Originally called Glacier City, Girdwood got its start as a gold-mining town. The town was renamed for James Girdwood, an Irish linen merchant who had four gold claims. But the name wasn't the only thing that changed over the years; the town itself was moved 2½ miles from its original site after the 1964 earthquake.
Today Girdwood's main attraction is the Alyeska Ski Resort, the largest ski area in Alaska. Besides enjoying the obvious winter attractions, you can hike up the mountain, rent a bike, or visit several upscale restaurants and gift shops. Girdwood is wetter than Anchorage; it often rains or snows here while the sun shines to the north.