While many misidentify Anchorage as the capital of Alaska, they are not wildly off target as it is by far the most populated part of the state. I have an aunt, uncle and cousin that live in this one of a kind city so I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with its beautiful hidden, as well as not- so- hidden, treasures. Come with me as I take you on a deep dive into the best things to do in Anchorage, including the activities that are worth investing in, and the natural wonders that will leave you mind blown and begging to come back. 

What To Do In Anchorage Alaska  

seeing anchorage with my dad
Me and my dad marveling at the beauty of Alaska.

While Anchorage is a popular transportation hub for the rest of the state, you may be in search of local activities and think, what is there to do in Anchorage? Luckily, there are plenty of intriguing activities offered within the city limits to keep you thoroughly entertained for the duration of your stay. 

Iditarod Start 

One of my personal favorite things to do in Anchorage is watch the start of the famous Iditarod race, which happens right in the heart of Downtown every March. Though you would have to time your trip accordingly, it’s so worth it to behold such a unique sight. If you’re able to, try to find a parking garage or other high vantage point to watch from as it’s the best way to fully take in the chaos and excitement of a big race. 

Anchorage Museum 

what to do in anchorage, visit the museum
Beautiful art piece in Anchorage.

For a true look inside Alaskan history, art and culture, a trip to the Anchorage Museum is the way to do it. With permanent exhibitions such as the Art of the North and Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska, as well as a plethora of rotating exhibitions, there is always something new and meaningful to behold. Tickets are relatively inexpensive as well, with general admission only $20 for the day, and discounts for seniors, students and active military members. Also admission is FREE every first Friday from 6-9pm. This is a great activity to expand your worldview and honor the state that draws so many visitors to it year after year.

Alaska Native Heritage Center 

This cultural and educational center sits on the traditional land of the Athabascan tribe. Here, visitors are able to walk through six authentic Native villages that contain artifacts actually used by each group. There is an onsite movie theater which shows a variety of films throughout the day. One notable film, “Stories Given, Stories Shared,” was produced by the Heritage Center and gives a thorough introduction into the cultures and customs of each of the Alaskan Native tribes. Traditional Alaskan Native dancing and demonstrations occur on stage at the Gathering Place. I highly recommend coming here to educate yourself and honor the customs of the first settlers of Alaska. 

Alaska Center For The Performing Arts 

Everything from dance performances to operas to community events have found their home at PAC in Downtown Anchorage. Each month, new performers take the stage and dazzle both locals and visitors with their talents and charisma. The Center is also host to BroadwayBoundAK which aims to reach communities throughout the state to see Broadway performances and inspire young artists. Earlier this year, PAC performed the Broadway hit Hamilton, and current plans for next year include the musical Six and Aladdin. You will not be disappointed with this unique option for things to do in Anchorage. 

Williwaw Social 

Right across the street from PAC sits Williwaw Social, another excellent place to watch the arts, in a more casual setting. This multilevel building has everything you need for a fun night out. From onsite restaurants to bars, a speakeasy, special events and concerts, it’s perfect for all different types of crowds. Trivia night happens every Thursday, and Yoga and Beer every Friday (it’s just as it sounds, you do some yoga while sipping on some beer– what’s not to love?). Make sure to check their website listings before you go so you can be sure to grab tickets for the performance you want. 

Around The Area, Best Things To Do In Anchorage 

As I mentioned before, from Anchorage it’s very easy to get to other places in Alaska. However, it’s not necessary for you to travel far to find things that are worthwhile. Here, I’ve listed out various activities within the area that you are able to do and still make it back to town in time for dinner. 

anchorage in alaska is best in winters.
Me taking in the Alaska scenery.

Chugach State Park 

This wonder in itself is just a 45 minute drive east of the city. Here, there are many trails you are able to take that will lead you on excellent hikes. My recommendation is to hike Thunderbird Falls Trail which is easy for the whole family to do as it is only 1 mile and leads to a breathtaking 200 ft. waterfall. In the winter, the waters freeze over and create a spectacle of cascading icicles down its large face. 

Glen Alps Overlook is a stop throughout this park that you should take advantage of. From the platform which is close to the parking lot of the Glen Alps Trailhead, you are given a spectacular view of Denali, Foraker and Hunter all at once, as well as the sprawling city skyline. This is a phenomenal rest stop before or after a rigorous hike, or as the main destination for non-hikers or those traveling with small children. 

Kenai Peninsula 

Fun adventure activities to do in Anchorage
Going sledding with my friend near Anchorage.

Dubbed “Alaska’s Playground” Kenai is only a 2.5-3 hour drive from Anchorage, and it is worth every second. Activities like cross country skiing, dog sledding, and flat tire biking are very popular in the area and make visiting this place one of the best things to do in Anchorage.. You can also hike to the Exit-Glacier in Seward (which I talk about in another Alaska article). In the Kenai Fjords National Park you are given the opportunity to spot wildlife and see glaciers, or you can hang around the Kenai River and fish for Alaskan Salmon. No matter what adventure you choose, this is a region of Alaska you will definitely want to make time for. 

