Your upcoming move to Anchorage, AK, is sure to mark a busy time in your life. As Alaska's most populous city, Anchorage has about 300,000 residents, according to the July 2016 U.S. Census. The city is known for its location at the end of the Cook Inlet and close to the spectacular peaks of the Chugach Mountains. The nearby Eagle River offers scenic places to walk and hike if climbing mountain peaks is not your thing. Once you are settled in, you may want to use some of your free time to get out and explore what your new neighborhood has to offer. If you are unsure of which places to go and see first, you can use this list as a guide. From great restaurants to places where you can learn about the world around you, there are many spots in your new city to enjoy.
The settlement of Alaska by Americans and Europeans was facilitated by the building of the Alaska Railroad. Today, the Alaska Railroad features a Rhythm and Blues train with live music from the Ira Sellers Band. You can travel and listen to music without having to do the driving. Some of the other special event trains include the ski train, the Easter train and the "Who Let the Girls Out?" train. For a great date night or to meet up with friends, try a tour on the Beer Train, which features Glacier Brewhouse brews and food and views along the Turnagain Arm. On the Alaska Railroad, you can also take a regular train from Anchorage to destinations such as Fairbanks, Healy, Denali, Hurricane, Wasilla, Portage and Seward. If you are considering one of the event trains, be sure to reserve your tickets well in advance because they can sell out quickly. The Alaska Railroad is in operation all year, and the schedule can change from season to season.
When you’re ready to learn more about your new hometown, there is no better place to visit than the Anchorage Museum. The Anchorage Museum features interactive exhibits on photographs and wildlife of the arctic region. You can also learn about the cultures of different Inuit tribes. Be sure to explore some of the rotating exhibits, such as the visual conversations area. The polar lab is always open. Through the glass viewing windows, you can watch as scientists prepare artifacts and specimens that will eventually become part of the museum's displayed collection. Some of the permanent exhibits in the museum include public art, Alaskan native cultures and an innovation lab where children of all ages can build things and take them apart. The museum hosts frequent special events and can be rented out for big celebrations.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
The native people of Alaska come from many different heritages, and you can learn all about them at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. The center offers an introduction to the cultures of the native people through works of art, recordings and tangible items, such as clothing and cooking utensils. You can watch demonstrations of games that the Natives play and see how they do everyday activities such as cooking a meal or traveling to see their neighbors. You can watch films of their dances and ceremonies. The museum hosts occasional special events, such as live dances and lectures delivered by native Alaskans. You can even learn a few words of some different Inuit languages and try out your own skills at fishing or building an igloo. There is a cafe in the Alaska Native Heritage Center with a selection of light sandwiches and meals as well as soft drinks and bottled water, and you may visit the gift shop to help support the operations of the center.
If you want to experience a part of the great outdoors, be sure to put Kincaid Park on your itinerary. Kincaid Park features 1,400 acres of rolling, forested hills and a spectacular view of Mt. Susitna, which is just across the Cook Inlet. While at the park, you can take advantage of the 35 miles of paved and groomed trails, 15 of which are lit for nighttime use or use during the winter when there is less daylight. In addition to the hiking trails, Kincaid Park also offers cross-country and downhill skiing trails. There is no fee to use the trails. During the warmer months of the year, you can play soccer at the park or even join a soccer, softball or baseball team. The park also hosts many special events throughout the year, including athletic tournaments and national Olympic trials for men's and women's skiing.
Point Woronzof Park
Another beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors is at Point Woronzof Park. This park offers a scenic overlook of the Cook Inlet, picnicking areas and sports fields for soccer and football. There are also cross-country skiing trails, running trails and hiking trails. You may access the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail from the perimeter of the park. There are also several shelters where you can host get-togethers with friends, family and neighbors. The park offers plenty of free parking and is open during daylight hours. (Photo Credit: http://anchorageparkfoundation.org/)
Chugach National Forest
If you are an avid athlete or simply enjoy the beauty of the mountains and boreal forests, the Chugach National Forest deserves some of your leisure time. The Chugach National Forest provides visitors with a chance to hike in the Portage Valley, which is a 14-mile isthmus that connects the wilderness of the Kenai Peninsula to mainland Alaska. It is the northernmost national forest in the U.S. and home to many important archaeological and cultural sites of the Alaskan natives. If you get a fishing license, you can catch red salmon in the Russian River during the summer. You can rent a fishing pole at one of the many bait shops in the park. When you are ready for something a little more adventurous, try the guided tour around Spencer Lake. You will ride in an authentic Native Alaskan canoe around the lake and between the icebergs. The national forest has camping facilities and places to view the wildlife. Some of the animals that you might see in the park include brown and black bears, eagles and millions of shore birds.
Alaska Aviation Museum
Alaska has a rich aviation history. The Alaska Aviation Museum features dozens of aircrafts on exhibit, such as the fully restored 1928 Stearman C2B. You can also check out some more modern aircrafts, such as the McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle, which was used in combat and training operations at the nearby Air Force Base Elmendorf. The museum also has many aviation relics, such as the uniforms and equipment used by pilots over the past 100 years of aviation history. The Ted Stevens International Airport is only .5 miles from the Alaska Aviation Museum, and you can see passenger and cargo planes coming and going during your visit to the museum.
The Glacier Brewhouse is a relaxed tasting room where you can sample handcrafted ales and stouts brewed in Anchorage and other parts of Alaska. The brewery also serves Alaskan trout, salmon and other regional specialties to satisfy your appetite. They often have live music on weekend nights, and there are flat-screen televisions showing hockey games and other sporting events of note.
Tommy’s Burger Stop
If you are looking for a tasty, simple meal, visit Tommy’s Burger Stop. This casual eatery offers hand-pressed burgers. You can request specialty items such as bacon, bleu cheese, grilled pineapple or jalapeno peppers to top your burger. You can also try their signature Cajun seasoned hamburger with all of the fixings you prefer. The sliders are a great choice for kids. The restaurant also offers po'boys, Philly cheese steak and sides of fries, chili cheese fries and onion rings. (Photo Credit: http://tommysburgerstop.com/)
Snow City Café
The Snow City Café is a fun and bright restaurant. Sometimes when eating at this restaurant, you may see a moose walking through town. The owners are committed to using the freshest ingredients possible and often use locally sourced produce, dairy and meats. Try the Kodiak Benedict, which features salmon, crab cakes and eggs Benedict. Another popular menu item is the tundra scramble, which features reindeer sausage, tomatoes, onions, peppers and scrambled eggs.
A move to a new home or apartment in Anchorage will be the start of a great new adventure in your life. Once you are all moved in, you may feel ready to get out and explore the city. You can start out with this list of great places in and around the city, visiting each one at your own pace and bringing a few friends along with you to enjoy it even more.