things to do in Anchorage

Answer the call of the wild as you explore the homeland of the native Athabascan people. Known as the gateway to adventure, Anchorage is idyllically positioned in the shadow of sparkling glaciers and towering mountains.

This famous Alaskan city expertly melds the raw beauty of nature with urban and cultural pursuits. From bear encounters and wilderness hikes to heritage museums and salt cave spas, there are plenty of fun things to do in Anchorage.

1 – Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Anchorage

Meet Alaska’s wild residents on a tour of the 200-acre Wildlife Conservation Center. Feel the thrill of close encounters with bears and moose as you explore the 1.5-mile scenic loop on foot, or by car.

Meet musk ox and be captivated by caribou as you meander around the trail. Don’t forget to join in some of the free animal programs to learn more about these iconic creatures.

2 – Embrace the outdoors at Kincaid Park

Kincaid Park, Anchorage

Lace up your boots and hit the hiking trails that wind through Kincaid Park. This rugged park at the end of the Anchorage Bowl is all about breathing in the fresh air and admiring the scenery.

Enjoy fantastic views of Mount Denali and the Cook Inlet as you cycle through forest mazes and paddle on tranquil lakes. Keep an eye out for bald eagles up above.

Directions on Google Maps

3 – Go sleuthing on a scavenger hunt

scavenger hunt, Anchorage

Put your code-cracking skills to the test on a challenging scavenger game that will really put you through your paces. You’ll be discovering all the major landmarks in Anchorage as well as hidden gems on this quirky quest.

Solve riddles and answer trivia questions on your mission to win the race. Do you have what it takes to reach the finish?

4 – Explore the Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park in Anchorage

Taking a day trip to the Kenai Fjords National Park is a must during your stay in Anchorage. This icy realm may surprise you with its lush forests and blue waters teeming with wildlife.

The glaciers are the highlight, extending their frozen fingers down into dramatic mountainous valleys. You can explore the fjords on a boat tour, hike through icefields, or even go kayaking.

5 – Hike the trails in Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park, Anchorage

Get back to nature in the third-largest state park in the US. This is a land where brown and black bears roam, and rocky peaks keep watch over subalpine slopes.

The scenic drive through Chugach State Park is one of the best in Alaska, while a series of hiking trails offer easy access to untamed wilderness. Rafting, kayaking, and fishing are also on the cards.

6 – Discover the Alaska Native Heritage Center

Alaska Native Heritage Center, Anchorage

Tune in to the beating heart of Alaska’s Indigenous People by visiting the Native Heritage Center. Listen to stories passed down through the generations and engage with exhibits to learn more about this unique culture.

Exploring the replica village is one of the most fascinating things to do in Anchorage, with traditional games and dance displays to keep you entertained. Craft activities are available for younger visitors too.

7 – Take a trolley bus tour

trolley bus tour in Anchorage

It’s all aboard the bright red trolley bus for an Anchorage city tour with a difference. Starting downtown, you’ll be making your way through historic neighborhoods, stopping off at scenic points for photos. A guide is on hand to share some insider insights.

Watch seaplanes landing on Lake Hood, travel through the dramatic Earthquake Park, and see the famous Alaska Railroad. Moose sightings are sometimes an added bonus.

8 – Walk the Flattop Mountain Trail

Flattop Mountain Trail, Anchorage

You don’t have to hike far up Flattop Mountain to be rewarded with sweeping views across the Aleutian Islands and Mount Denali. Flattop Mountain is a great place for bird watching too, with warblers and siskins often making an appearance.

This popular trail loop takes you through valleys carpeted with wildflowers in the shadow of some of Alaska’s most majestic peaks. It’s quite rocky so sturdy footwear is advised.

Directions on Google Maps

9 – Go hiking on glaciers

hiking tours in Anchorage

Anchorage is one of nature’s best outdoor playgrounds and a particular favorite with hikers.

Explore otherworldly landscapes at the Matanuska Glacier, where you can actually walk on the ice. Then ascend precipitous peaks for 360˚ views of the Cook Inlet or delve deep into green valleys on meandering river trails.

For the ultimate thrill, try a bit of heli-hiking to reach those inaccessible high-alpine passes.

10 – Wander up to Virgin Creek Falls

Virgin Creek Falls, Anchorage

Break yourself in gently to wilderness hiking with a stroll through the rainforest up to Virgin Creek Falls. This short trail near Girdwood rewards all adventurers with a stunning waterfall at the end.

The bird watching here is superb, and the giant ferns and ancient tree roots give the place a bit of a Jurassic feel. Come between June and November for the best views and weather.

