PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Anchorage

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  • Largest major U.S. city in area
  • Surprisingly strong food scene
  • Minutes from some of Alaska’s most breathtaking scenery

Metro population: 400,000 (#134 in the U.S.)

When To Visit: June-August

Climate: Warm and sunny with very long days in the summer. Very cold and snowy with little sunshine in the winter, slightly less so in spring and fall.

Alaska’s largest city isn’t known for being much more than that and its architecture is decidedly simple and old-fashioned, but Anchorage has great pockets of beauty and culture to experience and of course serves as a great jumping off point for the rest of Alaska’s scenic wonders.

Photo: Football Field, Chugach State Park (within Anchorage city limits)

Where To Go in Anchorage

Chugach State Park: This stunning beautiful mountain park is located within Anchorage city limits. The best access point is the Glen Alps Trailhead which is a half-hour from downtown Anchorage. From there, you can take the strenuous yet gorgeous 8-mile round trip Football Field / Little O’Malley Peak Trail to sweeping views of the city, alpine lakes, and dramatic peaks. Free. Glen Alps Road. (907) 345-5014

Town Square Park: This small park in the center of Downtown Anchorage hosts frequent live music and events and is a relaxing place to hang out. Free. 544 West 5th Avenue, Downtown.

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Flowers in Town Square Park

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail: This waterfront path hugs Anchorage’s coast for 11 miles, but you can connect to it at the Oscar Anderson House Museum in Downtown and enjoy its sweeping views of the Knik Arm and huge mountain ranges for as long or as short as you please. Free. 420 M Street, Downtown.

Beluga Point: 25 minutes south of downtown, this viewpoint offers alluring views of the Turnagain Arm. Continue on Highway 1 until Portage to experience more of this stretch of highway, which has been rated one of the most scenic in America. Free. Seward Highway Milepoint 109.

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Anchorage from Football Field Trail

 

Anchorage Cheap Eats

Anchorage restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15. I always highlight some vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.

Snow City Cafe: A cute casual breakfast, lunch, and brunch spot frequented by locals that is famous for its gamey reindeer sausage and a variety of seafood options. 1034 W. 4th Avenue, Downtown. (907) 272-2489

Moose’s Tooth: Hugely popular and surprisingly gourmet pizza with reasonable prices and a huge variety of pizza, other food items, and beer. It’s even been rated one of the best pizzas in the U.S. 3300 Old Seward Highway, Midtown. (907) 258-2537

Taco King: A low-key spot with high-quality renditions of typical Mexican fare in a colorful and artsy setting. 113 W Northern Lights Boulevard, Spenard. (907) 771-6054

Hula Hands Restaurant: You may not come to Alaska for the Hawaiian food, but this simple eatery has hearty portions of authentic Hawaiian food – including sandwiches, wraps, noodles, and plates. 501 W Fireweed Lane, North Star. (907) 339-4852

Arctic Roadrunner: The best burgers in Anchorage (including some creative twists) and all are $4-$8. The regular patties are quite large, and there are smaller options available.  5300 Old Seward Highway, Taku/Campbell. (907) 561-1245

Safari Restaurant: Popular among Anchorage’s large Somali American population, this hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern/North African spot has excellent sandwiches, plates, and appetizers. 2813 Dawson Street, Spenard. (907) 561-1995

Anchorage Nightlife

Anchorage bars, lounges, and clubs that are popular with locals and meet one or more of these criteria: A) Unique, unlike anyplace you’ll find in another city  B) Fun and lively, sure to be a good time  C) Beautiful decor or view

Mad Myrna’s: A gay club with multiple rooms in a very Alaska-esque log cabin setting. Easily the best place to go dancing in Anchorage! 530 East 5th Avenue, Downtown. (907) 276-9762

Darwin’s Theory: Come to Darwin’s and you’ll enjoy free popcorn, a mystery shot of the day, and a chance to hang out at a true local dive bar. 426 G Street, Downtown. (907) 277-5322

Williwaw: Head up to the rooftop bar of this new American restaurant and enjoy drinks with a nice view of the Anchorage skyline – perfect for those nights when it stays dark until midnight. They also have a small food menu. 609 F Street, Downtown. (907) 868-2000

49th State Brewing Company: This new Anchorage brewery has a huge selection of local Alaskan beers, a rooftop with ocean views, and *gasp* avocado fries. 717 West 3rd Avenue, Downtown. (907) 277-7727

Nearby Side Trips from Anchorage

Portage Lake & Byron Glacier: An hour south of the city on the beautiful Turnagain Arm, this large lake is a prime boating destination and you can take an easy 1.5 mile round trip hike to see Byron Glacier.

Kenai Fjords National Park: One of Alaska’s most easily accessible national parks, Kenai Fjords is 2.5 hours south of Anchorage and 100% worth the drive. You can experience the park’s beautiful fjord waterways via boat tours or take an epic hike alongside a glacier to a gigantic icefield.

Talkeetna: If you came to Alaska expecting cute mountain towns, Talkeetna (2 hours north of Anchorage) is your best bet. A small row of restaurants and shops make up the quaint downtown and you can take a walk along the rushing Susitna River.

Wasilla: This strip mall-dominated city 45 minutes to the north is nothing special except that it’s the home of its infamous former mayor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

 

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