Alaska’s Largest City, an Outdoor, Cultural and Urban Capital
Perched on a peninsula jutting into Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska, Anchorage offers visitors many faces. A frontier town grown large like the mountain ranges surrounding it, Anchorage was once a boom-and-bust city which has become the tourism and transportation hub of the region. While you’ll find plenty of metropolitan excitement in one of the northernmost cities on earth, you’ll also encounter a must-visit outdoor city and the gateway to authentic Alaska.
There’s good reason why Outside Magazine named Anchorage one of its 10 best U.S. cities. You’ll find seemingly endless hiking and bike paths winding through the city's green belts and parks. Anchorage is home to 320 kilometres of developed trails, 193 kilometres of which are paved. In the winter, many of these corridors are used as ski trails.
For an unforgettable day hike, you can’t beat the vista from Wolverine Peak, just 20 minutes from downtown. Views of the three surrounding mountain ranges, sapphire-blue lakes and lush valleys await. In the autumn, Flattop Mountain is covered with wild blueberries and offers the best views of Anchorage, to its north. In the summer, it’s a good place to spot moose and other wildlife.
You can visit icebergs, go climbing on Spencer Glacier, take a dogsled across Knik Glacier, kayak to tidewater glaciers in Blackstone Bay, packraft the boulder-strewn rapids of Eagle River – all are easily reached from downtown. And in March, the Iditarod dogsled trek mushes away from Anchorage to Nome.
Ski the Alyeska Resort south of Anchorage in winter. It often records the greatest annual snowfall of any ski area in North America and features an array of intermediate and advanced slopes. The Hilltop Ski Area, about 15 minutes from downtown, is ideal for beginners.
To immerse yourself in an equally enthralling side of Anchorage, tour its many cultural centres. Start with the Alaska Experience Theatre in the downtown Fourth Avenue Marketplace. Films and discussions are featured and admission includes the 1964 Earthquake Experience movie, which chronicles the massive earthquake that flattened the city on Good Friday in 1964.
Anchorage is also a superb place to get acquainted with Alaska Native culture. Tour the Anchorage Museum for its contemporary exhibits, as well as its Smithsonian exhibition of indigenous art. Native artists also display and sell their works at exhibitions, galleries and shops throughout the city. The Alaska Native Heritage Center features re-creations of traditional Tlingit, Athabascan and Yup'ik structures.
Vibrant City Life
In modern Anchorage – with its varied entertainment options, bars and coffee houses, souvenir shops and galleries, shopping centres and malls – the old and the new blend seamlessly. Anchorage’s amiable and buzzing downtown area is its central business district, home to a lively dining scene, performing arts centers and nightlife venues, which are particularly well known for live music.