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Anchorage, AK

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, located in the Southcentral region. Most of the land in Anchorage's city limits is uninhabited and mountainous. Anchorage is a municipality: essentially a combined city and county. The urbanized portion of the city is a relatively compact area defined by Muldoon Road to the east, Rabbit Creek Road to the south, and Cook Inlet to the north and west. Several small suburbs are within the Municipality of Anchorage, while physically outside what most Anchorageites would call the "Anchorage" proper area. These include Eagle River and Chugiak to the north and Girdwood to the south.


Russian presence in south-central Alaska was well established in the 19th century. In 1867, U. S. Secretary of State William H. Seward brokered a deal to purchase Alaska from Imperial Russia for $7.2 million... Read more

Anchorage, AK


Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, located in the Southcentral region. Most of the land in Anchorage's city limits is uninhabited and mountainous. Anchorage is a municipality: essentially a combined city and county. The urbanized portion of the city is a relatively compact area defined by Muldoon Road to the east, Rabbit Creek Road to the south, and Cook Inlet to the north and west. Several small suburbs are within the Municipality of Anchorage, while physically outside what most Anchorageites would call the "Anchorage" proper area. These include Eagle River and Chugiak to the north and Girdwood to the south.


Russian presence in south-central Alaska was well established in the 19th century. In 1867, U. S. Secretary of State William H. Seward brokered a deal to purchase Alaska from Imperial Russia for $7.2 million (about two cents an acre). His political rivals lampooned the deal as "Seward's folly", "Seward's icebox" and "Walrussia". By 1888, gold was discovered along Turnagain Arm.

Alaska became a United States territory in 1912. Anchorage, unlike every other large town in Alaska south of the Brooks Range, was neither a fishing nor mining camp. The area surrounding Anchorage lacks significant economic metal minerals. A number of Dena'ina settlements existed along Knik Arm for years. By 1911 the families of J. D. "Bud" Whitney and Jim St. Clair lived at the mouth of Ship Creek and were joined there by a young forest ranger. Jack Brown, and his bride, Nellie, in 1912 to have lived in the Ship Creek valley in the 1910s prior to the large influx of settlers.

The city grew from its happenstance choice as the site, in 1914, under the direction of Frederick Mears a railroad-construction port for the Alaska Engineering Commission. The area near the mouth of Ship Creek, where the railroad headquarters was located, quickly became a tent city. A townsite was mapped out on the higher ground to the south of the tent city, greatly noted in the years since for its order and rigidity compared with other Alaska town sites. In 1915, territorial governor John Franklin Alexander Strong encouraged residents to change the city's name to one that had "more significance and local associations". In the summer of that year, residents held a vote to change the city's name; a plurality of residents favored changing the city's name to "Alaska City". However, the territorial government ultimately declined to change the city's name. Anchorage was incorporated on November 23, 1920.

Construction of the Alaska Railroad continued until its completion in 1923. The city's economy in the 1920s and 1930s centered on the railroad. Col. Otto F. Ohlson, the Swedish-born general manager of the railroad for nearly two decades, became a symbol of residents' contempt due to the firm control he maintained over the railroad's affairs, which by extension became control over economic and other aspects of life in Alaska.

Between the 1930s and the 1950s, the city experienced massive growth as air transportation and the military became increasingly important. Aviation operations in Anchorage commenced along the firebreak south of town (today's Delaney Park Strip), which residents also used as a golf course. An increase in air traffic led to the clearing of a site directly east of townsite boundaries starting in 1929; this became Merrill Field, which served as Anchorage's primary airport during the 1930s and 1940s until Anchorage International Airport replaced it in 1951. However, Merrill Field still sees a significant amount of general aviation traffic.

Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson were constructed in the 1940s and served as the city's primary economic engine until the 1968 Prudhoe Bay discovery shifted the thrust of the economy toward the oil industry. The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process led to the combining of the two bases (along with Kulis Air National Guard Base) to form Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

On March 27, 1964, the magnitude 9.2 Good Friday earthquake hit Anchorage, killing 115 people and causing $311 million ($2.37 billion current value) in damage. The earth-shaking event lasted nearly five minutes; most structures that failed remained intact for the first few minutes, then failed with repeated flexing. It was the world's second-largest earthquake in recorded history. Rebuilding dominated the remainder of the 1960s.

In 1968 ARCO discovered oil in Prudhoe Bay on the Alaska North Slope, and the resulting oil boom spurred further growth in Anchorage. In 1975, the City of Anchorage and the Greater Anchorage Area Borough (which includes Eagle River, Girdwood, Glen Alps, and several other communities) merged into the geographically larger Municipality of Anchorage The city continued to grow in the 1980s, and capital projects and an aggressive beautification campaign took place.

