12 Fun Things To Do In Anchorage, Alaska

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Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, might initially seem challenging when searching for activities. Yet, it surprisingly offers a rich blend of urban amenities and natural beauty, revealing various activities for visitors.

This guide covers the city's attractions, from outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, providing an extensive list of things to do.

While Anchorage is a gateway to Alaska's vast landscapes, it also boasts unique sites. For example, Earthquake Park tells the dramatic tale of Anchorage's comeback from a massive 1964 quake.

Also, the Alaska Native Heritage Center provides a deep dive into the local indigenous cultures. Also included in this article are practical tips for when to visit, navigating the weather, and what to pack to enhance your experience in Anchorage.

Whether you're drawn to summer's midnight sun or winter's northern lights, Anchorage has something to offer every traveler. So, keep reading to discover the city's hidden gems and plan an unforgettable Alaska adventure.

Anchorage: A City of Contrasts and Surprises

Exploring Anchorage can feel like a paradox. It's Alaska's largest and most significant city, yet it might not dazzle you with the instant charm of smaller Alaskan towns.

Anchorage shows how to live practically in one of the US's most remote and cold areas.

Even though it's a city, seeing grizzly bears and moose in Anchorage is common, showing a city living in harmony with the nearby wilderness.

The city's practicality doesn't mean it lacks appeal. Anchorage merges modern living with the wild, offering a unique blend that might not be immediately apparent.

The perception of Anchorage as a city buried in snow, devoid of modern comforts, and teeming with wildlife roaming its streets only tells part of the story.

In reality, Anchorage offers a modern lifestyle with all seasons bringing their own charm. The winter months bring snow, but the summer provides mild weather and extended daylight hours, allowing for endless exploration.

Whether you're seeking the serene beauty of a snowy landscape or the vibrant summer activity, Anchorage holds a diverse range of experiences waiting to be discovered.

What to See in Anchorage

Despite its absence of a striking cityscape due to the devastating 9.2 magnitude earthquake in 1964, Anchorage captivates with its unique attractions.

The city may lack the historic architecture seen in other major cities along the West Coast, but it more than compensates with a wealth of engaging sights.

The Alaska Native Heritage Museum offers an immersive look into the culture and history of Alaska's indigenous peoples.

Far from a static display of artifacts, the museum brings history to life with dynamic demonstrations of Native dancing, food preparation, carving, and storytelling.

Anchorage's points of interest extend to Earthquake Park, standing on the grounds of a neighborhood wiped out by the 1964 earthquake, providing a stark reminder of nature's power.

The city also boasts the Alaska Zoo and the Alaska Botanical Garden for nature enthusiasts and the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge for wildlife observers.

For outdoor lovers, Anchorage's trail system is unparalleled. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail starts in the downtown area and stretches for 11 miles, offering breathtaking views of Alaska's natural beauty.

Winter brings its own joys with the Bartlett Ski Trails, perfect for cross-country skiing. Meanwhile, the Chester Creek Trail presents an easy and picturesque route for walkers.

Exploring Downtown Anchorage: Urban Delights & Culinary Treats

Downtown Anchorage offers a variety of urban pleasures, catering to visitors who wish to balance their outdoor adventures with city comforts.

Craft beer enthusiasts will appreciate the selection of locally brewed ales available at Glacier Brewhouse, Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse, 49th State Brewing Company, and King Street Brewing Company.

Snow City Cafe serves up classic comfort dishes for those searching for hearty meals. For a more upscale dining experience, Jens' Restaurant offers innovative dishes with a touch of Alaskan influence.

Other dining options include Ginger for exceptional Pan-Asian cuisine, Club Paris for a traditional steakhouse experience, and Kincaid Grill and Wine Bar, which specializes in seafood and exquisite wines.

Why Anchorage Is Fascinating

Anchorage might not immediately dazzle with the charm found in smaller Alaskan towns. Still, its authenticity and practical approach to life in one of the most remote parts of the United States are genuinely captivating.

The city's blend of modern living with the wilderness offers a unique experience beyond surface-level attractions.

There's a robust, down-to-earth vibe to Anchorage and every Alaskan city and town visited, creating a deeply authentic experience that's both engaging and refreshing.

