Get Tranquil At The Alaska Botanical Gardens
This 110-acre botanical garden is located inside the Far North Bicentennial Park.
Here you will step into a lush wonderland and be surprised at just what can flourish in Alaskas harsh weather.
The Alaska Botanical Gardens is considered a living museum and was established in 1993. A modest admission fee is charged to aid in its upkeep.
Open year-round, peak season is in July. But the gardens are blooming from early June until late September.
There is a one-mile trail that meanders through the gardens, and a one-half mile paved loop that is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
You can walk through the rock garden, herb garden and learn about Alaskan history when visiting the Alaska Heritage Garden. Plants grown here are donated to local food banks.
Learning about what actually thrives in Alaska is one of the best things to do in Anchorage.
What Time Should I Arrive For My Tour
We recommend arriving at the Riverboat Discovery at least 30 minutes prior to departure time. When you arrive at the Riverboat Discovery you will need to check in at our ticket counter to pick up your boarding passes.
We recommend arriving at Gold Dredge 8 at least 15 minutes prior to departure time. When you arrive at Gold Dredge 8 you will need to check in at our train station in the parking lot to pick up your boarding passes.
Hit The Pistes Of The Hilltop Ski Area
Draped over the small foothills of the Chugach ranges just a short 15-minute drive from the heart of the Anchorage downtown, the Hilltop Ski Area is a fine place to strap on the skis or wax down the snowboard while visiting. Suited perfectly to beginner skiers, the resort has just one piste, a humble chairlift and a couple of drags. Theres also a small terrain park for adrenaline-seekers on-site, along with a ski school and rental facilities if youre in need of gear. And if the terrain here just isnt challenging enough, then be sure to shoot southwards out of town to Alyeska one of North Americas most acclaimed winter resorts where the snow is powder-perfect!
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Camping At Bird Creek
One of our favorite and convenient camping spots was at Bird Creek Campground, located in the Turnagain Arm. It was conveniently located between activity hotspots like Anchorage and Girdwood perfect for choosing an adventure on a whim!
For any campsites in Alaska, check to see if they take reservations to secure a spot ahead of time. If its a first-come-first-serve site, figure out the checkout time and come early afternoon to claim your spot!
Do you want to hear a campground finding hack? We use an app called The Dyrt, which is a HUGE library of all kinds of campgrounds, from RV parks to free dispersed sites! Make sure to get a pro membership to unlock all the features like offline browsing, road trip route planning, and BLM and national forest maps! Try their pro membership free for 90-days when using our code MANDAGIES90!
Curious what our van looking like while camping? Read this post here!
Captain’s Corner Grab & Go Lunch
If you are hungry, stop by the Captain’s Corner located inside Steamboat Landing. We have fresh made sandwiches, wraps and salads ready each day. Enjoy your lunch on our beautiful outdoor deck as you soak in the sun and enjoy views of the Chena River. Beer, wine and snacks are also avliable for sale aboard Discovery III.
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Sledding & Tubing At Arctic Valley
One of the best forms of winter entertainment for families is sledding and tubing. In Anchorage, you can find a ton of spots where you can just slide down a ditch, but if you are seeking a designated slope that is easy enough for kids to climb up, then head to Arctic Valley. You can sled down any spot off Arctic Valley Road or venture into the groomed tubing area. Arctic Valley rents large tubes for ages 10 and over or small tubes for ages 3-9. General admission is $16 per session and each session lasts for 1.5 hours. If you hold an Anchorage Ski Club membership, the admission fee is only $10 per session. The tentative opening day is Saturday, November 30, 2019. Reserve online and be sure to sign the liability waiver for easier access into the area.
Fun & Unusual Things To Do In Anchorage Alaska
Answer the call of the wild as you explore the homeland of the native Athabascan people. Known as the gateway to adventure, Anchorage is idyllically positioned in the shadow of sparkling glaciers and towering mountains.
This famous Alaskan city expertly melds the raw beauty of nature with urban and cultural pursuits. From bear encounters and wilderness hikes to heritage museums and salt cave spas, there are plenty of fun things to do in Anchorage.
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Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The best way to view some of the states unique wildlife up close is to take a trip to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Set at the entrance to Portage Valley, its remarkable residents and gorgeous grounds lie around an hours drive from Anchorage.
Founded in 1993, the sanctuary has since rescued, rehabilitated and released countless kinds of Alaskan animals into the wilderness. In spacious enclosures that are as close to their natural habitat as possible, guests can see everything from caribou and coyotes to bears, bison, and bald eagles with many moose also on display.
Dedicated to protecting and preserving Alaskas animals and wildlife and educating visitors on their importance, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is certainly one of the highlights of what both Anchorage and Alaska have to offer.
