Surrounded by mountains, glaciers and waterways, Anchorage, Alaska, appears to be perched on the edge of the world. In the state's largest city, rugged wilderness meets up with tall, glittering skyscrapers.
In the summer, the “City of Lights and Flowers” draws tourists to colorful, bloom-filled streets lined with interesting shops and restaurants. The Anchorage Market and Festival, a huge Anchorage attraction, occupies a parking lot on 3rd Avenue and E Street. Drop by Saturdays and Sundays to grab salmon jerky or fresh oysters, and shop for locally crafted goods.
In wintertime, visitors often stop by the native-owned Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’ Cooperative in midtown Anchorage. The super-soft hand-made scarves, stoles and caps are the perfect antidote for Alaska's coldest weather.
For a shot of something to warm you (from your earflap-hat to your fur-lined boots), check out Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge at 626 D St. The hip-yet-cozy nightclub, which stakes a claim as Anchorage’s "original martini bar," features live music. The outdoor garden is great for both sipping and dancing.
Tourists looking to gain an understanding of Anchorage history can investigate the Alaska Native Heritage Center on the eastern outskirts of town. This museum tells of Alaska’s original inhabitants through dancers, storytellers and interactive exhibits.
Another excellent source of history is the Anchorage Museum on W 6th Avenue and A Street downtown. Here, 600 artifacts tell the story of Alaska’s past. On loan from museums like the Smithsonian, the collection includes fascinating relics, such as waterproof garments and battle armor. The Anchorage Museum is a top attraction for kids, too, thanks to the Imaginarium Discovery Center. Young explorers and their parents enjoy interacting with science and learning more about volcanoes and the aurora borealis.
Dinner at Marx Bros. Cafe is a must. Located in the heart of Anchorage on W 3rd Avenue, this top restaurant accommodates just 14 tables inside a 1916-era house. Although the dining room is small, the wine cellar is one of the largest in Alaska. The chefs rotate menu items nightly to feature ingredients that are fresh and in season. Reservations are highly recommended.
In Anchorage, the great outdoors is accessible in every direction. Chugach State Park, the country’s third largest, is located within city limits. Hikers, bikers, skiers and rafters can enjoy their favorite outdoor activity in sight of more than 50 glaciers and abundant wildlife.
For those who prefer to experience nature in a more controlled environment, the Alaska Zoo is a top attraction for families. Tourists and residents can get close to four-legged friends like caribou and moose, as well as grizzly, glacier and black bears. The zoo is the only place in Alaska where you can find an elephant.
Take to the skies with a flight-seeing tour for amazing views of Anchorage and far beyond. Aboard a small aircraft, visitors get a bird’s-eye view of mountain ranges, bear habitats and crystal-clear bodies of water. Through the clouds, sightseers can glimpse the towering, snow-covered Mount McKinley, the nation’s tallest peak.