When discussing Alaska trips with clients, it almost always includes sailing through the Inside Passage. And it should. With all the experiences available, what an amazing region!
But I’m here to tell you a land only vacation is equally amazing.
Today I am sharing some insights on Anchorage and easy day trips from the city. In a subsequent post I’ll share insights on multi-day trips to the interior.
ANCHORAGE AS A BASE
Anchorage is located in Alaska’s South Central region, and is the state’s largest city. It is the gateway for people traveling on cruises that start or end in Seward and Whittier, as well as for trips into the interior, Katmai, Kodiak Island, Kenai Fjords and beyond.
I often get asked “Is there anything to do in or around Anchorage?” YES. PLENTY!
- Art, culture and indigenous culture opportunities abound in Anchorage. Top experiences include the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature. A shuttle is available to take you between the Heritage Center and Alaska Museum.
- Anchorage has more than 1500 resident moose, but a better way to see Alaska’s native wildlife is at the Alaska Zoo. See wolves, polar bears, wolverine, lynx, muskox and more.
- Like to fish? Go salmon fishing right downtown on Ship Creek. All necessary equipment is available for rent.
- Shoppers will love Anchorage – no sales tax! Top souvenirs to be on the lookout for are made by Native Americans.
- Farmer’s Markets and Music Festivals can be found just about every weekend in the summer.
- Anchorage has over 200 miles of trails in the city – plenty of opportunity to hike and bike the trails and even go berry picking.
- Anchorage is a foodie’s paradise – culinary delights everywhere. Salmon and king crab is of course a specialty, but all cultures are represented. How about a reindeer hotdog along with one of Anchorage’s more than a dozen craft brews?
Westchester Lagoon (Kathleen Bonnar), Mother and Baby Moose (Brian Bonney), Reindeer Sausage (Roy Neese), Turnaigain Brewing (Jack Bonney)
Ideally located, Anchorage is a perfect base for day trips into the region.
Anchorage to Portage Glacier on the Seward Highway
This 127 mile scenic highway takes you along the dramatic shoreline of Turnagain Arm, through the Kenai Peninsula, ending in the coastal town of Seward. The following are highlights that can be seen on day trip from Anchorage (but not all in one day).
- The stunning scenery of Turnagain Arm and the Chugach Mountains. Take advantage of the many turnouts for incredible views and photo opportunities.
- Make a stop at Beluga Point. Beautiful views and also a great place to spot wildlife. Turnagain Arm is known for many beluga whale sightings.
- Check out the Arm bore tide. This is a phenomenon where the leading edge of an incoming tide forms into a wave or waves. Water is forced through the narrow entrance of Turnagain Arm which creates this tide. It is especially dramatic when the winds are high. Be sure to check the tidal charts for best times to see them.
- Girdwood and the Alyeska Ski Resort – open year round. Take the gondola to the top for unforgettable views and a great meal.
- The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – home to orphaned, ill or injured wildlife.
- Portage Glacier – the visitor center is about 5 miles off the road. The glacier is about 10 stories high and miles long, and sits at the end of Portage Lake. It accessible only by boat (about a 1 hour tour). Portage Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the area and well worth your time.
- Kenai Fjords National Park – the best way to experience this park is on a half or full day cruise of the area where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see glaciers, an abundance of marine wildlife and Fox Island.
- Experience tidewater glaciers and abundant marine wildlife on Prince William Sound on a half day cruise from Whittier.
- Get in some great kayaking at Eklutna Lake, about 25 minutes from Anchorage.
- Get up close to musk ox at the Musk Ox Farm – an animal that was close to extinction not too long ago.
- Enjoy the outdoors in Eagle River Nature Center, the gateway to Chugach State Park.
- Discover Matanuska Glacier, the largest glacier accessible by car in the United States. It is about 100 miles outside of Anchorage. Go beyond just viewing the glacier with a scenic float, experience the thrill of walking or climbing on a glacier or cuddle a few dog sled pups after an adventurous dog sled tour.
- See Denali and land on a glacier on tours from Talkeetna.
Anchorage is home to over 750 float planes, some of which will take you on some amazing experiences:
- Bear viewing in Katmai or Lake Clark National Parks, Redoubt Bay or Chinitna Bay
- Fly-in fishing for salmon, trout, grayling and pike
- Glacier and wildlife, Anchorage, Denali and Prince William Sound flight tours
- Helicopter tours to Knik Glacier and Hatcher Pass
What is there to do in or around Anchorage? Plenty!
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