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The Anchorage Bucket List

Whether you’re a new arrival or a long-time resident, there are some iconic things you must do in Anchorage. Here are a few of the top to-dos in and around Alaska’s largest city.

Look for Bears in Denali National Park

This huge wilderness area was designated a national park in 1917. The park is the size of the state of Massachusetts, and it is best known as the site of Mt. McKinley, the largest mountain in North America. Denali is densely populated with wildlife, so it’s common to spot caribou, moose and even grizzly bears.

Watch the Iditarod

This iconic dog sled race starts off in downtown Anchorage. The ceremonial starting point to this tough, 1,000 mile race is one big party lining the streets of Anchorage. Thousands of spectators gather along the streets to watch the sled dog teams set off.

View the Northern Lights

Alaska is one of the best locations on the planet to see the aurora borealis, those radiant colors that briefly flash across the night sky. The best time to view the northern lights is in March and September about 90 minutes past sunset. If you’re really dedicated, head north of Fairbanks, where the aurora borealis is a constant presence in the winter sky.

Take a Glacier Cruise

Glacier Bay National Park is the place most people envision when they think of Alaska: snow-capped mountains, enormous glaciers and diverse wildlife. Most visitors view the park from cruise ships. From the ship’s deck, you are likely to see humpback whales hunting schools of fish, sea lions basking on rocks and harbor seals floating on ice floes.

See Alaska From the Air

Alaskans have a long history of traveling by bush plane. Anchorage’s sea plane port is the world’s busiest, and still one of the best ways to experience the immensity of Alaska’s wild frontier. You can book a “flight-seeing” tour of Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley which will take you over icefalls, avalanches and the deepest gorge on earth. After you’ve spotted moose and beluga whales from the air, the plane lands on a glacier at the foot of Mt. McKinley.

Cycle the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

This pretty cycling spot is a paved multi-use trail that winds along 11 spectacular miles of Anchorage coastline. You will enjoy dramatic views of six mountain ranges and spot abundant wildlife from the trail, which you can traverse on foot, by bicycle or even on rollerblades.

Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center

The diverse cultures that occupy this area are commemorated and celebrated in this excellent museum. The center is devoted to preserving the heritages of the native people of the region. The museum’s exhibits are devoted to artifacts, handicrafts and dwellings, and there is also a live performance hall.

Eat your way through the Anchorage Market

Every summer weekend, Anchorage hosts this artisan and farmer’s market with over 300 vendors from all over the state. Local delicacies such as halibut and chips and reindeer sausage are available from more than 30 food stalls. Native crafts, street performers and live music make this weekend event more of a festival than a market.