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Plan Your Anchorage Vacation

By far Alaska's largest and most sophisticated city, Anchorage is situated in a truly spectacular location. The permanently snow-covered peaks and volcanoes of the Alaska Range lie to the west of the city while part of the craggy Chugach Range is within the eastern edge of the municipality; the Talkeetna and Kenai ranges are visible to the north and south. Two arms of Cook Inlet embrace the town's

western and southern borders, and on clear days Denali looms on the northern horizon.

Anchorage is Alaska's medical, financial, and banking center, and home to the executive offices of most of the Alaska Native corporations. The city has a population of just over 301,000, with another 100,000 residing in the metro area, accounting for more than 50% of the people in the state. The relative affluence of this white-collar city—with a sprinkling of olive drab from nearby military bases—fosters an ever-growing range of restaurants and shops, first-rate entertainment, and sporting events.

Dena’ina Athabascan people have lived in this area for more than 1,000 years. Their fish camps once dotted the shores of Cook Inlet, only a short distance from Downtown Anchorage. And yet Anchorage is a young city, incorporated in 1915. Nearly everything has been built since the 1970s—an Anchorage home dating from the 1950s almost merits historic status. The city got its start with the construction of the federally built Alaska Railroad, completed in 1917, and traces of its railroad heritage remain today. The city's architecture is far from memorable—though it has its quirky and charming moments—but the surrounding mountains make up for it.

Boom and bust periods followed major events: an influx of military bases during World War II; a massive buildup of Arctic missile-warning stations during the Cold War; reconstruction following the devastating Good Friday earthquake of 1964; and in the late 1960s the biggest jackpot of all—the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It is no surprise that Anchorage then positioned itself as the perfect home for the pipeline administrators and support industries, and it continues to attract a large share of the state's oil-tax dollars.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Tackling a 50-pound salmon Anglers can cast for huge king salmon or feisty silvers while wading among reflections of skyscrapers at Ship Creek.
  2. Winter celebrations Beginning in late February, locals celebrate the two-week Fur Rendezvous. Events, from the blanket toss to the Running of the Reindeer—Alaska's spin on Pamplona's tradition—lead up to the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in early March.
  3. Shopping Shops and vendors at the Saturday and Sunday markets sell everything from kid-friendly tchotchkes to elegant Alaska Native crafts and locally produced foods.
  4. Seafood Dining out in Anchorage means feasting on local halibut, salmon, king-crab legs, scallops, and oysters. Many fine restaurants hide in not-so-pretty strip malls.
  5. Hiking and biking Laced with more than 120 miles of paved urban trails, Anchorage is a paradise for hikers and bicyclists.

When To Go

When to Go

You'll find plenty to do year-round in Anchorage, though most visitors (particularly first-timers) might be happiest from late May through early...

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