Several attempts have been made to move Alaska's state capital from Juneau to Anchorage - or to a site closer to Anchorage. The motivation is straightforward: the "railbelt" between Anchorage and Fairbanks contains the majority of the state's population. Robert Atwood, the owner of the Anchorage Times and a tireless booster for the city, championed the move. Alaskans rejected attempts to move the capital in 1960 and 1962, but in 1974, as Alaska's center of population moved away from Southeast Alaska and to the railbelt, voters approved the move. Communities such as Fairbanks and much of rural Alaska opposed moving the capital to Anchorage for fear of concentrating more power in the state's largest city. As a result, in 1976 voters approved a plan to build a new capital city near Willow, about 70 miles (110 km) north of Anchorage. Opponents to the move reacted by campaigning to defeat, in the 1978 elections, a nearly $1 billion bond issue to fund construction of the new capitol building and related facilities. Subsequent attempts to move the capital or the legislature to Wasilla, north of Anchorage, also failed. Anchorage contains over twice as many state employees as Juneau and is to a considerable extent the center of state and federal government activity in Alaska.


Anchorage is located in Southcentral Alaska. At 61 degrees north, it lies slightly farther north than Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Saint Petersburg, but not as far north as Reykjavík or Murmansk. It is northeast of the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, and Cook Inlet, due north of the Kenai Peninsula, northwest of Prince William Sound and the Alaska Panhandle, and nearly due south of Mount McKinley/Denali.

The city is on a strip of coastal lowland and extends up the lower alpine slopes of the Chugach Mountains. Point Campbell, the westernmost point of Anchorage on the mainland, juts out into Cook Inlet near its northern end, at which point it splits into two arms. To the south is Turnagain Arm, a fjord that has some of the world's highest tides. Knik Arm, another tidal inlet, lies to the west and north. The Chugach Mountains on the east form a boundary to development, but not to the city limits, which encompass part of the wild alpine territory of Chugach State Park.

The city's seacoast consists mostly of treacherous mudflats. Newcomers and tourists are warned not to walk in this area because of extreme tidal changes and the very fine glacial silt. Unwary victims have walked onto the solid seeming silt revealed when the tide is out and have become stuck in the mud. The two recorded instances of this occurred in 1961 and 1988.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the municipality has a total area of 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2); 1,697.2 square miles (4,395.8 km2) of which is land and 263.9 square miles (683.4 km2) of it is water. The total area is 13.46% water.

Boroughs and census areas adjacent to the Municipality of Anchorage are Matanuska-Susitna Borough to the north, Kenai Peninsula Borough to the south and Valdez-Cordova Census Area to the east. The Chugach National Forest, a national protected area, extends into the southern part of the municipality, near Girdwood and Portage.


A diverse wildlife population exists within urban Anchorage and the surrounding area. Approximately 250 black bears and 60 grizzly bears live in the area. Bears are regularly sighted within the city. Moose are also a common sight: in the Anchorage Bowl, there is a summer population of approximately 250 moose, increasing to as many as 1000 during the winter. They are a hazard to drivers, with over 100 moose killed by cars each year. Two people were stomped to death, in 1993 and 1995, in Anchorage. Cross-country skiers and dog mushers using city trails have been charged by moose on numerous occasions; the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has to kill some individual aggressive moose in the city every year. Mountain goats can be commonly sighted along the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood, and Dall sheep are often viewed quite close to the road at Windy Point. Approximately thirty northern timber wolves reside in the Anchorage area. In 2007 several dogs were killed by timber wolves while on walks with their owners. There are also beaver dams in local creeks and lakes, and it is common to see foxes and kits in parking lots close to wooded areas in the spring. Along the Seward Highway headed toward Kenai, there are common sightings of beluga whales in the Turnagain Arm. Lynxes are occasionally sighted in Anchorage as well. Within the Municipality there are also a number of streams that host salmon runs. Fishing for salmon at Ship Creek next to downtown is popular in the summer.


Alaska is well-known for its extremely cold winters - but most visitors come in the summer when the days are long and the temperatures are moderate.

Many people consider the period between May and September to be the best time to visit Anchorage. The month of June usually has the best combination of long days, good weather, and warm afternoons.

As you would expect in the high northern latitudes, the longest days come around the summer solstice, 21 June, and they get quite short around the winter solstice, 21 December.

In the summer, Anchorage averages an amazing 19.5 hours of sunlight each day. By March the days begin to feel noticeably longer. However, winter offsets this imbalance when Anchorage averages just 5 hours of sunlight each day.