Acquaint Yourself With Wildlife
If you wish to see more of the wildlife, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Alaska Zoo when in Anchorage. Spread in 25 acres of land, the Anchorage Zoo is located on the Anchorage Hillside and is a popular tourist attraction. You will find over 100 birds and animals including moose, Dall sheep, black and brown bear, eagles and fox. The zoo also looks after injured and abandoned wildlife. You also get a free shuttle from downtown to reach the zoo, so you get easy access to it.
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See Planes And Seaplanes At The Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
Chronicling the curiously prolific aviation history of this far-flung section of the United States, the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum makes its home on the banks of Lake Hood Anchorages prime seaplane port that sits right in the heart of the city. The on-site exhibitions contain the rusting shells of planes and fuselages from times gone by, along with oodles of photograph collections and a hall of fame dedicated to Alaskas aviator elite. Children get reduced rates.
Are Your Tours Wheelchair Accessible
Yes, our tours are wheelchair accessible. At the Riverboat Discovery, wheelchairs must board at the stern . When you arrive please notify an associate at the ticket counter or collection booth as we require wheelchairs to pre-board and be escorted by a trained Deckhand. Our Athabascan Village has gravel paths that allow easy access. If you need assistance at the Athabascan Village please notify a Deckhand. At Gold Dredge 8, we have certain train cars that are wheelchair accessible. When you arrive notify the associate that is assisting with boarding and they will direct you to the appropriate train car.
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Bounce Around At Get Air Trampoline Park
See how high you can jump at the family-friendly Get Air Trampoline Park. Spring off walls, play a game of dodgeball or leap into giant foam pits.
Budding ninjas can test their skills on the assault course and the fidget ladder, while aspiring gymnasts will love balancing on the slackline. There are special kiddie trampolines for the little adventurers too.
Visit Chugach State Park
Half a million acres of untouched state park land mostly within the Anchorage municipality is just waiting to be explored!
Chugatch State Park is one of the largest state parks in the country. It is also filled with kid friendly trails like Flattop Mountain and Thunderbird Falls
There are cabins that you can rent from Alaska State Parks on Eklutna Lake and at Bird Creek Campground if you want to make a day or two of it.
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Stock Up On Supplies While In Anchorage Alaska
If you are road-tripping Alaska, stocking up on your supplies while you are visiting Anchorage is one of the wisest things to do.
Over 300,000 people live in Anchorage, and they have just about any conceivable big box store you can imagine.
Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco are all great options for refilling your supply list!
Walk Around Downtown Anchorage
When you get to Anchorage, you should plan to spend a day exploring the town. Hop around to the Anchorage Museum, take a fully-narrated Anchorage Trolley Tour, and visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center. You should be able to hit most of the sites in just one day.
Because downtown Anchorage is easily walkable, youll be able to enjoy the sites and still get a nice dinner afterward.
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Visit The Alaska Aviation Museum & Lake Hood Seaplane Base
Floatplanes are perhaps the coolest contraptions ever to fly in the air. Encounters with Dusty Crophopper a la Disneys Fire and Rescue, anyone? Kids love planes and planes Anchorage has a-plenty!
The Lake Hood Seaplane Base is the busiest seaplane base in the world, with upwards of 500 take-offs and landings in a high-use summer day! Pack a picnic and enjoy watching inbound flights exchange airspace with outbound planes.
If you close your eyes and listen to the buzz of the engines you may feel like youre on the set of a WWII flick. You can also tour the area by Segway as well zoom around a little!
The nearbyAlaska Aviation Museumis filled with flight simulators and vintage aircraft. The vintage aircraft are even restored to flight condition by volunteers in a cavernous hangar around the back of the museum.
The education department includes hands-on opportunities for young pilots to be to explore the sky. Family free days happen throughout the year, so keep an eye to the sky! This is a stop with high hopes for fun!
Learning Is Fun At The Anchorage Museum & Imaginarium Discovery Center
Many traveling exhibits shuffle through the Anchorage Museum and there are wonderful permanent exhibits about the rich and diverse history of Alaska.
The Polar Lab, Spark Lab, and Planetarium have a variety of demonstrations for the curious-minded folks in your crew.
The Imaginarium Discovery Center is a great spot for the young and young-at-heart to have some hands-on, educational fun.
The museum is home to the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, which is culturally significant as each of Alaskas unique tribal groups are represented there.
Again, family free days and special events are hosted throughout the year which celebrate the heritage and people of Alaska.
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Attend Alaskas State Fair
If you are in the Anchorage area in the autumn around August/September, check our annual state fair dates. It is about an hour and a half drive away in an adorable town called Palmer. Visiting the fair is a great way to learn about Alaskas farming culture and to enjoy rides, food, music, and local products.
