Who knew a big city could pack a small-town vibe?
It might be a stretch to call Anchorage a big city – most folks would liken that term to places like Chicago, New York, Denver or Seattle. Take Anchorage’s 300,00-plus residents and you could fit them into a small pocket of any of those big metropolitan areas.
But you’re in Alaska now, and as cities go, Anchorage is indeed a metropolis. It has chain stores, a performing arts center, a modern museum, and traffic. Oh, so much traffic.
Yet, it’s also rural. It’s got wandering moose, a wild salmon stream and mountains so high they remain covered in snow well into the summer.
It’s why visitors are so blown away by Anchorage. What we lack in urban planning and zoning, we more than make up for in mind-blowing views and everyday wildlife interactions on city streets.
While in Anchorage, be sure to enjoy its unique blend of well-heeled and wilderness. It’s always fun to head east toward the Chugach Mountains and take visitors up Flat Top. Although quite a short hike, it requires a rock scramble at the top that will make your guests feel like they’ve sampled mountaineering (they haven’t – not even close, but why ruin the vibe?)
Afterward, descend back to sea level, wash off your face and head to one of Anchorage’s many fine restaurants. We may be a bit backward up here in Alaska, but when it comes to dining, our chefs can hang with the best of the Zagat crowd. Check out South Bistro, Ginger, Kincaid Grill, Jens’. Or do a more chilled night out at Moose’s Tooth, Rustic Goat or Williwaw. When the sun is out and the beer on tap is fresh, you don’t want to be anywhere else in the world.
TOP FOUR EVENTS IN ANCHORAGE
Slam’n Salm’n Derby
Participate in one of the only urban fishing derbys in America. Pick up your derby ticket, go fishing and get a chance to win thousands of dollars. The event is a benefit for the Downtown Soup Kitchen, a community organization assisting Anchorage’s working poor and homeless.
The Girdwood Forest Fair
Come enjoy the 42nd annual Girdwood Forest Fair, a free and family friendly fair. Kick it off with the fair parade 10 a.m. July 8. This annual event features Alaskan artists, hand-crafted items, exotic foods and entertainers from all over Alaska. (girdwoodforestfair.com/)
Crow Pass Crossing
Line up along the Crow Pass Trail during the annual Crow Pass Crossing race to cheer on the tough athletes who race this roughly 22.5-mile trail from Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center. Registration is required and the race is limited to 150 entrants. Michael Friess, (907) 786-1325, or www.alaskamountainrunners.org/calendar.htm#cpc.
Downtown Summer Solstice Festival
The Anchorage Downtown Partnership hosts this annual event with the Hero Games, a friendly competition between Alaska’s first responders; Kids’ Play Zone, to entertain on a budget; Petals & Spokes Beer Garden and more. (anchoragedowntown.org)