Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

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Most visitors to Alaska will find themselves in the state’s largest city at some point in their travels. And it’s no wonder - as the home of the state’s largest airport, headquarters of the Alaska Railroad, and, increasingly, a port of call for Alaska’s bustling cruise lines, it would be unusual for an Alaskan itinerary not to include a stop in Anchorage.

Anchorage: Big. Wild. Life.

Something powerful likely brought you to Alaska: A desire to see or climb some of North America's most majestic mountains or float picturesque waterways; a wish to walk among cultures of the Far North; an itch to catch or eat some of the world's most fantastic fish; a chance to finally meet a moose.

Out for adventure in the city

You've landed in Anchorage and can't decide what adventure to take first. It's OK -- that's a natural feeling when suddenly faced with so many mountains and trails and waterways and all-around outdoor options.

MUSEUMS: Airplanes to art make wonderful Alaska memories

You don't have to travel every corner of Alaska to gather a true sense of the state's history and culture, a reflection of its past, or the pulse of its present. You don't even have to leave Anchorage. The city's museum circuit will educate and fascinate visitors of all ages. Here's a list of can't-miss Anchorage museums:

City casting: Urban fishery rocks

Two fishing derbies -- for king and silver salmon -- are held each summer in downtown Anchorage. Ken Scott of Phoenix fishes for silvers at the mouth of the creek as it empties into Cook Inlet.

Fifty-pound king salmon. Trophy-worthy trout. Fantastically finned grayling. And that's just Anchorage's urban fishery!

Where the city meets the mountains

Most visitors to Alaska will find themselves in the state’s largest city at some point in their travels. And it’s no wonder - as the home of the state’s largest airport, headquarters of the Alaska Railroad, and, increasingly, a port of call for Alaska’s bustling cruise lines, it would be unusual for an Alaskan itinerary not to include a stop in Anchorage.

But, while many visitors might see their time in Anchorage as just that – a stopover on the way to the “real Alaska,” a convenient access point for the Kenai Peninsula, Prince William Sound, Denali, and the rest of the state – those who take time to explore the city and its wild surroundings will find plenty to interest, divert, and possibly even amaze them.

For starters, did you know that on a clear day, North America’s highest peak is visible from Alaska’s largest city? It may be over 100 miles away, but to many Anchorage residents, Mt. McKinley is a familiar sight.

Speaking of scenery, just outside the city’s borders, Chugach State Park beckons with attractions like the Eagle River Nature Center and the Glen Alps trailhead, which provides sweeping views of Anchorage as well as access to Flattop, the state’s most popular hike. Or stroll through one of Anchorage’s dozens of city parks, watch the birds along the Coastal Wildlife Refuge, or stop and smell the roses at the Botanical Garden.

Anchorage has been called the “urban wildlife capitol of North America,” and bald eagle, moose, and bear sightings are possible at many locations throughout the city. Visitors can even try their hand at catching a salmon in one of Anchorage’s creeks. Don’t forget your fishing license and a ticket if it’s derby season!

Alaska has a unique and fascinating history and there’s no better place to begin exploring it than Anchorage’s many museums. The Anchorage Museum at the Rasmuson Center downtown, the biggest in the state, is an obvious highlight. There are many collections across the city as well (e.g., aviation, law enforcement, Alaska Native culture, and more) that richly reward perusal.

Art lovers will want to browse the city’s many galleries which feature everything from Alaska Native crafts to paintings by Rie Muñoz and Fred Machetanz to modern prints and sculptures. If you’re looking for souvenirs or gifts there are many to choose from.

Take a break from sightseeing to enjoy some local cuisine – there are many cafes and restaurants serving fresh Alaskan seafood, or you can sample some of the locally grown produce that’s increasingly available in farmers’ markets year-round. Don’t forget to swing by one of the food stands downtown for a freshly grilled reindeer sausage – an Anchorage summer tradition.

For those seeking further diversions, there’s always music to be heard in the city, whether it’s classical fare at the Performing Arts Center, a jazz band in Peratrovich Park or rock 'n roll at Blues Central.

It’s clear when you look around – Anchorage is a unique place, an interface of urban life and wilderness, modernity and the frontier. Enjoy!