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center 

things to see and do in anchorage alaska
Me and my friend at the wildlife conservation center.

In the town of Girdwood, less than an hour outside of the city, rests this stunning 200 acre area dedicated to the conservation, research and care of native Alaskan wildlife. Most of the animals that reside here are brought injured or orphaned, and are relocated to the center with the permission of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. This largely spacious wildlife refuge is home to even the most elusive Alaskan species like wolves, lynx, foxes, and Hugo the grizzly bear. It’s one thing to read about these creatures, and it’s a completely different thing to be able to get up close to them. Just check out the picture of my Dad with a moose at the facility! If you visit in the wintertime pack warm– the exhibits are outside and it gets COLD. 

anchorage wildlife
My Dad making friends with a Moose at the Wildlife Conservation Center.

Nordic Spa At Alyeska 

Even those on an adventure – oriented vacation need rest and relaxation time, right? Well this ultimate arctic spa is one of the most calming things to do in Anchorage. The Alyeska Resort is just an hour away from the city and it is home to the first Nordic Spa in the state. The luxurious amenities include a full day hydrotherapy cycle which spans across hot pools, saunas, cold plunges and relaxation pools. In between circuits you can rest in the lounge, restaurant or receive a massage in one of the treatment rooms. Go for the day or book a stay with the resort to keep the relaxation going as long as you want! 

Places To Dine And Drink 

what to do in anchorage alaska after sunset
How about some good food with beautiful sunset in anchorage.

Wild Scoops Creamery 

We’re starting this list off strong with the best ice cream place in town, nay, the state. Now, I know what you’re thinking– why the heck would you want to buy ice cream in Alaska? Isn’t it cold enough? Honestly, the temperature outside becomes irrelevant once you have a bite of this creamy goodness. With flavors like the Wild Blueberry, Crabapple Sorbet, and Sitka Swirl, this relatively new yet iconic shop utilizes local ingredients and ingenious pairings to craft the perfect balance of powerful (yet not overbearing) tastes. Check them out in the Metro Mall during your visit, you’ll be glad you did. 

Snow City Cafe 

This adorably eclectic cafe was the perfect place for my friend and I to escape the snow during our trip. In the heart of downtown, it offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere that is needed especially during the harsh winters. First and foremost, their hot chocolate was some of the best that I have ever had. If you are a chocolate lover, or simply enjoy the feeling of warming up your body while watching snow fall outside, this is a must. It’s a true brunch spot with hours from 7am-3pm daily, and I took advantage of this by ordering their stuffed french toast with candied and peppered applewood smoked bacon. Seriously, I will be coming back the next time I am in town. 

Ray’s Place 

Quietly unassuming from the outside, this favorite local spot offers the best Vietnamese food in town and is one of the most underrated spots on the list of things to do in Anchorage. From Phở to sandwiches to spring rolls, the care and commitment that is shown both to the quality and presentation of the food is what makes this place truly special. It’s also the best comfort food for those days when you would rather be inside than face the cold temperatures (which, being from California myself, happens to me often when I’m in town). 

Club Paris 

If you are a red meat enthusiast then look no further. Club Paris is the oldest steakhouse in Anchorage and as such, has been loyally serving Alaskans for decades. All meat is freshly cut and aged in house and for the seafood platters, fresh Alaskan Halibut and Red King Crab are used as well. This restaurant has the quality of a big city fine dining establishment with all the charm and individuality of a small town staple. When I go, I always love to try my luck against their famous 4” thick Filet Mignon and then finish it off with Scott’s Chocolate Sweet Potato Pie. 

Crow’s Nest 

This rooftop restaurant with views of the city through its floor to ceiling windows is one of the swankiest things to see and do in Anchorage Alaska. Located above Hotel Captain Cook, this fine dining restaurant boasts an intimate dining area and bar run by knowledgeable staff to guide you through the intentionally crafted menu. Though attire is business casual, I opted to dress up a bit more during my visit to add to the upscale feel. As a meat lover, I thoroughly enjoyed the Angus Beef Ribeye with a Bordelaise sauce, crushed fingerlings and broccolini. Their wait staff and on site sommelier are also there to help your table with the perfect wine pairings. 


Is Anchorage an expensive city?

While the cost of living in Anchorage is about 26% more expensive than the average city, traveling here does not necessarily mean the same. The average traveler to Anchorage spends around $200 per day, so the average trip for two people for a week comes out to a little less than $2700. This is predominantly due to the slightly higher than average prices of lodging and eating out. Those that stay in Anchorage for longer periods of time like a month, for example, typically spend less than this daily average.

What is Anchorage best known for?

There are many things to do and see in Anchorage in Alaska. Aside from the obvious answer of wildlife, hikes, and natural wonders which are all in abundance and easily accessible from this beautiful city, Anchorage is largely known for being a cultural hub for the state. Murals exist all over the city, and this is the place for local and nation-wide musicians, artists and performers to come and show off their talents. Not to mention, it is prime for learning about the different native cultures that have resided in Alaska for thousands of years.

Is Uber available in Anchorage?

Yes! Both Uber and Lyft are available in Anchorage and you should have no problem finding a ride.


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