Anchorage is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. You can sightsee, flightsee, hike, bike, ski and shop til you drop. As the largest City in Alaska, Anchorage offers first class dining, accommodation, entertainment and some of the best museums in the Country.
Day 1 – Start with the Log Cabin Visitor Center at 4th Ave. and F St and talk to the helpful staff about the range of activities and tours available around town. When you’re done, jump on the Anchorage Trolley Tour, which departs right from the Visitor Center; a great way to see the city for the first time. You’ll be informed and entertained by your on board tour guide! Your ticket also gets you a coupon book with $200 in savings!
You can spend your afternoon downtown shopping for some uniquely Alaskan gifts. Oomingmak on 6th and H Street offer garments and accessories made from Quiviut, the underwool of Musk Ox. Keep an eye out for Lolley, the ULU Factory Trolley, which offers free rides from downtown to the ULU Factory. ULUs are a traditional native knife with a rounded edge. Be sure to check out the factory and pick up what may be your new favorite kitchen tool!
The summer days are long in Alaska, so after dinner you still have plenty of time to keep exploring Anchorage, which has over 300 miles of walking and bike paths. Take an evening stroll along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail with spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and downtown Anchorage.
Day 2 –Like many big cities, Anchorage has some excellent museums that will give you an appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the State. The Anchorage Museum is right downtown and is home to some impressive natural history artifacts, including collections from the Smithsonian.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a wonderful way to learn and interact with the native communities in Anchorage. It’s much more than a museum and certainly worth a few hours to explore.
An afternoon hiking Anchorage’s most popular trail, Flattop mountain, will reward hikers with a spectacular view over the city and surrounding vistas. It’s an easy 1.5 mile hike suitable for almost everyone. There is a shuttle that will take you to and from the trailhead if you don’t have a vehicle.
Day 3 –If you’re ready to get out of the city and see more of Alaska’s wilderness, then good news…it’s very close! A day trip, south to Girdwood, starts with a spectacular drive along Turnagain Arm. There’s a number of scenic lookouts on this drive, so be sure to stop and enjoy. There are also plenty of opportunities for a morning hike before reaching Girdwood. Potters Marsh, just outside of Anchorage, has boardwalks for wildlife and bird watching. Further along, McHugh Creek (at Mile 112) and Bird Creek (at Mile 101) have easy to access parking and hiking options.
However, you may want to save your hiking energy for your time in Girdwood, which has many great trails. Girdwood is home to Alyeska Resort, a ski resort in the winter, but just as interesting to visit in the summer. You can take the tram to the top for hiking and incredible views. Make a reservation at Seven Glaciers restaurant and the tram ticket is included. Besides, this will be one of the best dining experiences of your life.
If wildlife viewing high on your Alaska Bucket List, just 11 miles further south of Girdwood is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage. Here you are sure to see some of Alaska’s most sought after residents, bears, moose, wolves, bison, musk ox and more.
After this day of activity it’s only a 45 minute drive back to Anchorage or, if you want to extend your trip, you can stay the night in Girdwood or nearby Whittier. This quaint little town is home to a number of day cruises, which will have you discovering endless wildlife and glaciers. You can also do these same day tours in one day from Anchorage, often combined with an Alaska Railroad trip. Major Marine Tours and Phillips Cruises both offer wonderful glacier cruises led by an onboard naturalist.
Day 4 –A morning trip from Anchorage to Eklutna Lake, 26 miles north of town on the Glenn Highway, will give you another taste of wilderness Alaska. You can rent kayaks, bicycles or hike. Lifetime Adventures offers guided tours around Eklutna Lake.
When you return to Anchorage, make sure you leave time to visit the Alaska Zoo; home to more than 100 animals including tigers, bears, moose and wolves. Alaska’s wildlife can be hard to spot in the wild, so check out the zoo to make sure you see these magnificent animals.