2013 ANCHORAGE LISTINGS

ANCHORAGE METRO

Airport Visitor Information
Center
Ideally positioned to serve the thousands of travelers who arrive every year at the state’s busiest airport, the visitor information center is a convenient place to learn what Anchorage has to offer. A staff of friendly volunteers can help visitors plan where to sightsee, shop, dine, or just relax after the journey.
Where: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport South (Domestic) terminal, near baggage claim three.
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Cost: Free
Phone: 266-2860 or 266-2437
Web: www.anchorage.net

Alaska Botanical Garden
Travelers seeking peace and quiet and a chance to view Alaska’s flora need look no further than the Alaska Botanical Garden. With 110 acres of boreal forest and 11 acres of cultivated gardens, nature lovers can get a taste of both the wild and the refined. Delphiniums, poppies, peonies, and roses beckon – not to mention the small but stunning state flower, the forget-me-not. In June, July, and August, guided tours begin daily at 1 p.m.
Where: 4601 Campbell Airstrip Road, south of Tudor Road
When: Garden is open daily year-round during daylight hours; office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday
Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-18, free for children under 3
under 2
Phone: 770-3692
Web: www.alaskabg.org

Alaska Zoo
Anchorage’s motto is “Big Wild Life,” and indeed, with dozens of moose, bears, and other animals living within the municipality, visitors could potentially encounter wild creatures almost anywhere in the city. For those who prefer to remove chance from the equation, the Alaska Zoo delivers an impressive array of animals. They include many native to Alaska (moose, polar bears, musk oxen) as well as quite a few from far away (snow leopards, Bactrian camels, Amur tigers). Beginning on Memorial Day, the zoo operates a free shuttle to bring travelers from the downtown area to its facilities on the east side of town.
Where: 4731 O’Malley Road
When: Open daily year-round, hours vary: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in May and September; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in June, July, and August; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in March, April, and October; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from November through February
Cost: $12 adults, $9 seniors (65 and older) and military, $6 ages 3-17, free for children under 3.
Phone: 346-2133
Web: www.alaskazoo.org

Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge
Birdwatchers take note: this refuge, which spans 16 miles of habitat along Anchorage’s southwestern coastline, attracts more than 130 bird species. Migrating swans are a highlight in spring and fall, as are Arctic terns, which arrive in the spring having flown all the way from Antarctica, 20,000 miles away. Both can be seen at Potter Marsh, just south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway. A boardwalk there provides the easiest access to viewing the refuge’s animal and plant life. In late summer, salmon also return to refuge waterways to spawn.
Where: Potter Marsh is at Mile 117 Seward Highway
When: Open daily
Cost: Free
Chugach State Park
One of the largest state parks in the country, Chugach provides wilderness access and a bevy of recreational opportunities right in Anchorage’s backyard. Glen Alps is the most popular access point – from there, travelers can climb Flattop Mountain, look for wildlife, or simply stroll and take in panoramic views of the city. Numerous other trailheads stretch from Eklutna Lake in the north to spectacular, glacier-carved Crow Pass in the south.
Where: Numerous access points in the Anchorage area; Glen Alps trailhead is at 13101 Glen Alps Road
When: Open daily
Cost: Entry to the park is free; parking fees at most trail heads are $5 or a $40 annual pass
Phone: 345-5014
Web: dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach

Earthquake Park
On Good Friday in 1964, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck about 75 miles east of Anchorage. The quake, which was the second largest in recorded history at the time, devastated much of the city; in the Turnagain neighborhood, where Earthquake Park is now located, at least 70 homes were lost in landslides. The park provides interpretive signs related to the quake and its aftermath, as well as views of Knik Arm and Cook Inlet, and access to the popular Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.
Where: 4306 West Northern Lights Boulevard
When: Open daily
Cost: Free
Web: www.muni.org/parks

Far North Bicentennial
Park/Hillside Park
The city’s largest park provides outstanding trails year-round for joggers, mountain bikers, dog mushers, snowshoers, and skiers. In the spring, the park is a popular place to watch the Iditarod and Fur Rondy sled dog races, while in summer owls can be heard hooting in the trees. Salmon run up the creeks in late summer, and bears looking for a meal of fish are frequently spotted on the trails – visitors should be on the lookout.
Where: Off Tudor, Abbott and Campbell Airstrip roads
When: Open daily
Cost: Free
Phone: 343-4355
Web: www.muni.org/parks

