Anchorage, Alaska, is one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the entire United States, the whole area sparkling with snowy mountain tops, glacial rivers and streams, and seemingly endless forest-filled wilderness.
Not only does this arctic paradise hold all these natural wonders, but it is also chock-full of cultural, educational, and regional delights, from artifact-filled villages to massive local museums.
- Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
One of the absolute most gorgeous natural spots in Anchorage (which is saying a lot, because this whole Alaskan city is breathtaking) is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This popular shoreline greenbelt is only one of four in the city, stretching 11 miles each way, from Kincaid to Cook Inlet. Get your hike, bike, or cross-country ski on while here, the entire area the perfect place to catch wildlife glimpses and take in the great local scenery.
Chugach State Park
The 3rd largest state park in the entire United States comes in next, the massively gorgeous Chugach State Park. Here you will find over 700 square miles of wilderness, the entire landscape containing mountains, rivers, lakes, and glaciers, not to mention wildlife such as wolves, moose, and bear. See the Seward Highway and Turnagain Arm while here, whether you are here just to sightsee, to hike, to ski, or to camp!
Welcome to Flattop Mountain, Alaska’s most visited peak! This gorgeous natural hotspot is accessible by the highly traversed 1.5 miles, 1,350 vertical foot trail, a path that eventually leads you to panoramic views atop the summit. You can even just take in the scene from the parking lot overlook. You may also choose to mountain hike or climb around while here, to get better views!
Talk about one seriously scenic and entertaining local landmark. This next spot on our list, Kincaid Park, is a family-friendly outdoor area that takes up a total of 1,516 acres. You can find this park in between Turnagain Arm and the Anchorage International Airport, the entire location really great for taking in the local scenery, hiking, biking, and skiing. A total of ⅓ of the trails here is lit, giving you better views of the rolling, forested area surrounding it.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is one of the most iconic local museums there is, this ode to native cultures opens each May through September. Here you will find numerous examples of native art and indigenous cultures, over 11 groups represented here among 6 different traditional dwellings. Settled on the shores of Lake Tiulana, this entire location will provide you with never before seen village artifacts and exploration opportunities!
Of course, you should stop by the Anchorage Museum while here, the modern glass-fronted building containing so much educational information on Alaska and the arctic in general. See local art, learn local history, and see everything about Alaska along the way, this entire experience a truly essential one if you are trying to get to know your surroundings a little better!
Alaska Naturally Aurora Show
The Alaska Naturally Aurora Show is one of the most unique sights to see in the entire wilderness-filled state, this local company putting on specific 40-minute viewings of ‘Alaska’s Great Northern Lights’, also known as the AurorA. See the northern lights perfectly even in the daylight in the middle of the summer while here, you definitely won't want to miss this!
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
Over 200 acres and countless species of local wildlife await you at this next stop, the highly popular Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Here you will be able to view and be educated on many local animals such as eagles, coyotes, bears, and bison. This entire ‘center’ serves s a refuge for orphaned, injured, and ill animals in the area, a task they have been boldly taking on since 1993.
Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum
One thing unique to this state that you may not think of is all the interesting aviation history it has. That’s why we suggest the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum as one of the top sights to see in Anchorage, the entire aircraft museum full of restored vintage models, historic photos, flight artifacts, maps, aviation clothing, news items, and films. You will learn everything there is to know about not only the history of aviation but the history of Alaskan bush pilots and their journey into the ‘Last Frontier’ as well.
The Zoo of Alaska is another truly amazing sight to see while in Anchorage, this 25-acre animal haven on a hillside starting out as just a shelter for 1 baby elephant, growing into the 77 animal refuge and educational center you see today. Enjoy seeing such native species as musk oxen, brown bears, and lynx!
Portage Glacier is located within the Chugach National Forest and is actually considered to be one of the state's most visited natural attractions. Take a scenic drive down Seward Highway and head to Boggs Visitor Center, the spot that will teach you about the glacier, allowing you to walk through an ice cave, and touch an actual iceberg before taking an hour-long boat cruise in Portage Lake to get a more up-close and personal look at the glacier!