Anchorage To Do:
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Cabin Fever Gifts
Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria
Glacier Brew House
I just returned from a week in Alaska and I'm ready to share my tips for an amazing car tour of this gorgeous state! If you're like me and want more privacy and flexibility than a cruise can offer, try following in our footsteps for a great week in beautiful Alaska.
We flew into Anchorage. It's a small city, but the largest in Alaska -- the entire state has a population of only 700,000 -- and the airport is not far from downtown. Because we would be getting in very late, we booked a room at an airport hotel. We picked up our rental car at the airport at midnight and the next morning we were ready to go.
Our first stop was the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a definite must-do. You'll see how different native peoples live/lived and can even walk into reconstructions of houses and buildings where young members of the tribes answer questions and explain how their people lived, and in many cases still live, in Alaska's challenging climate. While you’re there, be sure to catch the dance demonstration! The young dancers are accompanied by traditional drumming, and just as interesting are the stories they tell about their villages and lives. The presentation is informal and friendly, and you'll come away with a real appreciation for the cultures and ingenuity of Alaska's native people.
The Anchorage Museum is another surprising gem. Small enough to see in an afternoon, it has it's own fascinating exhibit about native cultures. We also loved the current exhibit about the Arctic and I was excited to find a collection of pieces by contemporary sculptor John Grade whose work I recently saw in DC. If you'd like to check it out, the collection of sculptures is called Floats.
Outside the Anchorage Museum wearing my Elgin shirt in charcoal:
Food in Alaska is pricey and healthy meals are hard to find – At least in tourist season. Much to our surprise, most restaurants serve typical “American” fare, with only a few seafood offerings on the menu. However, we shared a great Caesar salad and vegetarian pizza at Moose's Tooth and had a good dinner at Glacier Brew House.
If you want to bring something home from Alaska, my favorite shop was definitely Cabin Fever Gifts at the corner of 4th and G where you'll find beautiful jewelry, housewares and gifts made by local artists. The owner of this shop has great taste and there's nothing tacky or touristy in this store.
There are a lot of good hikes around Anchorage, but we were anxious to get to Denali, the tallest mountain in North America (formerly known as Mt McKinley), so we took off the next morning for a stunningly beautiful drive to Denali National Park. More about this -- including some breathtaking photographs -- in my next travel blog post!
Gorgeous mountain scapes casually on the side of the road:
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