The Anchorage-area climate, including the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound, often sees summer temperatures in the mid-70s (24°C). Winter temperatures may see days fall into the -20s and -30s (-30s°C) at different intervals.

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Anchorage, AK: Port Information

Cruise liners dock about 60 miles from Anchorage. The cruise terminal is situated in a small village called Whittier. From there, you can take a train or bus.
Besides, the vessel may dock at the port of Seward.
Very rarely, the liners dock at the port of Anchorage itself. Shuttle buses and taxis are available. Besides, you can rent a car.

Get around Anchorage, AK

While not nearly comparable to the size of major world cities (the city itself is nearly 2,000 square miles, but much of it is uninhabited and mountainous), the developed part of the Municipality of Anchorage is fairly spread out and not very walkable--with the exception of the compact downtown area.

Most of Anchorage is built on a grid system originally laid out by the railroad: numbered streets run east-west, starting at First Avenue in the extreme north of the city (at the Port and train depot) and ending up in the mid-hundreds at the south edge of town. Lettered streets run north-south, starting at A Street in the middle of downtown and going up to the west; east of A Street, the street names begin with sequential letters and are named after Alaskan cities and towns (Barrow, Cordova, Denali, etc.). This makes finding yourself on a map fairly easy, although the system gets less coherent outside of the downtown area. Note that the Seward Highway becomes Gambell and Ingra streets, while the Glenn Highway becomes 5th and 6th Avenues.

You'll often hear Anchorageites use the following terms when describing areas of town. These areas were originally separate communities that merged as the city grew.
  • Downtown: the historic core of the city located at the northwestern tip next to the waterfront; home to most of the tourist activities, gift stores, hotels, and the railroad depot
  • Midtown: the largely commercial area immediately south of Downtown roughly between 15th Avenue and Tudor Road (becoming more industrial south towards Dimond Boulevard). The heart of Midtown is largely defined by Northern Lights Boulevard and Bensen Boulevard, which run west and east respectively as one-way streets through the area.
  • South Anchorage: Dimond Boulevard and south. Largely suburban and residential with some major commercial development at the intersection of the Seward Highway and Dimond Blvd.
  • West Anchorage: the area along the water southwest of Downtown, encompassing the historic Bootlegger's Cove and Turnagain residential areas and the famous Earthquake Park
  • Spenard: smashed between Midtown and West Anchorage and spilling over and overlapping the boundaries a bit, it was formerly a separate city and catered to the racier aspects of Anchorage living. It's still a bit of a red-light district, especially along Spenard Road itself. Be careful at night. (The airport is at the extreme west end of the Anchorage peninsula and abuts the southwestern edge of Spenard.)
  • East Anchorage: everything east of the Seward Highway and north of Tudor Road. Mostly residential; little of interest to the tourist except for the universities, hospitals, and (at the extreme northeastern corner) the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
  • Hillside: part of South Anchorage, it's everything east of the Seward Highway and south of Abbott Road. Almost completely residential, and many homes there are on the ritzier side. Anchorageites think of the Hillside like Angelenos do of Beverly Hills--if you own a home there, you must be doing well, even if the trees (or your snowmachine trailer) block your view of the lesser people below. Above the Hillside homes is the immense Chugach State Park, popular for easily accessible hiking. (The most-hiked mountain in Alaska, Flattop Mountain, is fairly easily accessed via the Glen Alps parking area at the top of Upper Huffman Road.) The Alaska Zoo and the Anchorage Golf Course are two major attractions in this area.
  • Eagle River, Chugiak, Peters Creek: bedroom suburbs north of the city. Residential only, but they provide access to Chugach State Park, especially Crow Creek Pass and Eklutna Lake. Eagle River does have a commercial district with gas stations, grocery stores, and the like.
  • Bird, Indian, Girdwood: small communities south of the city along the Seward Highway. Very small, tourist-service oriented. Girdwood is the home of the Alyeska Resort, which is the major downhill skiing area in the area.
If you're arriving in the summer, plan ahead, as most rental companies are pretty much sold out from mid-June through the end of August. In the summer, cars are often not available without reservations, and even if they are, be prepared to pay top-dollar for them, especially four-wheel-drive vehicles. Renting a car in Alaska can be more expensive than pretty much anywhere else in America.

