Anchorage 2023 Travel Guide: Tips and Things to Do in the City

Immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Last Frontier! Anchorage, the heartbeat of Alaska in 2023, brims with larger-than-life experiences that you can’t find anywhere else. From chasing the vivid Northern Lights to wandering through the moose-studded trails, this city offers an unrivaled combination of urban comforts and pristine wilderness. This blog post will take you on a virtual tour full of insider tips and curated must-dos that will make your Anchorage adventure unforgettable. So tighten up your hiking boots and ready your spirit for an amazing Alaskan journey where nature, culture, and northern charm coalesce. Here’s how to get the best out of Anchorage in 2023 like a seasoned local yet feel every bit a thrilled explorer!

Our Guide to Anchorage in 2023 provides a comprehensive overview of what to expect when visiting Alaska’s largest city in the coming year. The guide includes information on transportation options, local tour companies, recommended attractions such as the Portage Glacier and SeaLife Center, and even tips for spotting Beluga whales on the way to Alyeska. Additionally, we share insights on experiencing the Northern Lights in February as well as RV rentals for those looking to explore beyond Anchorage. This guide includes everything you need to plan an unforgettable trip to Anchorage in 2023.

Guide to Anchorage in 2023

Attractions in Anchorage

Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, offers a plethora of unique attractions that cater to different interests and preferences. Whether you’re a fan of history, nature, or outdoor adventure, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

One of the top attractions in Anchorage is the Anchorage Museum, which showcases Native Alaskan artifacts and crafts. Not only can you explore the museum’s exhibits to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the region, but you can also venture outside to enjoy the beautiful garden area. It’s a must-see destination for history buffs and art enthusiasts alike.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, Anchorage has an abundance of options. The Albert Loop Trail is a popular hiking trail known for its scenic views and relatively easy terrain. While exploring this trail, you might encounter some muddy conditions, so wearing rubber boots and bringing bug spray is highly recommended. Additionally, there is a small fee to park at the visitor center.

Eklutna Lake, located between Anchorage and Wasilla, is another favorite spot among locals and visitors. Fed by the majestic Eklutna Glacier in the Chugach Mountains, this serene lake offers breathtaking views surrounded by picturesque landscapes. It’s an ideal place for hiking, picnicking, or simply enjoying the tranquility of nature.

Church State Park also deserves a mention as it provides beautiful hiking spots and numerous opportunities for stunning photos. As you explore the trails of this park, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Anchorage and its surrounding mountains. It’s an excellent option if you want to immerse yourself in nature while still being close to the city.

Now that we’ve covered some of the top attractions in Anchorage that showcase its history and natural beauty, let’s shift our focus to a specific activity that allows you to experience Alaska’s incredible wildlife up close: whale watching and wildlife viewing.

Whale Watching and Wildlife Viewing

Alaska is renowned for its rich biodiversity and abundance of wildlife, making it a prime destination for whale watching and wildlife viewing enthusiasts. Anchorage serves as an excellent base for embarking on these captivating experiences.

When it comes to whale watching, one of the most popular spots near Anchorage is the Kenai Fjords National Park. Located just a few hours away from the city, this park offers incredible opportunities to witness majestic humpback whales breaching and feeding in their natural habitat. Imagine the awe-inspiring sight of these gentle giants gracefully gliding through the water, creating splashes and ripples that leave you spellbound.

But whale watching isn’t limited to just humpback whales; you might also encounter other species such as orcas, gray whales, and even elusive belugas. The chance to observe these magnificent creatures up close is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that leaves a lasting impression on anyone lucky enough to witness it.

In addition to whale watching, Anchorage provides ample opportunities for wildlife viewing. Just a short drive from the city, you can visit the Chugach State Park or the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to catch glimpses of Alaskan moose grazing peacefully or soaring bald eagles perched high in their nests. And if you’re fortunate, you might even spot bears wandering along rivers or fishing for salmon during specific times of the year.

Picture yourself standing on the shores of Cook Inlet, camera in hand, ready to capture that perfect shot of a bald eagle swooping down to grab a fish from the water’s surface. The thrill of these encounters is unmatched and creates memories that will be cherished forever.

With an abundance of attractions and thrilling wildlife experiences available in Anchorage, it’s no wonder that this city continues to captivate visitors from around the world. Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the history and culture or venture into the wilderness to witness Alaska’s breathtaking wildlife, Anchorage promises an unforgettable adventure. So pack your bags and get ready to explore this incredible destination!

