How to Meet Locals in Anchorage
This city of about 350,000 may be home to more than half of Alaska’s population, but it still feels more like a small town. It’s easily navigable, and residents are friendly, independent people who love living in Alaska’s most accessible area. See locals embrace the long summer days by enjoying barbeques or mowing their lawns at 10 p.m., walking their dogs along favorite recreational trails, or taking an evening flight around town in their single-engine planes. With all the activity under the midnight sun, you’ll wonder when residents actually sleep.
Restaurants, Coffeehouses & Stores
- Snow City, on the corner of 4th and L, is the locals’ favorite downtown breakfast spot. It’s better than your typical chain diner, and a huge upgrade from a hotel’s continental breakfast. It’s. When you’ve had your fill, walk down to Elderberry Park, where residents run and bike along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.
- Middle Way Café is tucked away in an outdoorsy area of Anchorage, in the midtown mall next to REI. Here you’ll find amazing breakfast burritos, fresh baked goods and pastries, hearty sandwiches, and locally roasted coffee—it’s where locals come to get away from the crowds of downtown.
- Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop is tucked back in the quiet residential grid of downtown and cranks out freshly baked goods to feed the neighborhood “sourdoughs.”
- Moose’s Tooth Pizza, located off the Old Seward Highway and E. 36th Ave., is always packed with locals. Ask anyone around town where to eat and they’ll almost always recommend this place without skipping a beat. It’s a friendly, quirky place to get fantastic local brews and outstanding pizzas with names like “The Backpacker” and “Santa’s Little Helper.”
- Bear’s Tooth Pub and Theater is the sister restaurant to Moose’s Tooth. Watch a $4 movie—everything from new releases to independent films—while enjoying food and drinks delivered right to your seat. Located between Fireweed Lane and Northern Lights Blvd.
- F Street Station, at 3rd and F, is a favorite downtown after-work spot for locals. It’s within walking distance of most offices and stores, and when the workday is done, it comes alive with locals looking for a place to unwind. You’ll find Alaskan fresh oysters, incredible halibut sandwiches, food cooked right in front of you by personable chefs, a giant block of cheese you can slice on your own, and generously poured drinks served in glass mason jars.
- 10th & M Seafood If Alaskan's don't catch fish themselves, this is the spot in town to pick up fresh Alaskan seafood right off the boat. In addition to fresh seafood, you can also buy frozen gift packs of salmon, King Crab, halibut and more. They'll mail the box to your house so you can have a taste of Alaska when you return for your trip!
- Simon & Seafort's This is the spot the locals go to enjoy fine dining and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and more. If you're looking for something a bit more low-key, head to their Saloon lounge and enjoy the stunning views of Mount Susitna and the Alaska range.
- Humpy's is loved by visitors and locals alike. You'll find 50 beers on tap (lots of local brews in that selection) and a menu packed with Alaska flavor such as the char-broiled halibut burger or the King Crab cakes. And, there's live music (with no cover) several nights a week.
- The low-key Buckaroo Club, on Spenard Road across from REI, draws a real cross-section of locals to play competitive darts, pool, or shuffleboard. There’s ample seating at the bar or the clusters of high-top tables.
- Darwin’s Theory is great hole-in-the-wall bar downtown off 4th and G Street that’s mostly frequented by older locals. You’re not going to find a food menu here, but you will find free popcorn. It can get a little packed, but the people you share the space with are bonafide town characters.
- Watch the local baseball teams (Glacier Pilots and Bucs) play at downtown’s Mulcahy Stadium throughout the summer. Dare to ask a local, fellow spectator about their loyalty to one Alaskan team over the other. Catch the double-header baseball game on July 4th and watch fireworks under the midnight sun.
- Visit AMH (Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking), a locally run outdoor gear shop where outdoors enthusiasts—everyone from hard-core mountaineers to family skiers—get their gear. The store is a fraction the size of REI, and just across the street, but it draws local adventurers and has the most knowledgeable staff. Sometimes it’s a bit more intimidating than REI, but this is the place to find everything you need for an adventure and to pick the brains of local staff and customers who genuinely share a passion for Alaska. Hear about local activities and get recommendations from people who really know what they’re doing.
- Visit Title Wave Bookstore (stop first for a coffee at Kaladi Brothers next door) and peruse Alaska’s largest selection of used and new books. Located in the midtown mall off Northern Lights Blvd, this is a low-key local hangout that offers a break from the downtown crowds. Enjoy Scrabble Night every Monday night from 6 – 8 p.m., or children’s story time Tuesdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m.