Alaska’s largest and most sophisticated city, Anchorage, is located at the foot of the rocky Chugach Mountains where the land meets the sea, known as the Cook Inlet.
It nestles in the midst of snow-covered mountain peaks and volcanoes – mostly dormant and a few still active. Talkeetna and Kenai ranges of mountains dominate the north-south horizon. On a clear day North America’s tallest mountain, Mt McKinley, becomes visible on the northern horizon.
A Fascinating City
There aren’t many other cities on earth quite like Anchorage. It’s a cosmopolitan city with museums, art galleries, theaters, ballets and opera halls. Its modernity is amply visible in its thriving city center, ritzy hotels, swanky shopping malls, flashy restaurants and jazzy bars.
Hordes of travelers come here throughout the year. Whether the purpose of their visit is pleasure or business – or a bit of both – having a good time in this fascinating city is assured.
The city’s total area runs into some 2,000 square miles but much of it is mountainous and not habitable. The uninhabited areas are covered with verdant forests and parks. Natural lakes within city limits will tempt you to go for fishing salmons.
Photo Credit- Incrediblediary.com
You may not actually have an encounter with a bear or a moose in your backyard but what you will find most amusing is the signs along the coastal trail. They remind those who can read that these animals are the preferred users of this popular trail that adventurous travelers often use.
Walking is the most enjoyable way to explore any new city. But the mountainous topography of Anchorage makes walking difficult except in the downtown area. Being close to the waterfront, it’s fairly flat and walking isn’t an ordeal. Many hotels, bars, restaurants and shops are located in this neighborhood.
Enjoy strolling in the touristy downtown area which looks particularly pretty in summer and spring with hanging floral baskets lining the streets.
Walking Tour of the Downtown
Begin your day-long walking expedition from the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center on the corner of Fourth Avenue and F Street. Local volunteers will answer your questions and provide you with maps for the walking tour.
The marble statue that you see facing the Old City Hall is of William Seward’s, a close adviser to Abraham Lincoln and later served as US Secretary of State in the 1860s. Along the 4th Avenue are some of the city’s elegant old buildings constructed during the first half of the last century.
Also on the Fourth Avenue you will find many gift and antique shops, and also art galleries. There are several restaurants and bars where you may like to rest for a while and have your lunch and then resume your walking marathon.
Some of the other attractions in downtown are Ship Creek, Alaska Railroad Museum, Museum of Art and Natural History, Oscar Anderson House, Oomingmak Musk Ox Producer’s Co-op, Russian Orthodox Museum, City Hall et al. See as many of these as you can and turn back before getting tired. Remember, you have to walk all the way back to your hotel, dress up for the evening and go out for having a good time.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
This 11-mile long trail along the coast of Anchorage offers spectacular views of mountains and the sea. Motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on this trail. Hire a bicycle from a local shop and set out on a tour of the picturesque countryside. The trail starts from downtown’s Second Avenue and finishes in Kincaid Park.
Photo Credit- Luxworldtravel.com
The park is set amidst 1,400 acres of rolling hills covered with verdant forests. If offers breathtaking views of Mt Susitna across Cook Inlet; Fire Island to the southwest; and Mt McKinley and Mt Foraker to the north. Many species of wildlife roam here freely and the sunset you see from here is undoubtedly the best in Anchorage.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
This is a wonderful place to visit if you are interested in the diverse cultures and traditions of Alaska’s indigenous people. Have a look at the traditional outdoor village sites where you can watch films, see various exhibits and watch performances by local people. It’s not within walking distance from downtown. Take a free shuttle that departs from the Log Cabin Information Center and return also by another shuttle. Find out from the Information Center about the timings.
Don’t miss the zoo if you are traveling with your family. It has many bears, wolves, Amur tigers, snow leopards, seals, fox, musk ox, moose and many arctic and sub-arctic animals.
There are plenty of hotels in different price ranges. Most travelers prefer downtown hotels because it’s a tourist friendly neighborhood and most tourist attractions are within easy walking distance.
Hotel Captain Cook is the top luxury accommodation in Anchorage. Each of its 547 rooms and suites offers breathtaking views of the Cook Inlet or the Chugach Mountains.
The Sheraton Anchorage Hotel is another fine hotel. Its 370 guestrooms feature all the luxuries to be expected from a Sheraton hotel. If you prefer to stay in a more luxurious hotel, the Anchorage Clarion Suites is the place for you. Ramada Downtown, Inlet Tower Hotel and the Comfort Inn are also some great hotels in this area.
Some travelers prefer an airport hotel at the beginning and end of their Anchorage travel. Holiday Inn Express is a great hotel near the airport.
All these hotels have excellent dining facilities and some of them have indoor swimming pool, spa, and sauna and fitness centers.
Local Cuisine and Restaurants
Some of the leading restaurants are – Crow’s Nest, Jens’, Glacier Brew House, Simon & Seafort’s, Humpy’s and Orso. But don’t worry if you forget these names because you will get good food wherever you go.
Anchorage boasts of some finest seafood in the world. Whether you order oysters, king crabs, fresh-caught halibut or Alaska’s famous salmon, you will simply relish whatever you eat.
Anchorage abounds with themed bars and dance halls. Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge is a fashionable place. Sitting outside on the lawn in the summer is most enjoyable. Go upstairs to the Paradise Room if you are here in other seasons.
Chilkoot Charlie’s is the largest bar in the city. It’s always overcrowded on weekends. A live band usually plays here every night.
An Unforgettable Holiday
No travelers will ever forget visiting Anchorage. They will of course get all the facilities that are expected from a modern city. But what they will greatly enjoy is the experience of being in the midst of an overwhelming wilderness of mountains, valleys and glaciers. There is even a possibility of sharing the same coastal trail with a bear or a moose during their bicycling trip to Kincaid Park! Come to Anchorage and enjoy an unforgettable holiday.