9 Best Things to Do in Anchorage, Alaska

The 49th state is often called the “Last Frontier,” and that is on full display in Alaska’s largest city! Anchorage is the most accessible and certainly one of the most majestic cities in the state.

Anchorage makes a great base to jump off and experience North America’s most gorgeous and wild region. It’s not just a summertime destination either. This vibrant city offers year round charisma and activities, so there is no bad time to book your Casa Rentals vacation.

 Alaska has everything from glaciers to bears and railroads to the famed aurora borealis. Read on and see the unlimited amount of must-sees in this beautiful state!

1. Hop Aboard the Alaska Railroad

Photo Credit: EWY Media

The Alaska Railroad is an absolute must-see for any Alaska visitor. The railroad has three family-friendly routes through the most scenic and rugged country you can find! The railroad takes a slow, leisurely pace as it winds along braided rivers and glacially carved valleys, allowing for ample time for sightseeing. Be sure to keep an eye out for both terrestrial and marine wildlife.

There are several trains and itineraries to choose from, as laid out below.

Glacier Discovery Train

Hop aboard the Glacier Discovery Train! On this route, you’ll experience the icy wonderland that Alaska is famous for. This route cruises by the Chugach Mountains and Chugach National Forest, with stops at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to view native Alaskan wildlife.

Finally, a stop at the Spencer Glacier makes for an unforgettable ride. A stop in the cute port town of Whittier is also on the list, a prime starting location for stunning glacier cruises.

Denali Star Train

The Denali Star Train traverses some of the most iconic scenery in all of Alaska! The Denali Star sees a massive amount of the state connecting the northern city of Fairbanks and southernmost Anchorage. A stop at the route’s namesake, Denali National Park, is an absolute must.

Here, you can hop off the train and then right aboard an excursion bus and explore the 6 million acres of untamed wilderness, teaming with bears, lynx, wolves, caribou, and thousands of massive Alaskan moose.

If you are lucky, you may even catch sight of Denali, North America’s tallest peak at 20,310 feet tall. For those looking to check seeing the Northern Lights off their bucket list, a winter excursion through Denali and up to Fairbanks is the perfect way to make that dream come true.

Coastal Classic Train

This ride is a classic must-do for Anchorage visitors! Passing through Girdwood and Seward, this excursion highlights the coastal beauty of southern Alaska. Along the Coastal Classic Train route, you get beautiful views of the Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Peninsula, where land and water meet to form some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, largely protected by Kenai Fjords National Park.

If you want to get up close and personal with this super-sized scenery, you can embark on a glacier cruise through the lively waters of the park. Be sure to keep an eye out for puffins, whales, and seals.

2. Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center

Photo Credit: Alexandre.ROSA

Experience the fascinating Alaska Native Cultures here at the Alaska Native Heritage Center! Here, rich cultures like the Dena’ina are highlighted and celebrated so visitors can connect and respect these indigenous peoples who have lived in Alaska for thousands of years.

Many native peoples throughout Alaska still live off the land using traditional methods, and here at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, those ways of life are shown and celebrated.

Eager to learn more? Be sure to also check out the Anchorage Museum to keep the good times rolling! This museum is heavily focused on the human stories of new and old from all around Alaska, making for a very fascinating and compelling experience.

3. Explore Chugach State Park

Photo Credit: Jacob Boomsma

Alaska is littered with National Parks, but those aren’t the only parks worth seeing! Chugach State Park is an absolute beast of protected land right outside of Anchorage, spanning nearly a half million acres.

This makes it the 4th largest state park in the country! You’ll find dramatically changing ecosystems here, from the northernmost reaches of the Pacific Northwest’s rainforests to high-alpine tundra and mile-thick glaciers still carving the landscape!

This park has plenty to keep you occupied for days on end! Dozens of front-country hiking trails for awesome day trips, as well as various multi-day backcountry excursions in the wilds of Chugach. If you’re looking to camp but you’re not up for a multi-day hike, you can also camp in a developed campground along beautiful Ekluna Lake! No matter what your preferred type of outdoor recreation is, Chugach State Park has something for everyone!

4. Ride Along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Photo Credit: JeanLucIchard

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a must-pedal whether you’re a pro cyclist or a casual joy rider. This beautiful stretch of pavement snakes its way along the shores of the Turnagain Arm, offering breathtaking views from Earthquake Park, where a 9.2 earthquake sent an entire neighborhood down the hill and into the ocean in 1964.

Not only will you see that commemorative park and the gorgeous Kincaid Park on your ride, but you will also have opportunities for wildlife viewing. Both land- and sea-dwelling wildlife are often seen from the Coastal Trail.

You may be lucky enough to see orcas or migrating whales in the bay or encounter a moose or even a wolf along your ride.

5. Get a Bird’s Eye View on a Helicopter Ride

Photo Credit: Allen.G

Alaska is a larger-than-life place, and sometimes, it’s hard to wrap your brain around its huge scenery from the ground. That’s why a flightseeing tour is the perfect way to appreciate this incredible landscape.

