The largest and most populated city in Alaska, Anchorage is home to plenty humans and wildlife. Its geographical location makes it the perfect stopping off point internationally- its a remote but busy city. Whether its exploring the city or the great Alaskan outdoors, you will find something unique here.
Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- With half of the year operating in likely sub-zero temperatures, you need to be ready to deal with Anchorage weather when visiting. The top advice from locals is to dress appropriately. Some situations will require thermals whilst others warrant clothes that need to be waterproof- it’s a matter of buying good quality outdoor gear and using them in the right settings. And layer up! You need to trap as much body heat in as you can with your clothes. But at the same time, you might go for a hike and the sun could warm you up, its easiest to take off a layer to stay cool. Another important thing is to bring sunglasses, either the sun will be bright or the snow will make everything so white you will be squinting!
- Alaska has a diverse wildlife population that can cross into the urban Anchorage and surrounding areas. Bears, both black and grizzly, are regularly sighted within the city. There are also wolves that have been known to attack and kill local dogs. Moose will also enter into populated areas and are known to be aggressive towards humans at times. North America has large wildlife that can be very dangerous depending on proximity and temperament- if you see any of these animals, get yourself to a secure and safe location.
For the Emergency services just dial 911.
Anchorage Visitor Information Centre: (907) 257-2363
Alaska is an international refuelling station for airplanes due to it being situated right between what is considered the western and eastern parts of the world. Anchorage has 3 airports (one is just for seaplanes though) and a train station. Most people drive around the city but there is also a local bus service.
What should I be aware of?
The city’s coast consists primarily of unstable mudflats. People are warned to not walk on this area due to extreme tidal changes and the very fine glacial silt. Tourists have been known to walk on the seemingly solid silt that is present when the tide is out and become stuck in the mud.
How dangerous is Anchorage?
Anchorage’s crime rate, both for violent and property crimes, is higher than both Alaska and the U.S. as a whole. When compared to similarly sized U.S. cities, Anchorage has a higher rate of violent crime. Anchorage, and Alaska in general, also have very high rates of sexual assault in comparison with the rest of the country, especial with Native American demographics as victims.
Take precautions: pepper spray is legal (use at your own risk) in America, rape whistles will draw attention to your location, try to remain in a group and in populated areas.
What’s the weather like?
Anchorage is a north-western coastal city that has a subarctic climate. Therefore, it will be extremely cold and windy most of the time. Its proximity to the sea also increases humidity. It does not rain often; most rain occurs in August and September.
The average summer temperature is 16 °C whilst the average winter temperature is -8 °C.
For the most reasonable weather visit in late spring and early summer.
Dress and plan accordingly.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
The Slam’n Salm’n Derby is an annual competition where everyone is welcome to try their hand at catching a prize winning king salmon! Held at Ship Creek, locals and visitors alike are encouraged to participate in this classic Alaskan event. If you’re interested but unwilling to get involved, you can watch the event from the bridge overlooking the creek- maybe you will spot the winning catch! Each year proceeds from the event go to a local charity so not only is it good-natured fun but it’s also for the betterment of others.
Born from the human need to socialise and have fun during the hard Alaskan winter in the 1930s, this 86 year old event has grown to a renowned 10-12 day winter festival. Locally known as the ‘Rondy, the Fur Rendezvous festival is all about bringing joy during the coldest months and, as such, doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can either participate or watch a range of activities: the Rondy Carnival, the Grand Parade, the Outhouse Races, Snowshoe Softball and the Running of the Reindeer – think of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls but with less danger and goring. There is food and music and fireworks. Everything is family friendly and it truly is one of the highlights of the year.
This festival takes place at both the University of Alaska Anchorage and a mixture of other theatres around town. The event was created to support, encourage and promote music and dance through performance opportunities and education of the wider public. By being a free public event, the intention is to acquaint and educate the general public about local folk arts whilst also showing them a good time. Therefore, providing a symposium for the interchange of cultural and performance ideas regarding folk art in the community and giving people an opportunity to showcase their art. There are many volunteer singers, dancers, musicians, and storytellers to enjoy or you can attend workshops and jam sessions to be creative in your own right.
