Alaska On the Go Show – Exploring Anchorage

Show #2 – Anchorage 

It’s always a good time to visit the Anchorage Museum. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

The “big city” of Anchorage was the topic of discussion on last week’s Alaska On the Go Show, proudly heard on KONR-LP 106.1 FM each Wednesday afternoon.  Ruth Kimerer joined me in the studio, sharing her 20+ years of residency in Anchorage and a long career in the Alaska tourism industry. 

We kicked things off trying to pick apart the claim that Anchorage, with 350,000 residents and encompassing a swath of real estate as large as Delaware, was “not really part of Alaska.” A pox on whomever decided this was true, because both Ruth and I believe unabashedly that is not only a myth, but a poorly-informed one at that. 

Winter along Anchorage’s Lake Spenard. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Anchorage IS Alaska, my friends, and it is not to be missed in your explorations of the 49th state. Why? Follow along: 

  • Anchorage is uniquely positioned in the south-central section of the state, thereby making access to all other points on the compass much more convenient. Traveling to the Interior? Go by road, rail, or air. Buzzing down to the Panhandle? Hop on a jet. Need to fulfill an itch to see the remote landscapes of our national parks across the inlet? Easy. Take a bush plane. Heading to Hawaii? Yep. We have you covered (I said that last one because I wish I was there). 
  • The diversity of Anchorage is known worldwide. Yep. The Mountain View neighborhood is the most diverse in the nation. At least 100 unique languages are spoken by Anchorage School District students. Our restaurants range from Ethopian to German, and everything in between. Want to learn more? Join one of the monthly celebrations at Welcoming Anchorage’s Tradition Tuesdays, a citywide coalition of culture that meets at the Loussac Library for an hour of stories, traditions, and food. Kids are always welcome.
  • Anchorage sits on the fringe of Chugach State Park, the nation’s third-largest, and a great place to hike, bike, walk, camp, ski, mush, and otherwise recreate by people power. The city also boasts more than 200 miles of trails within its own municipality, many of which lead to one of 224 parks and 82 playgrounds. That’s pretty impressive. Oh, Chugach State Park is celebrating its 50th birthday this summer, so be sure to put Saturday, June 13 on your calendar for a big party at Arctic Valley. 

Orphaned moose calf at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is cared for by staff. Erin Kirkland/AKontheGO

Here are some ideas for family fun in and around Anchorage, whether you’ve lived here for years or are just visiting for a few days: 

  • Alaska Zoo’s “Behind the Scenes” tour: Ruth recently took a tour to see the Amur tiger exhibit up close. Oh my, the way she described their roars — wow. Visitors can also explore the polar bear exhibit, moose, wolves, or just about any other of the zoo’s animals and birds of the circumpolar north. This is a great idea for birthdays, family meet-ups, or scout groups. 
  • This led us to talk about another animal-centric opportunity at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, where guests can participate in feeding activities and an excellent interpretive talk by naturalists at the facility. Check it out HERE. 
  • I’ve been on a quest to ski Anchorage lakes lately, since some of the nordic ski trails aren’t quite up to speed thanks to a lack of recent snowfall. But the lakes — oh my — they are in fantastic shape for someone who wants to make a few laps or ski with small kiddos who need flat surfaces and lots of viewing room. The Anchorage park directory link above can help you find spots to ski or snowshoe with the kiddos. 
  • Want to go indoors? Anchorage’s museums are plentiful and diverse. Try the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center on a First Friday evening (free admission from 6-9 p.m.). The Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers (FOAST) Museum on 5th Avenue is a walk through Alaska’s law enforcement, and is pretty interesting. The Alaska Aviation Museum on Lake Hood is ever-evolving, and has been totally remodeled to accommodate young visitors. Plus, there’s the added bonus of watching planes from the control tower cab located across the museum parking lot. The Alaska Public Lands Center on 4th Avenue is not exactly a museum, but has wonderful displays in its also-remodeled space, and is a great place to make plans for summer adventures. 

Still looking for more? Hit up the Visit Anchorage website for some nice listings of restaurants, kid-friendly activities, and events happening around the area. Also click the link to the Kids Guide to Anchorage, found on our home page. It’s a great little book written by the kids of Anchorage’s Aquarian Elementary and we love shouting out their suggestions. 

Show #3 is coming up on Wednesday, January 22 at 3 p.m.! This week I’ve got Bob Johnson, marketing director of Great Alaskan Holidays in the studio to talk RV travel, itineraries, and what to look for if you’re considering renting or buying an RV. Good stuff, so you’ll not want to miss this! 

Remember to subscribe to these and all updates on AKontheGO (you can find the box at the bottom of our home page). 

~ EK

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