Roughly the size of Delaware, the northernmost city in America has not only plenty of room, but lots to offer visitors in the state of the The Last Frontier. With permanently snow-covered peaks and a diverse wildlife, Anchorage is a beautiful city with impressive sites. Plan your stay carefully, as this large city has many exciting activities and unique views to see such as the Northern Lights. Pan for gold, step foot on a glacier and attend one of the many free festivals running year round. Only those with a sense of adventure are welcome.
5…Room to Roam
Tucked away at the very north of the Last Frontier, Anchorage is easily accessible with hundreds of flights landing at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport every day.
Between airfare, food and hotel costs, you want to enjoy yourself on vacation, not worry about how much you are spending. Luckily, many festivals and fairs are free in Anchorage. During the summer, attend the Anchorage Market and Festival every Saturday and Sunday. More than 300 vendors set up shop on seven acres of downtown Anchorage. Here you can watch street performers, listen to live music and purchase handmade Alaskan crafts. Clothes, keepsakes and souvenirs can be found at every price. Be sure to sample the different local and international cuisine the market offers. Salmon and fresh seafood is an obvious staple, but more traditional fair food like funnel cake can also be found.
3…Pan for Gold
Forgo your lottery ticket and test your luck panning for gold. Grab a gold pan, shovel and magnifying lens and start panning. Visit the historic Crow Creek Mine where miners of all levels are welcome to take part in search for gold. All equipment will be provided at a cost, and you can learn how to pan, sluice and hopefully strike it rich. Perhaps you will find enough gold to cover the admission price of $10 for an adult, free for children under seven.
After you’ve found enough gold, spend some time visiting the many museums in Anchorage. The Oscar Anderson House Museum in Elderberry Park is one of the first wooden structures in Anchorage and the only house museum in the city. Built in 1915, the house was turned into a museum in 1982 and is a great activity for families.
Another must-see museum is the Alaska Aviation Museum where visitors will learn about Alaska’s unique aviation history. Over thirty vintage aircrafts and various artifacts are on display. Experience what it is like to fly with their flight simulators and take an actual flight nearby Lakehood. Can’t make the trip? The museum’s website offers a limited virtual tour.
2…Be Dazzled By the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a sight to be seen and if you are lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time you will be able to observe the astronomical phenomena. Electric, multi-colored pinks, greens, and blues light up the Alaskan night sky and can appear to be moving extremely fast. Fall, winter and spring at around midnight are ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. Another incredible, but rare site is the flight of the bald eagle. More common animals to be seen include moose, bears and caribou.
Also check out Portage Glacier, located roughly fifty miles southeast of Anchorage. Cruises sail down the Prince William Sound and those on board are able to catch a glimpse of the Alaskan glaciers and see mounds of ice crash into the water. Cruises can last up to one day so plan accordingly.
No trip to Anchorage is complete without participating in winter activities. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins every year on the first Saturday in March. It stretches 1,049 miles long from Anchorage to Nome. Those leading the dogs are called Mushers and they head a team of sixteen dogs from start to finish. John Baker holds the record winning time for the race, taking only 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes and 39seconds to complete the race in 2011.