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Fun Things To Do in Anchorage in Winter and Summer

Planning a visit to Anchorage this winter or summer? Then check out these fun things to do in Anchorage including the best places to eat in the city…

Anchorage was the first stop on my Alaska trip in summer, and the last stop on my recent Alaska winter trip. I don’t think Anchorage is the most exciting place to visit in Alaska, but I still enjoyed both visits. The biggest highlight for me was definitely the food – it’s my favorite place to eat in Alaska.

The first half of this post is about the best places to eat in Anchorage, followed by the other fun things to do in Anchorage, including summer and winter activities.

Fun things to do in Anchorage

Fun Things To Do in Anchorage: Eat!

For a city with less than stellar weather, Anchorage needs to have lots of indoor options to keep people busy when the weather is not cooperating and what is better on a cold, rainy day than stuffing your face with delicious food? Not much I’d say.

There are lots of fantastic food options to choose from in the Anchorage restaurant scene, and although I only tried a fraction of what was on offer, I had some very memorable meals during both visits.

Snow City Cafe

One of the most popular Anchorage restaurants, especially for breakfast, the Snow City Cafe is in fact so popular that President Obama even visited when he toured Alaska.

Super cozy inside with comfy booths and an upscale diner decor, the Snow City Cafe welcomed me on a drizzly, cold Anchorage morning.

Snow City Cafe in Anchorage - one of my favorite stops on my Eating Anchorage mission

There is usually a long wait for a table but as I was by myself I grabbed a seat straight away at the counter. For my first meal in Alaska, I went with the Kodiak Benedict, eggs benedict with the main feature being two large Alaskan king crab cakes.

It was hands down the best breakfast I have ever had and my favorite meal in Alaska. You may think that crab cakes for breakfast is weird but trust me on this one, it really works.

Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse

Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse is an Anchorage institution and you have to eat here when you are in Anchorage.

When I visited, I wasn’t that hungry so I ordered a couple of starters; the soup of the day which was a smoked cod stew and the Alaskan King crab nuggets. Both were delicious, especially the King crab nuggets which had so much flavor and were utterly addictive.

I loved the fun vibe of the place and would definitely go back if (when) I am in Anchorage again. It is definitely an Anchorage restaurant worth a visit!

Forty Ninth State Brewing Company

Forty Ninth State Brewing Company is probably my favorite place to eat in Anchorage because it also has the best craft beer in the city. But even if you don’t like beer, don’t miss this place because the food here is outstanding, there is a fun and friendly ambiance, and the view over Cook Inlet is beautiful.

Halibut at 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage - eating here is one of the fun things to do in Anchorage

Toby had the King crab legs and I had the parmesan and asiago crusted halibut with garlic mashed potatoes and a lemon butter sauce. Both meals were incredible. Seafood is the way to go here and there are so many options.

Beer-wise, I loved the Apple Fritter Ale, the Tiger’s Blood Sour, and the Hazy Spruce Tip IPA. They have lots of unique seasonal releases and I dare you to try them.

Red Umbrella Reindeer

There are many hot dog carts around the downtown area but you should definitely try the reindeer hot dog at Red Umbrella Reindeer – it’s an Anchorage special.

I am not a big red meat eater and I didn’t know if I would like it but it was surprisingly good and pretty much just tasted like a good quality chorizo hot dog to me.

I topped it with everything on offer: pickles, relish, sauerkraut, sauce, cheese, and grilled onions. It was an easy and delicious lunch. If you are in Anchorage in summer, don’t miss trying a Reindeer hot dog!

Anchorage Pel’meni

I am a big fan of dumplings and the Russian ones at Anchorage Pel’meni were simple but delicious, served with a range of toppings. I went for the potato-filled dumplings and they were very similar to pierogi. Great for a light lunch.

Fun Things To Do in Anchorage: Other Than Food

Explore Downtown Anchorage

Anchorage isn’t the prettiest place, but there is a small walkable downtown with many gift shops stocking Alaska souvenirs worth browsing. 

Anchorage City Hall in Anchorage Alaska

Don’t miss the small log cabin visitor center and the small museum in the Alaska Public Lands Information Center that has some excellent displays about the local flora and fauna.

Alaska Public Lands Information Center in Anchorage

Learn About Alaskan History at the Anchorage Museum

A close second to the food, my other main highlight of Anchorage was the excellent Anchorage Museum. I ended up going twice, once for free as it is included in the ticket price for the Park Connection bus traveling from Seward to Denali.

