We spent our last few days in Alaska exploring museums and the Anchorage area. There are SO many things to do in and around Anchorage. We flew into and out of Anchorage and it is a great place to base yourself if you don’t want to move around as much as we did and just take day trips. We actually met some other travelers who were doing just that. Anchorage is located between Cook’s Inlet and the base of the Chugach Mountains. The view is beautiful from every angle, and you can even see Denali on a clear day! Even though Anchorage is a city, there is still a population of between 200-300 bears living in the city, and you may see moose or other wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled!
Arrival in Alaska
I’m backtracking a bit here, but I want to talk about everything that I did in Anchorage, so I’m skipping back to when we first arrived in order to talk about some of the things I did right at the start of the trip. I was actually the first to land in Alaska, so I did some exploring in Anchorage solo for a few hours The first place I checked out was Resolution Park. It’s a small park just downtown where you can see Cook’s Inlet, and there is even a statue of Captain Cook himself. My Uber driver told me that it looked like there was something going on a few blocks over, so I wandered down the street to find the Anchorage Market Festival, which is a place for local vendors to sell their crafts or food. It was a pretty cool setup! Unfortunately, they were closing down just after I got there, so I moved on to check out some different gift shops downtown (Go to Grizzly’s Gifts, it’s an interesting store!). When my brother arrived, we went to 49th State Brewery for dinner where we had some of the best halibut tacos ever, as well as some great beers. I love craft beer, and Alaska had plenty to go around!
The next day once the family was all together, we hit up Earthquake Park before heading to Palmer. Earthquake Park overlooks Cook’s Inlet, and has several trails. It has a nice path and it looked like a lot of locals frequent the park.
Back to Anchorage
Day 1: From Girdwood to Anchorage
We made another stop at Beluga Point on our way from Girdwood to Anchorage. This time we were a bit braver and ignored the signs that said not to cross the railroad tracks so that we could get up closer to the water. It is really lovely, and definitely worth a stop. After that we stopped at the Potter Marsh boardwalk, which is known as a great bird watching area, or any wildlife watching. There are many signs describing the birds that you can see, but we only got to see some ducks and geese. It has a nice boardwalk out over the marshes and I could see how birds would be attracted to the area. The wind was very urgent here, so we didn’t dawdle for too long before heading on our way. Our next stop was a spontaneous one at Turnagain Art Gallery, where we saw some amazing wood carvings of just about every animal you could find in Alaska as well as some you can’t. They were very detailed, and so worth seeing.
Highland Glen Lodge
We stayed at this lovely Bed and Breakfast in Anchorage that is located very close to the zoo. It is run by the nicest older couple, Cliff and Sheila, and was by far my favorite place that we stayed at. The lodge is filled with beautiful English decor. Our room was spacious and lovely. There is a living area for the guests stocked with tea, coffee, and biscotti, and filled with books and DVDs for the guests to use at their leisure. I was thrilled that there were chocolates out in a bowl in the hallway because who can resist that? They served a full English breakfast in the mornings with coffee and tea and orange juice. Our hosts served us themselves and I had some nice chats with Sheila about Scotland (She is Scottish, and I studied abroad there). The first morning we had spinach omelets with a bagel, sausage and tomato. The second morning we had sourdough waffles, which were awesome. There was always fresh fruit. I am a big tea drinker, and they had their tea custom-made for the bed and breakfast. It is an Earl Grey tea with rose, and it is super delicious. If you are ever staying in the Anchorage area, absolutely consider the Highland Glen lodge as your place to stay. It will make your stay in Alaska so much better.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
We ventured out to the Alaska Native Heritage Center once we arrived in Anchorage. I would urge you to visit this museum as it will give you a closer look into the lives of Alaska Natives and their culture. We arrived a bit late in the day, but we did get to listen in on a talk about the different ethnic groups and cultures in Alaska as well as see some Native dance and song performances. We then had the opportunity to walk around their outdoor exhibits, which showed some of the different styles of buildings used by Alaska Natives in the past. Most of the demonstrations were given by high school aged children, who were very knowledgeable. I learned so much while I was here, and I wish we had more time to see all of the exhibits. After we left the center we had dinner at a restaurant called South, where I had the best seared AK scallops ever. It was seriously so good. We all split a small pie for dessert. After that we turned in for the night and got ready for our last full day in Alaska.
Day 2: Around the City
After breakfast we headed to the Anchorage Museum. This was an excellent museum experience. It covers so much of Alaska’s history and culture and art. We spent around three and a half hours here, and even had lunch at the café. They had a great dinosaur/fossil exhibit that was specifically tailored to what would have been in Alaska during each period (I love dinosaurs). We saw some incredible Alaskan and Alaska-inspired art. The Alaska history and Alaska Native heritage history parts of the museum are eye-opening and educational. Definitely go here if you are spending any time in Anchorage. It is so important to know the history of the places that you are traveling to. Learning about history and culture makes the experience that much more magical and inspirational.
After the museum we visited some more local parks. Anchorage is full of parks, which I’m sure surprises no one. We went to Point Woronzof Park which is near the airport. The park is a beach on Cook’s Inlet and you can watch the airplanes flying in. We even drove over by the airstrip to watch some planes take off. After that we went to Kincaid Park, where we saw yet another moose! We only drove through, but there were several trails and some recreational areas in the park. After that we went to dinner at Moose’s Tooth, where we enjoyed a pizza aptly named “Call of the Wild”. It was chocked full of reindeer sausage, bacon, steak, and mushrooms. We also had smoked salmon dip as an appetizer, and Moose Pie for dessert, which is a giant piece of pie full of chocolatey goodness! After dinner we headed back to our lodgings to turn in for the night and rest up before we had to fly back home.
The Long Trip Home
Such concludes our incredible trip to Alaska. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Alaska, you should absolutely take it. If you want to go, make it happen. It is an experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life. If you are making excuses about why you can’t go, start looking for excuses to go instead. You should enjoy your life while you can, and Alaska is there just waiting to be enjoyed.
If you want to hear more about my trip to Alaska, or if you have any questions, please contact me. If you haven’t read my other Alaska posts, start at the beginning and check out my posy about Palmer! I would also love to hear about it if you have been and have some cool stories to share! I only saw a small part of Alaska, and would love to go back and see the parts that I missed. Thank you for reading through my wild Alaska adventure. Look forward to more adventures to come!