12 Best Free Things to Do in Anchorage - Gray Line Alaska (2024)

Anchorage, Alaska is best known as a metropolis with unique access to wildlife, a robust trail system and nearby glaciers to explore. With so much to see and do, it can be hard to determine where to spend your time. Have no fear, we’re here to help summarize some of the top free things to do in Anchorage.

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, and rollerbladers in the summer, as well as cross-country skiers in the winter. 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 postcard-like setting.

12 Best Free Things to Do in Anchorage - Gray Line Alaska (1)

3. Campbell Creek Science Center

The Campbell Creek Science Center is an outdoor science education center located on a 730-acre parcel of public lands featuring diverse wildlife and vegetation. There’s something for people of all ages to enjoy at the center, from children’s programs to bird walks, team building programs and much more. After spending some time learning, explore the 12 miles of recreational trails in the surrounding park.

4. Ship Creek

Running right through downtown Anchorage, Ship Creek is a local favorite spot for watching the salmon run plus a beautiful city skyline for a backdrop. If you have gear (or want to rent some) and a fishing license, you can even drop a line. To learn more about salmon, check out the nearby William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery.

5. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary

Head south out of Anchorage on the Seward Highway and before leaving town, you’ll come upon the Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary. This location is described by visitors as a birder’s delight. Home to more than 220 species of birds, visitors can enjoy a walk along the boardwalk or visit the wetland habitat. Migrating birds visit in all seasons, which makes this the perfect year-round destination.

Museums and other cultural offerings

6. Alyeska Roundhouse Museum

Coined as Alaska’s only mountaintop museum, the Alyeska Roundhouse Museum features spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Turnagain Arm. About 40 miles south of Anchorage in Girdwood, visitors take an aerial tram from Alyeska Resort up to the top of the mountain. Trust us, it’s worth it!

7. Eklutna

Heading north, visitors can go to Eklutna, an Alaska Native village known for outdoor recreational opportunities at Eklutna Lake and the iconic Eklutna Historical ParkCemetery, which is a great place to see a blending of Athabascan and Russian Orthodox traditions.

Arts and Entertainment

8. Music in the Park

Music abounds in the summertime with Music in the Park. At noon on Wednesdays, local musicians play at Peratrovich Park next to the Anchorage Visitor Center’s log cabin located downtown .

9. First Friday Art Walk

Anchorage art spills out into streets on the first Friday of every month. Galleries and coffee shops open up to share various mediums of art by locals and non-locals alike. Check out Visit Anchorage for listings of what’s showing where and when.

10. Lunch on the Lawn

Each summer, the Anchorage Museum hosts Lunch on the Lawn from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. featuring live music, outdoor science labs and other family-friendly activities. Bring your own lunch or order food from several local food trucks! Check the Anchorage Museum website for information.

Mix with the Locals

11. Anchorage Market

Every summer weekend, 300 vendors take over seven acres of downtown Anchorage to sell everything from produce to pictures to Alaska Native handmade pieces at theAnchorage Market.

12. Geocaching

Treasure hunting is alive and well with geocaching. Use your GPS or smartphone to find fun clues left by visitors and locals before you. Then add in your own clues for the adventure to continue. Swing by the Anchorage Log Cabin Information Center for a geocaching guide and get hunting!

As a major hub of Alaska life, there are tons of free things to do in Anchorage. It is also a great jumping-off point for day trips full of hiking in the Chugach Mountains or venturing out of the city. No matter what you decide to do, come see the unique mix of scenery and culture for yourself!

If you’re looking for a unique and exciting way to travel to or from Anchorage, take a look at our Anchorage rail tour offerings.

12 Best Free Things to Do in Anchorage - Gray Line Alaska (2024)

FAQs

What's the number one attraction in Alaska? ›

Alaska is an ideal, must-visit location for anyone who loves the outdoors or beautiful scenery. Some of the best things to do in Alaska include spending time in Kenai Fjords National Park, Chena Hot Springs, Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, and Tongass National Forest.

How do I spend my day in Anchorage? ›

Hometown restaurants are the perfect place to try an Alaska twist on traditional favorites. Order King Crab Benedict or a stack of sourdough hotcakes. Rent a bike or stroll along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to enjoy spectacular views of Cook Inlet or take a shuttle to a trail head in the Chugach State Park.

