Although considered the metropolitan center of Alaska, Anchorage has a very relaxed atmosphere and slow-placed way of life. With majestic views of the mountains, the abundance of flowers throughout the city and the pinkish/ lavender light that reflects on the winter snow are just a few reasons visitors descend on this serene city.
There are well over 100,000 glaciers in Alaska. Portage Glacier, about 45 miles south of downtown Anchorage, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Alaska. Set your eyes on mountains soaring to the heavens and vast rivers of ice descending into the sea. These ice-age giants are a site of epic drama.
The city plants 311 flowerbeds with 54,000 plants at 52 locations. Businesses and residents add their own hanging baskets and flower beds. In all, there are an estimated 100,000 hanging baskets. Visitors can ride around in a horse-drawn carriage and admire the colors and scents.
Anchorage is located high on a bluff at the base of the Chugach Mountains along the coast of Cook Inlet in south central Alaska. It sits as far west as Honolulu, Hawaii and far north as Helsinki, Finland. Protected by the mountain ranges and warmed by the currents of the Pacific Ocean, surprisingly Anchorage has a temperate, maritime climate. Spring through fall, Anchorage has a similar climate to San Francisco’s spring weather. With temperatures that average around 65 degrees and have been known to span into the 70′s.
In May, the salmon run upstream. There are so many of them that rumor has it you could cross the river on a solid bridge of salmon.
Winter months bring snow with temperatures in the 20s, creating a climate very similar to ski towns in the Rocky Mountains and Europe. Low humidity also contributes to Anchorage’s moderate climate. Winter days are very short ideal for skiing, sledding, ice-skating, dog sledding and ice fishing. It also is the time set your eyes upon the mystical Northern Lights. They are best seen just north of Anchorage in Fairbanks.
Summer brings long hours of daylight. Darkness does not occur until 3:00 or 4:00 AM. After dinner, locals and visitors often take advantage of the daylight by taking hikes.
Nibble on the local cuisine. Enjoy a reindeer sausage for lunch then start off your evening with an elegant dinner of freshly prepared fish. The locals have many delicious variations in preparing salmon and halibut and the extended summer daylight creates an abundance of fresh vegetables. There are also many coffee shops and brew pubs (featuring locally brewed beers) in every neighborhood of the city.
Flight-see via plane or helicopter, then land on a glacier, set your feet upon a mountain top and view the pristine landscape and breathtaking views, or take a side trip to Denali Park via the Alaska Railroad. Stay for a park tour and set your eyes upon a million acres of forest and meadows, expansive tundra and massive mountain glaciers.
Try a dog sledding adventure along a mountain trail, watch a demonstration, or just meet the fury little guys and see what life is like for these special dogs that are known for their endurance and strength.
The Kenai, Chugach and Alaska mountain ranges can be seen from Anchorage. Mount McKinley, visible on clear days, grandly sits 130 miles north of downtown. This 20,320 foot summit is the tallest mountain in North America. Don’t be surprised if you have a moose or bear sighting in downtown Anchorage or along the Coastal Trail that rims the water.
It is easy to keep your bearings in Anchorage which makes it ideal for walking. The city grid was designed with military precision by the Army Corps of Engineers, with streets and avenues running exactly east-west and north-south. The local bus system covers Anchorage and is free to ride. and only a dollar one-way outside the downtown area.
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