Top 20 IDEAL Things To Do in Anchorage, Alaska (2021)

Anchorage, Alaska is a beautiful place to visit, including during a cruise. Take a look at the top 20 things to do in Anchorage, Alaska here.

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Are you thinking about visiting the most northern state in the United States?

Alaska is so vast and has so many things to do, so when you’re about to visit, you truly have to narrow it down to a specific area.

But you may be thinking that this can be extremely overwhelming. What if you miss one of the top things to do in Alaska? What are the best places to visit in Alaska?

Wherever you choose, you can be assured that you will see tons of wildlife, huge glaciers, beautiful mountains, and scenery like no other.

For our purposes, we’ve chosen to narrow into Anchorage. We’ve narrowed down the top things to do in Anchorage, Alaska so that you don’t have to do the research! Keep reading for the top 20 things to do!

1. Walk on a Glacier

When you envision Alaska, you may think about the tons of glaciers that are in the area. But have you ever considered taking a guided tour to walk on a glacier? With over 60 glaciers within 50 miles of Anchorage, there are plenty of options!

Matanuska Glacier
Matanuska Glacier (Photo Credit: NattyC / Shutterstock)

Here are a few of the glaciers that you can access:

  • Matanuska Glacier
  • Exit Glacier 
  • Portage Glacier
  • Glaciers within Prince William Sound

You’ll need to plan ahead for your walking tour of a glacier to book your spot in advance. You can also check out helicopter tours that bring you to the top of a glacier as well!

2. Visit Denali National Park

As the first National Park established in Alaska, this is a great place to visit if you love exploring nature, viewing wildlife, or taking in the scenery. It’s also a great place to go if you want to admire the largest mountain in North America.

Alaska's Denali National Park
Alaska’s Denali National Park (Photo Credit: akphotoc / Shutterstock)

If you plan to visit Denali National Park, be sure to do the following:

Whether you have a full day to see Denali National Park or a few days to explore it more deeply, it’s worth a visit.

3. Boat Around Kenai Fjords National Park

If you’re looking for some of the best whale watching opportunities, Kenai Fjords is a can’t miss. You can take a day cruise around the area to spot the whales and maybe even some seals!

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska (Photo Credit: Sekar B / Shutterstock)

You will spend hours on the water boating around enjoying the surroundings. These tours should be booked far in advance to claim your spot.

4. Go Salmon Fishing 

One of the most popular things you can do in Anchorage, Alaska is salmon fishing because of the easy access to many flowing rivers in the area. You’ll also be getting salmon from some of the most pristine and clean water in the world.

Guides will bring you to the most popular fishing areas such as Kenai River, Moose River, Ship Creek, or Ninilchik River. May through August is the best time to go because it is the spawning and migration season, so fish will be everywhere.

5. See Bears at Katmai National Park 

Bear watching is another must-do when you are sightseeing in Anchorage. One of the best places to go is Katmai National Park.

Bears Looking for Salmon at Katmai National Park
Bears Looking for Salmon at Katmai National Park (Photo Credit: Manamana / Shutterstock)

Brooks Camp is a popular place to see brown bears lurking around in the water trying to find food. You will also be able to see bears from Riffles Wildlife Viewing Platform searching for salmon.

If your main goal is to spot the brown bears, take an adventure of a lifetime to view the bears for an entire week.

6. Take a Photography Tour

If you’re big into photography and are wondering what to do in Anchorage, taking a photography tour should be on your list. You’ll be able to photograph unique wildlife in action, the bright blue of the glaciers, and the colorful wildflowers.

Do you want to take a photography tour in the winter? You’ll be able to photograph the Northern Lights.

7. Bike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Are you looking for something slightly active but with beautiful views? Bike around Tony Knowles 11-mile trail for views of different forests, lagoons, and parks. You’ll even get a nice view of Denali.

