Photo Credit: Alaska Wild Conservation Center

Anchorage Points of Interest

Immerse yourself in Anchorage, where urban charm merges with breathtaking natural beauty. Explore the best Anchorage has to offer with this comprehensive list of recommendations, from great spots for spotting wildlife and salmon to parks, lookouts, trails, shops, and more.

Show Map

Points of Interest

All five species of Pacif­ic salmon con­verge on Anchor­age streams each sum­mer, some­times in spec­tac­u­lar num­bers. And they’re easy to view — whether you seek feisty chi­nooks as long as human’s arm in spring, or dense con­gre­ga­tions of hump­ies dur­ing the sum­mer peak, or the last, lin­ger­ing cohos after the first frost.

1 - 2 hrs

Alas­ka Wild Berry Prod­ucts has two con­ve­nient loca­tions. One, inside the 5th Avenue Mall in the heart of down­town Anchor­age. The oth­er is just a brief 10-minute dri­ve from down­town. The shop itself fea­tures great Alaskan gifts like Alaskan jel­ly, salmon, meats, and chocolate. 

Quick: what’s the longest com­bined rail and high­way tun­nel in North Amer­i­ca? It’s the Ander­son Memo­r­i­al Tun­nel, and you’ll dri­ve through it on the scenic and his­toric dri­ve to Whit­ti­er. The Kenai Moun­tains-Tur­na­gain Arm Nation­al Her­itage Area is a place whose val­leys and moun­tains, com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple tell the larg­er sto­ry of a wild place and a rugged fron­tier. This audio guide gives you the inside scoop on its fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry. You’ll…  ...more

Here you’ll find one of the most acces­si­ble wildlife view­ing areas in Alas­ka. The marsh is a rest area for migra­to­ry birds includ­ing trum­peter swans, red­necked grebes, gold­en eyes, and pin­tails. Also watch for beavers, moose and bald eagles. You may even spot salmon spawn­ing in the deep­er water.

Difficulty: Moderate

Kin­caid Park offers the eas­i­est way to get deep in the woods right in town. It’s a mec­ca for out­door sports of all kinds in a wilder­ness-like set­ting on the site of a for­mer Cold War mis­sile base. This 1,500-acre park sprawls over an ancient and rugged moraine at the south­west tip of the Anchor­age Bowl at the west end of Rasp­ber­ry Road. From its panoram­ic views of Denali and the vast Cook Inlet to its inti­mate deep woods enclaves, the park is  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 11 miles

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of four green­belt trails locat­ed in Anchor­age. Even though the trail spans 11.0 miles each way (from Kin­caid Park to just north of where 2nd Avenue ends in the Cook Inlet), it is eas­i­ly picked up from sev­er­al points in the city, so you can enjoy any seg­ment and hike as lit­tle or much of the trail as you desire. In the win­ter, the trail is groomed for cross coun­try skiing.

Forty min­utes from down­town Anchor­age lies Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter, a gate­way to Chugach State Park and a glacial riv­er val­ley as wild and dra­mat­ic as any in Alas­ka. Enjoy an easy, 3‑mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-val­ley 5 miles to see plung­ing water­falls and 3,000-foot cliffs. In win­ter, tra­verse the trails on cross-coun­try skis or snowshoes.

What ele­ments make a great city? When Anchorage’s fore­fa­thers land­ed at Ship Creek in 1915, those ele­ments were peo­ple, edu­ca­tion, jobs, cul­ture, cap­i­tal invest­ments, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and growth, food pro­duc­tion and sub­sis­tence, wildlife and nat­ur­al beau­ty. So these pio­neers set out to make them all a real­i­ty. Four dis­tinct neigh­bor­hoods arose to meet the call for hous­ing and land man­age­ment offices, as well as school, library, and muse­um facilities.  ...more

A stretch of exposed bedrock south­east of Anchor­age along Tur­na­gain Arm was gouged and pol­ished by mile-thick glac­i­ers dur­ing the last ice age. The grooves appear as smooth chan­nels carved into the rock itself by almost unimag­in­able forces. Some are sub­tle, like rip­ples, and hard to see. Oth­ers are large enough to lie inside on a sun­ny afternoon.