Is it worth spending a day in Anchorage? ›

Anchorage is worth visiting on your trip to Alaska. Many people arrive in Anchorage and immediately head out to other towns, but it is worth spending at least a day in the city. For those travelers who want to hike in Alaska, we recommend the trails in Anchorage above many other places.

Does Anchorage have a boardwalk? ›

From the Potter Marsh parking lot, visitors are treated to a stunning view of Turnagain Arm and access to the raised boardwalk. Additional parking areas along the marsh are available just south of the Potter Marsh parking area on the Seward Highway. Explore more things to do in Anchorage.

What is the coolest town in Alaska? ›

Here are some of the best places to explore.
  • Girdwood. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Seward. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Skagway. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Valdez. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Fairbanks. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Ketchikan. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Talkeetna. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Gustavus. Historical Landmark. Michael Denning / Unsplash.
May 30, 2024

How to spend an afternoon in Anchorage, Alaska? ›

The Best Things to Do in Anchorage
  1. Day Cruise from Whittier, Seward, or Portage. ...
  2. Drive to the Matanuska Glacier. ...
  3. Fly-In Bear Viewing. ...
  4. Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive. ...
  5. Fly-in fishing. ...
  6. Train Ride and Rafting or Kayaking at Spencer Glacier. ...
  7. Talkeetna & Denali Flightseeing. ...
  8. Anchorage History & Culture.

What is Anchorage best known for? ›

Anchorage is best known for trails, wildlife, and glaciers, and it is the state's cultural soul as well. The city is home to more artists and musicians than any other place in Alaska.

Can you see the northern lights in Anchorage? ›

Anchorage is one of the best bases from which to chase aurora. Many of the prime locations are easily accessed from the city. There are plenty of Anchorage guides with an eye for those magical lights.

Is it safe to walk around Anchorage? ›

Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in dimly lit areas, and stay aware of potential wildlife encounters. Additionally, in colder months, be cautious of icy sidewalks. Overall, Anchorage is relatively safe, but it's wise to take common-sense precautions.

What is the best month to go to Anchorage Alaska? ›

The best time to visit Anchorage depends on the activities you want to do and how much you enjoy the cold weather. The city is generally considered to be at its best in the summer (June to August) when the skies are clearer, temperatures are mild and there are extended daylight hours to explore.

Is Denali a day trip from Anchorage? ›

It takes about 4.5 hours to drive straight from Downtown Anchorage to the Denali National Park Visitor Center. But if you have the time, make a day of it! There are lots of things to see and do along the way.

Is Anchorage a walkable city? ›

Anchorage is a pedestrian-friendly grid of streets, with numbered avenues running east to west, and lettered streets running north to south. In a few compact blocks, you'll find restaurants, brewpubs, coffee shops, tour companies, visitor information, and shops.

Can you see orcas in Anchorage? ›

What Whales Could You See? May - September you might see Humpbacks (the most common), Orcas, Minke, and Fin Whales. If you visit in March - May, you may catch the spring Gray Whale Migration as they travel north from Baja.

Can you walk on the beach in Anchorage? ›

While Anchorage is well known for its mountains and world-class access to the wilds of Chugach State Park, the city is also dotted with lakes and lined with ocean — which means it has the perfect beaches for afternoon picnics, a day on the water, or a morning stroll along the tideline.

What is Alaska best known for? ›

Alaska is known for its wide-open spaces, abundant outdoor experiences, and Alaskan Native culture. Alaska is also one of the best places in the world in which to view the Northern Lights. From the mountains to the sea fjords, and Alaska's vast interior terrain, the 49th state is a photographer's dream.

What is 1 landmark in Alaska? ›

NHLs in Alaska
Landmark nameCounty
1Adak Army Base and Adak Naval Operating BaseAleutians West
2Alaska Native Brotherhood HallSitka
3Amalik Bay Archeological DistrictKodiak Island
4American Flag Raising SiteSitka
45 more rows

What is the best way to see Alaska for the first time? ›

What's the Best Way to See Alaska? Try These 6 Tips
  1. Choose a Small Ship Cruise.
  2. If You Travel by Land, Don't Miss the Coast.
  3. Get Outside—in Any Weather.
  4. Enjoy the Solitude.
  5. Relax, You Will See Wildlife.
  6. Don't Keep the Great Land to Yourself.

What is Alaska's number 1 industry? ›

The oil and gas industry is the largest component of Alaska's economy.

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