Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, is a gateway to some of the state’s most stunning natural beauty. From towering mountains to sparkling glaciers and abundant wildlife, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this northern metropolis. Although it is known for its winter wonderland activities, we found plenty of things to do in the summer. Here are some recommendations for activities and sights to see during the summertime in Anchorage.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
The Alaska Native Heritage Center provides a fascinating glimpse into the traditions and cultures of Alaska’s indigenous peoples. Explore the six traditional villages on the grounds, watch demonstrations of native crafts and dances, and learn about the history and contemporary lives of Alaska Natives.
- Hours: Summer Open 7 days a week from 9:00 – 17:00 (check website for schedule)
- Admission: $29 per adult
Just south of Anchorage lies Turnagain Arm, a breathtakingly beautiful inlet of the Gulf of Alaska. Drive along the Seward Highway and soak up the views of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and glaciers spilling into the sea. Keep an eye out for beluga whales, bald eagles, and Dall sheep along the way.
Chugach State Park
Hike in warm temperatures is perfect in Chugach State Park. Chugach State Park is a wilderness playground right on Anchorage’s doorstep. With more than 495,000 acres of rugged mountains, ice fields, and forests, there are endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. Popular hikes include Flattop Mountain, Mount Baldy, and Rabbit Lake.
- Admission: $5 per vehicle per day
The Anchorage Museum is a world-class museum showcasing Alaska’s art, history, and culture. Exhibits range from traditional native art and artifacts to contemporary installations, and there are interactive exhibits for all ages. Don’t miss the Alaska Gallery, which features a 70-foot-long mural depicting Alaska’s history.
- Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 – 18:00 (check website for schedule)
Admission: $20 per adult (Free First Fridays from 18:00 – 21:00)
Anchorage is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, and summer is the best time to cast a line. The city has numerous streams, lakes, and rivers where you can fish for salmon, trout, and other species.
We took a fishing excursion near Anchorage, catching the tasty “flatfish” called halibut. I highly recommend you visit my post about Halibut Fishing.
Go whale watching in Resurrection Bay. Just a two-hour drive from Anchorage lies Seward, a charming coastal town and home to some of Alaska’s best whale watching. Take a boat tour into Resurrection Bay and look for humpback and orca whales, sea otters, and Steller sea lions. You might even see glaciers calving into the water.
This six-hour tour will be dedicated to seeing whales and other marine wildlife.
- Hours: 7:00 – 13:00
- Admission: $350 per person
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
This 11-mile paved trail winds along the coast of Anchorage, offering stunning views of the mountains and sea. Rent a bike or lace up your walking shoes and explore the trail, which passes through several parks and beaches and is a prime spot for birdwatching.
Summer Solstice Festival
If you happen to visit Anchorage in June, make sure to attend the annual Summer Solstice Festival. In the summer, Anchorage gets about 22 hours of daylight, and the city makes the most of all that sun with big celebrations in the heart of the city. Check the local calendar to see what festivities occur during your travel plans.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Just an hour’s drive from Anchorage, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is home to various Alaskan animals, including bears, moose, elk, bison, and musk oxen. Take a guided tour of the center, watch animals being fed, and learn about the conservation efforts underway to protect these species.
- Hours: Summer – Open seven days per week, 9:00 – 19:00 (check website for schedule)
Admission: $20 per person
Alaska Botanical Garden
The Alaska Botanical Garden is a 110-acre garden showcasing Alaska’s unique flora and fauna. Walk through the garden’s trails and see wildflowers, native plants, and rare species from around the world. Also, don’t miss the Herb Garden, which features herbs that Alaska Natives traditionally use for food and medicine.
- Hours: Summer- Monday thru Saturday from 10:00- 19:00, Sunday from 12:00 – 19:00
Admission: $14 per adult
Explore the down area of Anchorage lined with shops, restaurants, and attractions to explore. This is where you will find souvenirs or an Alaskan sweatshirt to take home.
Train Trip to Denali National Park
Even though Denali National Park is approximately six hours from Anchorage, it is a great excursion to consider. We booked Anchorage Star Train (Alaska Railroad), a scenic route crossing the Knik River with the Chugach Mountains in the background.
We upgraded our seats to GoldStar Service to get the glass-dome ceiling car with outdoor viewing platforms. This full-service car was comfortable and offered stunning views of Alaska’s wildlife.
Going to Denali National Park will require more than a day excursion but is an option to consider from Anchorage.
Alyeska Ski Resort
If you plan a visit in the winter, make sure to visit the Alyeska Ski Resort, offering over 1,600 acres of skiable terrain and some of the best powder in the country. Take the tram to the top of the mountain for panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness, or take a lesson and improve your skills on the slopes.
Places to Eat
Although we stayed with friends while visiting Anchorage, we did venture out a few times to some great restaurants.
- Glacier Brewhouse: An excellent option if you want to eat Alaskan wild salmon or other delicious seafood. They are also known for their handcrafted ales, so try one with your order.
- Snow City Caféis a popular brunch spot serving tasty breakfast and lunch specials. I highly recommend brunch but be prepared to wait or get there early!
- Simon & Seafort’s Saloon & Grill: In the heart of downtown Anchorage this well-respected steak and seafood restaurant is considered one of the best for its quality of meats and seafood along with its impeccable service.
- Black Bear Coffee House: A cozy coffee house to enjoy fresh coffee with friendly baristas working behind the counter.
- Orso: This farm-to-table Alaskan-style seafood restaurant is located near the performing arts center. The dishes are accompanied by local produce sourced from the Matanuska Valley. You can also stop by during Happy Hour and enjoy a local ale or a glass of wine.
- Sushi and Sushi: The sushi rolls are phenomenal! Everything tasted fresh and delicious.
Overall, Anchorage has plenty of things to see and do during the summer season, from outdoor adventures to cultural experiences. So, whether you’re a nature lover or a city explorer, Anchorage has something to offer everyone.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.