Directions on Google Maps

11 – Take a wildlife tour

wildlife tours in Anchorage

One of the best things to do in Anchorage for wildlife lovers is to head out with a professional guide and see what you can spot. You’ll be exploring Chugach National Forest, Beluga Point, and Portage Glacier – some of the most remote landscapes near the city.

Favorite sightings include brown bears, bison, and even wolves, with plenty of stops for photos at scenic viewpoints.

12 – Ride the Alyeska Aerial Tram

Alyeska Aerial Tram, Anchorage

Take to the skies and glide up mountain slopes in the scenic Alyeska Aerial Tram. You only need a few minutes to ascend to the top of Mount Alyeska – much easier than having to hike up!

Stand at 2300 feet and gaze in awe at the icy reaches of the Turnagain Arm, and the seven hanging glaciers snaking into the valleys below. Don’t forget your camera!

13 – Enjoy a day trip to the Matanuska Glacier

Matanuska Glacier in Anchorage

As you drive along the Glenn Highway through the Matanuska River Valley you’ll be stopping for photos every few feet! Yet save some of your camera battery for the main event – the mighty Matanuska Glacier.

Traverse the glacial terrain on a guided hike and walk on the ice using crampons and hiking poles. Sled rides and log cabin lunches are all part of the adventure.

14 – Discover the Winner Creek Trail

Winner Creek Trail, Anchorage

The easy 3-mile Winner Creek Trail is great for families looking for an adventure. You can hike or bike up gentle elevations, winding through the most northerly rainforest in America.

Cross wooden bridges over plummeting waterfalls and amble along mine roads on a thrilling day out in nature. Hardcore explorers can tackle a longer 9-mile route through the high country for spectacular mountain views.

Directions on Google Maps

15 – Race through wintery landscapes by dog sled

dog sled in Anchorage

Hold on tight as you hurtle through the snow with some of Alaska’s most iconic residents. Drive your own husky dog team through the mysterious boreal forest for an unforgettable mushing adventure.

Enjoy meeting the dogs and help harness the team, before heading out on a mini expedition through the wilderness. Takes photos with your canine companions to commemorate your new skills!

16 – Travel back in time at the Oscar Anderson House Museum

Oscar Anderson House Museum, Anchorage

The first permanent home in Anchorage was built in 1915 by the city butcher, Oscar Anderson. You can take a guided tour of his house and get an intriguing insight into what life was like when the city was in its infancy.

There are plenty of original artifacts in the Oscar Anderson House Museum, and the waterfront views are some of the best in town.

17 – Cruise up to Portage Glacier

Portage Glacier, Anchorage

One of the most popular things to do in Anchorage is to visit the Portage Glacier. Sitting pretty in an alpine valley, it’s one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska.

The best way to see this dramatic sheet of ice is by boat. Cruise along Portage Lake right up to the face of the glacier to experience the might of nature in all its frozen glory.

18 – Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary, Anchorage

Keep your binoculars handy as you explore the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary. Wildlife here is abundant, with arctic terns dipping and diving from above, and muskrats swimming across tranquil ponds in search of lunch.

As you follow the wooden boardwalk through the marshland, watch out for harriers, grebes, and eagles along the way. You might even see spawning salmon and a lone moose too if you’re lucky.

Directions on Google Maps

19 – Have fun at the Anchorage Museum

Anchorage Museum, Alaska

The Anchorage Museum showcases the unique Alaskan environment and native heritage through an impressive array of exhibitions and artifacts. Learn about life in the woods, listen to northern soundscapes, and discover how humans have used nature to survive, and thrive.

Kids love getting hands-on in the Imaginarium Discovery Center, where sea life tanks, giant bubbles, and a planetarium help bring context to wild Alaska.

20 – Kayak and hike in Chugach National Forest

Chugach National Forest, Anchorage

Sprawling across Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest is a treasure trove of nature.

Take to the hiking trails and spot bears fishing for salmon in the river. Or jump in a kayak and paddle across lakes searching for otters.

Glacier viewing is superb here, and Chugach is one of the only places in the world to see ice spilling into the ocean.

21 – Explore glaciers by helicopter

helicopter tours, Anchorage

Soar over the remote backcountry by helicopter and experience the national parks from a new perspective. You’ll see rivers shimmering in the sun as they trickle down the mountains, and snowy mountain ridges far from the beaten tourist track.

Feel the adrenaline build as you land right on top of a glacier. Then take a walk beside giant crevasses and pillars of towering blue ice before flying back down to earth.

22 – Visit Earthquake Park

Earthquake Park, Anchorage

In 1964, a massive earthquake destroyed a coastal community, sending it plunging into the ocean. This haunting event is commemorated in a peaceful wooded area on the Knik arm named Earthquake Park. Information boards detail the devastating environmental consequences of the quake.

