Beautifully tucked away between the Alaska Range and the Gulf of Alaska. If you are picturing majestic and tranquil…you got it right! Alaska is known for the breathtaking views, outstanding food and a unique local culture that might be unlike any other you’ve ever experienced. Being born and raised in Alaska I’ve met a lot of people who say that Alaska is on their bucket list – so when you finally make it don’t get stuck doing just tourist things use this local guide on some of Anchorage’s hidden gems.
First, you should know about Alaska’s rich Native history. There are nearly 250 federally recognized villages and tribes in Alaska of Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and several Northern Athabasca cultures. These tribes have a broad cultural and linguistic similarities of peoples living contiguously in different regions of Alaska. As you walk around Anchorage you will see many Native influences in building art, design, totem poles and other Native art that disguises and displays their local culture to the world.
Little tip, if you are visiting Anchorage in the summer you must visit the street markets. Many villages send families to the market to sell hand made items, smoked salmon, moose or caribou hid moccasins that are made in the village and sold at the markets. Some of THE best quality and unique souvenirs to take home can be found here.
Alaska is one of the greatest locations for the outdoor lovers and enthusiasts! In Alaska there are mountain ranges to hike, glaciers to kayak too and lagoons to sit next to and enjoy the view of the Alaska Range reflecting against the water.
If you want to find a place where history and hip collide – visit Stewart’s Photo Shop. This shop was established in 1942 and is one of the largest photography retail shop in the state. You can rent special equipment if you don’t want to travel with it and the staff is amazing to shoot the breeze with – very knowledgeable and experienced!
If you happen to travel to Anchorage in the winter, around March, you can find yourself in the middle of the of the “Last Great Race” on earth! The Iditarod is a famous sled dog race that travels from Anchorage to Nome.
Even though Alaska sits below freezing for most of the year, Alaskans have a great love and appreciation for the arts. Not only is there a great artistic community but the builds have become canvases for artist since the 1980s. The most famous of these with the locals is the “Whaling Wall”, not a painting of actual whaling but of many species of whales that migrate to Alaska throughout the year.
In 1964, a major earthquake hit Anchorage, measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and lasted the longest four minutes of Alaskan history. Rightly named, Earthquake park, gives a historic remembrance of this major catastrophic day. But despite the horror that hit downtown Anchorage all those years ago – this park has small reminders of that history but has let beauty flow around it to make it a great morning’s walk and located close to many of the downtown hotels.
Now, let’s talk food! As you might have guessed, food sources in Alaska might be a little different than everywhere else in the United States. Yes, Bison burgers are becoming more common, especially in the Midwest region, but have you ever tried Moose stew or a Caribou dog? In Alaska, much of the food is sourced from the land, which means that it isn’t uncommon to find these items on the menu. My best recommendation is that you stay opened minded to the food, it might sound weird but trust me – it is worth trying!
Believe it or not but Alaska has breweries! A must location to get some food and a local beer is at the Glacier Brewhouse. Built to look like a historical brothel you will love the decor, the food and the beer! This is a serious one stop shop for all your culinary desires of a true Alaskan experience.
If you want to enjoy a wonderful date night while you are in Anchorage we have a recommendation for you. You have to go to the Ginger. It is an upper scale restaurant that has some of the freshest Alaskan seafood in town!
Last but not least another great local watering hole to check out in Anchorage is Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse. This is where a lot of locals spend their evenings with live music, trivia nights, open mic night and of course their famous event – Jukebox Karaoke Roadshow.
Alaska is a wonderful, lowly populated, state that everyone dreams to visit, whether it is for the spectacular Northern Lights show you can catch in the winter or the summer solstice phenomenon of nearly 24-hours of daylight. Alaska is truly a magical place to visit – I highly recommend everyone visit at least once in their life!