A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 36°/53°/Mostly clear
Fairbanks: 29°/51°/Partly cloudy
Two women enjoy the setting sun from Point Woronzof Overlook Park on Monday night as the warm glow reflected off the Anchorage skyline and Knik Arm behind them.
Southcentral towns outside Anchorage often have a wide selection of lodging to accommodate visitors who come to town for a weekend's relaxation, to fish or to show off the state to relatives.
Western Alaska's grand expanse of terrain, water and wildlife attracts many visitors with an interest in the outdoors. Its larger cities -- Kodiak, Bethel, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and Nome -- put up quite a few visitors and governmental and commercial guests for the night.
Hotels in Barrow and Kotzebue, in Northern Alaska, cater to tour groups, which arrive by plane from Anchorage or Fairbanks.
Interior Alaska has a broad range of accommodations, from rustic cabins to hotel suites with kitchens.
Zoo, botanical garden, city parks and much more
Airport Visitor Information Centers
The Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau's airport centers can be the first stop for tourists on their Alaska adventure. Knowledgeable volunteers are ready to assist with answers, information and planning. There is a center in the airport's South Terminal baggage claim area, one in the North Terminal's lobby area and one in the North Terminal's secure area.
WHERE: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in South Terminal; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. mid-May through mid-September in North
PHONE: 266-2437, 266-2657
Alaska Botanical Garden
Nestled in the foothills of East Anchorage, the 110-acre garden delights visitors, inspires gardeners, and educates adults and children. Nature trails through the boreal forest connect three perennial gardens, a rock garden, a formal herb garden and forested areas with native wildflowers. A 1.1-mile nature trail with interpretive signs crosses the Iditarod Trail and has views of Campbell Creek, the Chugach Mountains and a natural wetland. Guided tours are offered at 1 p.m. daily June through August or by appointment. The annual Garden Fair is June 26-27 and includes a children's village, music, food, plant and craft vendors, garden speakers and a garden art show and sale.
WHERE: 4601 Campbell Airstrip Road, south of Tudor Road
WHEN: Daily (daylight hours)
COST: $5 adult, $10 family, free for children 2 and younger
The zoo provides homes for orphaned and injured animals and educates the public on natural history and conservation. Visitors can see and photograph Alaska wildlife including polar bears, wolves, brown bears, moose, caribou and raptors. Exotic species include Amur tigers, snow leopards, Bactrian camels and Tibetan yaks. Other animals include musk oxen, Dall sheep, lynx, black bears and porcupines. Daily Discovery Tours and Family Program Nights on Tuesdays and Fridays are popular summer events. Free shuttle service is provided to and from downtown Anchorage from May 15 through Sept. 19.
WHERE: 4731 O'Malley Road
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day to Labor Day; open until 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; winter 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
COST: $12 adults, $9 seniors 65 and older and military, $6 youths ages 3-17, free for children younger than 3. Annual passes available.
Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge
More than 130 species of birds have been sighted in the refuge, so bird-watchers will love it. The refuge stretches 16 miles along the Anchorage coastline, but its most popular spot is Potter Marsh. At the marsh, boardwalks take visitors into the heart of the wetland for easy bird-watching, complete with interpretive displays of the refuge's animals and plant life. Some of the birds that call the Potter Marsh area home are arctic terns, Canada geese, trumpeter swans, grebes, bald eagles, owls, gulls, ducks and other waterfowl. Salmon also return to the area. Nearby is the Potter Section House Historic Site, which once served the railroad.
WHERE: Mile 115 Seward Highway
WHEN: Open daily
Chugach State Park
The 500,000-acre state park is the third-largest state park in the country and serves as Anchorage's backyard playground, with access points from Eklutna in the north to Girdwood in the south, including several in Anchorage. The park is great for hiking, camping, mountain biking, animal viewing and even a little fishing. From the Glen Alps parking lot, it is an easy walk to the Anchorage overlook, offering 360-degree views of the city, Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains.
WHERE: East of Anchorage
COST: Free; parking fee of $5 or a $40 annual pass
When the 1964 Good Friday earthquake struck Alaska, this portion of Anchorage was full of homes. The 9.2 magnitude earthquake destroyed the area, dropping many of the homes into Cook Inlet. The quake, the largest recorded in North America, caused $68 million in damage in Anchorage. Today, the area is a peaceful park with outstanding views of downtown Anchorage and the Alaska Range. The park has a trail system with interpretive signs to help visitors understand the destructive power of the earthquake. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail cuts through the park, connecting with downtown and Kincaid Park.
WHERE: West on Northern Lights Boulevard near Aircraft Drive
WHEN: Open daily
Far North Bicentennial Park/Hillside Park
The parks include more than 4,000 acres of rolling, forested hills. Miles of trails are perfect for hiking or mountain biking. Campbell Creek flows through Bicentennial Park. From the Spencer Loop trail, there is an outstanding view of Mount McKinley. Wildlife encounters are possible; be bear-aware during summer when salmon are in the creek.
WHERE: Off Tudor and Abbott roads
WHEN: Open daily
Fort Richardson Hatchery
See five different fish species in a variety of life stages and sizes in both indoor and outdoor tanks. The hatchery is home to silver salmon, king salmon, rainbow trout, arctic grayling and arctic char. The char can be up to 4 years old. To access the hatchery, visitors must enter Fort Richardson; a valid driver's license, proof of insurance and registration are required. Access policies can change without notice. Call ahead for organized tours.
WHERE: Hatchery Drive, Fort Richardson
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily
The park includes about 1,400 acres of rolling, forested hills. It has beautiful views of Mount Susitna, Mount McKinley, Fire Island and stunning sunsets. More than 35 miles of mostly wide trails are perfect for hiking or mountain biking in the summer. The multi-use paved trails are open for winter biking, hiking and snowshoeing. The other trails are for ski use only. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail ends at the park chalet; a bike path also enters the park from the east along Raspberry Road. Wildlife encounters with moose and bears are possible. There also is a disc golf course.
WHERE: West end of Raspberry Road
WHEN: Open daily; gates open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Kincaid Chalet summer hours, noon-9 p.m. daily; winter chalet hours noon-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.