The Anchorage Museum has the best First Nations/Indigenous exhibits I have ever seen. There is a massive exhibit on the various tribes throughout Alaska including the Haida people of Haida Gwaii in northern British Columbia.

With traditional clothing, art, and other artifacts on display in large glass cases as well as various videos talking about the tribal traditions, it was very interesting and informative.

Totem pole in Anchorage Alaska

Another exhibit detailed the history of Alaska including lots of information about the indigenous groups, Russians, and Americans who came there. With detailed dioramas and displays on how each group lived, it gave me a better understanding of Alaskan history and what has shaped the State.

There was also a temporary exhibit on Captain Cook and the North West passage including his log book and original drawings by the botanist on board. I spent four hours in total at the Anchorage Museum and easily could have spent more time.

Check Out the Quirky Alaska Law Enforcement Museum

Another small museum that is worth a look is the quirky Alaska Law Enforcement Museum. The entry fee is only $5 and it’s a great activity in winter when it’s cold, or when it’s raining.

I popped in there on a rainy day, watched the dated video, and looked over the hodge-podge of exhibits that included uniforms, news articles, photos, and even a restored 1952 Hudson Hornet.

Moose in Anchorage

Hike or Bike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Starting at the Cook Monument which has a commanding view over the coastline, I walked down to the Westchester Lagoon on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, past beautiful houses in quiet neighborhoods.

Cook Monument in Anchorage Alaska

The peaceful waters of the lagoon were dotted with a couple of small islands. Long grasses grew along the banks at the water’s edge and flocks of ducks waddled around the shoreline in the drizzly rain. You can often spot moose along this trail, so keep an eye out.

There are walking trails along Chester Creek from the lagoon that lead through tranquil forest, a world away from the strip malls that surround Anchorage. It’s a great escape from the city center.

Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage Alaska Chester Creek in Anchorage Alaska

I returned and walked the trail from downtown to Westchester Lagoon again on my recent winter trip and it was still one of the most fun things to do in Anchorage. It is really cool to see the sea ice slowly moving in the Cook Inlet and we saw a moose.

Don't miss seeing Cook Inlet frozen over -it's one of the fun things to do in Anchorage in winter

You can also bike the 11-mile trail in its entirety (or walk it over one long day). This is actually something you can easily do in winter too with a regular bike or a fat tire bike.

Ice skating on Westchester Lagoon

One of the most fun things to do in Anchorage in winter is to go ice skating on Westchester Lagoon. There are a few places you can rent ice skates from in town and then you can either walk the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail from the city center or take an Uber or taxi there.

Iceskating on Westchester Lagoon is one of the fun things to do in Anchorage during winter

The iced-over lagoon is groomed so that there is a cleared pathway to skate around the lake – it’s great exercise and a fun social activity as it is mostly locals.

Hike Flattop Mountain

One of the most popular day trips from Anchorage in summer is to hike nearby Flattop Mountain, the most climbed mountain in Alaska. It is a little challenging with some scrambling near the top, but if you have a reasonable level of fitness, you’ll be fine. It is worth it for the gorgeous views.

I wrote about my experience hiking Flattop Mountain in more detail here

Flattop Mountain

Although I loved eating in Anchorage and exploring the city, what I will remember most about my first time in Anchorage is the excitement I felt about being in Alaska, a place that I had wanted to visit for such a long time. A surreal feeling that the next few weeks held so much possibility, with so many incredible experiences yet to come.

I had finally arrived.

Where To Stay In Anchorage

There is only one highly-rated hostel in Anchorage if you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation, Base Camp Anchorage which has small dorm rooms and one private room. The beautifully designed Qupqugiaq Inn is another option that offers affordable private rooms.

For good mid-range options, stay at Snob Hollow Inn or Maria’s Creekside B&B. If you are looking for more luxury, you can’t beat the elegant The Hotel Captain Cook.

If you would prefer a vacation rental, here are my top picks:

Anchorage downtown

If you liked this post, check out some of my other Alaska content:


Fun Things To Do in Anchorage in Summer and Winter Fun Things To Do in Anchorage All Year Round

6 Comments on Fun Things To Do in Anchorage in Winter and Summer

  1. Your food highlights are making me drool. I totally understand crab cakes for breakfast! And I also have never had reindeer as a hot dog, but I’m not surprised it works either!

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska. Vastly different to my home country! Thanks for another interesting and informative post. You’ve been around, that’s for sure. I haven’t even been out of my own country! Heheh. In a couple of years I will though. 🙂

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