Ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Land of the Midnight Sun? Kick it off in Downtown Anchorage, the heart of Alaska’s largest city. Boasting an irresistible blend of outdoor adventure and urban energy, this neighborhood is just waiting to be explored.
Alaska’s vibrant business and cultural hub, Downtown Anchorage is home to many of the city’s most popular attractions. Take a stroll and immerse yourself in the region’s rich history and culture. Within just a few compact blocks, you’ll discover a lively brew-and-foodie scene, intriguing shops, vivid public art exhibits, beautiful parks, and arresting views.
Downtown Anchorage is a tidy grid of streets with lettered streets running north-south and numbered avenues running east-west. It doesn’t get more pedestrian-friendly than this.
Prep for your walkabout at the Log Cabin Visitor Center. Load up on insider travel trips, and you’ll be good to go!
Ready to experience the many delights of Downtown Anchorage? Get ready to roll with this complete guide for what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay!
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What to see & do in Downtown Anchorage
If you’re intrigued by the fascinating history of the state known as “The Last Frontier,” you’ll want to take a deep dive into the past at the Anchorage Museum. Built on the traditional lands of the Dena’ina, the Cook Inlet’s early Indigenous people, this site is a treasury of the state’s cultural history.
Set in the heart of downtown, this popular city destination is Alaska’s premier museum. The Anchorage Museum is home to vast, one-of-a-kind collections of artifacts and exhibits, many of them celebrating the history and culture of Alaska’s Indigenous peoples.
Explore over a dozen galleries tracing The Great Land’s storied past through the decades. Be sure to make time for one of the museum’s star attractions: the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, home to hundreds of rare Native Alaskan objects ranging from artifacts of everyday life to elaborate masks and compelling artworks.
Scope out the interactive Alaska and the Arctic Discovery Center, where you’ll discover intriguing sea life displays, environmental installations, and hands-on scientific exhibits.
When you’re ready for a break, slide into a seat at the onsite café, or browse the museum’s gift shop.
Want to explore a slice of Downtown Anchorage history? Pull on your walking shoes and head for Delaney Park, a unique green space that the locals call their “Washington Mall.” Created in 1917, this is the oldest park in Anchorage. One block wide and 13 blocks long, it was originally Anchorage city’s airfield – hence the rectangular shape.
Today, Delaney Park is a popular urban oasis. To the north are bustling restaurants, shops, and office buildings; to the south and west, you’ll find tree-lined residential neighborhoods. The stunning backdrop to it all: the majestic Chugach Mountains.
Take a stroll and explore park highlights that include a giant locomotive, the Alaska Veterans’ Memorial, and the lush Centennial Rose Garden.
Delaney Park is where locals come to play – so put on your game face and dive into the fun with a round of tennis, soccer, softball, or kite-flying. The summer months feature festivals, food vendors, and live music. Come winter, you can take a spin on the skating rink or experience the thrill of a dogsled ride.
If the idea of walking in historic footsteps grabs you, saunter over to Resolution Park. Just minutes away from Downtown Anchorage, you’ll take in the same breathtaking vistas that greeted explorer James Cook aboard the Resolution during his 1778 quest for the Northwest Passage.
Cook himself never actually set foot in Anchorage. Instead, he dispatched his ship’s master – the notorious William Bligh made (in)famous in Mutiny on the Bounty – to suss the place out. But two weeks later, having failed to discover the coveted passage, Cook departed.
Though he lost out on the discovery front, Cook scored big on legacy: The vast 180-mile inlet he explored snow bears his name. Today, a striking life-size bronze statue in Resolution Park depicts the explorer standing on a ship’s deck gazing out over his namesake.
Stand beside the captain and take in the sweeping seascapes of Cook Inlet and the Port of Anchorage. Gaze across the water and you’ll be awed by the sight of Mount Susitna. On a clear day, you’ll even see Denali (Mount McKinley), the tallest mountain in North America.
Looking for a top spot in Anchorage to kick back outdoors? You’ll find it in Elderberry Park, less than a mile from downtown. Created in 1922, this is one of the city’s oldest and most loved parks. Nestled along the Coastal Trail at the end of 5th Avenue, it’s home to 1.5 acres of picturesque parkland and sweeping views of Cook Inlet.
If you’re in shopping and sightseeing mode, Elderberry Park is the perfect spot to relax and reboot. If you’re up for exploring, saunter over to the historic Oscar Anderson House for a blast from the past. Built in 1915, this quaint and quirky structure was the city’s first permanent residence and one of Anchorage’s must-see attractions for history buffs.
