According to Itypetravel, Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city. It lies between the Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains. Many locals do not consider the metropolis to be typical of Alaska: the economic and transport center of the largest state is too large and too extensive. Still, it’s worth visiting the coastal city that was struck by a violent earthquake on Good Friday 1964 (it caused the north side of 4th Avenue to sink ten feet). On the one hand it is the backdrop of the Chugach Mountains, some of whose peaks are still snow-covered in summer, on the other hand because of the remarkable variety of cultural and gastronomic offers as well as the diverse shopping opportunities.
There are many gift shops on 4th Avenue and a shopping mall with a good selection of shops is on 5th Avenue and C Street. The large Dimond Shopping Center is located on Dimond Blvd at the corner of Old Seward Highway, a little further south of the city. It is quite easy for visitors to find their way around the city centre. Streets with letters run north-south, streets with numbers run west-east. Street numbering increases towards the south.
In summer, downtown Anchorage is adorned with flowers. The Coastal Trail, which stretches from the northeast past the airport along the Cook Inlet, is a great place to walk. This trail is popular with locals, especially joggers and cyclists.
Information on attractions and events is available at the Anchorage Visitor Center downtown. One part of the visitor center is in the wooden house and the other part is in the building behind the wooden house on the corner of 4th Avenue and F Street. Across the street (605 West 4th Avenue) in the Federal Building (right entrance) is the Alaska Public Lands Information Center. Here you can get information about the national parks of Alaska (in summer: open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Sundays). When entering the Federal Building, for security reasons, you must show ID and have personal belongings searched by security personnel.
Location and Size
Anchorage is located on the Cook Inlet. The city covers an area of 5,080 km².
Anchorage has a population of 300,000—nearly half of Alaska’s total population.
Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is located 4 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Anchorage is located in a wide valley in south-central Alaska. The city is bounded to the west, north and south by the Knik Arm and Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. The 1,200 m to 1,500 m high Cugach Mountains to the east block warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and keep rainfall relatively low. The Alaska Range to the north protects Anchorage from cold air from interior Alaska. This means that temperatures in Anchorage are typically up to 5°C warmer than the rest of the state. Anchorage has four seasons that differ in duration and character from those of mid-latitudes. Snow comes in October and stays until mid-April. The annual average amount of snowfall is 1,700 mm. Daylight hours vary from 19 hours in late June to 6 hours in late December.
|Average temperatures in Anchorage in °C|
The general rule for optimal clothing in Alaska is “onion principle”. That means you wear a first layer directly on your body (avoid cotton if possible), a second warming layer (e.g. a fleece jacket or similar) and a jacket as a third layer that protects against wind and rain. When the temperature changes, you can easily put on or take off a layer.
Anchorage Sightseeing and Excursion Suggestions
Anchorage Walking Tour
The Anchorage City Walking Map is available at the Anchorage Visitor Center. The marked attractions can all be easily reached on foot.
(4th Ave between R&D Street)
Alaska Center for the Performing Arts & Town Square Municipal Park
The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is Anchorage’s cultural center, theater and concert hall. Next door, Town Square Municipal Park, which is adorned with pretty flowers in summer, stretches all the way to E Street.
(621 W. 6th Avenue between G & E Streets)
The Sydney Laurence Theater
VUSA Tip: Catch the awe-inspiring performance of Sky Song’s Aurora Borealis at “Alaska’s Gallery of Light.” Daily performances May 24 – September 1, every hour on the hour from approximately 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Advance reservation not necessary.
(Alaska Center for the Performing Arts at Discovery Theater, located on 6th Avenue between F & G Streets)
Anchorage Market & Festival / Weekend Market
This market sells vegetables and fruit from Alaska’s fertile Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Local artists also sell their cabaret and Alaskan souvenirs. The stage at the entrance often hosts live bands or dance performances. Various food stalls ensure physical well-being. Saturdays and Sundays from mid-May to mid-September from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
(Saturday & Sunday) (in the parking lot on 3rd Avenue across from the Hilton Hotel)
Excellent display of Alaskan history and contemporary American art displays. Films about Alaskan history, ethnography and art are also shown during the summer. Opening hours from September 14th to May 9th, Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm. Open daily from 09:00 – 18:00 from May 10th to September 12th.
(625 C Street, on the corner of 7th Avenue and C Street)
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Excellent exhibit on Alaska Native culture and history. The dwellings of five different aboriginal tribes are displayed on the outside of the museum. Dance and storytelling events take place during the summer months. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from mid-May to the end of September. (Directions: Take 6th Ave & Glenn Highway out of town to the Muldoon Road exit, turn left at end of ramp over highway bridge to Heritage Center Drive. Follow signs from here)
Anchorage’s northernmost borough, a developing industrial area. At Ship Creek, hundreds of salmon migrate up the river of the same name every year. This makes it a popular fishing spot for both residents and visitors. The area is easily accessible by foot: E Street north toward the train station, cross First Avenue, then turn right onto West Ship Creek Avenue toward Ulu Factory. Directly behind you can see numerous anglers on the river bank, especially from June to August.
The Ulu Factory
Centuries ago, this knife was invented by the Inuit (Eskimos) to cut everything imaginable in the household. In the Ulu Factory you not only learn something about the history of this special knife, but you can also follow its production today. From May 1st to September 30th open daily from 10am to 7pm. The Ulu Factory offers a free shuttle bus from some hotels
(211 West Ship Creek Ave; from downtown, take E Street towards the train station, cross 1st Ave. and turn right onto Ship Creek Ave, you can see the factory here)
Lake Hood Air Harbor & Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
Lake Hood and Lake Spenard combine to form the world’s largest seaport. In the high summer season, more than 800 seaplanes take off and land here every day. Visit the South Shore Museum to see vintage airplanes and learn about Alaska’s unique aviation history. The museum also offers vintage airplane flights with experienced pilots. Open daily from the end of May to mid-September from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (4721 Aircraft Drive, located near Anchorage International Airport on the south shore of Lake Hood)