Anchorage skyline on a clear summer day.

Anchorage Alaska

The epicenter of adventure in Alaska.

Vibrant flowers in Anchorage's walkable downtown.

Anchorage Alaska

The epicenter of adventure in Alaska.

Enjoy a view of Lake Hood from Lakefront Anchorage Hotel.

Anchorage Alaska

The epicenter of adventure in Alaska.

The Anchorage Museum is located in the heart of Anchorage.

Anchorage Alaska

The epicenter of adventure in Alaska.

Resident moose at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage, Alaska.

Anchorage Alaska

The epicenter of adventure in Alaska.

Anchorage

Although many travelers in Alaska will pass through Anchorage, the state's largest city has humble roots. The site was originally chosen as the headquarters for the construction of the Alaska Railroad. Thousands of workers employed by the railroad congregated in a hastily built tent city on the banks of Ship Creek. As for the city's name, it has a similarly no-frills origin. In lieu of a better option, the post office began using Anchorage, literally "port," as the place name.

By the time the railroad was complete in 1923, the Anchorage town center had moved onto a bluff overlooking Ship Creek. From there it spread, seeing population booms during World War II and after the discovery of oil on Alaska's North Slope. Today the city is a major transportation hub for both air travel from out of state and bush plane travel within it. The Anchorage area is home to nearly half of Alaska's residents, along with some 300 moose, 250 black bears, and 60 brown bears.

Don't let Anchorage's city feel fool you, the big wilds of Alaska are close by. The city is bordered to the east by the peaks of Chugach State Park and to the south by the Turnagain Arm, a tumultuously beautiful waterway that sees the tide change up to 40 feet on a given day. Keep reading for expert Anchorage advice on where to stay, things to do, and how to get around.

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As a bustling city with a love for the outdoors, Anchorage is full of interest for active travelers. Take a bike ride on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, or check out the extensive hiking trail system east of downtown in the Chugach Mountains. Cultural enthusiasts will find much to learn at the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. There are plentiful city-wide farmers markets in the summertime, plus many local restaurants, bars, galleries, and gift shops to explore.

Local tour operators offer a variety of guided trips that range from private day tours to brewery excursions to glacier walks. Anchorage is also home to the largest float plane base in the world, so fly-in bear viewing tours and fishing charters make for especially memorable day trips. Check out our Things to Do in Anchorage page for more ideas.

Anchorage offers a broad selection of hotels concentrated near the airport or downtown, two areas roughly six miles apart. For travelers seeking an airport hotel, we recommend the Lakefront Anchorage Hotel. Closer to downtown, the convenient Comfort Inn is a good choice for visitors who'll be traveling by train. We typically recommend staying one night in Anchorage, preferably at the beginning or end of your trip. During the summer months, hotel rooms book up quickly, so make your reservations with us well in advance. Check out our Anchorage lodging page for a complete list of options.

Anchorage is served by several national airlines, with Alaska Airlines offering the widest selection of flights both in state and connecting to the continental United States. The Alaska Railroad offers daily summer service to Seward, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks. The Park Connection Motorcoach connects to the same towns (excluding Fairbanks). Rental cars are available from several companies at or near the Anchorage airport. Check out our Anchorage transportation page for more information.

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Anchorage Alaska