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage Alaska
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage Alaska (Photo Credit: Lisa A. Ernst / Shutterstock

You can take a 3-hour guided tour around the trail to make sure you stop at some of the best sights in the area.

8. Kayak by Spencer Glacier

When you think of Alaska, kayaking or other water sports may not be at the forefront of your mind. And that’s a valid thing!

However, kayaking in Anchorage, Alaska is a huge thing to do when visiting! You’re able to get a close-up view of wildlife like bald eagles and sea otters, as well as find more secluded and hidden glaciers and icebergs.

Make sure to bring your windbreaker – it may get a bit chilly on the water! Oh, and don’t fall in!

9. Take a Train Ride

If you’re all about sitting back and relaxing, taking a train ride form Anchorage will give you beautiful views of the undulating hills leading to vast mountain ranges. You’ll see snow-topped mountains and gorgeous turquoise glaciers.

The Alaska railroad in Anchorage
The Alaska railroad in Anchorage (Photo Credit: Paolo Trovo / Shutterstock.com)

Look the other way and you’ll probably see gorgeous wildflowers and hills filled with dark-green forests. Here are some great places to travel by train from Anchorage

  • Seward – 2 hours from Anchorage
  • Denali – 240 miles North of Anchorage
  • Prince William Sound – 90 minutes from Anchorage
  • Fairbanks – a day long expedition by train
  • Spencer Whistle – 45 miles South of Anchorage

Whether you take the Alaska Railroad for a day trip to another town or want to keep moving around the state, you won’t be disappointed.

10. Go Dog Sledding

It doesn’t matter what season you decide to visit Anchorage, dog sledding is always an option. If you go during the summer season, you’ll have to get to a higher elevation, most likely by helicopter.

Hang out with the dogs while you wait for the tour and snuggle with some of the little puppies, too!

11. Go Rafting at Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park is one of the biggest state parks in the country and boasts the 9,000-square-mile Chugach mountain range.

Chugach State Park, Anchorage, Alaska
Chugach State Park, Anchorage, Alaska (Photo Credit: Susan R. Serna / Shutterstock)

One of the white-water rafting experiences will take you through Class IV and V rapids to give you a rush of adrenaline, and maybe throw you out into the freezing cold water. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you can take a more scenic floating route to sit back and watch the wildlife around you.

12. Drink Some Brews at Local Breweries

After a long day of rafting, kayaking, or sightseeing, there’s nothing better than sitting back and enjoying a cold one.

Anchorage Brewing Company
Anchorage Brewing Company (Photo Credit: Anchorage Brewing Company)

If you’re into hopping around breweries to try them all, check out the following which are all located in downtown Anchorage:

Whichever one you try, you’ll definitely enjoy relaxing those sore muscles.

13. Observe Wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center adopts injured or orphaned animals to give them a permanent place to stay. Currently, you can see bison, moose, eagles, elk, wolves, and bears up close at the Center. If you’re planning to visit, plan an hour to drive south from Anchorage.

14. Ski at Kincaid Park

Are you looking for an outdoor paradise? Whether you want to hike, bike, or cross-country ski, Kincaid Park offers over 20 miles of trails.

Skiers in Kincaid Park
Skiers in Kincaid Park (Photo Credit: Laura Lohrman Moore / Shutterstock)

Trusting a map of the Kincaid Park will make sure you don’t get lost on all the trails that the park has to offer. During winter there are lighted trails as well since Alaska stays dark most of the day during the winter.

15. Dine at Snow City Cafe

Anchorage, Alaska boasts a lot of good food including fresh salmon, halibut, elk, and bison. But if you’re looking for a great breakfast place, look no further than Snow City Cafe.  Don’t trust our opinion? Well, Barack Obama ate here during his last visit.

16. Take a Day Trip to Girdwood, Alaska

What was once a mining town turned ghost town, Girdwood has since become a premier Alaska ski resort. There are tons of beautiful trails to ski and after you can enjoy the eclectic town’s shops and restaurants. make sure to explorer the Crow Creek mining camp to learn more about its history.

