Things to do around Anchorage - Alaska
Updated: Jun 9, 2018
Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska with all the big city amenities. Surrounded by the most beautiful scenery, rugged wilderness, glaciers, lakes, miles of hiking trails, etc. all within few miles reach. Everything in Alaska is incredible. It is not possible to pick a favorite among all the beautiful things one can witness there. These are some of the places we have seen and highly recommend around Anchorage and hope this helps you plan your trip.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Prince William Sound cruise tour: Depending on where you stay and the type of cruise you book, you may have to dedicate a whole day for this tour. Few companies operate tours from Whittier which is only over an hour drive from Anchorage. It is a great opportunity to spot wildlife, see glaciers, calving, icebergs and many waterfalls.
Read about our Prince William Sound cruise experience
Matanuska Glacier: This is your best option to walk on a glacier without having to purchase expensive air tours or hiking physically strenuous trails. Drive 2 hours from Anchorage on Glenn Highway and you will be able to first see this glacier from a lookout. Exit off the highway to a private property that maintains the road/trail to the face of the glacier. You can do this on your own or take a guided tour. But be very cautious about where you walk and try not to get too adventurous.
Note: A guided tour is highly recommended to safely hike this glacier because the guides know where exactly to go, where not to and in the worst case, they know how to save you if something bad happened. While its thrilling and adventurous to do it on your own, it is highly risky and unsafe. The ice may look solid and steady under your feet but it can be unstable, break and pull you down.
Read about our walk on Matanuska Glacier.
Seward Highway: The 125 mile scenic byway from Anchorage to Seward is truly spectacular - breathtaking snow capped mountains, lakes, wildflowers and many photo opportunities. While at Seward check out some of the glaciers in the area.
Portage Glacier: Located about 60 miles south of Anchorage this glacier can be viewed by taking a guided boat tour (from the visitor center) or by foot. Portage Pass trailhead is located just past the Whittier Tunnel (look for signs). It involves hiking a 2 miles one way moderate trail. There are other hiking trails starting at the Begich Boggs visitor center.
Byron Glacier: This glacier is near Portage Lake. It takes a 1.6 mile roundtrip hike on a flat trail to the face of the glacier.
Alyeska Tram: Alyeska aerial tram at the Alyeska resort takes you to a mountaintop for spectacular views. There is a restaurant at the top and many trails of varied difficulties starting at the resort.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center: A safe way to see some of Alaska’s wildlife up close in a natural setting. You can easily walk or drive around the loop and if lucky may be able to see cubs and calves as well.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Potter Marsh: A walk on the half mile long boardwalk is a great way to see wildlife and a variety of migrating birds. You can also stop by the pullouts on Seward highway.
Turnagain Arm: A branch of Cook Inlet, this arm is a surreal attraction on the Seward highway. During low tides, mud flats stretch for miles and within few hours incoming tides flood the arm. Make sure you check the timings of tides to witness this natural phenomenon and paddle boarders riding the incoming tides. There are many pullouts to stop by for amazing views.
Lake Eklutna: A beautiful lake 40 miles north of Anchorage good for picnic, kayaking, fishing and many other activities. If you are not prepared you will become a feast for the mosquitoes.
Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive: An hour and half north of Anchorage this scenic drive offers amazing views and great photo opportunities. Check out Independence Mine State Historic Park and Summit Lake all the way up.
There is always so much to see in a place and very little time. There are many more things to do and see, in and around Anchorage - Alaska railroad, Tony knowles coastal trail, Kincaid park, many hiking trails, museums etc.
Keep an eye out for moose, they can be spotted anywhere. Carry bear spray and take other necessary precautions.
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