Some of the major car rental companies serving the Anchorage area are:

Alamo (in-terminal): +1 907-243-3406
Avis (in-terminal and downtown): +1 907-243-2377
Budget (in-terminal and midtown): +1 907-243-0150
Dollar (in-terminal and midtown): +1 907-248-5338 
Enterprise (in-terminal, downtown, and midtown): +1 907-248-5526, +1 907-277-1600, +1 907-563-5050 
E-Z Rent-A-Car (midtown): +1 907-562-2292 
Hertz (in-terminal and downtown): +1 907-243-3308, +1 907-243-4118, +1 907-562-4595 
National (in-terminal): +1 907-243-3406 
Thrifty (in-terminal and midtown): +1 907-276-2855

Two main taxi companies serve the Anchorage area:
Alaska Yellow Cab (+1 907-222-2222) and Checker Cab (+1 907-276-1234). 

If you're determined to save money, you can use the PeopleMover, Anchorage's bus system. Most bus routes have one bus in each direction per hour, but some routes increase it to two buses per hour during peak times. Buses are frequently late. Every hour, there is one bus going downtown and one bus going to the Dimond Center mall in south Anchorage. If you're riding the bus to the airport, note that only Route 7A, not Route 7, stops at the airport. For more information, call the PeopleMover Ride Line at +1 907-343-6543. Another great avenue to save money is booking a rental vehicle at All vehicles listed on the website are listed at a very low price and all vehicles come with insurance.

Anchorage features an extremely well-developed bike trail system, with over 200 miles (320 km) of developed trails (120 of which are paved) winding their way throughout the city's parks and three green belts. The popular Tony Knowles Coastal Trail parallels the waterfront from Downtown to Kincaid Park near the airport. Several companies offer bike rentals and trail tours. In the winter, many of the trails are groomed and used as ski trails.

Drivers tend to be aggressive in Anchorage year-round, and many of the roads are heavily damaged by severe winter conditions and the use of studded tires. If you are visiting in winter and not used to driving in winter conditions, be very cautious, do not pass, keep excessive following distance, and allow plenty of time to stop. If it's snowing, no matter what time of the day, have your headlights on (the Seward Highway south of Anchorage requires headlights to be on at all times). Keep in mind that a roadway covered with black ice may look completely dry but provide no traction whatsoever. Anchorage does not use salt on its highways and the standard of winter road maintenance is somewhat lower than it is in snowy cities in the lower 48. Sand is sometimes used to help with traction, but areas that get little sun during the day, or that may melt and freeze, are particularly treacherous. Anchorage residents may drive a bit faster than most people would want to drive on snowy roads. Remember that Anchorage is small enough that slowing down a bit will not greatly delay your trip to any destination in town.

What to see in Anchorage, AK

  • Alaska Native Heritage Center, 8800 Heritage Center Dr, Phone: +1 907 330-8000. Summer (12 May- 3 Sep) 9 AM-6 PM daily, Winter Closed except special events. This is much more than just a static museum of glass display cases. The various native Alaskan cultures are all represented in this center. A large stage holds native dance performances as well as other types of events for visitors. Behind the center, a short trail around the lake takes you to several stations that show aspects of life in each of the native Alaskan cultures with native guides with short demonstrations and happily answering questions. Back inside, many items such as artwork, kayaks, and ulu knives are on display. A small theater runs various films and there is a gift shop (with a second location in downtown Anchorage).
  • Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, 43 mi (69 km) south of Anchorage on Seward Hwy (mile 79), Phone: +1 907 783-2025. Apr-May 10 AM-6 PM, May-Sep 8 AM-8 PM, Sep-May 10 AM-5 PM. AWCC provides refuge for orphaned, injured or ill animals. Visitors drive through the park and see animals large fenced habitat areas including bears, eagles, elk, moose, bison, and more.
  • Anchorage Museum of History and Art, 625 C St, Phone: +1 907 929-9200. Summer (15 May-15 Sep) 9 AM-6 PM, Winter (16 Sep-14 May) Tu-Sa 10 AM-6 PM, Su noon-5 PM, closed M. The Anchorage Museum of History and Art has various traveling exhibits from around the country and the world, and a variety of local art, including pieces from Sydney Lawrence and Ray Troll. The museum also features an extensive exhibit on Alaskan history, and an expansion to be completed in 2009 will feature a children's museum and part of a Smithsonian collection of Alaska Native art.
  • Anchorage Zoo, 4731 O'Malley Rd, Phone: +1 907-346-2133. A small, but charming zoo about 20 minutes from Downtown Anchorage. Visitors can see animals native to the Northern climates, such as Bald Eagles, Moose, Musk Oxen, Grizzlies, and a Polar Bear. A few animals have been rescued from the wild after sustaining life-threatening injuries that wouldn't enable them to survive on their own. There is a shuttle that runs from Downtown to the zoo during the summer several times a day.
  • University of Alaska Anchorage Planetarium, 3101 Science Circle ☎ (907) 786-1838. Shows most Thursday and Friday evenings, some on other days. The UAA Planetarium is state of the art and features many narrated shows about the planets, celestial importance of Alaska, and even some of the heritage of Alaska. Show content ranges from other galaxies to the Aurora Borealis and everything in between.

