Things to do in Anchorage, Alaska

August 5, 2019

Travel, Travel Guides

I have always wanted to visit Alaska, and I was finally able to see this beautiful state when I visited on a mission trip with my church. My team and I spent a week in Anchorage serving local children that live near various city parks. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, and I was so blessed to be able to go!

We spent an entire week in Anchorage, and we were very busy with our mission work. Even though we were busy, we still had a bit of free time here and there to find things to do in Anchorage and the surrounding areas. I can only imagine how many things you could see and do if you took a vacation there! Here are some of the awesome things to do in Anchorage, Alaska!

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Just FYI, I only took my Canon Rebel T5 DSLR camera and my Canon 18-135 mm lens on this trip. Only a couple of these pictures were taken with my smartphone, and the rest were taken with my camera. If you want to know more about my favorite photography gear click here!

Kincaid Park

green trees with sunlight and green grass in Kincaid Park Anchorage Alaska

One morning we took a short hike in Kincaid Park, which has a beautiful forest trail. According to local guides, it’s very common to see wildlife on this trail such as a moose or even a bear, but we didn’t see any that day. The summer weather was great and the trail goes through plenty of interesting trees and greenery.

Red Berries and green leaves in Kincaid Park anchorage alaskaThe best part wasn’t the good weather or the beautiful forest, but the view at the end of the trail.

Pacific ocean at kincaid park with sand and fence

This was my first time to see the Pacific Ocean! (Well, I did see it from above while on the airplane, but this was the first time up close!) At this time of year, we were not allowed to go into the water or very close to it because instead of sand there is mud that you will sink into like quicksand! We were able to walk on the rocky part of the beach, and we even picked up a few little rocks as souvenirs.

Girl in red tshirt and jeans standing on rocky beach in kincaid anchorage alaska pacific ocean

Downtown Anchorage

We drove through downtown many times during our week in Anchorage, and this gave us a chance to see what places we might want to visit during a free evening. One night we visited downtown Anchorage to check out some shops and other touristy spots. The downtown area has tons of cool street art, vibrant flowers, and interesting buildings and shops. I bought a t-shirt at Polar Bear Gifts, but there were plenty of other gift shops to check out.

4th avenue blue sign and purple flowers in downtown anchorage alaska

For our last meal before heading to the airport, we ate at Fat Ptarmigan. If you don’t know what a ptarmigan is, don’t feel bad. I didn’t either. Apparently it’s a game bird sort of like a quail.

Fat ptarmigan italian restaurant sign with lights in anchorage alaska

However, quail is not what we were eating at this delicious Italian restaurant. Their specialty is wood-fired pizzas, but they also have several other yummy dishes such as pastas, sandwiches, and gyros.

Wild Scoops

Right next door to Fat Ptarmigan is one of the best ice cream places I’ve been to! Wild Scoops is a local Anchorage ice cream parlor with two locations: one is downtown between Fat Ptarmigan and Hard Rock Cafe, and the other is in midtown next to their test kitchen! I visited the midtown shop, which is much bigger.

Wood sign wild scoops handcrafted alaskan ice cream in anchorage alaskaThis place has several unique flavors made with local ingredients. I tried the White Raven flavor, which is cookies ‘n’ cream. It was amazing, especially in their homemade cinnamon waffle cones! You can also splurge and get the “Baked Alaska” topping, which is torched marshmallow fluff. If you like marshmallow, it’s totally worth it!

torched marshmallow ice cream waffle cone with rainbow stripe background at Wild Scoops in Anchorage alaskaIf that’s not reason enough to convince you to go, the line is usually way out the door every single night until closing! It really is worth the wait!

Salmon Fishing and the Ulu Factory

There are also plenty of things to do outside of downtown Anchorage. The Ulu Factory is on the edge of downtown. An Ulu is an Alaskan knife used mostly for cutting fish, but it can also be used for cooking other things. We made a quick stop inside the store so that some of the members of my team could buy souvenir Ulu knives.

