion of the pipeline, he stayed in Anchorage and we went to visit him many times over the years. Anchorage has changed much over the years, but as your photos show...it is still a lively and vibrant place. Thanks for a fun read and congratulation on being awarded the Purple Star Award. Cheers.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 

      5 years ago

      Your photos make me want to take off for Anchorage now!

    • MontseB profile image

      MontseB 

      5 years ago

      Uhauuu very nice and refreshing lens. Congrats!. My best from Barcelona,Spain

    • profile image

      Scott A McCray 

      5 years ago

      Some day...sigh. Great lens!

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @Corrinna-Johnson: The planes were mostly private. There are so many inlets and islands in Alaska that a huge portion of the population is pilots.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @Nancy Hardin: Nancy, I hope can get back to Alaska some day and get up to Anchorage. It is such an interesting and wonderful town.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @pinkhoodie: Thanks. We really did love Anchorage.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @anonymous: We did have a great time, glad I could share it here.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      I love the animal on bird photos.

    • RhondaAlbom profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Albom 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      @darciefrench lm: Thanks Darcie, I hope you get there some day.

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 

      5 years ago from BC, Canada

      I have never been to Alaska, but it looks beautiful. I really want a ride in one of those sea planes! Love your photos!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I've only been to the Inside Passage of Alaska on a cruise; Ketchikan, Skagway and so forth. I'd love to visit Anchorage. You took some great photos, thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      pinkhoodie 

      5 years ago

      Great page on Anchorage

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      It looks like you had so much fun in Anchorage. I really want to go to Alaska some day.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      5 years ago

      What a gorgeous virtual Anchorage tour

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)