Best Things To See In Downtown Anchorage
You wont find many old buildings in Anchorage. The newness of the skyline dates back to a devastating earthquake that toppled much of the downtown in 1964. Whats unexpected about the city is the nearness to true Alaskan adventures and wildlife.
I suggest you begin exploring Anchorage with a trolley tour. Anchorage Trolley Tours, known for their red buses, promise fun and knowledgeable guides.
Completing a scenic and historical introduction in just an hour, the tour is sure to fit any travelers schedule. The trolly tour passes the city highlights and even goes out to Earthquake Park, the epicenter of the tragic Good Friday earthquake.
Start your trolley tour in front of the sod-roofed Log Cabin Visitor Information Center. Be sure to go inside, where you can send up to five postcards free!
The staff will happily answer all questions and help arrange last-minute plans. You may also choose a city walking tour, foodie tour, photo tour, or even a Segway tour.
Boomer Travel Tip
Viator offers a wide assortment of Anchorage tours. Check them out.
Delve Into History At The Oscar Anderson House Museum
Oscar Anderson House Museum Photo by AnchorageDowntownPartnership on Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Head to Elderberry Park and discover the intriguing history of the Oscar Anderson House Museum, dating back to 1915. The quaint wooden building is on the National Register of Historic Places and was the home of Oscar Anderson, who is said to be the 18th person to set foot in Anchorage and was an important influence on the citys development and early growth.
Travel back in time to the early 1900s for a glimpse into everyday life in Alaska with a tour of this renovated historic house-turned-museum. Browse antiques, old photographs, and furnishings as they were in the times of the early settlers, when life was harsh in this mountainous, snowy wilderness. You dont have to be a history aficionado to appreciate a visit to this important place and the impact on the foundation of Anchorage.
Discover the rich history and culture of Alaskas biggest city, surrounded by beautiful mountains and coastal landscapes. An Alaska Cruisetour is a fantastic way to experience all the best things to do in downtown Anchorage and other exciting destinations in Alaskas interior.
Browse Cruisetours on our website and experience the splendor of Alaska on your next vacation.
Visiting Anchorage From The Cruise Pier
We will be in port from 7am to 11pm. Is there a hop on hop off roundtrip shuttle tour from the cruise arrival area? Or any other recommendations to sightsee and get around? We had thought of maybe seeing the museum and/or the cultural center, and maybe being away from the ship for about 4 hours or so.
Are you certain that your ship actually docks in Anchorage? I didn’t think any cruise ships did that. Most cruises dock at either the port at Whittier or Seward as the nearest gateway to Anchorage and bus or train their passengers to the city from those ports .
Holland America’s MS Statendam actually visits Anchorage. The port’s calendar Shows it in town 9 times this summer. It just left yesterday on its way to Homer.
Thanks. I knew that some did dock in ANC at one time but wasn’t aware it was still happening.
I just realized my comments have been of no use to the OP.
Can you tell us what day month and perhaps day of the week you’ll be in town?
For a short time in town, the Anchorage Museum and/or the Alaska Native Heritage Center are fine options. There is a free shuttle service between the two museums . However, the major problem I see is the timing of your visit. Both museums open at 9am which effectively gives you only two hours so I’d recommend picking one of the two if you do end up deciding on a museum.
If your cruise ship doesn’t offer transport from the port to downtown you may need to go by cab but the cost should be quite minimal for that distance.
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Find Adventure In Portage
Beyond Girdwood, look for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage. Have you ever seen muskox? Id not heard of the shaggy-haired Arctic tundra animal thats never been domesticated until my trip.
Stop for close-up observation of all the notable Alaskan wildlife, including bears, moose, and muskox. If you time it right, you can watch the staff feeding the black and brown bears. The center offers an extensive outdoor-themed gift shop.
At this point, the Chugach Mountains and glaciers come into view. The Chugach National Forest, the second largest National Forest in the US, offers glacier hikes such as the incredible walk on the Trail of Blue Ice.
Drop into the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center to see exhibits that explain glaciers. During the summer, one-hour lake cruises provide eye-popping scenic views of the baby blue glacial ice on Portage Glacier.
Go Rafting At Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park is one of the biggest state parks in the country and boasts the 9,000-square-mile Chugach mountain range.
One of the white-water rafting experiences will take you through Class IV and V rapids to give you a rush of adrenaline, and maybe throw you out into the freezing cold water. If that doesnt sound appealing, you can take a more scenic floating route to sit back and watch the wildlife around you.
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Learn About The Ulu Knifes History At The Ulu Factory
The ULU Factory Photo by ideatrendz on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Spend time learning about Alaskas inextricable connection to nature with a visit to the ULU Factory in downtown Anchorage, housed in an old cabin-style building. Youll learn about the craftsmanship and innovation by the ancient Inupiaq, the inventors of a blade.