Historical Sites to Visit

Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, is not only known for its stunning natural beauty but also for its rich history that dates back centuries. When visiting Anchorage, take the time to explore some of its fascinating historical sites that offer glimpses into the city’s past.

One such site worth visiting is the Native Heritage Center. This modern building houses a museum area that showcases Native artifacts and crafts, providing visitors with insights into the vibrant indigenous cultures of Alaska. The center also hosts demonstrations from Native youth, allowing you to witness traditional practices firsthand. In addition to the indoor exhibits, there is an outdoor portion with a walking trail around a small lake, where replicas of houses from different cultural groups are displayed. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in Alaska’s diverse heritage.

Another historical site worth exploring is Earthquake Park. Located on the edge of Anchorage, this park offers not only natural beauty but also significant historical information about the city. In 1964, a devastating earthquake struck Alaska, causing extensive damage to Anchorage. At Earthquake Park, you can walk along a trail filled with informative signs that tell the story of the earthquake and its impact on the city. It’s an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the resilience and recovery efforts of Anchorage’s residents.

For those interested in gold mining history, Crow Creek Mine is a must-visit destination. This family-owned business provides visitors with an authentic experience of panning for gold. Gladys, the owner, offers thorough demonstrations and shares her extensive knowledge about Alaska’s fascinating history. You can try your luck at finding gold while immersing yourself in the stories and heritage of Alaskan miners.

Oscar Anderson House Museum is another gem for history enthusiasts. This beautifully restored house provides insights into the early days of Anchorage and its residents. Guided tours are available to walk you through each room, showcasing original pieces of furniture and artifacts. What makes this museum particularly unique is that it houses china that miraculously survived the destructive earthquake of 1964. It’s an opportunity to step back in time and gain appreciation for Anchorage’s past.

Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery may not be on everyone’s list, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history through its intact grave sites. As you wander through the cemetery, you’ll find interesting stone artwork and commemorations of notable individuals who played a part in shaping Anchorage’s heritage.

Now that we’ve explored some of Anchorage’s historical sites, let’s dive into some unique activities that you can experience in this vibrant city.

Unique Anchorage Activities

Anchorage isn’t just about history; it boasts a wide range of unique activities that cater to different interests. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or seek cultural experiences, Anchorage has something for everyone.

One activity that tops the list is witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Anchorage is one of the best places in the world to catch this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. From September to April, on clear nights, you have the chance to see dancing ribbons of green, pink, and violet lights painting the night sky. Parks like Chugach State Park provide excellent vantage points away from the city lights, enhancing your chances of witnessing this ethereal display.

For nature lovers, hiking trails offer a chance to explore Alaska’s pristine wilderness. The Albert Loop Trail in Eagle River Nature Center is a popular choice amongst locals and visitors alike. As you hike through forested areas and open meadows, keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose and bears. Just remember to come prepared with sturdy footwear and insect repellent since mosquitos are common in certain seasons.

If you’re interested in Alaska’s native culture, make sure to visit the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This 11-mile trail provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and coastline. Along the way, you’ll encounter native artifacts and sculptures that add a touch of culture to your outdoor adventure.

To experience a unique Anchorage activity, consider embarking on a train ride to Seward. This scenic journey takes you through breathtaking landscapes, including mountains, glaciers, and coastal areas. It’s an opportunity to capture stunning photographs and embrace the beauty of Alaska’s nature firsthand.

For those craving some adrenaline-pumping action, try paragliding at the Double Black Diamond. Take the tram up the mountainside for panoramic views of Anchorage before exploring the mountain top on foot. The experience is exhilarating and offers an alternative perspective of the city and its surroundings.

A lesser-known but equally exciting activity is exploring the hidden gems within Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary. This boardwalk trail offers excellent birdwatching opportunities, especially during migration seasons. Keep your camera handy to capture photos of various bird species in their natural habitat.

With its abundance of activities and diverse attractions, Anchorage promises an unforgettable travel experience for visitors of all interests. From immersing yourself in history to embracing outdoor adventures, this city has something for every traveler seeking unique experiences.