Some­times you just want to be amazed. The over­look at the Glen Alps trail­head of Chugach State Park on the Anchor­age Hill­side offers a grand front-row seat on the forces of geol­o­gy as well as one of the best post­card views any­where. Like — how about a three-vol­cano vista? Or the pro­file of Denali, Forak­er and Hunter in a sin­gle glance? Plate tec­ton­ics at your feet? The sky­line of the biggest city with­in 1,000 miles?

A short dri­ve from down­town Anchor­age will land you in the mid­dle of Kin­caid Park, the jump-off point for this mod­er­ate two-mile out and back hike to Anchorage’s only big, sandy beach. If not for the cool Alas­ka temps, it’d be easy to think you were in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The sand is fine and very lit­tle mars its sur­face oth­er than the occa­sion­al piece of drift­wood. Flanked on one side by tall bluffs and on the oth­er by gor­geous views of…  ...more

If you want to mar­vel at the sight of thou­sands of fish school­ing in gigan­tic tanks, take the self-guid­ed tour inside the state fish hatch­ery on the banks of Ship Creek east of down­town. The muse­um-qual­i­ty obser­va­tion deck offers inti­mate views of a com­plex oper­a­tion that pro­duces up to six mil­lion sport fish each year.

Vol­ca­noes not only shaped the face of Alas­ka but also make for spec­tac­u­lar sights. Here are the top vol­ca­noes to look for and pho­to­graph dur­ing your Alas­ka vacation.

The main rail­road hub, all trains depart from here. Trav­el north to Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali, and Fair­banks. Or, trav­el south to Gird­wood, Whit­ti­er, Spencer Glac­i­er, and Seward.

This neigh­bor­hood was cre­at­ed in the late 1930’s and ear­ly 1940’s in response to the wartime build-up and ongo­ing need for hous­ing. To encour­age farm­ing, many lots were larg­er here than in Down­town or Gov­ern­ment Hill.

Spencer Glac­i­er ris­es 3,500 feet in a stun­ning, nat­ur­al ramp from a lake of roy­al-blue ice­bergs in the Chugach Nation­al For­est just 60 miles south of Anchor­age. It’s a fam­i­ly-friend­ly recre­ation des­ti­na­tion fea­tur­ing camp­ing, hik­ing, glac­i­er explo­ration, nature walks, pad­dling and sight­see­ing. Maybe best of all: You have to take a train to get there!

How would your kids like to scram­ble up a huge dune of cool, clean sand? Nap in a groove carved by a glac­i­er? Watch scores of salmon spawn? Here are fam­i­ly adven­tures with­in an hour’s dri­ve or less from Anchor­age. They offer amaz­ing sights, fun activ­i­ties ¬— and the option to return home in time for dinner.

The City of Anchor­age may be largest urban area with­in a thou­sand miles, but it still sup­ports a full menagerie of its orig­i­nal Alas­ka wildlife. Look for moose, eagles, migra­to­ry birds, and more.

Today, this unique, geo­graph­i­cal­ly iso­lat­ed area is acces­si­ble only by bridge. But it’s worth the effort: you can stand on the very spot where Anchorage’s first neigh­bor­hood began, at the cor­ner of Delaney and West Har­vard streets. From here you can see the Brown’s Point Cot­tages to the west, now list­ed on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. And walk north along West Har­vard Street to see what remains of the old cottages.

For glimpses of the big Chi­nook salmon right inside the city’s indus­tri­al heart, check out the hatch­ery-seed­ed run at Ship Creek between late May into June. Hatch­ery-seed­ed coho salmon begin run­ning through the same waters in late July through August.

More than 1,000 moose live year around inside green­belts and neigh­bor­hoods through­out the Anchor­age Bowl. It’s not unusu­al for cow moose to bed down twin calves in sub­ur­ban back­yards, or for a bull moose with a full rack of antlers to amble straight across busy a boule­vard, halt­ing traf­fic as it passes.