Today, the park is a relaxing place for a woodland walk, with far-reaching views across the water to the Chugach Mountains. Moose are often spotted here!

Directions on Google Maps

23 – Splash around at H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark

H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark, Anchorage

Enjoy a family day out at the H2Oasis Indoor Waterpark in Anchorage. Great on a wet day, this aquatic kingdom is buckets of fun for everyone.

Scream if you want to go faster as you plunge down the Master Blaster, then float down the lazy river in rubber rings. There’s a wave pool to jump about in, and a pirate ship kiddie pool for wannabe swashbucklers to enjoy.

24 – Cycle the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Anchorage

Pedal off on an adventure straight from the city on this 11-mile greenbelt cycling route. Named after a former Alaskan governor, this easy trail begins in Kincaid Park and winds along the coast. The views of Denali, the Chugach Mountains, and Fire Island are superb.

Watch the changing tides of Cook Inlet and meet the resident moose who might pop down to the cycle path to say hello.

25 – Discover the Roundhouse at Alyeska Museum

Roundhouse at Alyeska Museum, Anchorage
learn more about the historical gold mine in Girdwood

Climb aboard the aerial tram or make yourself comfy in the chairlift and ascend to Alaska’s only mountaintop museum. The Roundhouse at Alyeska Museum perches on an exposed ridge at 2280 feet above sea level, and was once used as a warming hut and gathering place.

Today, this octagonal building is an interpretive center and museum, with photographic exhibitions and dynamic displays telling the history of the Girdwood Valley.

26 – Eat breakfast at Snow City Café

Snow City Café, Anchorage

Get your day off to a sizzling start at this friendly downtown bunch spot. Breakfast is served all day at Snow City Café, so you don’t need to be up early to enjoy the best meal of the day.

The food is fresh and locally sourced, with everything from crunchy homemade granola and snow crab omelets to reindeer sausages and even thunder chips. Save room for a blueberry shake.

27 – Explore the Turnagain Arm

bore tide in Turnagain Arm, Anchorage

Captain Cook sailed up the Turnagain Arm searching for the Northwest Passage. He didn’t find it so had to turn back. Today, this amusingly named coastal inlet holds appeal for modern-day explorers.

Driving along the water is one of the most dramatic things to do in Anchorage. The Chugach Mountains loom on the skyline, and beluga whales frolic down below. Watch out for the tidal bore wave – it’s sometimes six feet high!

28 – Go wild at the Alaska Zoo

Alaska Zoo in Anchorage

Want to meet a polar bear or come face to face with an eagle? Then pop over to the Alaska Zoo for close encounters with rescued Arctic animals.

Take a behind-the-scenes tour at feeding time and discover what polar bears like for breakfast. Then watch the antics of the cheeky harbor seals and feel the hairs on your neck stand to attention as the wolf pack howls.

29 – Pretend to be a pilot at Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum

Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, Anchorage

Located on the world’s largest floatplane base, the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum is just outside Anchorage at Lake Hood. It charts the history of local aviation with personal artifacts and memorabilia from pioneering Alaskan pilots.

Check out the interactive displays and explore four hangars of exhibitions and vintage aircraft. You can watch the seaplanes take off and land from the control tower.

30 – Pedal along scenic trails on a bike tour

bike tour in Anchorage

Get your heart pumping as you cycle through the wilderness, navigating coastal trails and traversing nature parks. You’ll encounter more wildlife on two wheels than you would with four, so watch out for moose!

There will be lots of photo stops to capture the mountain and lake views. Fat bike excursions are heaps of fun in winter, as you carve through the snow in magical frosted forests.

31 – Amble along the Byron Glacier Trail

Byron Glacier Trail, Anchorage

Looking for an easy day hike? Then the Byron Glacier Trail is for you. This flat path leads through a scenic glacier-carved valley south of Portage Lake. Byron Glacier looms dramatically at the top, tumbling down from a large and ancient icefield.

You’ll be traversing through alder thickets and rugged plains on your mission to reach the glacier. Stone skimming in the creek and snowball fights are optional.

Directions on Google Maps

32 – Bounce around at Get Air Trampoline Park

Get Air Trampoline Park in Anchorage

See how high you can jump at the family-friendly Get Air Trampoline Park. Spring off walls, play a game of dodgeball or leap into giant foam pits.

Budding ninjas can test their skills on the assault course and the fidget ladder, while aspiring gymnasts will love balancing on the slackline. There are special kiddie trampolines for the little adventurers too.

