On the south shore of Lake Hood, the world's busiest floatplane lake, is the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. The museum serves as a tribute to Alaska's famous bush pilots and is home to 25 planes along with historic photos and displays of pilots' achievements, from the first flight to Fairbanks (1913) to the early history of Alaska Airlines. You can view early footage of bush planes in the museum's theater or step outside to its large observation deck and watch bush pilots begin take off with a roar on Lake Hood.
Alaska Botanical Garden is a colorful showcase for native species, where gentle paths lead visitors through groomed herb, rock and perennial gardens in a wooded setting. The mile-long Lowenfels Family Nature Trail is designed to teach visitors about native Alaska plants.
One of Anchorage's most unusual attractions is the Alaska State Trooper Museum. Dedicated to preserving law enforcement starting when Alaska was a territory, the exhibits at the museum range from a 1952 Hudson Hornet cop car and state-issued sealskin cop boots to a tribute to Fran Howard, the nation's first unrestricted female police officer.
The unique wildlife of the Arctic is on display at the Alaska Zoo, the only zoo in North America that specializes in northern animals. The zoo focuses on Alaska Native species, ranging from wolverines and moose to caribou and Dall sheep. The most popular species with visitors, naturally, are bears. The Alaska Zoo has all four Alaskan species (brown, black, glacier and polar).
Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, or simply the "Rondy" as most locals refer to it, is one of the best winter festivals in Alaska. Participants sculpt ice, ride the Ferris wheel in freezing temperatures, or watch the Running of the Reindeer. Following the two-week Fur Rendezvous is the ceremonial start of the 1100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race when 30 to 40 teams depart from downtown Anchorage.
Anchorage Market & Festival is a popular outdoor market held downtown on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. Along with more than 100 vendors selling everything from giant veggies and birch syrup, there is also great food and live music.
Delaney Park is a narrow slice of park stretching from A to P Streets that is known by locals as the Park Strip. It was the site of the 50-ton bonfire celebrating statehood in 1959 and Pope John Paul II's 1981 outdoor mass. Today it's the site of numerous festivals like Summer Solstice.
Located on the west side of Anchorage, Earthquake Park was a rubble of barren land after the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. Today visitors have to poke around the bushes to see evidence of tectonic upheaval at this delightful park but interpretive displays still tell the story of what Anchorage went through on the ill-fated day.
Far North Bicentennial Park is like a slice of wilderness in the middle of Anchorage. The 4000-acre preserve includes forest, muskeg and 20 miles of trails. During the summer the streams are full of spawning salmon while visitors often see moose and bears here in the spring and brilliant fall colors in mid-September.
A wide range of flightseeing tours are available in Anchorage, each offering an eagle-eye view of the wilderness, glaciers and mountains that lie outside the city. Many head to Prince William Sound for tours of Blackstone Glacier or even Columbia Glacier. Others head north for Knik Glacier or Mount McKinley.
Goose Lake is where residents and visitors in Anchorage head to on a hot summer day. The park is the city's most developed lake for swimming with lifeguards, paddleboat rentals and a small cafe.
H2Oasis Waterpark is a three-level amusement zone of watery fun with palm trees, water slides and a wave pool. The 505-foot Master Blaster is the wettest roller coaster in Alaska.
The Heritage Library Museum is home to one of the largest collections of Alaska Native artifacts in the city and includes costumes, baskets and hunting weapons. There are also original paintings covering walls, including several by Sydney Laurence and lots of scrimshaw. The museum's collection is so large that there are displays in the elevator lobbies throughout the Wells Fargo Bank where it is located.
Kincaid Park is the southern terminus of the delightful Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, making it popular with cyclists most of the year while hikers love the 1400-acre park as trails wind through a rolling terrain of forested hills where there are views of Mt Susitna, Mt McKinley on a clear day and fiery sunsets in the evening. In the winter cross-country skiers invade Kincaid Park.
Oscar Anderson was the 18th person to set foot in Anchorage and built his house in 1915. Today his home is the city's oldest wooden-framed house and has been preserved as the Oscar Anderson Home. Overlooking the delightful Elderberry Park, the museum is open June to mid-September.
Named after the original homesteader of the site, Russian Jack Springs Park is spread over 300 acres and features tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, a picnic area and the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouses that are full of tropical plants, exotic birds and fish.
Anchorage 's hometown teams in the Alaska Baseball League are the Anchorage Bucs and Anchorage Glacier Pilots. Both semipro teams play at Mulcahy Ball Park, where living legend Mark McGuire slammed a few homers.
From mid- to late summer, king, coho and pink salmon spawn up Ship Creek, the historical site of Tanaina Indian fish camps. The Ship Creek Salmon Viewing Platform is the best place to witness this natural phenomenon in Anchorage. Or arrive with a rod-and-reel and try to catch one.
The wildest fish in Anchorage are found along streets as part of the Wild Salmon on Parade, an annual event in which local artists turn fiberglass fish into anything but fish. The art competition has resulted in a fish with boxing gloves titled "Socked Eye Salmon" and "Marilyn MonROE" to "Fish & Chips," a poker-playing halibut. The 30 or so colorful fish appear on the streets in early June and stick around until September.
Denali Jeep Excursions