  • As of the most recent data from 2021, Anchorage is home to about 40% of Alaska’s population, with over 290,000 residents. The 2023 guide extrapolates potential growth and development based on this.
  • According to tourism statistics, around 2 million people visit Alaska annually with Anchorage being a popular destination – likely due to its accessibility and multitude of attractions which are highlighted in the 2023 guide.
  • A study released by the U.S. National Park Service, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, predicts that climate change may cause significant changes in Alaskan wildlife populations by 2023 — facts explored thoroughly in the updated guide to better prepare tourists for what they might (or might not) see during their visit.
  • Anchorage, Alaska offers a wide range of unique activities catering to different interests. Visitors can witness the Northern Lights, hike through pristine wilderness, explore native culture via the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, embark on a scenic train ride to Seward, try paragliding at the Double Black Diamond for adrenaline-pumping action, or explore the hidden gems within Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary for excellent birdwatching opportunities. Overall, Anchorage promises an unforgettable travel experience for visitors of all interests with its diverse attractions.

Northern Lights Viewing Guide

Anchorage, Alaska is renowned for being one of the best places on Earth to witness the mesmerizing dance of the Northern Lights. Picture yourself standing under a vast night sky, as brilliant ribbons of light weave across the darkness, painting the heavens with shades of green and yellow. Anchorage’s prime location in relation to the aurora oval, combined with its relatively clear skies, makes it a hotspot for catching this celestial spectacle.

If you find yourself wondering about the ideal time to witness the Northern Lights in Anchorage, look no further than the months spanning August through April. During this period, when darkness envelops the city for a significant portion of the day, your chances of encountering this natural phenomenon are greatly increased. The most common color observed in Anchorage’s skies is a breathtaking yellow-green.

While it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the aurora by simply looking up at the stars from convenient locations within Anchorage, going with an expert guide can enhance your experience exponentially. These knowledgeable guides possess invaluable expertise on optimal viewing spots, ensuring you have the best chance possible to witness and appreciate nature’s dazzling light show. They can also offer insights into local history and culture, enhancing your overall journey.

Imagine embarking on a guided tour led by an experienced aurora hunter who takes you to secluded areas away from city lights. Wrapped in warm layers and anticipating the display above, you wait with anticipation as shimmering curtains of light begin to emerge. The silence is deafening as you watch one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena unfold before your eyes.

Whether you choose to seek out the Northern Lights independently or join a guided tour, Anchorage offers numerous options for you to immerse yourself in this extraordinary experience. The city boasts several reputable guides and dedicated spots specifically focused on maximizing northern lights viewing during winter nights.

With our souls still enchanted by the ethereal beauty of the Northern Lights, it’s time to now turn our attention to another thrilling adventure Anchorage has to offer: outdoor winter activities, including skiing and snowboarding.

Outdoor Adventures: Skiing and Snowboarding

From snow-capped mountains to invigorating powder runs, Anchorage presents an excellent playground for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Imagine gliding down fresh slopes on a crisp winter morning, surrounded by breathtaking panoramic views and exhilarating alpine air.

Alyeska Resort is a beloved destination for winter sports enthusiasts in Anchorage. Nestled at the base of the Chugach Mountains, this renowned resort offers a wide range of ski and snowboard trails suited for all skill levels. Beginners can confidently practice their techniques on gentle slopes, while advanced riders can challenge themselves on steep terrains and thrilling mogul runs.

Another favorite spot among locals and visitors alike is Hilltop Ski Area. Boasting a family-friendly atmosphere, Hilltop offers a variety of terrain parks, groomed trails, and a tubing park that guarantees heaps of fun for both kids and adults. After an exciting day on the slopes, you can warm up with hot cocoa while relishing in the camaraderie at the cozy ski lodge.

For those seeking even more adventure, Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau is just a short flight away from Anchorage. With its majestic mountain views overlooking Gastineau Channel, this gem provides an opportunity to embark on a thrilling skiing or snowboarding journey amidst some of Alaska’s most awe-inspiring landscapes.

Whether you’re hitting the slopes for the first time or you consider yourself an experienced rider, Anchorage and its surrounding areas offer something for everyone. The key is to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Alaska’s winter wonderland while experiencing the pure joy that comes with gliding through pristine snow.

