An Afternoon in Anchorage

We arrived in Anchorage about 12:30, checked into The Historic Anchorage Hotel and by 1:30 were ready to undertake three priorities:

  • Find and enjoy a pleasant lunch of fresh local seafood;
  • Select restaurants for two dinners (tonight and three days from now, when we would be back in town); and
  • Explore the city before dinner, since we were leaving the next morning.

After identifying potential restaurants, we walked to each and, in our usual process, looked at the menu and the atmosphere. We selected and made reservation at one for lunch and two for dinner; then we ate. (See our blog on Anchorage restaurants.) By 2:45, we were off to explore the city.

The Anchorage Museum

First we had some quick stops at a number of galleries, then headed straight to the Anchorage Museum. After a quick scan of the Art of the North exhibit, we, along with a number of kids, experienced some entertaining learning at the fun, educational and highly interactive Imaginarium Discovery Center.

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We spend most of our museum time in the Alaska History Gallery, which profiles and shows life in Alaska from the original Indian civilizations, through the Russian and later British fur trading days, through the United States’ purchase of the territory, the gold rush, development and the oil boom.

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Then through a review of rare cultural artifacts from a wing of the museum that houses the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center and a final gallery with a fascinating collection of photos documenting the gold rush. Although the museum also had a temporary Mammoths and Mastodons exhibit, we decided to pass on this for the sake of time  since we had recently seen many of these pieces at the Chicago Field Museum (which developed the exhibit).

The Streets, Shops and Bars of Anchorage

We would have liked to spend more time in the museum, but we had places to go and things to see. We strolled the streets of downtown for a while, stopping in unusual stores, such as for native Alaskan art galleries, smoked meats (from halibut to reindeer) and a surprising number of fur stores that carried wide selections of pelts from virtually every imaginable animal (think, for example, wolf, fox, bear and musk ox). We also couldn’t pass up a brief stop at the Dog Mushing Hall of Fame or a look inside 100-year old saloon.

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The Anchorage Market

We were there on a Saturday, a market day at the Anchorage Market, where all types of native foods, arts, crafts are displayed and sold out of tents. A very pleasant 45 minutes and nice introduction to local crafts and culture.

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A Slice of Urban Nature

Unfortunately. we did not have time (or at that time, access to a car) to get out of downtown to a number of neighboring trails (especially Tabletop Mountain), nature centers or even Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters (although or fortuitous discovery of the Dog Mushing Hall of Fame did help compensate for some of the disappointment of missing the Sled Dog Headquarters).

Although we weren’t able to leave the city to find nature, we were able to find some nature in the city. First there were the beautiful gardens and sod roof of the Visitor’s Center in front of City Halls. Then there as the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, a biking, jogging and walking path that runs 10 miles along the coast of Cook Inlet. Even more interesting, we managed to find all types of wildlife in the city—bear, moose, musk ox—the whole nine yards. And we didn’t once seriously fear for our lives as they were all stuffed.

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But all this sightseeing is hard work. We needed a break before dinner. Where better than a restaurant (Snow Goose) with its own brewing company (Sleeping Lady) and an outdoor deck with an overview of Cook Inlet.

Although we enjoyed our time in Anchorage (although we were glad we didn’t spend more), we had one big disappointment—we weren’t unable to see Russia. Guess it wasn’t quite clear enough.

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