Anchorage, Alaska is a modern metropolis perched on the edge of a seemingly endless frontier. Approximately 300,000 people share the greater Anchorage area with wolves, eagles and many other forms of wildlife. Indeed, the spectacular mountains and dense forests lend America's northernmost city a distinct sense of place.
Anchorage offers treats for all five senses. Sunrises and sunsets are achingly beautiful, and the calls of owls are haunting. The seafood dishes served at Anchorage hotels and restaurants entice and satisfy guests with coastal produce. And you will never forget the experience of stepping into the cool, refreshing waters of Cook Inlet.
The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, which opened in 1968, provides a powerful overview of the history and culture of the largest U.S. state. Its collections include thousands of historical objects and hundreds of thousands of photographs. Dioramas depict various eras of Alaskan life, and Native American artifacts demonstrate the ingenuity of the region's first inhabitants.
Located 112 miles from Anchorage and certainly worth the trip, Chugach National Forest contains some of the most striking wilderness areas in the world. In Portage Valley, you'll find the remains of not one, but five glaciers. When fishing on or relaxing near Russian River, visitors will experience a peacefulness bordering on the transcendent.
On the Anchorage Free Walking Tour, your guide will review the intriguing story of this municipality's development, and you'll see some of its most exciting landmarks, shops and eateries. No matter the weather, these tours depart from the intersection of D Street and Fourth Avenue at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day except Sunday, and they last between 75 and 90 minutes.
April through October The weather in Anchorage during the spring, summer and fall is surprisingly moderate. That’s due, in part, to Pacific Ocean currents that reach the city and have a warming effect. In April, the average temperature is 43 degrees Fahrenheit, and in May, it's 54 degrees. Summer temperatures are typically around 65 degrees. In September, the average temperature drops to 57 degrees, and in October, it's about 43 degrees. July through October marks the rainiest part of the year; the average monthly precipitation during that period spans approximately 1.9 to 2.9 inches of rainfall. November through March Winters in Anchorage are long, and their daylight hours are short. In December, January and February, the average daily temperature is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. In November, the average temperature is 31 degrees, and in March, it's slightly above freezing at 34 degrees. What's more, the average annual snowfall in this city is an incredible 79 inches per year.
In downtown Anchorage, Saturdays in the summer are synonymous with the Anchorage Market and Festival, a free outdoor bazaar with more than 300 booths. At this marketplace, you can buy everything from toys and jewelry to fresh bison meat. In every direction, you'll find street performers entertaining crowds with music, magic and daring feats.
Alaska's most famous athletic event is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race; it begins in Anchorage and ends in Nome several days later. On the first Thursday evening in March, the Dena'ina Center hosts the race's competitors, as well as 2,000 members of the public, at a dinner called the Musher's Banquet. Two days later, you can watch as the dogs and their human friends make their final preparations. The actual start of the race is a genuine spectacle, complete with thousands of cheering fans.
In Anchorage, there are 22 hours of daylight on the first day of summer, which makes for a great excuse to party. On that day, Fourth Avenue and Town Square host live musical extravaganzas, skateboarding demonstrations and a chainsaw carving contest. Plus, many of Alaska's finest chefs prepare some of their favorite dishes. At the Hero Games, Alaskan police officers, firefighters and other professional lifesavers battle in a series of obstacle courses and amusing competitions; the tricycle race is definitely a highlight.