After years of planning and months of anticipation, you finally set foot in The Last Frontier, signaling the start of your great Alaska vacation. With only so much time, you want to make sure that you make the most of every second spent in this amazing state! With Anchorage as your first stop, you’re ready to hit the ground running. Where do we start?
After grabbing a warm Kaladi Brothers coffee and a fresh ham and cheese croissant from Pil’s Deli, it’s time to take a short walk down to the famed 4th Avenue to see what Anchorage has to offer. With so many options to choose from, you figure it’s in your best interest to head over to the Visitor’s Center to help get your bearings. Walking through the doors of the Log Cabin Visitor’s Center, you’re warmly greeted by lifelong Alaska residents who are eager to assist you. Not only do they treat you to a number of free postcards, but they give you insider tips on where to find everything you need to have the most rich and fulfilling Alaskan experience possible! With a bag full of guides, brochures, and complimentary postcards, you’re ready to take on Anchorage. Upon leaving the Visitor Center, you are met by the man with the most well-known smile in Anchorage: Cyrus!
Cyrus has lived in Alaska his entire life, and has made it his mission to help people learn about and appreciate Anchorage the same way that he does. He does this by offering hour-long tours in his bright red trolleys. Anchorage Trolley Tours is the perfect first stop for anyone trying to learn about the rich history of Anchorage. His animated tour guides narrate the entire tour, giving information about the 1964 Earthquake, the origin story of Anchorage, the Iditarod, and much more. And as a cherry on top, Cyrus offers a free coupon book to everyone who rides the trolley, which has coupons for almost every business in the downtown area! Not a bad start to the day!
After hopping off of the trolley, you decide you’d like to get a better look at some of the places talked about on the trolley tour. Better find some wheels!
You walk down to L street and find several different bike rental options, like Pablo’s Bike Rental or Trek. The kind staff helps you pick out the perfect bike (Cyrus recommends the electric bike!), and you’re ready to cruise! You meander your way through downtown and pick up the coastal trail down by Ship Creek, where you watch fishermen try their hand at landing a Red Salmon. Thankfully, you remember that the folks at the Visitor’s Center mentioned that you could rent all the gear that you need to catch one for yourself at the Bait Shack, only a couple blocks from downtown! Add that to the Anchorage Bucket List.
The Coastal Trail provides breathtaking views of Cook Inlet, Sleeping Lady, and since it was a clear day, even Denali! All of the peddling has caused you to work up an appetite! For lunch, nothing satisfies like a reindeer dog from Tia’s Gourmet Hotdogs, grilled to perfection. Sitting on a park bench looking over the complimentary city map, you see the Anchorage Museum is only a few blocks away… suddenly, you don’t feel quite so tired! You make the quick jaunt over there, walk through the doors, and are pleasantly surprised when the front desk attendant mentions the culture pass, which allows you entry to the Museum AND Alaska Native Heritage Center at a discounted price! A someone looking to learn everything you can about Alaska’s remarkable history, the Alaska Native Heritage Center gets bumped up to first on the to-do list for tomorrow!
Going from one exhibit to another, you lose track of time, getting lost in the stories and artifacts in the Anchorage Museum. Not your clock, but your vacation belly, which never quite seems to get full, lets you know it’s time to head out. You had always said eating fresh seafood from Alaska was a must-do in your lifetime… now you only face one problem: Which place to choose from!
After flipping through Cyrus’s coupon book and getting a few local recommendations, you settle on The Bridge Seafood for dinner. Colossal Alaskan King Crab legs, fresh sockeye salmon platters, oysters seared exquisitely, fish and chips, they’ve got it all. The hardest part about going to the bridge was leaving room for dessert. You decide, before bedtime, you HAVE to try a scoop of ice cream from Wild Scoops. All the locals keep pushing you there… is it the friendly customer service? The all alaskan-ingredients used? The huge portions??? Just a perfect mix of all of these things show you, the locals knew what they were talking about, and you were pointed in the right direction. Your spruce tip flavored ice cream hits the spot as you mosey back to the grand Captain Cook hotel, ready to rest up and prepare for another day in the best city in the world: Anchorage Alaska. This is going to be a good trip.
-Written by Kris Heck