Anchorage, devoid of flashy attractions, offers many activities that provide a rich, ongoing Alaskan experience, far from being mundane or uninteresting.

The willingness to explore just a short drive out of town opens up even more incredible places to visit, seamlessly integrating into the Anchorage experience.

This list of activities aims to help travelers discover the city's hidden gems, promising even more reasons to return for a deeper exploration of Anchorage's genuine charm.

Exploring Anchorage: Top Attractions and Hidden Gems

1. The Ulu Factory Experience

Anchorage boasts The Ulu Factory, a unique destination that provides a fascinating glimpse into the craftsmanship of Alaska’s most iconic knife.

This factory is not just a tourist attraction; it's an invitation to witness the meticulous process of making a Ulu knife from start to finish.

The ulu knife has an Alaskan history.

Visitors are welcomed into the manufacturing space, where they can observe the assembly of the blade and handle, followed by the packaging of the finished product.

The friendly staff are on hand to guide you through the facility, offering personal tours that reveal the intricate details of ulu crafting.

Beyond manufacturing, The Ulu Factory demonstrates practical use, sharpening techniques, and proper care of ulu knives and cutting bowls.

These educational sessions are invaluable for newcomers and seasoned cooks looking to add an ulu to their kitchen arsenal.

The Factory also features a gift shop, where visitors can browse and purchase the very ulus they've seen being made, along with various other Alaskan-crafted gifts. It's an ideal spot to find a meaningful souvenir or a gift that truly represents the spirit of Alaska.

2. Alaska Native Heritage Center

For those keen to learn more about Alaska's indigenous cultures, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is a must-visit. Since its opening in 1999, the center has dedicated itself to educating visitors about the 11 major cultural groups that call Alaska home.

Situated only 10 miles from downtown Anchorage, it's an accessible journey into the heart of Alaska's rich heritage.

Things to do in Anchorage: Alaska Native Heritage Center
Photo By: Frank K. - Wikipedia

At the Alaska Native Heritage Center, you're invited to explore six life-size villages representing different cultural groups.

For those interested in more dynamic activities, the center's website lists yearly demonstrations and events.

From traditional dancing to storytelling, these sessions bring the traditions of Alaska's indigenous people to life.

Visitors have the unique opportunity to engage with the culture through interactive experiences, learning about everything from ancient crafts to contemporary issues facing these communities today.

Plan to make the most of your visit by checking the Alaska Native Heritage Center's website for the latest event schedules and demonstrations.

3. Eklutna Historical Park

Eklutna Historical Park, a favored stop for guided tours around Anchorage, merits the 30-minute drive from the city. For those with a vehicle, it's a worthwhile addition to your Anchorage adventure itinerary.

The park offers a deep dive into the rich history, culture, and traditions of the Dena'ina Athabascans, highlighting the influence of Russian Orthodox traditions on their way of life.

A standout feature of the park is the Spirit Houses. These colorful structures are a distinctive aspect of Athabaskan burial practices.

Built by the families of the deceased, they mark graves uniquely personal and culturally, blending spirituality with the landscape.


With complimentary parking available, your Eklutna Historical Park visit is easy. It’s an opportunity to witness a unique cultural heritage and immerse yourself in the stories and traditions that have shaped the region.

4. Earthquake Park

Earthquake Park is a solemn reminder of the 1964 earthquake, one of the most powerful quakes ever recorded, significantly impacting Anchorage.

The city initially considered developing the affected area but opted to preserve it as a park due to the soil's instability. This decision has provided a space for reflection and education on the forces that shape our world.

During a visit to Earthquake Park, visitors can engage with informative plaques detailing the quake's events and its effects on the region.

The park features an extensive walking trail, offering a peaceful journey through shaded forests and alongside the bay with picturesque views.

Earthquake Park, Anchorage, Alaska

This park is more than just a green space; it's an educational journey into a pivotal moment in Alaska's history. It offers a unique opportunity to understand the 1964 earthquake's impact and enjoy the natural beauty that has emerged in its wake.

