Welcome to Anchorage!
Anchorage is beautifully tucked away between the Alaska Range and the Gulf of Alaska--if you are picturing a majestic and tranquil location, you have arrived. Alaska is known for its breathtaking views, outstanding food, and a unique local culture that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list. Travelers know the popular sites and activities, but a worldwide local knows how to experience it best. This is an insider’s guide of some of Anchorage’s hidden gems.
Indigenous Alaskan History
First, you should know about Alaska’s rich Native history. There are nearly 250 federally recognized villages and tribes in Alaska. Some of the villages include Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and several Northern Athabasca cultures. These tribes have broad cultural and linguistic similarities of peoples living contiguously in different regions of Alaska. From the moment you walk out of the Anchorage airport, you will see many Native influences in the architecture, murals, design, totem poles, and other Native art that disguises and displays their local culture to the world.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are visiting Anchorage in the summer, you must visit the street markets. Many villages send families to the market to sell handmade items, smoked salmon, moose, or caribou-hide moccasins that are made in the village. Wandering the stalls is a great way to enjoy the temperate Anchorage weather. Some of the best quality and unique souvenirs to take home can be found here.
Alaska is one of the greatest locations for outdoor lovers and enthusiasts! There are mountain ranges to hike, glaciers to kayak through, and lagoons to sit beside, enjoying the view of the Alaska Range reflecting against the water--it’s easy to spend an adventurous time in Anchorage!
If you happen to travel to Anchorage in the winter, around March, you can find yourself in the middle of the “Last Great Race” on Earth! A famous sled dog race that travels from Anchorage to Nome.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you want to find a place where history and hip culture collide, visit Stewart’s Photo Shop. This shop was established in 1942 and is one of the largest photography retail shops in the state. You can rent special equipment if you don’t want to travel with it, and the staff is amazing to shoot the breeze with. They are very knowledgeable and experienced!
Anchorage Arts, Shopping, and More!
Even though Alaska sits below freezing for most of the year, Alaskans have a great love and appreciation for the arts. Not only is there a great artistic community, but the buildings have become canvases for the artists since the 1980s. The most famous of these with the locals is the “Whaling Wall,” which is not a painting of actual whaling, but of the many species of whales that migrate to Alaska throughout the year.
If you want to pick up a few gifts for your loved ones, there is a great local shopping area that isn’t overrun by tourists. The 4th Avenue Marketplace is a little walkway mall that has boutique stores which are all locally owned and operated.
In 1964, there was a major Anchorage earthquake, measuring at 9.2 on the Richter scale, that lasted the longest in Alaskan history. This is a great local park that gives a historic remembrance of this major catastrophic day. Despite the horror that hit downtown Anchorage all those years ago, this park has still let beauty flow around it, though it has kept small reminders of that history. It makes for a great morning’s walk and is located close to many of the downtown Anchorage hotels.
What to Eat in Anchorage
Now, let’s talk about food! As you might have guessed, food sources in Alaska might be a little different than everywhere else in the United States. Yes, Bison burgers are becoming more common elsewhere, especially in the Midwest region, but have you ever tried Moose stew or a Caribou dog? In Alaska, much of the food is sourced from the land, which means that it isn’t uncommon to find these items on the menu.
Looking for a nice place to dine for a date night in the city? You have to go to the Ginger. It is an upscale Anchorage restaurant that has some of the freshest Alaskan seafood in town! Last but not least, another great local watering hole to check out in Anchorage is Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse. This is where a lot of locals spend their evenings with live music, trivia nights, open mic nights, and of course their famous event--the Jukebox Karaoke Roadshow.
Worldwide Local Tip: A must-visit for food and local beer is the Glacier Brewhouse. Built to look like a historical brothel, Glacier will enchant you with its décor, food, and the beer! This is a serious one-stop shop for all your culinary desires--a true Alaskan experience.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Alaska is a wonderful, little-populated state that everyone should dream to visit. Marvel at the spectacular Northern Lights you can catch in the winter, or be awed by the summer solstice phenomenon of nearly 24-hours of daylight. Alaska is truly a magical place to visit, and roaming the city as a worldwide local will grant you unparalleled access to its amazing sights and fascinating sounds.