The Best Activities and Tours of Anchorage, Alaska on a Budget
Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, is in the south-central part of the state on the Cook Inlet. It's known for its cultural sites, including the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which displays traditional crafts, stages dances, and presents replicas of dwellings from the area's indigenous groups. The city is also a gateway to nearby wilderness areas and mountains including the Chugach, Kenai and Talkeetna. Of all the world's cities, Anchorage uniquely combines the conveniences of the modern world with a rugged, natural environment that has all but vanished from populated regions of the world. In Anchorage, you can watch moose in the morning and ballet in the afternoon. You can take a short flight to see some of the most beautiful mountain scenery on earth, then be back for fresh seafood at a five-star restaurant.
Anchorage is an urban enclave surrounded by wilderness. Within a few miles of downtown, you can encounter scenes more wild than you'll find in most national parks: wolf packs roaming through a park, rushing mountain streams, and city parks vast enough to forget which century you live in. The world's second highest tides surge against its shores, and North America's highest peak glimmers in the distance. With all of these fabulous attributes, Anchorage is a great place to experience, and there are several options for budget friendly activities and tours in or near the city.
Glacier hiking is a fun activity for virtually anyone with the proper equipment and an experienced guide. Explore the hidden treasures of the Matanuska glacier on this 7-hour day trip from Anchorage. You will be picked up from your Anchorage hotel and start the trip to Matanuska Glacier, an extraordinary place to experience beauty and adventure in the wilderness of Alaska. This tour starts in Anchorage with a 2-hr scenic drive along the Matanuska Valley. With some and instructions and time to get all the necessary gear on, your hike starts at the toe of the terminal moraine and follows the path of the receding ice up the glacier. Once you arrive at the glacier, your guide will help you put your crampons on and explain how to navigate the glacial landscape. The ice fall trek features close-up views of the best accessible features of the glacier including crevasses, seracs and unique ice formations, as well as a high point with views of the beautiful ice fall. Even if the sky is grey or rainy the power of the glacier is still beautiful and amazing.
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Meet the animals of Alaska on a 4-hour tour from Anchorage. After morning pickup at your Anchorage hotel, travel along the Seward Parkway towards Portage Valley. Your knowledgeable guide will share fascinating commentary about the wildlife of Turnagain Arm and the Chugach National Forest area. Stop at the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, Beluga Point and Bird Point to get different vantage points on the Turnagain Arm, and look for wildlife such as moose, caribou and eagles. The Turnagain Arm is a narrow branch of the Cook Inlet, which connects to the Gulf of Alaska. Visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a wildlife reserve located at the edge of Portage Valley. On the sprawling refuge, injured and orphaned wild animals are rehabilitated, including large Alaskan land animals like grizzly bears, wood bison, caribou, moose, musk ox and deer. View the animals up close and learn about their backstory as you walk around the large wildlife center. Your 4-hour tour ends with return to your Anchorage hotel.
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Take a comfy seat aboard a cable car for this 1-hour Anchorage tour by trolley. Hop aboard a red trolley in downtown Anchorage in front of the Visitor Information Center. Trolleys leave every hour (every half hour during the summer), giving you some flexibility in your sightseeing schedule. The trolley covers 15 miles (24 km) over the course of an hour. Pass through the city’s historic neighborhoods as your guide points out interesting trivia about the area. Along the way, watch seaplanes make splashy landings on Lake Hood and Lake Spenard, and travel through Earthquake Park where you can stare in awe at the damages caused by one of the most powerful recorded earthquakes in North American history. Over the course of four minutes, the 9.2 quake split roads, uprooted trees, and brought on a landslide that sent 75 houses into the Cook Inlet. What remains of this hilly landscape overlooking Knik Arm has been turned into a park commemorating this devastating event. On this tour, you'll also see the historic Alaska Railroad, Westchester Lagoon and maybe even some crossing moose. Your tour ends back at the departure point.
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Get the inside scoop on Anchorage’s beer culture and brewery history on this 3.5-hour tour. Make your way to the meeting point in downtown Anchorage in the afternoon and meet your tour guide, who will give you an informative overview of Alaska’s beer culture from a local's perspective before driving you to your first of three included tasting tours. Get your taste buds ready for Alaska’s best brews as you visit pioneering breweries and a trendy tap room. In all, you'll try beers from six breweries: two at the breweries themselves and then sample four more at a famous local bar. Listen as your guide tells you about the history of Alaskan beers, the founding brewery fathers, and what makes Alaska’s beer culture stand out. Take in the awe-inspiring scenery of Anchorage’s dramatic skyline, with soaring mountains as the natural backdrop. Stop into Anchorage’s oldest brewery and taste why it medaled at the World Beer Cup. Enjoy the chef’s selection of appetizers as you taste the beers. Sip on some hoppy goodness as a newcomer to Alaska's beer scene. Then get a little rowdy at a world-famous bar full of chatty locals. By the end of the tour, you’ll have a good idea of what makes Alaskan beer great, and what makes Anchorage such an appealing city. At the end of the tour, your guide drops you off at the meeting point, leaving you free to continue to explore the city’s beer scene on your own.
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