A giant sand dune ris­es into the trees of Kin­caid Park near the south­west cor­ner of the Anchor­age Bowl. Its brown face of gor­geous speck­led grains looms more than 40 feet above the sur­round­ing for­est floor, pre­sent­ing a pyra­mid-steep slope that just begs to be climbed. This nat­ur­al fea­ture is a blast for the whole fam­i­ly, per­fect for any­body who has ever delight­ed in a romp at the beach.

To snatch a sense of the state’s only real city, take this quick, two-to-three hour dri­ving tour. It works whether you’re a local res­i­dent with a house full of wired (and maybe jet­lagged!) guests — or a vis­i­tor with a rental car and few hours free to explore. Per­fect for that first after­noon after arrival.

Portage Val­ley south­east of Anchor­age at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers so many poten­tial adven­tures that you might have to tow a trail­er loaded with gear to sam­ple them all. What will you find here? Bik­ing, hik­ing, pic­nick­ing, fish­ing, pad­dling, wildlife view­ing, poten­tial ice­berg sight­ings — plus a nat­ur­al his­to­ry vis­i­tor cen­ter packed with inter­ac­tive dis­plays about the ecosys­tem of the val­ley and Prince William Sound. It’s like an outdoor  ...more

When you feel weary of cold sea­son weath­er and yearn for a whiff of sum­mer, you can vis­it Anchorage’s own trop­i­cal green­house almost any day. The Mann Leis­er Memo­r­i­al Green­house in near-east Anchor­age inside Russ­ian Jack Springs Park fea­tures birds, fish and a col­lec­tion of exot­ic plants from around the world.

Fairview was built beyond the city bound­ary and became an estab­lished com­mu­ni­ty after World War II. Yet the area main­tained a fierce inde­pen­dence streak. Those who lived here hoped to avoid bureau­crat­ic over­sight and tax­a­tion, and even had their own pub­lic util­i­ty dis­trict. It was the only neigh­bor­hood that African-Amer­i­cans could buy prop­er­ty in. And when Anchor­age tried to annex the area in the 1950s, locals fought back, in a law­suit that  ...more

Crys­tal-clear Willi­waw Creek and its bank-side trail sys­tem in Portage Val­ley at the head of Tur­na­gain Arm offers excep­tion­al­ly good con­di­tions for watch­ing spawn­ing in action. Coho, sock­eye and chum salmon con­verge on the creek as it winds through the brushy flats begin­ning in mid-August, with some late-arriv­ing fish still present after first frost in the fall.

Season: May - September 30+ mins

An aug­ment­ed real­i­ty expe­ri­ence in down­town Anchor­age inspired by the famed north­ern lights. This merg­ing of art and tech­nol­o­gy offers vis­i­tors of all ages a tru­ly unique way to feel the essence and mag­ic of the auro­ra bore­alis any time of year! 

Eagle Riv­er camp­ground is con­ve­nient and mod­ern. Right beside it are also class IV rapids. Kayak­ers and rafters call them Camp­ground Rapids. But near­by are a cou­ple of places not nor­mal­ly asso­ci­at­ed with camp­ing. Do you like ghost sto­ries? Do you have some trash pil­ing up in the back of your truck? Maybe you should stop in and have a look. But don’t say we did­n’t warn you!

Difficulty: Easy

This 191.7‑acre Anchor­age park, which was cre­at­ed in 1994 as Munic­i­pal ded­i­cat­ed park­land, is high­ly val­ued for its wildlife habi­tat, coastal tide­lands and recre­ation­al val­ue. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail runs through it and the area has spec­tac­u­lar views of the inlet and sur­round­ing moun­tain ranges. You can spot whales in the inlet and watch the jets land and take off from the Ted Stevens Inter­na­tion­al Air­port. Point Woron­zof got its name…  ...more

Dat­ing back to 1650, the park is the area’s old­est con­tin­u­ous­ly inhab­it­ed Athabaskan set­tle­ment. View the col­or­ful Spir­it Hous­es built over the graves of the deceased, along with an Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian Cross — a cus­tom that came from the meld­ing of the cultures.