If you’ve got youngsters in tow, they’ll find plenty of ways to blow off steam at Elderberry Park. Let them loose to zoom down the park’s slides and play on the jungle gym. Do some trainspotting: wave to the conductor as you watch the trains chug by on the Alaska Railroad.
The perfect way to end your day? A stroll on Elderberry Park’s beach to catch a spectacular sunset over Cook Inlet.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
If you want to savor the splendor of Alaska’s wild beauty without having to leave the city, make tracks to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The crowning jewel of Anchorage’s expansive trail network, this is one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions.
Get easy access from 2nd Avenue and H Street or 5th Avenue and M Street – then pick your mode of motion. Hike, bike, run, or ski a scenic paved pathway hugging the spectacular coastline from Downtown Anchorage to the wide-open spaces of Kincaid Park.
Along the way, take in stunning views of Mount Sisitna, the awesome edifice known as Sleeping Lady. Keep your eyes peeled – and your camera handy – for sightings of Alaskan wildlife like moose, eagles, and seabirds.
Then take time to explore Kincaid Park, your final trail destination. This sprawling 1,500-acre gem is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike, bike, hit the soccer field, or cast a fishing line into the lake. After a day of action, sit back and catch a glorious sunset.
Oscar Anderson House Museum
In a nostalgic mood? Take a 15-minute stroll from Downtown Anchorage to the Oscar Anderson House Museum and do some time traveling.
Built in 1915, this snug (20 X 40 feet) wood frame building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the home of Swedish immigrant Oscar Anderson, one of the driving forces in the settlement of the “Tent City” that’s now known as Anchorage. By Oscar’s own account, he was the eighteenth person to set foot on the site – and the house he built was its first permanent residence.
A house in Tent City was a big deal, and as an ambitious entrepreneur, Oscar was a major player in Anchorage’s early days. Meticulously restored, the Oscar Anderson House Museum is a rare gem that sheds an intriguing light on everyday life in Alaska over a century ago.
Step inside, browse the home’s antiques, furnishings, and vintage photographs – and picture Anderson’s family of five not only surviving but thriving in the harsh Alaska winters.
Valley of the Moon Park
If you’re looking for a place where youngsters (and canines) can blow off some steam, set your sights on Valley of the Moon Park. Just a mile south of Downtown Anchorage in the Chester Creek Greenbelt, this 20-acre multi-use green space makes the perfect quick getaway.
The kiddos will get a kick out of the playground at Valley of the Moon Park. One of the largest parks in Anchorage, it’s got plenty to offer. Kids will have a blast as they climb up and around a multi-tiered rocket ship and slide back down to earth, or swing with the greatest of ease from the monkey bars. (There’s even a small-scale set-up for the pint-sized set.)
Want a quick reboot? Hike the tree-lined Chester Creek Trail, and you can connect to Westchester Lagoon and the Tony Knowles Trail. Meander through picturesque stands of birch, poplar, and spruce trees. Take the pooch for a romp in the large made-for-Fido park. Break out a hamper at one of the park’s picnic tables, and watch Chester Creek flow by.
Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park
Want a family-friendly space that offers fun activities in a beautiful natural setting? Pack up the gang and head out to Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park. Nestled in South Addition on the northwest corner of Westchester Lagoon, this 90-acre gem is a magnet for kids and adults alike.
You and your crew can take your pick of fun all-season options at Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park. During the summer months, hit the trails and get your adrenaline pumping with a session of hiking or biking. If you’re a water lover, slip into a kayak or canoe and explore the scenic Westchester Lagoon. Check out the lagoon’s man-made islands, where you’ll catch sight of populations of nesting waterfowl.
During the winter months, you can strap on your cold-weather gear and hit the cross-country and snowshoeing trails – or head to the ice pond for an exhilarating spin. When you want to relax and warm up, scope out one of the park’s bonfire sites and get cozy.
Where to eat & drink
As the heartbeat of Alaska’s biggest city, it’s no surprise that Downtown Anchorage is home to some of the state’s tastiest spots to eat and drink.
Lope into Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse and get your tasting menu started. This casual neighborhood favorite serves up live local music, fresh food, and a great selection of craft beers. Slip out to the patio on a warm summer evening and quaff a frosty brew while you nibble on “the best Alaskan King Crab in the world.”
If you’re In the mood for sushi, sashay over to Kumagoro, Anchorage’s original sushi restaurant. Located in the heart of Downtown Anchorage, this cozy eatery has been a city staple for over 40 years. Treat your tastebuds to delicious offerings like traditional Japanese nigiri, sashimi, and ramen. (The King Salmon sushi is highly recommended.) They’ve also got a fantastic selection of bento boxes for visitors on the go.