Exploring Nearby Tourist Destinations

When visiting Anchorage in 2023, there are several nearby tourist destinations that are worth exploring to enhance your travel experience. One of the must-visit places is Seward, a charming coastal town located about two and a half hours south of Anchorage. Known for its scenic beauty, Seward offers a range of activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Start your day by taking a leisurely stroll along the picturesque waterfront promenade, where fishing boats and sea otters often make an appearance. The Alaska SeaLife Center is another highlight of Seward, offering a fascinating opportunity to learn about marine life through interactive exhibits and animal encounters. Witnessing the ethereal beauty of Exit Glacier is also an unforgettable experience. You can embark on a guided hiking tour to explore this magnificent glacier up close and learn about its geological significance.

One popular activity in Seward is taking a boat tour into Kenai Fjords National Park. Hop aboard a wildlife and glacier cruise to witness breathtaking scenery, impressive tidewater glaciers, and wildlife such as whales, sea lions, and puffins. It’s truly nature at its finest!

To make the most of your visit to Seward, consider spending a night or two in one of the cozy waterfront cabins or bed and breakfasts available in the town. Wake up to spectacular views of the bay while savoring local seafood delicacies at one of the local restaurants.

Another nearby destination worth exploring is Alyeska. Located just 40 minutes southeast of Anchorage, Alyeska offers outdoor adventures amidst stunning landscapes. The Alyeska Resort is renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities during the winter months. Even if you’re not into winter sports, the resort’s aerial tramway provides an exhilarating ride with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

During the summer season, you can take advantage of the resort’s hiking trails that lead to picturesque viewpoints and waterfalls. Don’t forget to indulge in a delightful meal at one of the resort’s restaurants, which showcase Alaska’s fresh seafood and local ingredients.

Now that we’ve explored nearby tourist destinations, let’s dive into an extraordinary experience that can only be found in Anchorage: visiting the glaciers.

Visiting the Glaciers

When you think of Alaska, glaciers often come to mind, and Anchorage provides excellent opportunities to witness these majestic natural wonders up close. One popular option is taking a boat tour to see glaciers, such as Portage Glacier or Mendenhall Glacier.

Portage Glacier, located in Chugach National Forest, offers a breathtaking sight as it majestically descends into Portage Lake. Embark on a glacier cruise to get an up-close and personal view of this awe-inspiring ice formation. As you sail through the serene waters, keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of wildlife like seals and eagles. This experience not only allows you to appreciate the sheer magnitude and beauty of glaciers but also educates you about their ecological significance and the challenges they face due to climate change.

If you prefer a land-based adventure, head to Chugach State Park for a hiking excursion along the Albert Loop Trail. As you traverse this scenic trail, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of glaciers nestled amongst rugged mountain peaks. It’s essential to come prepared with proper footwear, bug spray, and bear spray for safety while exploring this pristine wilderness.

Anchorage truly offers something for everyone when it comes to experiencing the wonders of nature. Whether you choose to take a boat tour or hike through Chugach State Park, these glacier encounters will undoubtedly be some of the highlights of your trip.

For those seeking an unforgettable aerial perspective of Alaska’s glaciers, consider taking a flightseeing tour. Hop aboard a small plane or helicopter and soar above the icy landscape for a bird’s eye view that will leave you in awe of nature’s grandeur.

Day Trips to Seward and Alyeska

If you’re visiting Anchorage, a day trip to Seward and Alyeska is an absolute must. These two picturesque destinations offer breathtaking scenery and exciting activities that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to relax, these day trips have something for everyone.

Let’s start with Seward. Known as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward offers an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in Alaska’s natural beauty. The highlight of this day trip is undoubtedly the Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise. This cruise takes you through majestic fjords, providing awe-inspiring vistas of glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Keep your camera ready because wildlife sightings are also common along the way – from bald eagles and seals to sea lions and even whales. Dress warmly though, as it can get quite chilly out on the boat.

Continue your exploration by visiting Alyeska, a charming mountain resort town located about 40 miles south of Anchorage. Here, you’ll find the magnificent Alyeska Resort – a paradise for outdoors enthusiasts.

One of the highlights at Alyeska is taking a tram ride up Mount Alyeska. As you ascend, be prepared to witness panoramic views that stretch as far as the eye can see, encompassing sprawling forests and majestic peaks. Once at the top, indulge in exhilarating outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, or just taking in the stunning scenery. For thrill-seekers, there’s even an option to try downhill skiing during winter months.

After a day filled with adventure or relaxation, make sure to treat yourself to some delicious local cuisine before heading back to Anchorage. Now let’s explore the vibrant dining scene in Anchorage.

