What to Do During the Summer in Anchorage

Published: December 1, 2022

Alaska is a vibrant destination and it is exciting to explore it year-round, but summer is when the state truly comes alive. There’s something about that sensational midnight sun and its welcoming warmth, the array of “only-in-summer” Alaska outdoor activities, and an influx of wide-eyed and enthusiastic visitors from around the world meeting friendly Alaskan locals that creates a palpable buzz of energy and an almost celebratory vibe.

Local “Must See” Highlights Around Anchorage

That is especially true in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, the state’s hub for travel, tourism and hospitality, and the starting point for many of Alaska’s biggest and best adventures. Here, locals and travelers alike maximize the summer sun fun, as do the businesses and outfitters that cater to them. Inspiration and energy are easy to summon when you’re visiting a setting framed by the dramatic Chugach Mountains overhanging the serene Cook Inlet, amidst memorable landmarks like Sleeping Lady, Fire Island and Flattop Mountain, all lit up in their brightest summer colors.

Summer landscape of cow moose in watery meadow with Chugach Mountains in background near Girdwood, Alaska summer.
(C) Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com

From Dawn to Dusk (at Midnight!)

In summer, everything in Anchorage seemingly opens early and closes late. Summer also means vibrant outdoor entertainment. Anchorage festivals and markets are so much fun and interesting, you’ll want to go multiple times. A high note of summer are concerts by local singers-songwriters playing in downtown Anchorage parks for lunchtime crowds as well as high-profile out-of-state acts playing big gigs in outdoor spaces. Performance venues large and small (both indoors and outdoors) host a steady flow of people starving for genuine Alaska experiences. You don’t have to look hard to find them. Cultural, historical, Alaska-focused and just-for-the-fun-of-it festivals and celebrations take place downtown and around town every weekend during the summer, and some, even on weekdays. 

the cityscape of Anchorage, Alaska with a bridge over a creek and people fishing

Arrive in Anchorage and explore at your leisure
(Frank Flavin/Visit Anchorage)

Alaskan Cuisine: From Traditional to Nouvelle

Want a taste of Alaska? Food truck rallies, farmers markets and cultural and seasonal festivals will fill your belly and your travel bags with Alaska-made goodies and sweet memories. That’s especially true in downtown, where restaurants from the most authentic Alaskan to the close to Michelin Star variety continue to wow visitors and food trucks and even reindeer sausage carts cater to true foodies.

Fresh Alaska cuisine

What’s Up with Anchorage Wildlife?

Local wildlife is also rocking in Anchorage’s summer, with moose easily strolling about happy to be free of the knee-deep snows, bears feeding on fish and berries in nearby woods, and migrating birds from all over the world touching down on during their annual travels north. Short drives south from Anchorage will get you onboard wildlife and glacier viewing tours and to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for up-close-and-personal experiences with Alaska’s most famous animals. Short flights by float or bush plane can provide intimate access to thrilling bear viewing, flightseeing and fishing. Summer is when fishing is the most popular and successful, that in Anchorage means salmon fishing in downtown or taking a short drive or flight to world-class angling hotspots to land everything from barndoor halibut to an array of hard-fighting salmon and sport fish.

Fly fishing for salmon in an Alaska stream.

Outdoor Fun for Every Age

Anchorage residents live for summer and the chance to be outside as much as possible. Many Alaska visitors’ trips just don’t feel complete without including opportunity for some energetic outdoor exploration. In the summer, these adventures are easily accessible and endlessly diverse. Hiking, running or strolling on popular paved trails that cross urban Anchorage offer awe-inspiring views and that fresh Alaska air at every step, as well as an occasional wildlife sighting from a beluga whale in the water to a tree-twig munching moose blocking the trail.  Nearby to Anchorage are mountain trails offering everything from easy strolls to leg-and-lung burning hikes, all with big-time payoffs of city and surrounding landscape views. Many visitors like the bike trails on popular paved paths, smooth but challenging cross-country trails, and technical single-track mountain bike trips for hardcore riders. Bike rentals are available at downtown shops and other outfitters, some of which will provide guided tours.

View from Flattop overlooking Anchorage.

Whatever You Choose, It Can All Start in Anchorage 

The best news about summer in Anchorage? Thanks to its location and its world-class travel infrastructure, most all-time Alaska adventures are often just a relatively short-and-easy drive or bus ride, train trip, or flight away from Anchorage. Whatever your fancy, from bear viewing trips, glacier and wildlife cruises, and fishing, to Denali flightseeing or visits to nearby towns of Girdwood and Talkeetna, all sorts of only-in-Alaska experiences are easily accessible from Anchorage.

a person in a blue jacket and ballcap photographing a brown bear behind fencing

Check out the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center on your drive back to Anchorage (Juno Kim/Visit Anchorage)

Plan Your Adventure with a Little Help from Alaskans 

Our job at Alaska Tours is to help you maximize every hour in Alaska. With something always going on in Anchorage’s summer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or even a case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Collaborate with the insiders and experts at Alaska Tours on a travel and activity itinerary that will get you everything you want to experience and more. And never be timid about asking locals and fellow travelers about their favorite experiences too!

Just remember, whatever your final plans, don’t forget to save time for the personification of the best of Summer in Anchorage. You might want to start your day with a hike up a popular local peak (Flattop is the overwhelming champ) or a walk along the Coastal Trail, followed by a seat on the deck at a prime Anchorage dining spot to enjoy an Alaska-inspired meal of salmon and/or King crab and local vegetables, washed down with an Alaska-brewed beer. Then relax with a front-row view of Sleeping Lady and maybe even Denali on the horizon. It doesn’t get much better, or much more Anchorage, than that.