William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery
Operated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, this state-of-the-art facility opened in 2011 and is used to foster the growth of millions of young fish. Rainbow trout, king salmon, arctic grayling, and other species grown in the hatchery are released into nearby lakes and streams, where fishermen and women hope to hook them. Self-guided tours are available at the hatchery, which is just off Ship Creek near downtown Anchorage.
Where: 941 North Reeve Boulevard
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Cost: Free
Phone: 269-2000
Web: www.adfg.alaska.gov

ANCHORAGE

DOWNTOWN

Alaska Railroad Depot
Built in 1942, the Anchorage depot still serves customers, who can ride the rails north to Denali National Park or south to Whittier and Seward. Visitors with less time can tour the building, learn about the history of the railroad, view an antique engine, and browse for souvenirs in the gift shop.
Where: 411 West First Avenue
When: Ticket window hours are 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from mid-May through mid-September. In winter, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Cost: Free to visit; train tickets vary.
Phone: 265-2494
Web: www.alaskarailroad.com

Alaska Public Lands
Information Center
Over 300 million acres of land in Alaska is publicly owned, and is managed by agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The Public Lands Information Center provides information on how travelers can access these lands for hiking, camping, fishing, and more. Visitors to the center can also watch films about Alaska, listen to speakers, and view natural history exhibits.
When: 605 West Fourth Ave.
When: Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; in winter, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Cost: Free
Phone: 644-3661, 866-869-6887
Web: www.alaskacenters.gov

Planet Walk
Ever want to travel to another planet? You can, after a fashion, with Anchorage’s Lightspeed Planet Walk. This scale model of the solar system is set up so that you can walk between planets at the speed of light. Begin at the sun, next to the Performing Arts Center downtown; each planet is to scale and is accompanied by an interpretive sign.
Where: Starts downtown at Fifth Avenue and G Street
When: Anytime
Cost: Free
Web: anchorageplanetwalk.org

"Aurora: Alaska’s Great Northern Lights"
Alaska’s long summer days have one downside – you can’t see the northern lights if it doesn’t get dark. Fortunately, visitors can still get a taste of the aurora’s magic at this 40-minute show.
Where: Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts,
621 West Sixth Ave.
When: Hourly shows from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, May 24 to September 1; winter shows on request at the Alaska Visitors Center, 733 W. Fourth Ave.
Cost: $9 adults, $8 seniors (over 62) and military,
$7 youth and students with valid ID
Phone: Summer, 263-2993; winter, 441-4949
Web: www.thealaskacollection.com

Cyrano’s Theatre Company
A downtown Anchorage institution, Cyrano’s “Off-Center Playhouse” stages original Alaskan plays as well as classic theater. The company is known for its quirky, eclectic productions, and theatergoers can also enjoy beer, wine, and appetizers at the in-house café.
Where: 413 D St.
When: Hours vary, but play performances are typically 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays.
Cost: Prices range from $12.75 to around $20 depending on the show and admission type. Call 263-2787 or go to centertix.net to purchase in advance. Box office opens two hours before performances.
Phone: 274-2599
Web: www.cyranos.org

Delaney Park Strip
In an earlier era, this strip of land formed Anchorage’s southern border and was used as the town airfield. Today it’s a favorite spot of Anchorage’s kite fliers, quidditch players, dog walkers, Frisbee tossers, and rugby teams; the park strip could be thought of as downtown’s collective backyard.
Where: Between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and A and P Streets
When: Open daily
Cost: Free

4th Avenue Market Place
Home to art galleries, shops, cafes, as well as the Alaska Experience Theatre, the 4th Avenue Market Place is a worthwhile stop on any downtown agenda. Visitors to the theatre can watch the popular film “Journey to Alaska,” or take a spin in the earthquake simulator. The shops have plenty of postcards to choose from, and if you need a stamp there’s a post office right downstairs.
Where: 333 West Fourth Avenue
When: Market is open in summer from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Winter: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday.
Cost: Free to walk the mall
Phone: 272-9076
Web: www.4thavenuemarket.com, www.alaskaexperiencetheatre.com

