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Top Five Things to See and Do in Anchorage Alaska
My Favorite Things to do in Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage Alaska is not just snow and ice. In fact, I found it to be an eclectic mix of culture, history and wildlife in a modern city intermixing with local hangouts with tourist spots.
We have been traveling as a family for a long time now and people often ask me, "What are the highlights?" Anchorage is on that short list. For those who are trying to see Anchorage in a day, you will have a lot to choose from. I have presented what I believe to be the top five sites, and would recommend at least 3 days if you want to have time to enjoy the city. You would need both a car and a bit of discipline to get in all of these sites in less time, and you would be exhausted. Another option is to get a guide, and I have recommended one below (in the travel tips section).
Anchorage was our first stop of two weeks in Alaska. We were in love with the state from the moment we got off the plane at nearly midnight on a mid summer day and found it still light outside. It is an ideal city to begin our Alaska travels.
It is also surprisingly loaded with wildlife which we could spot in the hills just outside of town or swimming in the sea. I hope you get a chance to visit someday. Either way, I have packed this page with photo highlights.
Where is Anchorage?
#1 Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Native Heritage Center Tops Our List of Things to Do in Anchorage
Alaska Native Heritage Center Tops Our List of Things To Do In Anchorage
Through story telling, 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 between around Lake Tiulana as we "traveled through Alaska." We moved between six 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 available to answer questions.
There is a free shuttle bus from town to bring you to the center.
Our Afternoon at the Native Heritage Center in Photos - Bring your camera!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bring Home Your Own Piece of Native Alaskan Culture
A collaborative effort of 10 writers each representing one of Alaska's diverse Native cultures, selected and wrote about a specific value that they believe to be common to all, thus sharing the traditional stories which have been passed down through countless generations.
#2 Anchorage Museum
Anchorage Museum Compliments the Heritage Center
So much to see and do
Take a look at some of our photos and you will see that the Anchorage Museum could easily be called the Alaska Museum. The history of the state and the city is fascinating and the museum touches on it all. We tended to focus our time on the state history, the pipeline, the aviation, the art and the imaginarium which offered hand held opportunities to explore science.
We also enjoyed the planetarium. The museum has an interesting planetarium and there we chose to see the show on the Northern Lights. As we were in Alaska in summer time, we would not get to see these live, so this was our only chance. The show was excellent.
Having Fun at the Anchorage MuseumClick thumbnail to view full-size
#3 Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Here Are Some of the Animals We Saw at the Wildlife Conservation CenterClick thumbnail to view full-size
More on the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center
Our guide knew right away that we wanted to walk slowly, rather than drive through this wonderful Wildlife Conservation Center. It is a "nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska's wildlife through conservation, public education, and quality animal care."
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 a permanent home which visitors can see. The enclosures are huge so it feels very different from a zoo.
Here's more information about it:
#4 Lake Hood Sea Plane Base
The Seaplane Airport is a Great Place for PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Seaplane Base in Anchorage is the Busiest in the World - And its really fun to just stand and watch!
You don't have to be here long to watch the seaplanes take off and land. The Lake Hood Seaplane base in Anchorage is the world's busiest seaplane airport. On average 190 planes either take off or land each day.
It's free to stop by and watch the planes. Be sure to notice the road signs. Aircraft have right of way here.
See more here:
Get Your Own Seaplane! - Well, at least a radio controll seaplane
#5 Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge
My Favorite Bird Photos from the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife RefugeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Just Beyond Potter's Marsh a Great Spot to View the Birds at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge
Our guide took us just beyond the popular Potter's Marsh to see several species of baby birds. Being a native and a guide he was very familiar with the surroundings and the birds.
The Coastal Wildlife Refuge is a public park and a safe haven for some amazing birds
Travel Tips for Anchorage Alaska
My Best Travel Tips for Anchorage
- The Alaska Native Heritage Center has a free shuttle bus from downtown, which also stops at the Anchorage Museum, so you can use it to get to either.
- Hiring a guide is a great way to get around Anchorage. We used Steve Busby of Greatland Adventures, and he was a great choice.
- Anchorage is a great starting point for exploring Alaska, however if you are planning a side trip to Denali which returns to Anchorage, you might want to consider starting your Alaska travels in Fairbanks and taking the train in only one direction.
- If the salmon are running, be sure to stop at Ship Creek to watch the action.
- There is a fantastic log cabin visitor information center downtown and the staff were extremely helpful.
- If driving in and out of town, be sure to keep your eyes open for wild sheep, bald eagles and beluga whales.
- Wear layers. The weather changes frequently.
- If you are taking the train towards Fairbanks, upgrade to the dome cars. The views were spectacular and it was money well spent.
Bring a Guide Book! - We nearly always choose a Lonely Plant Book
If you are going to go all the way up to Anchorage, chances are good that you will visit more of Alaska. This book will help you decide where else to go on your travels.
© 2013 Rhonda Albom