Girdwood
Girdwood (Photo Credit: Richard G Smith / Shutterstock)

If you have more time to explore Girdwood during your day trip, you can hop over to Chugach State Park for more incredible views.

17. Gaze at the Seaplanes From the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum

The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum is based on Lake Hood, which is one of the busiest seaplane bases. If you sit here on a nice summer day, you’ll see over 1,000 seaplanes come and go from the base.

The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum (Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com)

If you choose to go here on your visit, you’ll see many exhibits featuring planes from the early 1900s.

18. Go Flightseeing

One of the most popular things to do in Alaska is flightseeing because it gives you a view of the mountains, massive glaciers, and bays from above. You’ll be able to see spectacular views of Denali from just about anywhere you fly near Anchorage.

Many flightseeing tours are paired with dog sledding and visiting the glaciers. Most of the tours will take off from Lake Hood no matter which operator you choose from, where most of the seaplane traffic comes and goes.

19. Walk Around Downtown Anchorage

When you get to Anchorage, you should plan to spend a day exploring the town. Hop around to the Anchorage Museum, take a fully-narrated Anchorage Trolley Tour, and visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center. You should be able to hit most of the sites in just one day.

Downtown Anchorage in Early Morning
Downtown Anchorage in Early Morning (Photo Credit: Felipe Mahecha / Shutterstock.com)

Because downtown Anchorage is easily walkable, you’ll be able to enjoy the sites and still get a nice dinner afterward.

20. Stroll Around at the Anchorage Museum

With exhibitions constantly changing, visiting the Anchorage Museum will be different every time you visit Anchorage.

You can buy tickets online to save you time waiting in line. They are open 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 12-6 pm Sunday, and closed on Monday.

If you have extra time, you should also take a class or a workshop while you’re there!

Anchorage Travel Tips

If you’re planning to travel to Anchorage, there are so many different things to take into account from what you’ll be doing to how long you plan to stay. You’ll want to pack strategically, plan your route, and go over modes of transportation to get you there.

How to Get to Anchorage

There are multiple ways to get to Anchorage, Alaska. Going by car can take you days along the Alaska Highway, but boasts beautiful views.

If you choose to take a cruise, most will start in Vancouver and head up to Anchorage making other stops as well. There are also a few cruise lines that go out of Anchorage as well.

You will need to make your way to the Whittier Port, which is an hour south of Anchorage. You will have to plan your transportation here with ample time if you choose to drive, but there are also options to take the Alaska Railroad.

Also Read: IDEAL Things to Do in Ketchikan, Alaska

Anchorage FAQs

Visiting Anchorage takes a lot of planning because it is not the easiest destination to get to. You also want to make sure you’re not missing anything great. We lay out a few common questions below with answers to help you plan!

What Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit?

When planning your visit, you have to take into account that Anchorage, Alaska is far North. Because of this, visiting during the summer months is your best option for touring around in warmer weather.

However, if you’re looking for the opportunity for a winter retreat to see the Northern Lights, Anchorage is great during the wintertime.

How Big Is Anchorage?

The city of Anchorage is quite large. It stretches over 2,000 square miles, which is bigger than Rhode Island.

Is There Good Shopping in Anchorage?

Yes! For starters, Anchorage doesn’t have any sales tax, so if you want to get some shopping done, do it here! There are gift shops as well as a larger mall in Anchorage.

Now You Know 20 Things to Do in Anchorage, Alaska

With this extensive list of things to do in Anchorage, Alaska, you should be busy for your entire trip! If you’re ready to take a cruise to Alaska, what are you waiting for? Check out everything you need to know about cruising here, and then book your trip!

The wildlife, beautiful scenery, and fresh, crisp air will be waiting for you.

Things to do in Anchorage Alaska

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Haiyan Ma

I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers.

Find out more about us here.

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