33 – Ride the Alaska Railroad

Alaska Railroad, Anchorage

Take in the raw beauty of nature from the comfort of your carriage on the great Alaska Railroad. A journey on this scenic train is one of the most iconic things to do in Anchorage.

As you chug along the historic track, enjoy views of the rugged coastline, deep river canyons, and imposing glaciers. Alight the train to explore Fairbanks or Seward before making the return journey.

34 – Smell the flowers at the Alaska Botanical Garden

Alaska Botanical Garden, Anchorage

Stroll through the Alaska Botanical Garden and see if you can identify some of the 150 native plant species that thrive here. There’s a wildflower trail to explore, and a herb garden that lends the air its special fragrance.

The garden offers a slice of tranquility in an otherwise busy city. Visit during the summer to see the blooms at their best.

35 – Visit Eklutna Historical Park

Eklutna Historical Park, Anchorage

The Eklutna Historical Park is the oldest inhabited Athabaskan settlement in the area. It dates back to 1650 and is a great place to learn about the culture and traditions of those who have lived here.

Pop into the old log-built Russian Orthodox church which was founded by missionaries in the 1800s. Then admire the brightly colored spirit houses that cover the graves of local villagers.

36 – Go salmon fishing

salmon fishing in Anchorage

Head out on a boat charter or cast your line from the shore and see if you can land the catch of the day. Hook halibut out in the open ocean, or reel in a salmon down at the river. Then cook it on the barbeque for lunch.

Visiting in June? Then don’t miss the annual Slam’n Salm’n Derby where anglers compete to land a prize-winning king salmon.

37 – Discover the Alaska Law Enforcement Museum

Alaska Law Enforcement Museum, Anchorage

See a different side to Anchorage at the Alaska Law Enforcement Museum. This carefully curated collection charts the history of those who brought law and order to this wild and rugged territory.

Check out the original “lunch box” radio, the iconic Tommy gun, and one of the very first tasers ever used. There’s a vintage office to explore, and a CSI Room with its own mock crime scene to investigate.

38 – Go on a glacier cruise

glacier cruise in Anchorage

Of all the things to do in Anchorage, taking a glacier cruise is the most relaxing, and rewarding. Sit back and enjoy the scenery as you journey along fjords and icy lakes.

The glaciers are easy to spot, with their white-blue tongues snaking down into the water. As you view them up close you might be joined by wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for sea otters and porpoises.

39 – Leave fresh tracks on the ski slopes

ski in Anchorage

Slice through the powder perfecting your snowplows as you race down the slopes outside Anchorage.

Steep and deep is the name of the game at the Alyeska Resort, with breathtaking views for those going slow enough to appreciate them. For something gentler, families love Hilltop Ski Area with its beginner pistes and ski schools.

Meanwhile, Alaskan tele-skiers and alpine specialists should visit Arctic Valley for its backcountry appeal.

40 – Admire the scenery at Cook Inlet

Cook Inlet, Anchorage

Stretching 180 miles from Anchorage to the Gulf of Alaska, the Cook Inlet is one of the most photogenic state icons. Named after Captain James Cook, who visited in 1778 during his search for the Northwest Passage, the inlet is home to several fishing communities.

Here you’ll find active volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls. Wildlife watching is good too, as sea lions and beluga whales call these waters home.

Directions on Google Maps

41 – Photograph Mount Denali

Mount Denali, Anchorage

Who wouldn’t want to clap eyes on the highest peak in northern America? Snow-capped Mount Denali stands proud and tall like a sentinel keeping watch over its territory. On a clear day, you can see it from Anchorage.

For a closer look, head into Denali National Park and discover the Alaskan frontier firsthand. Previously known as Mount McKinley, this isolated peak has five vast glaciers and is popular with climbers.

42 – Enjoy a show at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts

Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Anchorage

Tucked away in downtown Anchorage, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts offers a great evening out. Be entertained by the razzle-dazzle of jazz concerts or sing along to Broadway shows, there’s always something fun on.

This is a stage where Shakespeare’s sonnets and classical symphonies sit side by side, with local storytelling and topical lectures thrown in for good measure.

43 – See bears in the wild

bear viewing in Anchorage

Have you ever had a bear encounter? There’s no better place in the world to see these powerful mammals than here in Alaska, and bear viewing is one of the most popular things to do in Anchorage.

You can pop to the Wildlife Conservation Center for a close-up experience, or head into the national parks to observe bears in their natural habitat. You might even see them catching some salmon!

44 – Tour a historic gold mine

gold mine tour, Anchorage

The great Alaskan gold rush may be a thing of the past, but the memories live on at several historic mining settlements. Crow Creek Mine takes you back in time with guided tours and mining excursions bringing the golden era to life.