Dining in Anchorage

Anchorage is renowned for its diverse culinary offerings, catering to a wide range of tastes and preferences. From fresh seafood to mouthwatering steaks, the city has something for every food lover. Let’s dive into some of the best local cuisine restaurants that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Start your culinary exploration at 49th State Brewing Company, known not only for its locally brewed beers but also for its dishes made with fresh local ingredients. The menu offers a delightful fusion of traditional Alaskan fare with international influences, creating a unique dining experience.

For seafood enthusiasts, Fletcher’s is a must-visit. Renowned for its top-notch service and exquisite menu featuring Alaskan seafood dishes, this restaurant prides itself on showcasing the flavors of the region while providing an unforgettable dining experience.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated meal with stunning views, head to Crow’s Nest Restaurant. Situated on the top floor of Hotel Captain Cook, this fine dining establishment offers sweeping views of Anchorage’s skyline and the surrounding mountains. Indulge in beautifully crafted dishes while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

These are just a few examples of Anchorage’s vibrant dining scene. With numerous options available, you can explore various cuisines ranging from elegant seafood at Haute Quarter Grill to unique pizzas and specialty beers at Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria.

So whether you’re craving fresh seafood, succulent steak, or want to try locally brewed beer, Anchorage has it all! Dive into the city’s culinary delights and savor the flavors that make Alaska’s largest city an unforgettable destination for food enthusiasts.

Best Local Cuisine Restaurants

When it comes to dining in Anchorage, you’re in for a treat! The city offers a diverse range of culinary experiences, with local cuisine taking center stage. Whether you’re craving Mexican, Southwestern, Latin, or seafood delicacies, Anchorage has something to satisfy every palate.

One highly recommended restaurant for Mexican, Southwestern, and Latin cuisine is La Cabana. This vibrant establishment serves up authentic dishes bursting with flavor, giving you a taste of the region’s rich culinary heritage.

Picture yourself stepping into La Cabana – the tantalizing aroma of sizzling fajitas fills the air as you settle into your seat. You can’t resist starting with some homemade tortilla chips paired with freshly-made guacamole. For the main course, indulge in their mouthwatering carne asada tacos or savory enchiladas smothered in rich mole sauce. And don’t forget to top it all off with a refreshing margarita or a traditional tres leches cake for dessert!

If seafood and international cuisine are more to your liking, make sure to check out Jack Sprat and Crush Bistro. These popular spots are known for their delectable seafood creations and cosmopolitan menus.

At Jack Sprat, immerse yourself in a cozy and laid-back atmosphere while savoring dishes like pan-seared salmon with lemon butter sauce or scrumptious crab cakes served with tangy remoulade. Pair your meal with a glass of fine wine from their extensive selection for the ultimate dining experience.

Just like savoring every bite of a perfectly cooked seafood dish transports you to coastal bliss, dining at Crush Bistro takes you on a global culinary journey. Their menu combines international flavors in innovative ways, ensuring an unforgettable dining adventure. From Thai curry mussels to Italian-inspired pasta dishes, every plate at Crush Bistro is a work of art that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy.

If you’re in the mood for Asian and contemporary cuisine, look no further than Ginger. This stylish restaurant offers an array of mouthwatering options to satisfy your cravings. Indulge in their flavorful sushi rolls, like the signature Alaska roll filled with fresh salmon and topped with sweet soy glaze. Or tantalize your taste buds with their crispy sesame chicken or delicate miso-glazed black cod.

For those seeking Asian, Thai, Vietnamese, and soup delights, Pho Lena is a must-visit. This cozy eatery serves up hearty bowls of pho with aromatic broth, loaded with tender meats and fresh herbs. From spicy Thai curries to comforting banh mi sandwiches and spring rolls bursting with flavors, Pho Lena promises to transport you to the vibrant streets of Southeast Asia.

But Anchorage doesn’t just cater to specific cuisines; it also boasts numerous American, Italian, and steakhouse options for those looking for a familiar yet flavorful dining experience. Whether you’re craving a juicy steak cooked to perfection or a classic Italian pasta dish, you’ll find an eatery to satisfy your desires.

The overall dining scene in Anchorage is truly diverse and caters to different preferences. Regardless of the cuisine you choose to indulge in, Anchorage’s restaurants promise an unforgettable culinary adventure that delights both locals and visitors alike.