The knife is perfect for filleting their fresh catch of the day, such as trout and salmon. The curved design of the blade made the act of filleting fish effective and easy with a rocking motion.
This technique dates back some 3,000 years, when bone or slate rock were the best available tools. The modern design, though, employs stainless steel and wood. Watch the production of the ulu knife while listening to the history and use of this inventive tool throughout history, including sewing muktuks and preparing walrus hides.
After, peruse the gift shop where youll have the opportunity to purchase your own authentic ulu knife to take home to hone your own fish filleting skills.
Alaska Cruise Transfers To Whittier And Seward
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Alaska summer visitors travel through Anchorage on their way to or from cruise ships in nearby Whittier and Seward. The port of Whittier is used by Princess Cruises and Holland America Cruise Line, while passengers on Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line , Norwegian Cruise Line , Regent Seven Seas Cruises and others utilize the port of Seward. There is no scheduled commercial airline service to either Whittier or Seward, so nearly all of these passengers travel between these ports and the regional air hub in Anchorage by train or motorcoach. Fortunately, there are a variety of Alaska cruise transfer options, from those offered by the cruise line and the railroad, to private motorcoaches, buses and shuttles.
Here is an important tip. Avoid flying into Alaska on the day your cruise departs. Of course we recommend spending four or five days or more before your cruise to explore the land side of Alaska. Even if your schedule or budget does not allow for an extended land trip, at least try to arrive one day early. This will allow time for unexpected airline flight or luggage delays, and allow you to start your cruise fresh and rested. If you need any assistance booking pre or post cruise hotels, tours and even complete Alaska land tour packages just let us know.
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Whittier Cruise Transfers By Train
The Alaska Railroad has a great schedule for passengers sailing southbound on cruises from Whittier, departing Anchorage at 9:45am and pulling up right next to the cruise terminal at just after Noon. The train from Whittier to Anchorage does not leave until 6:45pm so most northbound cruise passengers take an earlier motorcoach option or a private cruise train if offered. You can follow these links for more information on the train from Anchorage to Whittier or Whittier or Anchorage.
How To Get To Anchorage
There are multiple ways to get to Anchorage, Alaska. Going by car can take you days along the Alaska Highway, but boasts beautiful views.
If you choose to take a cruise, most will start in Vancouver and head up to Anchorage making other stops as well. There are also a few cruise lines that go out of Anchorage as well.
You will need to make your way to the Whittier Port, which is an hour south of Anchorage. You will have to plan your transportation here with ample time if you choose to drive, but there are also options to take the Alaska Railroad.
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Cruises Sailing From Seattle To Anchorage
The two options for sailing to Anchorage are sailing round trip from Seattle to Anchorage and back, or sailing one way only.Cruise lines that sail from Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska include:
- Princess Cruises – The Seattle Inside Passage Cruise voyages to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Victoria, Tracy Arm, and the Sawyer Glaciers. The trip lasts seven days.
- Celebrity Cruises – For seven days you can sail to Alaska along the Inside Passage and take advantage of shore excursions to Ketchikan, British Columbia, and Sitka.
- Holland America Cruise Line – There are three cruises to choose from with this company. The seven-day Alaskan Explorer Cruises take you round trip from Seattle with a Friday departure. Enjoy Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, British Columbia. Or you can sail on a Saturday and during your seven day trip, view Hubbard Glacier, Yakutat Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, British Columbia. If a Sunday departure suits your schedule, Alaskan Explorer Cruises can take you round trip from Seattle for a seven day adventure where you will visit Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier, Yakutat Bay, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, British Columbia.
- Norwegian Cruise Line – Relatively new to the cruise scene, this impressive line has two ships that travel to Alaska. The Glacier Cruises last seven days and include excursions to Skagway and Prince Rupert.
Allow Time In Anchorage Pre Or Post Cruise
Alaska cruisers should consider arriving a day or two early to see the region and remove stress about getting to their embarkation point on time. Kathy Dunn, VP of Communications for Visit Anchorage, says, A trip to Anchorage provides all the best that Alaska has to offer. You have easy access to the mountains, glaciers, and wildlife that Alaska is known for, but you also have all the comforts of a modern city with a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, arts, and culture to choose from.
During summer, remember that sunlight days will stretch well past usual bedtime. Alaskas geography brings extended sunlight or the commonly called midnight sun.
Golfers enjoy teeing off after ten- thats 10 pm. Winter days run shorter. December sees only five and a half hours of daylight.
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How Much Is The Ferry From Whittier To Valdez
The fast ferry Chenega cuts travel time from Anchorage to Valdez to less than driving: about 90 minutes by car from Anchorage to Whittier and less than 4 hours by ferry from Whittier to Valdez. Fare is $89 for an adult, half price ages 6 through 11, free 5 and under. A 15-foot car costs $105 to take along.