Things to do in Anchorage: Earthquake Park

5. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, located in Girdwood and a scenic drive from Anchorage along the Seward Highway beside Turnagain Arm, is a must-visit for those interested in wildlife preservation.

This center isn't just a stop on the journey; it's a destination that showcases Alaska's commitment to wildlife conservation, research, education, and care.

En route to the center, a recommended stop is Beluga Point, where the expansive views of Turnagain Arm might even offer a glimpse of whales.


Though we weren't lucky enough to see any whales, the site provided a memorable moment for my family, with its massive rocks and vast ocean.


At the heart of the center's mission is wildlife protection, offering a haven for bears, moose, wolves, reindeer, musk ox, and other native species.


Many of these animals have been rescued and now find safety within the center's boundaries. Each enclosure tells the story of its inhabitants, providing a deeper connection to Alaska's wildlife.

The center plays a crucial role in reintroducing species like elk and wood bison back into Alaska's wilds, underscoring its vital contribution to the state's ecological balance.

Things to do in Anchorage: The impressive elk herd at the Wildlife Conservation Center
The impressive elk herd at the Wildlife Conservation Center

Visitors can either walk or drive through the center to observe the animals. Opting to walk, we found the trails manageable and the experience intimate.

Things to do in Anchorage: A Mooselfie!

The onsite gift shop, filled with unique Alaska-made items, offers a chance to further support the center's noble efforts.

Preparation for the unpredictable Alaskan weather is advised, as the terrain can become muddy. Despite the rain, our visit was undisturbed and even allowed for a memorable "Mooselfie" in the drizzle.

6. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary in Anchorage, Alaska, is an ideal spot for bird enthusiasts and those seeking to immerse themselves in nature's splendor.

Visiting between late April and September offers the best opportunity to observe various bird species, including Canada geese, gulls, shorebirds, trumpeter swans, and many others.

The sanctuary becomes a bustling hub of avian activity, especially during the spring and fall migrations.

Things to do in Anchorage: Potter Marsh

Moose are also regular visitors to the area, with May to June being prime months for sightings. The sanctuary's rich biodiversity makes it a compelling destination for anyone looking to connect with Alaska's wild side.

For an enhanced experience, bringing binoculars or spotting scopes is recommended, allowing for up-close observations of the sanctuary's feathered residents.

While fishing is not allowed, the focus here is on observing and appreciating the natural beauty and wildlife diversity.

Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary is a peaceful retreat where visitors can enjoy the tranquility of nature and the chance to see Alaska's wildlife in its natural habitat.

7. Portage Glacier

Just an hour's drive from Anchorage lies one of Alaska's most stunning natural wonders, Portage Glacier.

Portage Glacier

This majestic ice formation is a must-see for anyone visiting the area, offering breathtaking views accessible via a cruise on the lake.

Although reaching the glacier requires a bit more time due to the boat ride, the close-up views of the icy landscape are well worth the effort. For those who prefer land-based adventures, hiking trails offer alternative routes to enjoy the glacier's beauty.


Adjacent to the glacier, the Begich-Boggs Visitors Center presents an opportunity to delve deeper into Alaskan natural history.

The center is renowned for its engaging exhibits and an exceptional film about Alaska, which is highly recommended for all visitors.

The movie, free with a National Parks pass, provides insightful context about the state's environment and history, making it a highlight of the visit to Portage Glacier.

Whether you experience Portage Glacier by boat or foot, include the Begich-Boggs Visitors Center in your itinerary for a comprehensive understanding of this ice marvel and its surroundings.

8. Westchester Lagoon

For those seeking a serene getaway close to the heart of Anchorage, Westchester Lagoon offers an ideal escape.

Merely 15 minutes from downtown, this peaceful spot is a local favorite for walking, running, paddleboarding, and kayaking activities.

The lagoon is particularly family-friendly, boasting an outdoor exercise area, slides, and more, making it a perfect spot for a day out with loved ones.

Westchester Lagoon

Wildlife viewing is another highlight of Westchester Lagoon, where visitors might encounter moose, red foxes, otters, muskrats, minks, shorebirds, and geese, all thriving in this urban oasis.

