things to do in downtown anchorage

things to do in downtown anchorage

Downtown Anchorage is a vibrant hub of activity, blending natural beauty with cultural richness. Whether you’re a visitor looking to explore or a local seeking new experiences, downtown Anchorage offers a plethora of activities and sights. Here’s a curated list of the top things to do in this dynamic city center.

Explore the Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is the largest museum in Alaska and a focal point for anyone interested in the art, history, and cultures of Alaska. The museum’s exhibits range from contemporary art to historical artifacts that tell the story of Alaska’s Native peoples. The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center within the museum showcases an impressive collection of indigenous art and tools.

Stroll Along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

This scenic trail starts in downtown Anchorage and stretches 11 miles along the coast to Kincaid Park. Ideal for biking, walking, or rollerblading, the trail offers stunning views of the Cook Inlet, with chances to see wildlife like moose and bald eagles. In winter, the trail is popular for cross-country skiing.

Visit the Alaska Railroad Depot

The historic Alaska Railroad Depot is a gateway to many adventures. Beyond its charming architecture, the depot serves as the starting point for several scenic train journeys that explore the vast Alaskan wilderness.

Even if you’re not boarding a train, the depot is worth a visit for its historic significance and the bustling activity of travelers embarking on their Alaskan adventures.

Shop at the Anchorage Market & Festival

Open during the summer months, the Anchorage Market & Festival is the largest open-air market in Alaska.

Located in the heart of downtown, it features over 300 vendors selling everything from local crafts and artworks to gourmet foods and souvenirs. It’s a perfect place to pick up unique Alaska-made products while enjoying some local cuisine and live entertainment.

Dine at Local Eateries

Downtown Anchorage boasts a variety of dining options that cater to all tastes. From fresh seafood at Simon & Seafort’s Saloon & Grill, renowned for its spectacular views and Alaskan king crab, to international cuisines and trendy cafes, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Don’t miss the chance to try some reindeer sausage, a local delicacy.

Catch a Performance at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts

For those interested in the arts, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts hosts a range of performances throughout the year. From local theater productions and symphony concerts to national touring shows and ballet performances, this venue is a cultural cornerstone of downtown Anchorage.

Take a City Tour

To gain a deeper understanding of Anchorage and its history, consider joining a guided city tour. Many tours start downtown and feature visits to historical landmarks, cultural sites, and provide insights into the city’s past and present. Options include walking tours, trolley tours, and even bicycle tours.

Enjoy Local Art

Downtown Anchorage is adorned with various public art installations and galleries. First Friday events each month allow visitors to explore local galleries and studios which open their doors to the public for exhibitions and receptions. It’s a fantastic way to meet local artists and experience the vibrant arts scene.

    Downtown Anchorage offers a delightful mix of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and urban pleasures. Whether you’re soaking in the natural beauty, enjoying the local food scene, or immersing yourself in arts and culture, Anchorage provides a unique backdrop that combines the best of Alaska in one accessible location.

    Make sure to include these activities in your itinerary to truly experience the heart of Alaska’s largest city.

    Visit the Historic Oscar Anderson House Museum

    For a glimpse into Anchorage’s past, the Oscar Anderson House Museum is a must-see. Located near the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, it is one of the first houses built in Anchorage. The museum offers guided tours that take you back to the early 20th century, illustrating the lifestyle of one of Anchorage’s original settlers and the broader history of the area.

    Wander Through the Resolution Park and Captain Cook Monument

    Resolution Park offers one of the best vantage points for breathtaking views of the Cook Inlet, with the Sleeping Lady mountain range in the distance. It’s named after Captain James Cook, who explored the area in 1778. The monument at the park is a great spot for photo ops and to watch the sunset.

    Attend the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Ceremony

    If you’re in Anchorage at the beginning of March, don’t miss the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This legendary race, which covers over 1,000 miles to Nome, begins right in downtown Anchorage. It’s a festive event where you can experience the excitement of sled dog racing, meet the mushers, and see the beautiful sled dogs in action.

    Explore Elderberry Park

    Elderberry Park is a small but charming green space located at the western edge of downtown Anchorage. It’s a lovely place for families, offering playground equipment for children and picnic areas for a relaxing day out.

    The park also features access to coastal views and is a peaceful spot to unwind after a day of exploring downtown.

    Visit the Ulu Factory

    A visit to the Ulu Factory is a unique opportunity to learn about an important tool in Alaskan Native culture—the ulu knife. This factory, which is easily accessible from downtown, offers demonstrations on how these traditional knives are made and used. Visitors can also purchase handcrafted ulu knives, which make excellent souvenirs or gifts.

    Go Fishing at Ship Creek

    For those who love fishing, Ship Creek offers an urban angling experience right in the heart of Anchorage. It’s a popular spot for salmon fishing, particularly during the salmon runs in the summer months. Even if you’re not into fishing, visiting Ship Creek during a salmon run is an exciting spectacle, and there are local outfitters who can provide gear and guidance if you want to try your luck.

    Explore the Local Brewing Scene

    Anchorage has a thriving craft beer scene, with several breweries and taprooms located downtown. Places like Midnight Sun Brewing Co. and Glacier Brewhouse offer tours and tastings, letting you sample a range of beers from classic lagers to adventurous ales infused with local flavors. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the local vibe.

      Downtown Anchorage offers a diverse array of activities that cater to all interests—from history and culture to outdoor adventures and culinary delights. Each of these activities provides a window into the unique character of Anchorage, making it a memorable destination for any traveler. Whether visiting for a day or staying longer, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in downtown Anchorage.