What to do in Anchorage, AK

Wildlife Viewing

The Anchorage area is home to moose, brown and black bears, Dall sheep, and many migratory bird species. A visitor should be able to find moose fairly easily by driving any neighborhood on Anchorage's Hillside (actually the foothills of the Chugach mountains). It is not uncommon to hear of bears being spotted in residential areas, but visitors who hope to see wild bears should plan excursions to either Denali or Katmai National Parks. Dall sheep, a species similar to the big-horn sheep found in the American Rockies, can often be spotted by driving down the Seward Highway south of Anchorage. A good way to spot sheep is to notice congregations of other tourists photographing them. A good place to view waterfowl and eagles is Potter's Marsh, located immediately south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway.


One of the best places to walk or bike to get to know Anchorage would have to be the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Awesome views. Starting from downtown, it's a well maintained 14-mile paved track around the coast, with housing developments and forests on one side, and the ocean of Cook Inlet on the other. You can come back via an inland loop right around the airport. This has some on-road sections but takes you past Lake Hood, a busy and interesting seaplane base. It's a very popular track for bikers and joggers during the summer months. If you don't have a car, a shuttle provides round-trip transportation between downtown and the trailhead.

For a more challenging hike, drive east on O'Malley Road (south Anchorage) and follow signs for Glen Alps. From this launching point, there are numerous hiking options for all levels, including a climb up Flattop (Anchorage's most popular day hike, 1.5-3 hrs depending on your hiking ability. Note that there is a bit of scrambling over rocks at the end to reach the top of Flattop. In the fall the mountain is covered with wild blueberries), the "ballpark", Hidden Lake, Ship Lake Pass, etc. There is also a mountain biking trail leading up towards Powerline Pass. This is a great place to see moose in the summer and offers the best view of the city of Anchorage within a 5-minute walk of the parking lot (parking is free if you stay 30 minutes or less). All the trails are well maintained and there is little risk of being lost in the immediate area, however, for the maximum experience it's a good idea to bring water and plan your hike with a great guide such as "55 Ways to the Wilderness", Southcentral Alaska or Chugach State Park editions, available online or at any local Alaskan bookseller. In the fall, Flattop Mountain is covered with wild blueberries.
  • Bike Easy Anchorage, 3703 Spenard Rd, ☎ +1 907 317-2415. 7 AM-10 PM. Anchorage's easiest bike rentals. All equipment delivered/picked up to/from you.
  • Coastal Trail Rentals, LLC is on the shore of the Lake Hood Seaplane Base near the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage and minutes from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This is the only place in Anchorage to rent an electric-assist equipped bicycle which are also used for their one-of-a-kind tour of the "Bird to Gird" trail. Tours also offered for Kincaid Park if you'd like to mountain bike in Anchorage with a guide familiar with this incredible trail system. +1 907 301-2165 Complimentary airport shuttle to and from the Millennium Hotel by calling +1 907 243-2300
  • Downtown Bicycle Rental, Inc is on 4th Ave downtown two streets away from the start of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. You can get great pricing on bike rentals as well as excellent suggestions and advice on bicycle and hiking routes in and around Anchorage. 

What to eat and drink in Anchorage, AK


For a city its size, Anchorage has a remarkable diversity of restaurants, both in terms of cuisine and price. Long-time residents will often tell tales of beloved and long gone eateries, many of which flourished during the oil boom years of the 1970s and early 1980s. Even with a slower pace of growth, Anchorage can boast of a range of dining options to suit any diner.

