Top Things to Do in Anchorage, Alaska

Published: February 23, 2021

Most of the people who visit Alaska will find themselves in Anchorage at one point or another. After all, Anchorage is Alaska’s biggest city. There is so much to see and do around Anchorage that visitors can sometimes struggle to fit everything into their visit.

That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide exploring the best things to do in Anchorage, Alaska. So, let’s dive in!

What Are Anchorage’s Top Tourist Attractions?

One of Anchorage’s main attractions is its proud cultural, historical, and natural heritage, making it an exciting place to visit for tourists and Alaskans alike. A rich and diverse collection of museums and heritage centers await you when you take a trip to Anchorage.

We consider these to be some of the best:

The Anchorage Museum & Imaginarium Discovery Centre

The Anchorage Museum offers a wide range of exhibitions, from art to natural history. Boasting a selection of permanent displays and touring exhibitions, every visit to Anchorage’s museum provides something new to discover and explore.

The Anchorage Museum is also home to the Imaginarium Discovery Centre. This hands-on experience is great fun for people of all ages, with plenty of interactive activities and educational displays. The museum’s planetarium is a great way to finish your visit; gazing into the stars above and embracing the wonders of the cosmos.

The Alaska Native Heritage Centre

The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a wonderful way to learn about the native people, traditions, and architecture of Alaska. This cultural icon is home to unique displays of Alaska’s diverse cultural heritage. Live talks and demonstrations are held daily, with everything from native artwork, storytelling and traditions to singing, dancing and games taking place.

A visit to Alaska’s Native Heritage Centre is a truly memorable and enriching experience.

Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre

Alaska is famous for its menagerie of amazing animals, and there’s no better place to see them than the Alaska Wildlife Centre, which is only a short trip from Anchorage. This non-profit organization is dedicated to conservation, research and education – a paradise for animal lovers!

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre is home to many species of animals, including Alaska’s most iconic critters such as moose, bears, wolves, muskox and bison.

What are the best activities to do in Anchorage?

Once you’ve had your fill of Anchorage’s fine museums and cultural centers, you’ll probably want to get out into the fresh air and experience the great outdoors (and when it comes to Alaska, we do mean ‘Great’!).

For those of us who have an adventurous spirit, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Anchorage. No matter your physical skill level or preferred mode of transport, Anchorage can provide the perfect activity for you.

Hiking in Anchorage

Anchorage’s hiking trails are great for everything from a short leisurely stroll after dinner or an adventurous day-long hike. The trail system is easy to access from downtown Anchorage, which acts as a hub for adventurers of all ages and skill levels. Trails are marked clearly, so you’ll know which is a good fit for you.

One of our favorite trails that’s easily accessed from Downtown Anchorage is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This coastal trail offers stunning views of Fire Island and the opening to the Knik Arm and the Turnagain Arm.

a view of the "Sleeping Lady" mountain across the water viewed from a hiking trail

Tony Knowles/Visit Anchorage)

Biking in Anchorage

Bicycling Magazine once described Anchorage as a “Bike Utopia”, and it’s pretty easy to see why they would give such high praise. With more than 120 miles’ worth of paved bike trails in the area, Anchorage is a cyclist’s paradise.

There are plenty of bike rental shops in Anchorage, so it’s easy to get going. From relaxing, smooth pathways that allow you to take in the stunning sights at your leisure, to unpaved mountain biking trails that provide the ultimate challenge to people who crave adrenaline rush. Given the variety of cycling trails on offer, you’ll find the perfect route, no matter your level of experience or skill.

Visit Seward via the Alaska Railroad

By far, the best train ride in Alaska is the trip on the historic Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward. This train ride takes you down the Turnagain Arm, then all the way to Seward through some of Alaska’s most breathtaking and remote locations.

The train to Seward goes through mountains, and you can see fantastic waterfalls right next to the train. On board, the conductor will give a spoken tour, explaining the route’s magnificent sights and locations. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot some of Alaska’s iconic wildlife along the way!

Flightseeing Trips in Anchorage

Anchorage is a perfect hub for a diverse array of flightseeing tours. On a small plane flight from Anchorage, it is possible to do all sorts of activities, from just enjoying a scenic ride on a floatplane or bush plane to experiencing bear viewing or fly-out fishing.

The views from above Anchorage are breathtaking, and you can also take in the panoramas of small islands and the sweeping mountains of the Alaska Range surrounding the city.

Anchorage city view from above returning by plane for flightseeing.

What are the best sights to see in Anchorage, Alaska?

There are so many magnificent sights and things to see and do in Anchorage that it can be hard to recommend only a few, but we’ll try our best!

Anchorage and its surrounding areas boast vast expanses of natural wilderness, which practically defines the term ‘the Great Outdoors’. Among these awe-inspiring natural features are a 600-mile long mountain range, seemingly endless expanses of forests, and beautiful waterfalls that will most likely leave people speechless.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Anchorage Alaska?

It would be strange to talk about one of Alaska’s biggest visitor hubs and not mention our most famous natural wonder; the aurora borealis. The Northern Lights can indeed be seen in the sky above Anchorage.

However, it is worth remembering that the Northern Lights aren’t always visible from Anchorage at all times of the year, as the sky needs to be clear and quite dark for you to get a good look at them. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage is from September to April, as these months offer the best combination of darkness and clear skies. We recommend the Anchorage Aurora Borealis Photo Tour, as it will help you preserve your wonderful experience.

Please see our Guide to Viewing the Northern Lights in Alaska for more tips on getting the best view.

What is the best time to Visit Anchorage, Alaska?

There is no true ‘best time’ to visit Anchorage. It really depends on what it is that you are looking for in your trip. As explained above, if your vacation goal is to see the Northern Lights, your best bet would be to visit during the winter months.

However, if your chief concern is seeing Alaska’s majestic wildlife in all of its glory, you would be better off visiting Anchorage during the Spring-Summer season. This is when nature is at its most spectacular, with a lot more animals doing their thing. Bears won’t be hibernating, and most animals will be raising their young at this time too, making for a much livelier nature-watching experience.

Can’t choose? Then maybe you should consider visiting Anchorage more than once, and ensure you get the best of both worlds!

Booking a Trip to Anchorage, Alaska

If you would like some help planning your perfect trip to Anchorage, please get in touch with us.

At Alaska Tours, we have over 30 years of experience planning memorable Alaskan vacations and putting together flexible tour itineraries tailored just for you. We know that everybody is different, and so too should be their Alaskan adventures