Savor the zest of Pacific Rim cuisine at Ginger. This stylish spot puts a tasty modern twist on classic Asian specialties, all hand-crafted from fresh ingredients. Choose from tempting dishes like beef curry, spicy tuna, crispy pork eggrolls, and ginger-crusted ahi. Pair your meal with a craft brew, cocktail, or sake. Savor at the table, or chill out in the hip lounge area.
Visitors with hearty appetites will want to make a beeline for Orso. This warm and welcoming eatery features a generous menu of stick-to-your-ribs treats. Dig into mouthwatering offerings like Prosciutto Wrapped Alaska Halibut or Chicken Parmesan Orso Style. Save room for luscious deserts like Tiramisu and Limoncello Panna.
Check out the sign on the Darwin’s Theory door that reads “See the Local Wildlife.” This neighborhood favorite has perfected the art of the dive. Kick back with local brews, craft cocktails & complimentary popcorn in an ambiance of quirky décor and warm vibes. Jive to jukebox music and strike up a conversation with local patrons and friendly bar staff. There’s no food menu, but pizza appears as if by magic.
Roll into F Street Station and enjoy a blast from the past. The oldest bar in Downtown Anchorage, this place was a favorite with aviators when they touched down at the nearby airstrip. Take a gander at the walls, and you’ll discover amazing vintage photos of old Alaskan planes. These days the Station serves up a homey vibe along with mouthwatering food faves, including fresh seafood. Tip: Their Eggs Benedict and Fish & Chips are legendary!
If your idea of bar food goes way beyond beer nuts, settle in and make yourself comfortable at the Glacier Brewhouse. This long-time local favorite will pull you in with its cozy timbered interior. Relax by the glow of a fireplace as you dig into serious cuisine like wild Alaskan seafood, mouthwatering steaks, and rotisserie-roasted meats. Up the enjoyment with one of Glacier’s scrumptious house-brewed ales.
Craving a lively vibe while you imbibe? Slide into 49th State Brewing Anchorage for an upbeat experience. Set in an Elk’s Lodge built in 1917, this jumpin’ pub is strictly 21st-century. Delve into an award-winning selection of beers ranging from refreshing lagers to creamy stouts. Choose from a delicious menu featuring fresh, locally-sourced ingredients – then take it all outside to the patio to enjoy gorgeous views of Cook Inlet.
Where to stay
As it’s the heart of the city, Downtown is home to many of the most popular places to stay in Anchorage. Accommodations here range between everything from chain hotels to vacation rentals. If you run out of lodgings choices downtown, extend your search to areas like South Addition, Midtown, or Spenard (particularly if you’ve got an early flight to catch).
Enjoy a unique combination of rustic and modern vibes in the charming 1915 Coastal Historical Log Home. Nestled on a quiet downtown street, it’s close to major Anchorage attractions. Relax in the garden, grill up a storm, chill out at a local brewery, hike or bike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and take in stunning mountain and coastal views.
Want to stay downtown without breaking the bank? Settle in at the 3-star Four Points by Sheraton Anchorage Downtown. Set in the heart of the city, this business-friendly hotel is steps away from the 5th Avenue Mall and other top attractions. Enjoy spacious guest rooms, plus amenities like an on-site gym, free bottled water and coffee, and free wireless internet access.
Looking for a room with a (spectacular) view? You’ll want to hunker down in The Hotel Captain Cook. Set in picturesque Bootleggers Cove in the city’s northwestern corner, this 4-star luxury hotel dazzles with breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet. Treat yourself to some pampering at the hotel’s spa, or grab a workout at the on-site gym. Fuel up at one of the hotel’s first-class restaurants.
If you enjoy a dash of historic flair in your accommodations, you’ll want to book in at the Historic Anchorage Hotel. Built in the 1930s, this picturesque hotel exudes a traditional charm that’s reflected in its style and décor. Prep for your day with a delicious continental breakfast. After a day on the town, stretch out in a cozy room featuring chunky armchairs, floral bedding, and carpeted floors.
If you’re looking for affordability plus convenience, look no further than the Marriott Anchorage Downtown. This upscale city center hotel offers comfortable rooms and beautiful views, plus amenities including a mini fridge and coffee maker. Explore local attractions like the nearby Tony Knowles Coastal Trail or Delaney Park, along with many of the area’s restaurants.