Log Cabin & Downtown
Visitor Information Center
The log cabin with the real sod roof marks this nexus of information on all things Alaska. Pick up a brochure, catch a trolley, or ask a question – the volunteer staff are knowledgeable and eager to help.
Where: Fourth Avenue and F Street
When: Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. June through August; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in early September; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from mid-September to mid-May; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in late May.
Cost: Free
Phone: 257-2363
Web: www.anchorage.net

Ship Creek
Ship Creek may look small, but every year anglers pull 30-pound king salmon out of its chilly waters, all within sight of Anchorage’s high rise hotels and office towers. In June, this is the site of the Slam’n Salm’n Derby, a benefit for the Downtown Soup Kitchen.
Where: Ship Creek flows just north of the downtown area; the Ship Creek pedestrian trail can be accessed from North C Street between Ship Creek Avenue and Whitney Road
When: Open daily; fishing regulations available at www.adfg.alaska.gov
Cost: Free to watch

Town Square Park
A summer favorite for its flowerbeds bursting with color, this park becomes a skating rink and ice carving studio in winter. Year round, it’s a center of activity downtown. Gaze up at the Bowheads and Belugas on the magnificent Whaling Wall mural just east of the park.
Where: Between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and E and F Streets
When: Open daily
Cost: Free
Ghost Tours of Anchorage
Visitors looking for something a little different will be rewarded by this 90-minute walking tour of downtown. Rick Goodfellow, general manager of a local classical music radio station, takes guests to several of Anchorage’s spookiest locations, weaving in a fair bit of local history along the way.
Where: Tours depart from Fourth Avenue and L Street (in front of Snow City Cafe)
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, May 18 through September 16
Cost: $15 per person
Phone: 274-4678 (27-GHOST)
Web: www.ghosttoursofanchorage.com

MUSEUMS

Alaska Aviation
Heritage Museum
Aviators and the aircraft they’ve flown have played a large and colorful role in Alaska’s history. This museum, located on the banks of Lake Hood – the busiest float plane lake in the world – brings that color to life with 20 airplanes on display. From the winsome Grumman Goose to the Alaska Airlines standby 737, these planes will delight aviation enthusiasts and the general public alike. The collection also includes photos of pioneering bush pilots and the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame.
Where: 4721 Aircraft Drive
When: Summer hours (May 11 through September 15) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. In winter, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Cost: $10 adults; $8 seniors (65 and older), veterans, and active military; $6 children ages 5-12; free for children under 5.
Phone: 248-5325
Web: www.alaskaairmuseum.org

Alaska Heritage Museum
at Wells Fargo
A 5-inch-long gold nugget, artwork by Sydney Laurence, and stunning baleen basketry are just a few of the items that draw visitors to this unique, free museum in midtown Anchorage. Over 900 Alaska Native artifacts are on display, including 80 hand-woven baskets.
Where: Wells Fargo Bank building, 301 West Northern Lights Boulevard.
When: Summer: Noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Winter: Noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Cost: Free
Phone: 265-2834
Web: www.wellsfargohistory.com/museums/museum_anchorage.html

Alaska Native
Heritage Center
Sharing the diverse cultures of Alaska’s 11 indigenous groups through storytelling, song and dance, and art demonstrations, the Alaska Native Heritage Center provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about Alaska’s indigenous people. Indoor and outdoor exhibits are available, as well as life-size replicas of regional dwellings.
Where: 8800 Heritage Center Drive
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May 13 through Sept. 3
Cost: $7 to $10 for residents; Nonresidents $17-$25. Free for children 6 and under.
Phone: 330-8000, 800-315-6608
Web: www.alaskanative.net

Alaska Law
Enforcement Museum
Learn about the history of law enforcement in the Last Frontier at this museum, which features a collection of original art, photographs, Alaska State Trooper uniforms and more. A restored 1952 Hudson Hornet police car is a highlight, as is the museum gift shop.
Where: 245 West Fifth Avenue
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
Cost: Free
Phone: 279-5050, 800-770-5050
Web: www.alaskatroopermuseum.com

Anchorage Museum at
Rasmuson Center
The granddaddy of Alaska museums, home to dozens of exhibits on everything from whaling in the arctic to the gold rush, the Anchorage Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Alaska’s history. A recent expansion, completed in 2010, made room for the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, a 10,000-square-foot space where over 600 Alaska Native artifacts from the Smithsonian’s collections, selected and interpreted with help from Alaska Native advisors, are on display.
Where: 625 C Street
Hours: Summer (May 1 through September 30): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Winter: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
Cost: $12 adults, $9 seniors/military/students with ID, $7 Ages 3-12, free 2 and younger.
Phone: 929-9200
Web: www.anchoragemuseum.org