This film festival is a non-profit organisation that uses its influence to expand film screenings and production opportunities in the area. It’s no joke that Alaska is an isolated area so this event puts all of its effort into supporting new media and independent film making- both in Alaska and around the world- whilst also enriching cultural and entertainment opportunities for Alaskans. From simply looking through the range of documentaries, films and shorts showcased in its catalogue, you can see that this film festival uplifts a hugely diverse set of artists and subjects. Whether you want to participate or just enjoy the content, this festival is well worth it. There are parties, workshops and also the Late Night Chills shorts program, a screening of horror/thriller/spine chiller short films that is very popular and highly recommended.
What museums are there?
This museum explores Alaska’s unique geological, cultural, and ecological history via what it refers to ‘learning adventures’ in interactive exhibits. Showcasing both natural and pre-historic times, you can see the teeth, claws, eggs and skeletons of dinosaurs as well as artists’ reproductions so you can see what they really could have looked like (spoiler most dinos had feathers). There are also exhibits about modern birds that show the evolution from dinosaur to current wildlife. This connection with the past themed learning is further shown through the discussions of how ancient whales relate to modern whales and how their lives operate today. Creative understanding is encouraged so you can touch and draw artefacts to gain a fuller understanding of what the museum has to offer.
The Anchorage Museum is “a world-class museum located in the heart of Alaska’s largest city”. Serving as a cultural and educational centre for the community, the museum is consistently ranked among Alaska’s top ten attractions. Presenting 16–20 changing exhibitions in tandem with education programs and activities, you’ll be sure to learn something new here. Long-term exhibits include the Alaska history gallery, Alaska art galleries, the Imaginarium Discovery Centre science galleries and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Centre, featuring Alaska Native artefacts on permanent loan from the Smithsonian Institution.
What should I do?
Alaska contains more than half of America’s national parks. With 17 national park units and 16 national wildlife refuges, you are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to natural wonders and wildlife. Due to the layout of the state, Anchorage is a central point that allows relatively easy access to a range of parks. Without too much travel, you can easily go from the most populated area in the state to awe-inspiring glaciers, an abundance of nature and a huge list of possible activities to do.
To cover just a few places and possibilities:
Kenai Fjords National Park – get introduced to the magnificent creatures that call this glacier-filled park home. See whales and otters go about their lives in their natural habitat.
Denali National Park – home to North America’s tallest peak so head up for a breath-taking hike amongst the mountains. You can also visit the working sled dog kennel, home to the sled team that patrol the park during the winter season.
Lake Clark National Park – providing an excellent opportunity for hiking, lake kayaking and rafting. You can also take a small plane tour of this park.
Katmai National Park – attend the famed bear viewing opportunities, during their ferocious salmon eating period, as well as possibly doing a spot of your own fishing (ideally far away from the bears).
Wrangell-Saint Elias – witness glaciers that are larger than Rhode Island as this is the largest national park in the US. The park provides ice-climbing activities for all skill-levels but that’s just one of many innumerable things to do within the 13 million acres of land.
How can I learn about Alaska?
Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Centre (ANHC), a living cultural centre that promotes active observance of the traditions of the five major culture groups of Alaska. This museum features permanent collections, educational programs, traditional workshops (which should be considered a privilege as some native art forms are in danger of being lost due to lack of practice) and the opportunity to buy native art to support the community. The ANHC is surrounded by Alaska’s beautiful wilderness of trees and lakes whilst also being incredibly close to Anchorage so it is also easy to get to! This is an amazing opportunity to learn something new as there are Cultural Awareness Workshops for those who are seeking to learn more about Alaska Native people and culture in general. There are also sections of the area dedicated to authentic native dwellings for you to see. Visit the Gathering Place and get involved with learning songs and games- there are also traditional dance performances showcased for you to enjoy. There are also film screenings, where you can learn about the history of Alaska. There is so much to do and its one of the best ways to get to know the real Alaska!