Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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The perfect souvenir

Authentic arts and crafts created by Alaska Natives often are marked with a Silver Hand tag.

Authentic arts and crafts created by Alaska Natives often are marked with a Silver Hand tag.

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Exploring the Last Frontier

The size of Alaska encourages you to explore it in a variety of ways. Opportunities include everything from biking to ziplining.

Clamming

While there are many beaches around Alaska to harvest different clams, none are more accessible than a set of beaches just a few hours south of Anchorage on the Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula.

Glaciers Galore

Exit Glacier, in Kenai Fjords National Park, provides a stunning backdrop for a group of picnickers. The glacier, just outside of Seward, is accessible by car and then by foot. Entrance to the park by car costs $5.

Some glaciers you can literally reach out and touch, some you can walk on or climb across and some you want to observe from a very safe distance. Here are a few of the top ice capades around Southcentral Alaska.

River rafting

The lead raft of three from the Nova adventure company splashes through the rapids near the Lions Head on the Matanuska River.

The daredevil rivers of Alaska lure thrill-seeking raft riders and kayakers from around the world.

Riders in the Sky

BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily NewsOwner/Guide Laura Caillet is ready to catch Marta Campbell on one of the platforms. Denali Zipline Tours has 9 ziplines several swinging bridges and a rappel in the forest canopy outside of Talkeetna, AK's on Friday, July 27, 2012. 120727

Greenery rushes by on all sides. You’re dancing in the sky to the tune of wheels whirring along the cable.

Where to shop for great memorabilia of your Alaska vacation

Alaska will no doubt inspire memories.

But most visitors will want to take home something to help keep those memories fresh. An epic trip to the Great Land deserves a souvenir or two worthy of the excursion.

Here are a few in Anchorage to start your search for something special:

 

OOMINGMAK

604 H St.

For something truly Alaskan, stop by the little brown house on H Street. It's there you will find scarves, hats, stoles, headbands, tunics and Eskimo smoke rings made from qiviut, the extra-soft and extra-warm under-wool from musk oxen.

All the items at Oomingmak are made by members of an Alaska Native knitters cooperative. Most knitters come from Bush communities, and each village has a signature knit pattern derived from traditional art or designs. Several patterns are on display at the store, but all the knitters follow the design of their local community.

"This is not something you run into everywhere; it is pretty unique," said Arthur Texter, of Oomingmak (www.qiviut.com). "There are only a few places in the world where musk ox fibers are knitted.

"We get a lot of traffic in the store in the summertime, and a lot of people have never heard of qiviut before. They wonder what it is. So we do a lot of education about qiviut and what the co-op does."

That education includes highlighting the benefits of qiviut-made items. Qiviut is about eight times warmer than sheep's wool, Texter said. It is often compared to cashmere in texture. Texter said qiviut is a straight fiber, so it doesn't have the itchy feel of wool and it can be washed repeatedly without damaging the fiber.

Most items are the traditional brown color, but some have a little silk added and are bleached to add some variety.

 

ANCHORAGE MARKET AND FESTIVAL

Third Avenue and E Street

For visitors in town on the weekend, there's no better place to shop for a variety of items than the Anchorage Market and Festival.

The market has been a popular part of downtown Anchorage for more than 15 years. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The market's season is May 16 to Sept. 13. Admission is free.

About 300 vendors are at the market, selling just about everything. Vendors include photographers, artists, Matanuska Valley vegetable growers, crafters, clothing makers, jewelers, authors and others.

"We are the largest source of made-in-Alaska products in the world," said Bill Webb, manager of Anchorage Markets (www.anchoragemarkets.com). "We've got a lot of photographs and furs that make the market unique. There is such a variety and assortment -- every price range and style and color you can think of.

"We also have imported products at the market, but it's interesting because the products represent the diversity of Anchorage. The guy selling pearls, his family got those in China and sent them to him, and he makes the necklaces himself."

And it's not all about stuff at the market. It's also about food. The 35 food booths sell everything from salmon quesadillas and halibut to Filipino and Thai food to corn fritters and baked Alaska.

Webb said the market averages more than 30,000 visitors per weekend.

 

DAVID GREEN FURS

130 W. Fourth Ave.

If you visit Alaska in the middle of winter, you can experience the fur auction as part of the Fur Rendezvous festival. If you come in summer, you'll see plenty more furs at one of the several retail shops around town. One of the best known is David Green Master Furrier (davidgreenfurs.com).

The family operation has been in business since 1922. Inside the main showroom in downtown Anchorage, thousands of furs are on display -- beaver, chinchilla, mink, fox and lynx. The historic original site also includes a museum-like quality, with information about fur trapping and a lineup of celebrities who have shopped at the store.

 

TITLE WAVE BOOKS

1360 W. Northern Lights Blvd.,

A book might be the best souvenir of all. First, it may give you special insight. Second, you can read it again and again. Third, you can even give it to someone else.

Title Wave (wavebooks.com) is a locally owned company that specializes in new and used books. It has a huge selection of Alaska books -- from children's books to books about fishing, Alaska animals, picture books and Alaska classics like "Two Old Women," "Tisha" and "Coming Into the Country."

 

ULU FACTORY

211 W. Ship Creek Ave.

If you're looking for a souvenir or a gift with practical value, you can't go wrong with an ulu knife.

Traditionally, the ulu was an Eskimo cutting tool made of slate and bone. They are still used throughout Alaska, but visitors enjoy them, too. They can be purchased in many shops, but if you want to see more than just the finished product, visit the Ulu Factory (theulufactory.com).

The shop, just a few feet from Ship Creek in downtown Anchorage, is arranged so visitors can see the ulu manufacturing process. Tours are offered by staff members throughout the day.

And the variety of knives is remarkable -- get a jade handle, an ivory handle, a wood handle; get a 5-, 6- or 8-inch knife.

 

2009 WINNERS FOR BEST ALASKA GIFTS

Alaska Wildberry Products

Handmade Alaska wild berry jams and jellies, chocolates, smoked salmon, ulu knives, souvenirs and gift baskets.

5225 Juneau St.

800-280-2927

alaskawildberryproducts.com

 

Once in a Blue Moose

Souvenirs including moose-nugget gifts, moose-themed apparel, playing cards, ornaments, books, stuffed animals, wall hangings, chocolates, candies, coffees and teas, salmon and more.

547 W. Fourth Ave., with additional locations in Anchorage 5th Avenue mall and Millennium Hotel; also in Seward

267-2141

onceinabluemoose.com

 

Cabin Fever

More than 400 gifts from Alaska artists, including "I can see Russia from my house" T-shirts, Native arts, gourmet foods, prints, books, calendars, jewelry and more.

650 W. Fourth Ave.

278-3522

cabinfeveralaska.com

 

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