This is Anchorage’s old­est neigh­bor­hood — and also one of its most charm­ing, thanks to its mix of quin­tes­sen­tial, salt­box-style archi­tec­ture, a few mil­i­tary Quon­set huts, and a selec­tion of mod­ern designs.

Giv­en its vast size and rugged ter­rain, it’s log­i­cal that Alas­ka has had a long love affair — and even depen­dence — on avi­a­tion. It was July 4, 1913, that the first flight took place in Alas­ka, and today there are more planes here, per per­son, than any­where else in the world.

This is one spot you don’t want to miss. July through Sep­tem­ber you’ll wit­ness a spec­tac­u­lar run of Sil­ver Salmon. Fish­er­men from all over the world come into Alas­ka to cast a line here.

The Knik Glac­i­er snakes out of the Chugach Moun­tains, tum­bling into an ice­berg-stud­ded lake that feeds the Knik Riv­er. Expe­ri­ence the glac­i­er up close on an ATV tour from Palmer, or a flight­see­ing trip (with option­al land­ings on or near the glac­i­er) from Anchor­age or Palmer. Flights are as short as 90 min­utes round-trip, mak­ing it one of the most acces­si­ble and impres­sive glac­i­ers from Anchorage. 

This is a pop­u­lar stop as you trav­el the Seward High­way. Here you’ll find 180 degree views of Tur­na­gain Arm with spot­ting scopes and inter­pre­tive signs. Look for bel­u­ga whales rolling in the surf, often seen from mid-July to August fol­low­ing the salmon run. And, try and catch the bore tide, and incom­ing tide that stretch­es the entire width of Tur­na­gain Arm and can be up to six feet high.

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is one of Anchorage’s great­est assets, pro­vid­ing exer­cise oppor­tu­ni­ties cou­pled with spec­tac­u­lar views. But most peo­ple who come here don’t embrace the easy access to the coast — and it’s sim­ple to fol­low one of the many side trails down to the beach where miles of sand are avail­able for walk­ing, pic­nics, and watch­ing the sum­mer sun set over The Sleep­ing Lady. Where To Go The eas­i­est access points to the…  ...more

A short dri­ve from 5th Ave, you’ll find this great dis­play of Anchorage’s nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment, which coex­ists along­side the indus­tri­al port and rail areas that sup­ply much of south­cen­tral Alas­ka. There are hard­ly ever any peo­ple here, mak­ing this a great place, close to down­town, to get a moment of solitude.

When was the last time you went to your local hos­pi­tal for art­work? At the Alas­ka Native Med­ical Cen­ter you can find gor­geous arts and crafts by Native Alaskan artists on every floor.

In 1984 when the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter was being built plans were includ­ed for Town Square. In the sum­mer it is a good spot to sit and take a break. In the win­ter, the trees are strung with christ­mas lights and an ice skat­ing rink is cre­at­ed at the cen­ter of the park.

The Unit­ed States Con­gress want­ed to open the Ter­ri­to­ry of Alas­ka for eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and rec­og­nized the only way that was going to occur was to con­struct a rail line. Pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies attempt­ed to build a rail line but went bank­rupt ear­ly in the process. There­fore, Con­gress adopt­ed the Enabling Act of 1914 which autho­rized the Pres­i­dent of Unit­ed States to locate, con­struct and oper­ate a 1,000 mile rail line in the Territory.

Anchor­age, Alaska’s cen­ter of com­merce, is the present day head­quar­ters for the Alas­ka Rail­road. The Rail­road was grant­ed the land by the US Con­gress and sold off most of the prop­er­ty in a land auc­tion in 1917. Today, the Rail­road has some 600 acres of land reserves remain­ing in the down­town area of the city. The City of Anchor­age exists because of the Railroad.

[{"slug":"anchorage","title":"Anchorage"},{"slug":"kenai","title":"Kenai"},{"slug":"kenai-peninsula","title":"Kenai Peninsula Audio Guide"},{"slug":"girdwood","title":"Girdwood"},{"slug":"mat-su-valley","title":"3 Days in the Mat-Su Valley"}]