You’ll find a lot more than artifacts in glass cases at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The ANHC celebrates the diversity of native Alaskan cultures that are still alive and vibrant today. There’s a performance hall that showcases traditional native dance and other events and outside the building, native guides demonstrate various aspects of native life, such as hunting and fishing. Impressive artwork, tools, and kayaks round out the displays inside.
It’s worth buying the culture pass joint ticket, which includes admission to the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and a shuttle bus between the two. The AMHA showcases the history of Alaska alongside local art, a library & archives, natural science, and travelling exhibits - now with a planetarium too.
The spectacularly diverse wildlife is one of Alaska’s main attractions and you don’t even have to go very far from Anchorage to find it. The Anchorage Zoo specializes in northern climate animals, including bald eagles, moose, musk oxen, grizzlies, and polar bears. Some of the animals were brought to the zoo after being rescued from life-threatening injuries in the wild.
You can see the same animals closer to their natural habitat in the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a drive-through park where orphaned, injured, and ill animals are house in fenced habitat areas. Large mammals like elk, moose, bison, and bears are the main attraction here.
Of course, truly wild animals are never far from Anchorage, even in the midst of residential areas. Moose are easily found in Anchorage’s Hillside neighborhood and big-horned Dall sheep are often seen along the Seward Highway. Black and brown bears occasionally wander into residential areas but they’re more easily found in Denali and Katmai National Parks. If bald eagles are what you’re after, check out Potter’s Marsh just south of the city.
One of Anchorage’s most picturesque experiences is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. From downtown Anchorage to the end of the trail at Kincaid Park, the 17-kilometer/11-mile trail hugs the rugged, forest-lined ocean coast. The paved track makes it an easy trek for walking, jogging, biking, or rollerblading.
A more challenging mountain hike can be had at Flattop Mountain. The lush mountain scenery is worth the climb and when you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with commanding views of the city. In the summer, Flattop is the best place to find moose in the summer. In the fall, climbers are rewarded with ample wild blueberries that grow on the mountain. Mountain biking trails are also available.
Cross-country skiers will enjoy the numerous trails around the city. For alpine skiers and boarders, there are good options for all price ranges and experience levels. On the south side of the city, Hilltop Ski Area is strictly for beginners. Alpenglow at Arctic Valley is volunteer-operated and you can earn free lift tickets by volunteering for shifts. The snow is often windblown and hard and the mountain is not recommended for beginners. Alyeska is the state’s largest ski resort, with a variety of terrains for all skill levels and an instruction program. If you’re an expert skier and you’re feeling truly adventurous, you can hire helicopter and snow-cat skiing in the Chugach Mountains from Chugach Power Guides.