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15 Amazing and Free Things to Do in Anchorage

December 31, 2012

Cook Inlet Anchorage Alaska from Gray Line Alaska

Anchorage is full of fun, exciting, and free things to do all year long. Since Anchorage was settled in 1914, the city has grown up, and now it's home to nearly 300,000 people. A visit to Anchorage is a highlight of any trip to Alaska and here are 15 ideas for having a fantastic time while saving your precious travel dollars.

Enjoy Wildlife and the Great Outdoors

1. Alaska Public Lands Information Center

Start your camping or fishing trip off right with a visit to the Alaska Public Lands Information Center. It’s filled with fun displays and info on Alaska’s national and state parks.

2. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Imagine 11 miles of paved walkways with fantastic views that are reserved entirely for walkers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, and cross-country skiers. Now set those 11 miles along the coastline of Cook Inlet and you have the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Explore a little or a lot, but be prepared to be amazed by the beauty.

3. Campbell Creek Science Center

The Campbell Creek Science Center is an outdoor science education center in the heart of Anchorage. Consider the 740 acres of trails to be your classroom for learning about plants, wildlife, and more. There are paths and activities for students of all ages.

4. Ship Creek Salmon Viewing

Ship Creek, located in the industrial section of Anchorage, is a favorite local spot for watching the salmon run against a backdrop of the Anchorage skyline. This picturesque location is also a wonderful place to watch birds. Visit the nearby William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery for a closer look at the fish.

5. Disc Golf

Sometimes it’s nice to get a little exercise while on vacation. And what’s better exercise than throwing a Frisbee? Add in targets to throw your Frisbee at, start keeping score, and you have Frisbee golf (or disc golf as the pros call it) and hours of family fun. Anchorage has 6 courses with mountain views. Beat that.

Museums and Other Cultural Offerings

Exhibit piece from Alaska Trooper Museum in Anchorage Alaska from Gray Line Alaska

6. Alaska Trooper Museum

How would you police a wild frontier? Alaska has a long and interesting history with law enforcement, including a cooperative agreement with the Canadian Mounties, and the Alaska Trooper Museum tells all the tales. Plus, there’s a forensic science camp and a Hudson Hornet.

7. Anchorage Museum

While the Anchorage Museum is not usually free, Wells Fargo sponsors Family Free Days with lectures and hands-on activities for the whole family. Plan ahead to get the most out of your visit.

8. John Bagoy Memorial Cemetery Tour

A history buff’s dream, this tour, given by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, happens annually in June. Local guides will take you on a journey through Anchorage’s storied past.

Arts and Entertainment

Jazz trumpeteer from Music in the Park during summer months in Anchorage Alaska from Gray Line Alaska Tours

9. Music in the Park

Music abounds in the summertime with Music in the Park. At noon on Wednesdays and Fridays, local musicians play at Peratrovich Park next to the Anchorage Visitor Center.

10. First Friday Art Walk

Anchorage gets its art on the first Friday of every month. Galleries and coffee shops open up to share wonderful art by locals and non-locals alike. Check out the Anchorage Press for listings of what’s showing where this month.

Mix with the Locals

Beautiful produce from Anchorage Market and Festival, May thourgh September, Anchorage Alaska from Gray Line Alaska Tours

11. Anchorage Market and Festival

Every summer weekend, 300 vendors take over 7 acres of downtown Anchorage to sell everything from produce to exotic goods at the Anchorage Market and Festival. The goods aren’t free, but the people watching is, and it’s not to be missed.

12. Geocaching

Treasure hunting is alive and well with geocaching. Use your GPS or smart phone to find fun clues left by visitors and locals before you, then add your own clues to the adventure. The Anchorage Log Cabin Information Center offers a geocaching guide.

Travel Farther Afield

Bird Migration in flight from Alyeska Roundhouse Museum, Anchorage Alaska and Gray Line Alaska Tours

13. Alyeska Roundhouse Museum

Billed as Alaska’s only mountaintop museum, the Alyeska Roundhouse Museum features spectacular panoramic views. The museum is a quick 40 miles south of Anchorage.

14. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Located in south Anchorage, Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary is described by visitors as “a birder’s delight.” Home to 220+ species of birds, visitors can enjoy a walk along the 1,150-foot boardwalk or visit wetland habitat. Migrating birds visit this park in all seasons, which makes this a great year-round destination.

15. Eklutna Village

Just 24 miles north of Anchorage, the historic Eklutna Village is a great place to learn about the Eklutna people. Explore the cemetery (including spirit houses), Russian Orthodox church, and visitors center. Donations are appreciated but not required.

Anchorage is not only the hub of Alaska life, it's also a great jumping off point for hiking in the Chugach Mountains, exploring Denali National Park (including climbing Mt. McKinley), and visiting Portage Glacier or the Kenai Peninsula. Come see our unique mix of scenery and culture for yourself.

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