In addition, Westchester Lagoon transforms into a winter wonderland from January to March, attracting ice skaters to its frozen surface. The lagoon becomes a bustling hub of weekend activity, offering a unique way to experience Anchorage's colder months.

9. Oscar Anderson House Museum

The Oscar Anderson House Museum, established in 1915, is a significant historical landmark in Anchorage. This residence, where Oscar Anderson lived until 1974, offers visitors a glimpse into early 20th-century life in Alaska.

Following Anderson's passing, his widow generously donated the property to the city, enriching Anchorage's cultural heritage.

Photo By: JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD - Wikipedia

Visitors to the museum can explore the well-preserved interiors, which serve as a time capsule of Alaskan domestic life over a century ago.

Open for tours from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, the museum provides an intimate look at the personal history of one of Anchorage's pioneer residents, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

10. Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park, located near Anchorage, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife. The park's vast wilderness areas are dotted with trails that meander through stunning scenery, offering views of local wildlife and lush vegetation.

One notable trail runs alongside a river, featuring viewing decks for spotting beavers and salmon in their natural habitat.

Chugach State Park

The park is also a habitat for bears, leading to occasional closures of certain areas by park rangers for safety. Visitors are advised to heed all signs and guidelines to ensure a safe and respectful distance from the wildlife.

Chugach State Park offers cabin rentals and camping opportunities for those looking to immerse themselves further into the natural beauty surrounding Anchorage. This allows for an up-close experience with Alaska's magnificent outdoors, making it a perfect addition to any Anchorage visit.

11. Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum

The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum offers a fascinating look into the pivotal role of aviation in Alaska's past and present.

Aviation remains a vital mode of transportation across the state's vast and remote areas, making this museum a must-visit for anyone interested in the unique aspects of Alaskan life.

Photo By: Walterak - Wikipedia

The museum is home to an impressive collection of educational exhibits, including numerous historic airplanes that tell the story of aviation's evolution in the region.

Additionally, visitors can enter the restoration hangar, where volunteers dedicate their time to bringing vintage aircraft back to their former glory.

This hands-on approach to history and the chance to see aviation technology up close make the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum a standout destination for understanding Alaska's deep connection to flight.

12. Kincaid Park

Kincaid Park is a beloved green space in Anchorage that locals and visitors cherish.

Spanning a vast area, the park is a hub of activity for everyone from runners and bikers to families and outdoor enthusiasts, offering various recreational opportunities throughout the year.

The park's extensive network of trails caters to various activities, including hiking, biking, and skiing in winter.

A highlight is the paved trail that leads adventurers close to the seashore, offering stunning views and a chance to connect with nature.

Fun things to do in Anchorage, AK: Kincaid Park

Wildlife sightings are common in Kincaid Park, adding an element of excitement to every visit. Whether you're exploring on foot or wheels, keep an eye out for the diverse animals that call this park home, enhancing the experience of Anchorage's great outdoors.

Navigating Anchorage: A Visitor's Map

A map is included at the end of this article to provide a comprehensive overview of Anchorage's attractions. By selecting the icon in the top left corner, readers can access a detailed list of activities and sites within and around Anchorage, as described throughout this guide.

Map of 12 fun things to do in Anchorage Alaska

It's important to note that exploring some of these highlights may involve a drive beyond the city's immediate boundaries. Yet, all are within a manageable distance for a day trip, ensuring an adventure-filled visit to Alaska's largest city.

Deciding When to Visit Anchorage and Alaska

Choosing the right time to visit Anchorage and Alaska generally depends on personal preferences and the experiences you're looking to have.

During the summer, Anchorage offers mild weather and a landscape bursting with life, making it the peak season for tourists. This period is ideal for outdoor activities such as flightseeing over the Alaska Range or savoring freshly caught salmon.

For a deeper exploration of the best times to visit Alaska beyond Anchorage, including insights into seasonal activities and weather considerations across the state, consider reading the comprehensive guide "When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska?"

If you're still not sure, check out my posts about the best time to view the northern lights and the best time to see whales in Alaska.

Exploring Anchorage in the Shoulder Seasons

The shoulder seasons of spring and fall present a different side of Anchorage, each with a unique appeal. Spring in Anchorage is brief and can be muddy, with the snowmelt uncovering the remnants of winter.