  • Kriner's Diner, +1 907 929-8257, 2409 C St. The newest diner, best eats (in giant proportions) for little money, from Ted's Big Breakfast to Jenne's Reindeer Sandwich to the homemade Giant Cinnamon Rolls, you can't go wrong. It is home cooking, the Alaskan way.
  • Yak and Yeti, +1 907 743-8078, 3301 Spenard Road. Remarkably good Himalayan and Indian cuisine in Spenard. Five minutes from the airport.
  • Hula Hands, +1 907 278-4852, 4630 Mountain View Drive. Good, cheap Hawaiian and Tongan food. Another location on Fireweed.
  • Arctic Roadrunner, 5300 Old Seward Hwy, +1 907 561-1245, and 2477 Arctic Blvd, +1 907 279-7311. An Alaskan institution and consistently voted Anchorage's best burger. Kitschy Alaskana on the walls, including plaques and portraits of longtime Alaskans and longtime Arctic Roadrunner customers. Also, try the halibut burger and homemade onion ring pieces. In the summer, the outdoor seating next to Campbell Creek is very pleasant. Family-friendly. Cash only; "no checks since 1972."
  • City Diner Run by local celebrity "Chef Al" Levinsohn, famous for his other restaurant in town (Kincaid Grill). City Diner has some of the best sandwiches in town; the monte cristo is to die for and the sliders are amazing.
  • Gwennie's An Alaskan institution; must be seen to be understood. Downhome Americana meets Alaska (think sourdough pancakes and reindeer sausage). Extremely touristy but also popular with the locals for good prices and big portions. Old-time Alaskan rusty things hanging on the walls.
  • Taco King/Burrito King, 113 W Northern Lights Blvd #D, 3561 E Tudor Rd, 1330 Huffman Rd #C, 111 W 38th Ave, ☎ +1 907 276-7387, 868-761, 336-5601, 569-2900. 10 AM-10 PM. Possibly the best (and fastest) Mexican food in Anchorage (not saying a whole lot, but it holds its own against places closer to the border) and with insanely great (for Alaska) prices if you get the right thing. 
  • The Lucky Wishbone An Anchorage standard famous for its pan-fried chicken but also serving one of the better burgers in town.
  • Tommy's Burger Stop 29th ave & Spenard. Routinely voted the best burgers and philly sandwiches in Anchorage.
  • White Spot Cafe, 109 W 4th Ave (4th and A), +1 907 279-3954. The place is not much more than a small kitchen and a counter with room for 10 patrons. Arguably better burgers and definitely better halibut sandwiches than Arctic Roadrunner. Study the menu carefully before daring to order, or Sheri will put you in your place. The food is way worth the attitude, though.
  • Big Al's Wings and Wings, 3807 Spenard Rd (at intersection with Minnesota Dr), ☎ +1 907 522-3388. 10 AM-10 PM. Wings and Things downtown, serving unique "Anchorage-style" wings, was a local institution for more than 20 years. Its sudden closure in August 2007 left a void in the hearts of tens of thousands of loyal customers. Big Al's, started by a former frequent Wings and Things customer and employing former Wings and Things employees, does a darn good job at attempting to fill the void. The chili powder-based dry rub and succulent, juicy wings are addicting. The other items on the menu don't disappoint, either--like the wings, the Philly cheesesteak is a unique and delicious twist on an otherwise familiar American staple.  
  • Bear Tooth Theatrepub, 1230 W 27th Ave, +1 907 276-4200. A wonderful pizza location, similar to the Moose's Tooth described below (although the menu differs a bit). It also features a movie theater in which you can eat dinner (they deliver it right to your seat) and imbibe from the wide selection of microbrews and wines. It mainly plays art house films and those that have been released for some time. It's a great place to spend an evening before taking a red-eye flight out of Anchorage as it's quite close to the Anchorage airport. Buy tickets in advance on the weekends--it can be very busy. The attached Bear Tooth Grill offers a very different but equally delicious choices in a more traditional bar/grill restaurant setting.
  • Glacier BrewHouse, 5th Ave between H and G St, +1 907 274-BREW. A very popular place to eat in downtown Anchorage. A wide selection of food, an impressive selection of beers from their brewery. Hard to go wrong with this one if you're looking for a place to eat downtown.
  • Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, 3300 Old Seward Hwy near New Seward and 36th, +1 907 258-2537. Brews their own beer and makes some fantastic pizza (all-ages welcome). Good atmosphere and walls covered with memorabilia about Alaska and beer. Can be busy. Frequently has outdoor concerts during the summer on the first Thursday of every month ("first tap" is age 21+). Must-go if you like beer. Has vegetarian selections. Medium prices; it's possible to save by splitting a large pizza. Menu and beer list online.
  • Simon and Seafort's, 420 L St (end of downtown near the coastal trail), +1 907 274-3502. Semi-fancy seafood restaurant and bar. On the expensive side, but it's worth it to get some of the best seafood in Alaska (and being Anchorage, there's no dress code). They also have excellent non-seafood selections and a great lunch menu. One of the best views of any Anchorage restaurant; you can also see the sunset over the water by the window. Menus online.
  • Solstice Bar & Grill, 720 W 5th Ave (between H and G Sts), +1 907 276-7676. While not as popular as Glacier BrewHouse, Solstice Bar & Grill offers meals of similar quality for a slightly cheaper price. Located in the lobby level of the Westmark Hotel (almost directly across from the BrewHouse), this restaurant can get quite busy during the summer breakfast and dinner times, as Westmark plays host to a number of cruise line guests (its parent company is Holland America Line).
  • Southside Bistro, 1320 Huffman Park Dr (in the far south end of town), +1 907 348-0088. Fresh seafood and innovative preparations of meats and lighter fare make this a great stop for those heading south or those wanting to get away from the hustle of the touristy areas. Bar with microbrews and a good wine list.
  • Snow City Cafe, 1034 W 4th Ave, +1 907 272-2489. Open for breakfast and lunch only, except on Wednesdays when there is an excellent Irish jam (and sometimes dance!) from 7 PM-11 PM. There is often a long wait for a table and for good reason, food is fresh and affordable, breakfast is available all day and there are plenty of hearty fares for the health-conscious. If you're not health-conscious, the macaroni and cheese is to die for!
  • Crow's Nest, 4th and K (top floor of Hotel Captain Cook), +1 907 276-6000. AAA four-diamond rating and Wine Spectator awards. Seafood, "French and American" cuisine. View of the entire city and Chugach Mountains. Definitely a splurge. Wine sommelier on staff; 10,000 bottle cellar. Dress code: Business casual. Good place to impress a date.
  • Jens', 701 W 36th Ave (in a strip mall at 36th and Arctic next to a Scandinavian furniture store), +1 907 561-5367. A superb menu of Alaskan seafood with a twist, Danish specialties, and French classics that changes daily. Bar and good wine selection.
  • ORSO Ristorante, 5th Ave between H and G Sts, +1 907 222-3232. Located right next to and owned by the same company as Glacier BrewHouse, this restaurant offers higher-priced meals inspired by traditional Italian fare. Located in the same block as a number of art galleries and smaller boutique shops, one can keep occupied while waiting (which in the summer season, is typical).
  • Ginger, 425 W 5th Ave, +1 907 929-3680. New restaurant. Trendy, modern, upscale dining. Sort of an Asian-Alaskan fusion, with things like wasabi mashed potatoes. Extensive sake list. Try the fries for an appetizer; they're freshly made and delicious.