Stroll Around At The Anchorage Museum
With exhibitions constantly changing, visiting the Anchorage Museum will be different every time you visit Anchorage.
You can buy tickets online to save you time waiting in line. They are open 10 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 12-6 pm Sunday, and closed on Monday.
If you have extra time, you should also take a class or a workshop while youre there!
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Ride A Deluxe Motor Coach
- The Park Connection Motorcoach features several options that can transport you between Anchorage and Seward faster than the train. The 52-passenger touring coaches feature comfortable seating and lots of leg room, USB and powerports, big picture windows, with space for two checked bags and carry-on.
- The Seward Express segment of their northbound service leaves Seward at 10:30 am and arrives in Anchorage at 1:30 pm. The southbound service leaves Anchorage at 3 pm and arrives in Seward at 5:45 pm.
- Check out their cruise ship transfer service, aimed specifically making connections with the major lines when they dock in Seward.
- The drive follows the 125-mile Seward Highwaytraversing Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains. The route parallels the train for the first 50 miles, then climbs through 1,000-foot Turnagain Pass into the heart of heart of the mountains. Alaskans love this drive for its sweeping views of peaks, lakes and gorges.
The Park Connection follows the scenic Turnagain Arm
Shop For Alaskan Souvenirs
Support the local shops during your time in Anchorage, and find a great souvenir at the same time. Whether youre interested in purchasing hand-crafted items, Native Alaskan artwork, culinary goods, or outdoor clothing, Anchorage has plenty of high-quality shops.
Stop into Alaska Wild Berry Products, located in the Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall, where you can buy delicious jams, jellies, and chocolates. A giant chocolate fountain takes center stage in the store, and you can watch as experts prepare candy and fudge with fruit filling.
Another great Alaskan souvenir shop located within the mall is Once in a Blue Moose, which sells Alaskan-made jewelry, naturally scented bath products, jam, caribou sausage, smoked Alaskan salmon, herbal teas, and spicy sauces.
Peruse downtowns Tiny Gallery, a boutique specializing in handmade, local artisan products. Discover a wide array of crafted items such as jewelry, watercolor artwork, textiles, glass art, crochet, and woodworking treasures.
In the summer months, the Anchorage Market is an all-encompassing open-air shopping experience with live music and vendors selling anything from local produce to clothing, art, and Alaskan-made souvenirs.
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Embark On An Alaskan Brewery Tour
Microbrewery in Downtown Anchorage
Beer enthusiasts will wholeheartedly embrace the fantastic brewery scene in downtown Anchorage. Alaskan beer has a special quality thanks to one of the states best natural resources, pristine water.
Youll learn about the local brewery history and renowned beer culture with a tour of some of the citys top taprooms. Sample beers at Midnight Sun Brewing Company, Anchorages oldest brewery, where youll have the chance to taste their iconic flagship IPA, the Sockeye Red, Belgian ales, and barrel-aged stouts.
Continue your brewery tour at other taproom hotspots like 49th State Brewing, one of the citys favorite brewpubs. Learn more about the rich Anchorage beer culture with a stop at King Street Brewing Company, another local favorite.
Try their Beer of the Month to wash down snacks from food trucks. Or sip a flight at Cynosure Brewing, named after the North Star and known for their quality lagers and Belgian ales.
Visit Denali National Park
As the first National Park established in Alaska, this is a great place to visit if you love exploring nature, viewing wildlife, or taking in the scenery. Its also a great place to go if you want to admire the largest mountain in North America.
If you plan to visit Denali National Park, be sure to do the following:
- Visit Polychrome Pass
- View the Park from above
- Explore Savage River
Whether you have a full day to see Denali National Park or a few days to explore it more deeply, its worth a visit.
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Advantages Of Ocean Cruises From Seattle To Anchorage
- Domestic flights are often cheaper
- Customs and the long lines at Customs can be avoided in the beginning of the trip
- There are more flights into Seattle
- There is more flexibility with flight times
Seward Cruise Transfers By Motorcoach
The Park Connection Motorcoach offers morning and afternoon departures in both directions between Anchorage and Seward. So, regardless of which direction you are traveling, we have a departure aligned with your cruise, as well as an option that would allow for extra time in Seward. Not only is the bus a quicker and less expensive mode of transportation, it will pick up or drop off right at your cruise ship on most departures.
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Preparing For Your Ocean Cruise
As you consider your ocean cruises from Seattle to Anchorage, you may want to discuss prices, flights, and itineraries with your travel agent. Cruise lines also have toll-free numbers you can call to ask specific questions about everything from the decor to dining on each ship. When you narrow down your preferences, you may also call a particular cruise line to learn details about cruise packages you are interested in.
Cruise reviews are also an informative way to read what others have to say about the varying cruise lines. You can read candid views written by passengers who have been on the cruise you are considering. These will help you as you plan.