Summer in Anchorage, Alaska: A Traveler’s Guide

Alaska beckons travelers with its unique outdoor adventures, plentiful natural wildlife, and unmatched cultural history. The state’s largest city, Anchorage, excites as convenient jumping off for enjoying the long daylight hours, fair weather, and outdoor activities of Southcentral Alaska.

It’s easier to focus on your summer adventure if you leave your accommodations to Casa Rentals, which provides you with a wide range of options from cozy cabins to expansive lodges.

Check out what to do, what to pack when you visit, and what summer in Anchorage is really like.

Summer Weather in Anchorage

Photo Credit: CSNafzger

Summer in Anchorage delights with temperatures that range from 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the evenings to the low 70s during the day. Watch out for occasional rain showers, especially in July and August, which are brief and usually followed by sunshine.

From May to mid-August, the midnight sun may stay above the horizon in the northernmost cities, crowning the state with the most daylight hours of any in the USA. Even in Anchorage, you can expect 16-19 hours of daylight from May to July, allowing for outside enjoyment until the late hours.

Best Things to Do in the Summer

Photo Credit: CCISUL

While you can find things to do in Anchorage during any season, summer brings out the most opportunities for frolicking in the outdoors with its fairer weather and longer hours of sunlight. Just don’t rely on sunset to tell you when to stop because it may never come.

Hiking and Biking

As a natural wonderland, Alaska offers many opportunities for walking or riding through forest paths to view wildlife and scenery:

  • Chugach State Park wows with stunning vistas of lakes, ice fields, and an ocean shoreline, which you can view from its extensive network of biking and hiking trails. With 495,000 acres of land, this is one of the four largest state parks in the USA.
  • With 40 miles of walking trails and 20 miles of bike runs, the Kincaid Park is a chance to see moose or bears in their natural habitats within the city limits. The 1400-acre park still reveals old bunker buildings and a chalet from its time as a Cold War military installation.
  • The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is the city’s most popular trail, stretching 11 miles along the coast where you can spot beluga whales and Mount McKinley aka Denali, the highest mountain in North America. This paved path is named after Alaska governor and Anchorage mayor.

Water Activities

Why not take in the beauty of your surroundings from the water? You can kayak or go stand-up paddleboarding at both Westchester Lagoon and Portage Lake. All kinds of waterfowl may be your constant companions. You’ll find rental kayaks, paddleboards, and other water equipment at many nearby stores.

Viewing Wildlife

Photo Credit: Jaclyn G Hall

You’ll find no shortage of places to view wildlife, particularly near Anchorage.

  • Start with the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where you can learn from naturalists about moose, bears, elk, deer, foxes, and owls, among other animals. This conservation area acts as a home for many of these mammals.. For closer encounters involving education and guiding guests through the local environment, you can volunteer to be a docent.
  • At the Eagle River Nature Center, you can watch red and silver salmon spawn in August, marvel at the dam-building skills of beavers, and spot brown bears between dams feeding on the salmon.
  • Many species of avians gather at the 564 acres of the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, including Arctic terns, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, and canvasback ducks. Don’t forget your binoculars for the best viewing, and come early in the day or later in the evening when the fowl are most active.

Cruising the Glaciers

Photo Credit: Vadim_N

Glaciers stand out as the state’s most unique attraction and a glacier cruise can rise as the highlight of any vacation. You can do a day trip from Whittier to view these crystal masses but you may also spot whales, otters, seals, and other sea life.

Kenai Fjords offers especially dramatic vistas from Seward, and if you’re short on time, try a one-hour cruise tour at Portage Glacier, which is only 50 miles from Anchorage.

Culture and History

Discover the rich history, culture, and traditions of the state’s indigenous peoples at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. You can easily spend a day there, touring the life-size village sites, listening to stories at the Gathering Place, and marveling at artwork by Alaska Native artists.

For a wider range of exhibits and activities, visit the Anchorage Museum, which features a planetarium, seed lab, and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center.

Summer Events

Photo Credit: Jay Juno

Although Alaskans revel in the glaciers, snow, and spectacular scenery that only cold weather can bring, they come out in droves when it gets warm to take part in summer events. Here are just a few events to attend around Anchorage from May to September.

Celebrating the Sun

Alaska makes a big to-do about the longest day of the year with many community gatherings and festivals throughout the state, typically on the 3rd weekend of June.

  • Downtown Anchorage celebrates with live music, food trucks, a petting zoo, and beer gardens on Town Square and Fourth Avenue.
  • At the Fairbanks Midnight Sun Festival, it never gets dark as you peruse hundreds of craft booths and food trucks while enjoying entertainment on four stages.

You’ll Find Everything at the State Fair

Photo Credit: Claudiovidri

This late-August must-see has been welcoming visitors and locals since 1936 and offers over 300 acres of giant vegetables, diverse food and drink, colorful flower gardens, distinctive crafts, healthy animals, and Alaskan and Native Alaskan culture, Carnival rides and nationally renowned acts are also part of the fun.

You can visit the Alaska State Fair for a day or buy a season pass to enjoy the festivities multiple times.

A Feel for the Winter Run

The Iditarod is an annual 1,100-mile sled dog race between Anchorage and Nome that happens in the winter. However, summer is an excellent time to visit the Visitors Center and Gift Shop to find out about the history of dog mushing and view displays, trophies, and photos of this world-famous event.

You can get a feel for the annual dog sledding run by booking a summer sled dog cart ride, which has a team of eager canines pulling you through a forest trail.

Fishing for Prizes

You won’t have to go far if you want to land the best catch of the day because the Slam’n Salm’n Derby happens right in the middle of the city at Ship Creek in mid-June. If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent fishing poles and boots and get fishing licenses at many local businesses.

You don’t have to land the largest king salmon, either. Watching the action from the bridge that crosses the creek or by dining at Bridge Seafood Restaurant is just as much fun.

Athletic Endeavors

Photo Credit: kovop

For the athletically inclined, the Bear Paw Festival is a five-day event that lets you work your muscles in the Chugiak-Eagle River area. You can race in the 5K Fun Run, score a goal in the Human Foosball Tournament, or challenge obstacles at the Slippery Salmon Olympics.

If you prefer less active participation, you can strut your stuff at the Pageant, score points during Adult Trivia Night, or marvel at the cool rides of the Classic Car Show.

Packing for Your Summer Getaway

The warm weather is pleasant, but chilly evenings may prove to be a surprise. Protect yourself from both the constant sun and the occasional rain. Dressing in layers may prove helpful.

Here’s what to pack:

  • Sunglasses and a hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof shoes or hiking boots
  • Rain jacket or umbrella
  • Sweater or fleece jacket
  • Insect repellent, if you’re going near water.
  • Binoculars and a camera for wildlife viewing.

Keep in mind that if you forget something, you can buy or rent it from many shops in Anchorage.

Have Summer Fun in Anchorage

With its abundance of stunning scenery, diverse outdoor activities, and unique cultural experiences, Anchorage inspires an exciting adventure for every kind of traveler.

When you leave the lodging to the hassle-free expertise of Casa Rentals Alaska, you can fully immerse yourself into all the magic that Alaska has to offer.

Ready for the best Home Rental Experience

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