Anchorage has many, many bars. Bars must close by 2:30 AM M-F, 3 AM Sa & Su under municipal law. Bars can stay open until 5 AM in the cities of Palmer and Wasilla, about 45 minutes north. Anchorage also probably has more micro-breweries per capita than anywhere else (except maybe Portland, OR).

All bars and restaurants in Anchorage are non-smoking.
  • Bernie's Bungalow Lounge, 626 D St (between 6th and 7th; across the street from Nordstrom's entrance), +1 907 276-8808. This is a fashionable and friendly "martini-and-cigar" type of place. Good place to sit outside on the lawn in the summer, or to go upstairs to the Paradise Room for a fancy place to have a drink (although the upstairs is often booked for private gatherings). It's popular with well-dressed young people and businesspeople (during the daytime). The evening crowd is generally younger and the bar is embracing a larger hip-hop crowd. Usually busiest after midnight.
  • Chilkoot Charlie's, 1071 W 25th Ave (in Spenard), +1 907 279-1692. This is the largest bar within about 1,400 miles (2200 km). It's a huge spot that is always busy on weekends. The outside facade is deceptively small - there is a map on their website to navigate through all 10+ bars. There is usually at least one band playing every night (and usually a cover charge). Popular place to pick up dates, if you can hear above the noise.
  • Darwin's Theory, 426 G St, +1 907 277-5322. A quintessential "dive bar," Darwin's is popular with the locals. If you're interested in avoiding the generic tourist watering holes, Darwin's will wet your whistle. It's just a basic corner bar.
  • Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse, 610 W 6th Ave, +1 907 276-BEER. Humpy's has dozens of beers on tap and a great pub food selection (esp. seafood) until midnight. It's popular with just about everyone. Beer-battered halibut -- yum!

Shopping in Anchorage, AK

  • Anchorage Market and Festival. Sa Su (mid May-mid Sep) at 3rd Ave and E St (10 AM-6 PM), W (Jul-Aug) in the Northway Mall parking lot (11 AM-5 PM), Several hundred vendors offer all sorts of items in this large open-air market. Items include fresh produce, fresh local seafood, prepared food, arts and crafts, souvenirs, etc. Some items could be found anywhere in the lower 48 but many items are truly Alaskan. Free.
  • Dimond Center Mall, 800 E Dimond Blvd, +1 907 929-7108. The largest mall in the entire State of Alaska. Dimond Center also features an ice rink, movie theaters, and a bowling alley.
  • Fifth Avenue Mall, Usually considered Anchorage's nicest mall, it is attached to the original JCPenney Building and it also has skywalk access to the only Nordstrom store in Alaska. There are 2 parking garages which are connected to the mall, The old JCPenney's garage on 6th avenue, via Penney's; and the 5th Avenue Mall Garage between 5th and 6th avenue
  • Boniface Mall Mostly empty and used by the Anchorage School District
  • Sears Mall This mall is convenient for visitors getting on the Seward Highway; however, this mall is just like the mall in every other town in America. The Lenscrafters is the same as the Lenscrafters in any other city.
  • Northway Mall.
  • Northern Lights Shopping Mall Strip mall anchored by Anchorage's only REI store and local independent book store, Title Wave.
  • Valley River Shopping Mall Strip mall in the bedroom community of Eagle River (about 10 miles north of Anchorage)
There are also myriad touristy gift stores downtown, particularly along 4th Avenue. Quality and selection vary greatly.