Eat Breakfast At Snow City Caf
Get your day off to a sizzling start at this friendly downtown bunch spot. Breakfast is served all day at Snow City Café, so you dont need to be up early to enjoy the best meal of the day.
The food is fresh and locally sourced, with everything from crunchy homemade granola and snow crab omelets to reindeer sausages and even thunder chips. Save room for a blueberry shake.
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Take A Plane Ride With Rusts Flying Service
With decades of experience offering flight tours over the Alaskan backcountry, Rusts is arguably the go-to place for travelers eager to case out Anchorage and its breathtaking surroundings by air. The various packages offered at Rusts is now eclectic to say the least, while the added flexibility of flying adds a whole range of attractions to the mix. There are bear viewing excursions to the sandy bays and rugged valleys of Katmai National Park across the waters of the Alaskan Gulf. There are fly-in fishing trips to some of the top salmon-catching spots in the country. There are altitudinous tours of the great Denali National Park and the snow-mantled peaks of Mount McKinley. The possibilities are endless!
Take A Bicycle Ride On The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
A coastal walking and biking trail trims 11 miles of the Anchorage shoreline, heading southwest from downtown. The route starts near the city’s oldest home, Oscar Anderson House, and continues to the somber setting of Earthquake Park – where information panels describe how the 1964 earthquake swallowed stretches of shoreline.
Along the rest of this popular route, wildlife sightings often include moose and beluga whales. The path also lends a preview to some of the citys most defining natural landscapes, including Denali, the Chugach Mountains, and the downtown skyline. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail ends at the large Kincaid Park, with especially panoramic mountain views.
One of the most popular ways to traverse the length of the trail is via bicycle. For those visiting without their own two wheels, local gear shops, like Downtown Bicycle Rental, offer affordable daytime rentals.
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Dogsledding At Salmon Berry Tours
The Dallas Seavey Racing team gives you the ultimate Alaska experience. This dream team will take you back in time and provide you with a front-row seat into dog-sled racing and mushing. Groups of two get to share a team of 4-7 Alaskan Huskies and will get the chance to take turns driving the sled. The shared session goes on a 5-mile groomed trail through the boreal forest. In the second half of the journey, you will get to stop and take pictures of the beautiful surroundings and with the dogs. After your adventure grab a hot drink and warm up. This experience is truly amazing!
Enjoy Music In The Park
During the summer months, every Wednesday, down local and visitors alike for free music downtown. Right next to the Anchorage Visitor Center on 4th Avenue is a sunny patch of grass for mid-day music sessions. If youre visiting on a Thursday evening, head to the Town Square for Live After Five free music concert with food trucks and more.
For more free things to do downtown, stay up to date with the Anchorage Downtown Partnership.
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Enjoy A Day Trip To The Matanuska Glacier
As you drive along the Glenn Highway through the Matanuska River Valley youll be stopping for photos every few feet! Yet save some of your camera battery for the main event the mighty Matanuska Glacier.
Traverse the glacial terrain on a guided hike and walk on the ice using crampons and hiking poles. Sled rides and log cabin lunches are all part of the adventure.
Cycle The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is an 11 miles seaside bike trail that takes you along some of the waterfronts near Anchorage.
This was one of my favorite things to do in Anchorage when there. Every morning I would go out for a bike ride along the trail and then hit up some other trails nearby it.
If youre short on time or would like to do it with other people you can go on an organized bike tour of the coastal trail.
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Stroll Around At The Anchorage Museum
With exhibitions constantly changing, visiting the Anchorage Museum will be different every time you visit Anchorage.
You can buy tickets online to save you time waiting in line. They are open 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 12-6 pm Sunday, and closed on Monday.
If you have extra time, you should also take a class or a workshop while youre there!
See Alpenglow At Midnight
Long days in Alaska bring a kind of freedom you may never have experiencedwhat a famous Alaska poet describes as the freshness, the freedom, the farness. Indeed, with the expanded daytime that comes with the Midnight Sunand all of the new possibilities that result from it you might feel like a kid again, as if there are no rules. The views are inspiringsuch as that rosy band of Alpenglow you might see around the mountains. A lot of people even say that the sun re-awakens them to the magic of life.
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Visit The Oscar Anderson House Museum
This historical museum is in Elderberry Park. Not far from downtown Anchorage.
Oscar Anderson was one of the early settlers of Anchorage and as such, had first-hand participation in how Anchorage developed.
Anderson lived in this wood-frame house until his death in the mid-1970s.
The structure was remodeled shortly thereafter and restored to its early 1900s appearance.
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