Helicopter tours, like those with Alaska Helicopter Tours, are always a great way to experience the glacially carved landscape of Alaska, particularly around Anchorage. Awesome adventures abound. Some glacier heli flights even take you and a kayak to a sky-blue ice pool on the top of a glacier.

Up north in the quaint village of Talkeetna, the biggest air-bound adventures take off. Talkeetna sits just south of the Alaska Range, the northernmost stretch of the mighty Rocky Mountains.

 It is here that the tallest peak on the continent looms over the tundra of the park that also bears its name, Denali. Take off from Talkeetna and soar through the jagged peaks and glacier-filled valleys of the Alaska Range. Many companies like K2 Aviation will also land on a glacier so you can feel a mile-thick ice cube beneath your feet.

Many of Alaska’s other massive National Parks are only accessible via bush plane, many of which are only an hour or two flight from Anchorage. Lake Clark National Park is just west of Anchorage and very easy to access via plane. Here, you can fly through the magnificent mountains and then land on the massive Lake Clark and view its beautiful blue waters while you fish for massive salmon while you’re surrounded by the most massive mountains.

Katmai National Park is just south of Lake Clark and is quite the spectacle. Katmai is where you’ll discover the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, where the ashes of a volcanic eruption still smoldered only a century ago. It is also home to the famous Brooks Falls, where hoards of coastal brown bears gather to feast on migrating salmon. Take a float plane in to experience this spectacle of nature! Anchorage is a great seaplane base.

6. Explore Downtown Anchorage

Photo Credit: Robert Szymanski

Alaska isn’t always only about the raw nature just outside your door; it’s also about living life in town! Anchorage has made a name for itself as the most visitor-friendly town in Alaska.

Museums

You can also make a day of it. This provides a great chance to check out the Alaska Native Heritage Museum or Anchorage Museum.

Breweries

Tons of breweries are also found here. Check out Midnight Sun Brewing Company, Glacier Brewhouse, or the Anchorage Distillery if you’re looking for a tasty place to wet your whistle! Many of these brew houses also offer walking tours of their operations as well, which can make for a great half-day excursion.

Eats

Other than breweries, there are plenty of other great attractions in Anchorage to check out. Head over to Alaska Sausage and Seafood Company for some reindeer sausage that is absolutely to die for.

Migrating Salmon

Take a little trip out to the suburbs of Anchorage to Ship Creek, where the river turns red with thousands of migrating salmon. This is a top spot to see one of the most incredible migrations in the natural world.

7. Get Out on the Water

Photo Credit: Vadim_N

Only half of the majesty of Alaska is found in the mountains; the other half is found in the sea! Alaska is as coastal as it is mountainous, a truly diverse state. The coast showcases some of the last refuges of the grand glaciers that carved the North American continent for thousands of years.

Fjords and Seaways

There is an unlimited amount of fjords and seaways to explore. From the Cook Inlet to the Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords National Park to Glacier Bay National Park, the best of the best is presented here.

Kayaking

Just west of Seward, Kenai Fjords is a prime place for kayaking through pristine marine ecosystems. Be sure to explore with an outfitter on a guided tour, as the ocean is tricky to navigate for the inexperienced paddler. It is here that you will see marine wildlife of all kinds! Seals, sea lions, orcas, puffins, and other sea birds are frequent sights in the summer months.

Excursions

Excursion trips to Glacier Bay National Park are also a great way to experience Alaska from the ocean! Of course, a glacier cruise is the top choice here, where you also have great whale watching opportunities.

Many visitors to Alaska set sail from Seattle on a cruise headed north up the Canadian coast. Glacier Bay is a usual stop for many of these seafaring vessels! All of these gorgeous national parks are among the best the coast of Alaska has to offer, and Anchorage is the perfect place to start your adventure.

8. Visit the Alaska Zoo

Photo Credit: Vadim Gorbenko
  • Address: 4731 O’Malley Rd, Anchorage, AK
  • Website: alaskazoo.org

The Alaska Zoo is the perfect place to go to see all of the state’s native wildlife in one place! It was created to give visitors a complete experience through the region’s wildlife in an easy viewing experience. Not everyone can travel to the Arctic Circle on their Alaska visit, but they can still see polar bears and musk ox! The zoo also has various programs to help visitors connect with the animals, including being a zookeeper for a day.

9. The Last Frontier

Photo Credit: Jordan Jenkins

Alaska has always had a reputation for being the last truly wild place in the US, and that still holds true today. Here, you can still experience truly wild nature as it was for thousands of years: glaciers carving landscapes, grizzly bears hunting their food, and whales migrating just as they always have.

Grab this guide and book your Casa Rentals getaway today!

Ready for the best Home Rental Experience

Search

May 2024

  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31

June 2024

  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
1 Adults
0 Children
Pets
Size
Price

Amenities

Compare listings

Compare