Safety in Anchorage, AK

As with any large American city, keep your eyes open and your wits about you. Crime is relatively low in most parts of Anchorage that you're likely to visit, but it does exist.

Certain areas in the northeast of the city (Mountain View, north of the Glenn Highway and east of Merrill Field airport) and central (Fairview, 6th to 15th Avenue, east of Ingra) have higher crime than other spots.

As in all other cities, these crimes receive a disproportionate amount of attention from local media. These tragic events, however, are typically not random so they will probably not impact your visit. You are more likely to be a victim of crimes of opportunity, however, most violent crimes in Anchorage are usually domestic disputes.

Also, areas around the airport like Spenard are known for increased drug activity and prostitution. In earlier times, the downtown area around 4th Avenue was like that, but a concerted effort over the last eight years has mostly cleaned it up.

A constant problem is car break-ins at parking lots. Do not make leave any valuables visible.

The trails close to and around the university are unsafe when it is dark. During the colder months, there are increased attacks on females going to and from the housing and library.

Also, stay a good distance away from the moose. Although they may appear harmless, they can and will protect their young ones from people, and can charge if they feel cornered or threatened. Never approach them, as they are best viewed from a distance.

Still, if you follow precautions like everywhere else, you will be safe.

Language spoken in Anchorage, AK

English is the main language.


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Travelers recommend visiting the following places of interests

Anchorage Museum, Alaska
Average: 10 (10 votes)

History The museum opened in 1968 in a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) building with an exhibition of 60 borrowed Alaska paintings, a collection of 2500 historic and ethnographic objects, and a staff of two. The museum has grown steadily and expanded three times since then, most recently in 2010, to its current size of 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2...
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Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

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Cook Inlet, Anchorage, Alaska
Average: 9.9 (10 votes)

Cook Inlet stretches 180 miles (290 km) from the Gulf of Alaska to Anchorage in south-central Alaska. Cook Inlet branches into the Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm at its northern end, almost surrounding Anchorage. The watershed covers about 100,000 km² of southern Alaska, east of the Aleutian Range and south of the Alaska Range, receiving water from...
Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

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Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Anchorage, Alaska
Average: 9.8 (10 votes)

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is an 11-mile (18 km) long trail along the coast of Anchorage, Alaska designated for non-motorized use. The trail runs from Second Avenue in downtown Anchorage and finishes in Kincaid Park. The trail is entirely paved and supports two-way traffic. Point Woronzof Park borders the coastal trail to the east for about a...
Turnagain Arm Alyeska, Anchorag
Average: 9.4 (14 votes)

Turnagain Arm is a waterway into the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska. It is one of two narrow branches of Cook Inlet, the other being Knik Arm. Turnagain is subject to climate extremes and large tide ranges. Geography Turnagain extends in an east-west direction, and is between 40–45 miles (64–72 km) long. It forms part of the...
Flattop Mountain, Anchorage, Alaska
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

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Alaska Zoo, Anchorage
Average: 9.2 (10 votes)

The Alaska Zoo is a zoo located in Anchorage, Alaska located on 25 acres (10 ha) of the Anchorage Hillside. It is a popular attraction in Alaska, with nearly 200,000 visitors per year. The zoo is currently home to more than 100 birds and mammals representing some 50 species. The zoo has the widest variety of animals native to the state of Alaska...
Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is an educational and cultural institution for all Alaskans, located in Anchorage, Alaska. The center opened in 1999. The Alaska Native Heritage Center shares the heritage of Alaska's 11 major cultural groups. These 11 groups are the Athabaskan people, Eyak people, Tlingit people, Haida people, Tsimshian people,...
Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, Anchorage
Average: 9 (10 votes)

The Alaska Aviation Museum is located on Lake Hood Seaplane Base in Anchorage, Alaska. Its mission since 1988, is to preserve, display, and honor Alaska's aviation heritage, by preserving and displaying historic aircraft, artifacts, and memorabilia, and to foster public interest in aviation and its history. The museum has over thirty aircraft on...

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