From Glaciers to Golfing
Alaska, without a doubt, is one of the most gorgeous of our 50 states. Natural splendor is everywhere you look - from massive mountains and towering glaciers to little otters floating in the water to the rich culture of the incredibly friendly people. Alaska has much to offer visitors and the city of Anchorage in particular. Where else can you find that perfect mix of urban & wild? With warmer weather approaching, Anchorage makes the ideal summer vacation destination.
A typical June day is bright and clear, with temperatures ranging from 60-70 degrees. Summer means longer days as well, with about 20 hours of daylight. Summer also means you can travel lighter. While you will still want to bring layers, a warm jacket, a pair of gloves, and a knit hat should suffice for any kind of summer adventure!
There are just as many exciting summer activities as there are winter activities, if not more. Read on for a few suggested things to trip to Anchorage.
Any trip to Anchorage would not be complete without some kind of glacier adventure. Witness true Alaska beauty from the comfort of a boat on a glacier cruise. These day cruises get you close to majestic glaciers, waterfalls, a variety of wildlife, and offer plenty of photo opportunities! There are several cruise tour operators available offering tours ranging from 1 hour to 8 hours, some serving meals. Advance reservations are recommended so be sure to check with the cruise operator’s website or give them a call. Tip: This is when you’ll want to bring that warm jacket, hat, and gloves. Even while visiting in the summer, it can be cool on deck near the glacier.
Glacier Tours & Treks
If you’re really up for an adventure, you must try glacier trekking. Led by professional guides, all the necessary gear is provided along with detailed instructions on how to walk on the ice in crampons (special spiked cleats that attach to your shoe). Definitely a thrilling experience for beginners or advanced hikers, an average trek is 2-3 hours, but the memories will last forever. Tip: In addition to bringing your cold-weather gear, a backpack is recommended.
Say hello to a polar bear, watch seals and otters swim underwater, pet a few goats, and encounter many species of native mammals and birds at this expansive 23-acre property. Fun for adults and kids, the zoo is open later in the summer months due to the longer days, allowing you to get even more bang for your buck. Every Wednesday there is a free Zoo Community Storytime – with a special animal visitor - for the kiddos, plus many other events offered throughout the summer. Feel good about your visit and shopping in the gift store knowing this nonprofit zoo works hard to care for orphans or any wildlife in need of a home.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Bears, reindeer, musk oxen, foxes, and so many other Alaska wildlife call this 200-acre sanctuary home. Take as much time as you like walking the 1.5-mile loop around the enclosures as you watch the animals in their natural habitat. Personal guided tours can be arranged in advance for an additional fee and offer the opportunity to feed an animal and learn the history of the resident wildlife. Can’t get enough up close and personal? Other specialty tours offered include a Bear Encounter and a Moose Encounter, where you can hand-feed a moose! Don’t worry, there is no personal contact with the bear!
Anchorage is full of interesting museums, offering a wide variety of subject matter to appeal to all ages. The largest museum in Alaska, the Anchorage Museum, explores Alaska's history and culture through permanent and rotating exhibitions. Besides art, photographs, and countless artifacts, this massive museum offers many other mediums such as film, live performances, readings, and a planetarium. One of the most popular museums is the Alaska Aviation Museum, located on the world’s largest seaplane base, Lake Hood, where you can learn about the history of Alaska aviation and see many important aircraft. Kids and teens will love the Alaska Museum of Science & Nature with hands-on exhibits, a dinosaur dig, and the largest Alaska mineral collection.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is an excellent place to discover the history and culture of Alaska’s Indigenous People. Through exhibits, art, dance performances, films and guided tours, learn the traditional ways of 11 of Alaska’s living cultures. This must-see attraction is easily accessible by car or simply hop a shuttle from downtown Anchorage to the center.
Alyeska Nordic Spa
(Photo credit: Kristian Irey)
With a visit to the newly opened Alyeska Nordic Spa, you can completely rejuvenate your mind and body through hydrotherapy and massage. Surrounded by mountains and the rainforest, this mostly outdoor facility offers hot pools, saunas, steam rooms, cold pools, massage treatments, and exercise classes. For an even more immersive relaxing experience, consider a meal at the Bistro or a stay at the on-site resort. Bookings are recommended for services and can be made up to two months in advance.
With the longer summer days, your golf game can now range from 5 a.m. to midnight!
The spectacular 6,600-yard Anchorage Golf Course offers the most stunning city views as well as a magnificent backdrop of the Chugach Mountains and Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. It’s not uncommon to see small and large local wildlife, especially moose, roaming the course. After your game stop by O’Malley’s on the Green for a celebratory drink or meal.
Walk, Run & Hike
One of the best ways to see Anchorage is by taking a tour on your own two feet! With 223 municipal parks and 250 miles of trails in the city, you can easily experience the outdoors on a walk, run or bike ride. Consider this walking tour on one of your days.
The Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon & Half Marathon has been held every June for over 40 years. Relays, a 5K, and kids’ races are also available, all to celebrate the longest day of the year. From the scenic wooded trails to the coastal views, you’ll see incredible sights and maybe even some wildlife!
For those that really want to experience the outdoors, there are many guides and companies that can help make that hiking or climbing adventure in the Last Frontier a reality.
Breweries & Local Dining
All these activities are sure to work up your appetite, and Anchorage has no shortage of delicious local restaurants and breweries. There are plenty of places to enjoy fresh seafood, from king crab to wild salmon. And if you’re the adventurous type, try the reindeer sausage, a local specialty. If you enjoy visiting (and sampling) craft breweries, wineries, or distilleries, you’ll be thrilled you chose such a great city to visit! Besides using Alaskan-grown barley, wheat, berries & fruit, fresh glacial water is sourced from the nearby Eklutna Lake. For a deeper dive into the local craft beer scene, consider booking a Big Swig Tour. Lasting about 4 hours, expert guides escort small groups (max 14 people) around downtown to 3 breweries while you enjoy a minimum of 14 beer tastings.
Shop & More in Downtown Anchorage
While memories are fantastic, you must bring home souvenirs for family, friends, and yourself. The streets of the city’s hub are lined with countless shops featuring local handmade crafts, artwork, gifts, and more – all tax-free! Yep, there is no sales tax in Anchorage so shop to your heart’s content. For a truly unique piece of Alaska, consider a hand-knit item from Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers Co-Op. Hats, scarves, tunics, and other items are made by Alaska Native women from Qiviut (“kiv-ee-ute”) a natural fiber made from the underwool of the musk ox. Eight times warmer than wool yet very lightweight and not scratchy. Each village has its own distinct pattern, making these pieces as meaningful as they are beautiful.
Another option to see the best of downtown Anchorage is a ride on Pedal Anchorage’s 14-passenger pedal vehicle for an eco-friendly 105-minute guided tour. Go on a brewery, wine or bar crawl, eatery hopping, or just pedal away and enjoy the sights, the experience is up to you!
Start Planning Your Trip
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended)! With so many activities and places to see and explore, it’s best to have a good plan before embarking on your vacation. Check out these sample itineraries, to help you make the most of your time during your stay. And be sure to order your free Official Guide to Anchorage, full of maps, local business info, and tips on how to get around and start preparing your summer getaway today.
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