Ulu factory wooden building near downtown anchorage alaska

You can also buy ulu knives in other stores around Anchorage, but at this factory you have the opportunity to see them being made if you are interested. Also, the quality will most likely be better at this store than at most gift shops.

fishermen standing in river in anchorage alaska with mountains fishing for salmon

Right outside the Ulu Factory is this creek where people were fishing for salmon every day rain or shine. We saw a few fishermen catch some pretty big salmon. It’s pretty interesting just to stand on the bridge and watch.

Salmon Hatchery

If you are more interested in seeing the fish than the fishermen, you definitely want to visit the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery. It’s not a far drive from the Ulu factory. Here you can see a man-made waterfall and you can watch huge salmon try to jump over! It’s a really cool sight.

wide waterfall and trees with big red king salmon jumping over waterfallIt took me quite a few shots to get this photo of a king salmon jumping. They are so quick! Salmon come back to the same stream to lay their eggs as the place they were born, so the hatchery and waterfall were built as a place for them to swim back to. We saw a ton of salmon in July, but you will want to check to make sure it is the right season depending on the time of year you are going.

Hatcher Pass

Of all the things to do in Anchorage, Hatcher Pass is probably my favorite. It’s technically not in Anchorage, but it’s only a little over an hour north in the Talkeetna Mountains. This gorgeous mountain pass has some of the most beautiful views I saw while in Alaska. There are some very scenic landscapes on the way as well.

scenic Mountains, blue sky and clouds, green grass, landslide near anchorage alaska

This is one of the views we passed on the way to Hatcher Pass. That lighter area of ground on the mountain is actually where a landslide occurred.

Once we started on Hatcher Pass, we passed by a lookout over the beautiful Little Susitna River. You can climb down on the rocks for some cool photo opportunities, but be careful not to slip!

Blue Little Susitna River with rocks in front of green mountain and trees in alaska

Once you reach Hatcher Pass, the roads get a little scarier because they curve around the mountain terrain. Nothing that a careful driver can’t handle! Once you get close to the top of the pass, you can stop at this little rest stop.

Hatcher Pass lodge red buildings with green mountains and grass and streamThe little red buildings are what make up Hatcher Pass Lodge. I think this would be an awesome place to stay!

Hatcher Pass anchorage alaska and talkeetna mountains with clouds, buildings, and pink flower fire weedThese vibrant pink flowers in the pictures are called fireweed, and they grow everywhere in southern Alaska!

pink flower fire weed in hatcher pass anchorage alaskaWe actually hiked up one of the mountains to see what kind of views were up there. There isn’t much of a trail, just some grassy and rocky areas with a few little streams.

Girl in pink shirt and leggings standing by rocks, green plants and flowers, and mountain stream in Hatcher Pass Alaska

The hike can be pretty steep at times, but the view from the top is so worth it! Pictures can’t do justice to the majestic views!

Hatcher Pass alaska mountain covered with clouds and fog

The mountains were all partially covered in beautiful clouds!

Blue sky and gray clouds over anchorage alaska view from green mountains and road of hatcher pass

The view of Anchorage in the distance from where I hiked in Hatcher Pass

After taking in the scenery, we continued on to try and find Summit Lake and reached the top of Hatcher Pass.

hatcher pass summit 388 feet above sea level stone signWe reached the top of Hatcher Pass and saw the most beautiful sunset.

Sunset with gray clouds over green hills at hatcher pass summit near anchorage alaskaWe didn’t have time to find the lake because it was starting to get foggy, and we didn’t want to try to navigate those curvy roads in bad weather. As you could probably tell from the pictures, the mountains had a good bit of cloud cover, but to me that just made them look more mysterious and beautiful!

These are only a few of the fun things to do in and around Anchorage, Alaska. I hope that I can return one day and discover more of what this beautiful state has to offer!

Have you ever visited Anchorage or another place in Alaska? What was your favorite activity or amazing view? Let me know in the comments!


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  1. Gabby says:

    What a great experience but I honestly don’t know how anyone could consider eating icecream in Alaska ???? But I would love to get my hands on a rod and do some salmon fishing!

    • Mary Marino says:

      Haha girl I eat ice cream any time any place! But actually Alaska is pretty great weather in the summer!

  2. Marilyn says:

    Cool and interesting read and how amazing to see salmon swimming up stream. I have only seen this in documentaries.

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