[Article first published ason Technorati.]
Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, with more than 40 percent of the state’s population, is a unique metropolitan city. Less than 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, Anchorage still enjoys reasonably moderate temperatures and is blessed with beautiful natural surroundings; set between Cook Inlet and the rugged Chugach Mountains. It’s one of only 11 cities to have been awarded the All-American City designation four or more times.
You’ll most likely fly into Ted Stevens International Airport, and from there it’s a 15 minute ride into downtown. If you are cruising, you’ll probably dock at Whittier or Seward. Seward is about 2-1/2 hours away and Whittier is about 1-1/2 hours.
The Alaska Railroad operates between Seward and Anchorage and is a not-to-be-missed ride if Seward is in you plans. Views of wildlife and glaciers, along with ultra-comfortable “Adventure Class” coach cars make for a great trip. Or splurge and get the giant viewing windows of the two-decker “GoldStar Dome” cars with their fine dining options.
Like most other metropolitan cities, there is the official visitor center downtown – at the corner of 4th Avenue and F Street. It’s a great place to start with brochures, maps and suggestions for whatever type adventure you seek.
Not far away is the Anchorage Museum with interesting exhibits all year long. Alaskans don’t hunker down in the winter time, so expect something interesting to always be available at the museum. There are four major permanent exhibits – the Alaskan Gallery, Art of the North, Smithsonian Artic Studies Center and the Imaginarium Discovery Center with its 80 hands-on exhibits. Kids will love the totem poles, woolly mammoth tusk, moon rock and touch tank with Alaskan sea-stars and crabs.
Consider the Alaska Culture Pass where you get two admissions for one price including a shuttle from one to the other. The Alaska Native Heritage Center honors native culture and traditions with inside and outside exhibits. Experience story telling, song, dance and artist demonstrations.
Try an Alaskan Trolley Tour where you can hop on and hop off as the mood moves you. With a city so big, they’ll help you see the most important sights and maybe point out a moose or two. Or, if you are a do-it-yourselfer at heart, consider renting a bike and trying out the three-trail, 36-mile bike circuit of greenways.
Anchorage is definitely one city where you’ll wish you budgeted more time. From the outdoor adventure to the indoor discoveries, the opportunities are as big as the state. You’ll just have to come back more than once.
For more information on Anchorage, check out www.Anchorage.net.