Despite this, visiting during spring means fewer tourists, potentially lower accommodation costs, and the chance to witness the awakening of Alaska's natural world.

On the other hand, Fall offers the spectacle of salmon runs, a feature unique to Anchorage, with Ship Creek flowing right through the city.

The fishing might not reach the peak summer frenzy, but it provides a quieter yet enriching experience away from the larger crowds. For those keen on exploring beyond the city, the Kenai Peninsula and the Mat-Su Valley offer splendid fishing opportunities in their wild rivers and streams.

Early fall visitors might also catch the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, adding a cultural highlight to their trip. Autumn in Anchorage usually brings rain, but occasional warm days in September and fewer mosquitoes at night enhance the outdoor experience during this season.

Winter Wonders and Wardrobe Wisdom for Anchorage

Winter in Anchorage might not attract summer crowds, but it offers unique attractions.

The season allows for snow sports at Alyeska, adventures with snow machines or snowshoes, dogsled rides, attending the Fur Rondy festival, witnessing the Iditarod's start, and watching the Northern Lights illuminate the sky.

Dressing for the Alaskan Climate

Layering is essential for tackling Alaska's unpredictable weather, with fluctuations common throughout the day. Anchorage's laid-back style means prioritizing comfort and practicality over fashion.

Start with a good base layer and add or remove items as the weather changes. A water-resistant windbreaker is necessary for summer, while winter requires warmer layers. Don't forget warm socks, durable shoes, and a hat. Long sleeves and pants offer mosquito protection in warmer months.

Travelers might pack some dressier outfits for special occasions, but comfortable attire is critical for exploring. Ensure your footwear is well broken in to avoid discomfort during your adventures.

What more?

If you want more advice on what to wear in Alaska, try this post about visiting Fairbanks.

Further up in the north, Fairbanks has even more extreme weather than Anchorage, so that you can find more advice there. And don't worry, the advice is based on research and asking locals.

And if you want to include even more stunning natural scenery, check out this post about Alaska's National Parks. They're not all accessible from Anchorage (or at all), but some are!

Finally, if you're looking for a place to stay while in Anchorage and traveling with a family, you may want to look at the list of Anchorage hotels with pools that I have here.

We hope you enjoyed this post! Have you visited any of these places? If so, let us know in a comment! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask, too. We don't have all the answers, but we'll do our best to help you.

12 Fun things to do in Anchorage, Alaska. See the full list in this blog post.

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  1. We are from Mendoza, Argentina, province of wine and the warmth of its people.
    Very interesting and instructive your comment and instructions for a trip that I presume to be a dream !!!!!!!!! Thank you, very much!!!!!
    We wait for you

  2. I hear the mosquitoes will cart you off !! What do we do to keep from getting eaten up ?? Thanks for all your fantastic reviews. Cant wait for trip North to Alaska!!

    • Hi Candy,
      I can only assume we were incredibly lucky but in August 2017 we spent three weeks in Alaska and I don’t recall seeing a single mosquito! Not in Anchorage or anywhere else in Alaska. We came prepared to face clouds of them but never had to use the bug spray. Not even once. They just weren’t around!

  3. Hi… It does not take 15 minutes to get from downtown Anchorage to West Chester Lagoon. From someone who grew up in the neighborhood.

    • Thank you for that bit of information, Sarah! Much appreciated. I haven’t visited West Chester Lagoon myself so your input is helpful! Looks like it’s even shorter than that, although it can be 15 minutes from other areas in the city, especially during rush hour.

  4. Hi I’m planning a trip to Anchorage In late July next year so all the info here was great. Thanks.. I will be coming in from the Yukon so assume I will need a Visa from the US to visit. Gwince.

    • Hi Gaynor,
      If you’re a Canadian, then as far as I know, you don’t need a VISA to visit the US. If you’re from a country where a VISA is required to visit the US, then you would need one to enter Alaska. I hope this helps.

  5. Lots of great info, thank you! I can’t wait for my trip in June 3-11. Do you have restaurant recommendations?
    Thank you,

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