Alaska Museum of Natural History
Billed as “Alaska’s Hands On Museum,” the Museum of Natural History promises to take visitors through a billion years of Alaska’s natural history. The touchable collection includes Alaskan rocks, minerals, fossils, and mounts of many Alaskan animals. Dinosaur and ice age fossils are also on display.
Where: 201 North Bragaw Street
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday
Cost: $5 adults, $3 children ages 3-12, $4 military and seniors
Phone: 274-2400
Web: www.alaskamuseum.org

Oscar Anderson House Museum
One of Anchorage’s first wood-framed homes, this house was built in 1915 by Oscar Anderson, a Swedish immigrant. It was moved to its current site in 1976, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours are available in summer.
Where: 420 M St.
When: Guided tours from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday from June 1 to mid-September
Cost: Guided tours are $3 for adults, $1 for children
Phone: 274-2336
Web: www.anchoragehistoricproperties.org

Imaginarium Discovery Center at The
Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center
A boon for children and kids at heart, this 9,000-square-foot space lets visitors experience simulated earthquakes and auroras, explore live animal touch-tanks, and more.
Where: 625 C Street
Hours: Summer (May 1 through September 30): 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Winter: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
Cost: $12 adults, $9 seniors/military/students with ID, $7 Ages 3-12, free 2 and younger.
Phone: 929-9200
Web: www.anchoragemuseum.org

ANCHORAGE EVENTS CALENDAR

Anchorage Market
and Festival
More than 300 vendors can be found at these weekend summer markets, selling everything from locally grown produce to handcrafted pottery. Stroll the rows of booths, munch on a funnel cake or salmon quesadilla, or just sit back and watch the crowds.
Where: Third Avenue and E Street
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, May 11 through September 8
Cost: Free to browse
Phone: 272-5634
Web: www.anchoragemarkets.com

Music in the Park
A bit of live music can be just the thing on a summer afternoon. Relax and enjoy these free concerts by local musicians in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Where: Peratrovich Park, Fourth Avenue and E Street
When: Noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, June through August
Cost: Free
Phone: 279-5650
Web: www.anchoragedowntown.org

Mayor’s Marathon and
Half Marathon
Coinciding with summer solstice, this popular race draws thousands of people to run through the city. Walkers are welcome, or grab a chair and cheer on racers as they pass.
Where: Trails and streets throughout Anchorage; all races finish at West High School (1700 Hillcrest Drive)
When: June 22. Marathon starts at 8 a.m., half marathon and five-miler at 9 a.m.
Cost: Registration is $65-$95 for the marathon, $50-$65 for the half marathon, $25-$40 for the five-miler
Phone: 786-1325
Web: www.mayorsmarathon.com

Solstice Festival AND
Hero Games
This annual celebration featuring music, dancing, and games for children, culminates with members of the Army, Air Force, Air National Guard, Army National Guard, Army Reserves, Anchorage Police, Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Medical Response Team facing off in friendly competition.
Where: Fourth Avenue, C and H streets, Town Square
When: All day on June 22
Cost: Free
Phone: 279-5650
Web: www.anchorage.net

Fourth of July
Stroll the park strip on Independence Day for food, music, and fun. Catch the parade in the morning or just bask in the summer sun.
Where: Delaney Park Strip, between 9th and 10th Avenues downtown
When: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 4
Cost: Free
Phone: 279-7500
Web: www.anchoragejuly4thcelebration.com

Slam’n Salm’n Derby
This annual competition takes place near the mouth of Ship Creek, right in downtown Anchorage. Last year’s winner, who landed a 34.85-pound king salmon, received a boat with an outboard motor as a prize.
Where: Ship Creek, downtown Anchorage
When: June 14-23
Cost: Derby tickets by donation ($20 suggested). Tickets available at the Derby Shack, 211 West Ship Creek Avenue.
Phone: 277-4302
Web: www.shipcreeksalmonderby.com

Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun Anchorage has to offer. For more information on happenings about town, check out:

Anchorage Daily News
http://events.adn.com/

Visit Anchorage
http://www.anchorage.net/events

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