Meanwhile, over at Indian Valley Mine, the museum is home to some intriguing old mining tools. You can even have a go at panning for your own gold!

45 – Discover Eagle River Nature Center

Eagle River Nature Center, Anchorage

Soak up the sights in the beautiful Eagle River Valley as you wind your way into the wild. The best way to explore is along the hiking trails, where abundant native wildlife and spectacular mountain vistas await.

There are various nature programs at the Eagle River Nature Center throughout the year. Choose from wildlife walks for youngsters, mushroom identification trips, or even nest box building workshops.

46 – See ice calving at the Knik Glacier

Knik Glacier tours in Anchorage

Fancy visiting one of the largest icefields in southern Alaska? Then head to the Knik Glacier in the northern Chugach Mountains and feast your eyes on the ice.

The face is where the magic happens, as huge walls of ice calve off the glacier and plunge into the lake below. You might recognize it from the big screen having starred in “Star Trek V” and “Avalanche”.

47 – Pick up a native knife at the Ulu Factory

Ulu Factory in Anchorage

For the ultimate Alaskan souvenir, head to the Ulu Factory and check out the unique Inupiaq knives. These tactile curved blades have wooden handles, decorated with images of native wildlife.

Handcrafted by local experts, the knives make practical mementos of your trip. You can use them to chop herbs and fillet salmon, or just display them proudly in your kitchen.

48 – Taste some of Alaska’s finest beer

beer tasting in Alaska

Craft brewing is big in Anchorage, with the local glacial aquifers giving the flavors a unique edge. To sample the best beer in town, head over to the 49th State Brewing Company and get stuck into a Permafrost Pucker or some Snowbee Nectar.

Meanwhile, Midnight Sun is the oldest brewery in Anchorage and famed for its quirky tastes. Come here to try the famous Wolf Spirit Sparkling Ale.

49 – Feast at Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria

Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, Anchorage

Tuck into pizzas loaded with cheese and reindeer sausage at the buzzing Moose’s Tooth. This pub and pizzeria is a bit of a culinary institution in Anchorage, with high quality, low fuss comfort food on offer.

Knock back a pint of Arctic Apple Ale or Northern Lights Amber at the bar. Then get those feet tapping along to the live music for an evening to remember.

50 – Go on a quest for the Northern Lights

Northern Lights tours in Anchorage

Between September and April, the night sky in Alaska often dances with ethereal light. It’s a magical moment seeing the celestial green energy swirling over snow-capped peaks and icy lakes.

You’ll head into the wilderness away from the city lights and wait for the show to commence. Your guide will help you capture the moment on camera so take a DSLR if you have one.

51 – Scoff sausages and seafood

Alaska sausages and seafood, Anchorage

Pop over to the Alaska Sausage and Seafood Company to stock up your pantry with some delicious local delicacies. Perfect for self-catering cabins, the produce here is fresh and gourmet, straight from the land and sea around Anchorage.

Tuck into sizzling reindeer sausages straight from the smokehouse or get some wild Alaskan salmon on the grill for a bush-style barbeque.

52 – Sightsee by seaplane at Lake Hood Harbor

Lake Hood, Anchorage

Lake Hood Harbor is the largest seaplane base in the world. This is the place to come for a scenic flight over Anchorage and the surrounding wilds of Alaska.

Feel the adrenaline build as your small craft speeds across the water, skimming the surface on take-off. Then get those cameras ready to capture the beautiful landscapes unfolding below as you soar through the sky.

Directions on Google Maps

53 – Sip craft cocktails in a speakeasy

cocktails in Anchorage, Williwaw Social

Journey back to the prohibition era for illicit drinks in the secret bar at Williwaw Social. Just like the good old days you need a password to enter – ask the bartender for a clue!

Once you’re through the door you can relax and start working your way through the cocktail list. Will you go for the Neckromancer or the Blackhawk? Maybe a Spicy Dingo is more your style?

54 – Relax at the spa

spa in Anchorage

As you might expect, spas in Anchorage are rather different from those in the rest of the world. Here you’ll be treated to a rejuvenating session in a real-life salt cave, where breathing the dry air does wonders for your health.

Lie back and let your thoughts drift off as soothing music and salt crystals work their magic on your body and soul.

There are so many different things to do in Anchorage that you’ll probably wish you had longer to explore. Hopefully, our mega list has helped you to decide which activities to include on your itinerary.

Check out the best hotels in Anchorage to find the perfect accommodation for your stay. Rooms do book up fast in this popular Alaskan destination so it pays to reserve well in advance.

You might also like to consider booking airport transfers ahead of your trip, so you can bag the best prices.