The world is bigger than we could ever possibly imagine, and it’s scary to think we will never even scratch the surface in this lifetime. Even if we do travel to the same places, we see the world through different eyes, creating a unique experience. As I dive head first into travel, I am inspired by each of your adventures and am starting Sonderlust Secrets as a series showcasing this. Interested in being featured?“Alaska, it will get in your blood”, is what they told us when we first moved to the Land of the Midnight Sun. Little did we know, it would get into our blood and stay there.
We moved to Anchorage in fall 2010, when an unexpected move took my then professional hockey-playing husband I over 4500 miles from home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Alaska immediately stole our hearts and gave us both opportunities we only dreamt about, and allowed us to meet some incredible life-long friends in the process. We were absolutely meant for that place, but, like all good things, it had to come to an end and we decided it was time for the next adventure. We may be Canadian born, but we are definitely Alaskan grown.I may not be an “expert” on the state, but I am definitely an “Alaska-pusher”. I strongly believe that Alaska is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their life time. I can’t wait for it to be a place that we return to every few years, and that we one day introduce our children to as well.
About the city
The Dena’ina Athabascans first called the Anchorage-area home, long before British Explorer Captain James Cook sailed into the Cook Inlet in 1778. Anchorage itself was founded in 1915, when Ship Creek (the creek that today runs through the downtown core of the city) was selected as construction headquarters for the Alaska Railroad.
At 301,000 people, Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city with around 41% of the state’s population. The city encompasses 1,961 square miles, which is approximately the size of the state of Delaware. Anchorage, and virtually all of Alaska, is in Alaska Standard Time, which is one hour behind Pacific Standard Time and four hours behind Eastern Standard Time.
HOW TO PACK
Unless you plan on attending a formal event, leave the formal clothes at home. Alaska is very casual and you will feel comfortable anywhere you go in casual clothes. However, what you should pack will vary much depend on what season you are visiting. Here are my recommendations:
Winter: long sleeved shirt, pants, warm hat and gloves, insulated boots, long underwear/leggings, wool socks, warm sweater or vest, snow pants, winter coat.
Spring: long sleeved shirt, pants, walking shoes, waterproof boots, wind breaker or jacket, hat, thin gloves and hat
Summer: short sleeved shirt, shorts, pants, long sleeved shirt, walking shoes, wind breaker or jacket, hat
Fall: long sleeved shirt, pants, warm hart and gloves, insulated boots, waterproof boots, windbreaker or jacket, sweater or vest
Other must-have items: hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, backpack, binoculars, camera, sleeping mask (for the midnight sun)
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Whether you are looking for breakfast, seafood or even a brew pub, there are so many amazing restaurants in Anchorage. There are 3 of my favourites:
Mooses’s Tooth – Moose’s Tooth is my all time favourite restaurant in Anchorage, and visitors agree as it is currently rated #1 on Trip Advisor. Whether you’re in the mood for something fruity or a hoppy IPA, simple pepperoni or my all-time favourite chicken, bacon and garlic, this is THE place for craft beer and pizza in Anchorage. Word of warning, on the weekends and during the summer months, there is often an hour plus wait to get a table.Snow City Cafe – If you’re looking for breakfast, Snow City is your go to. In fact, on Obama’s recent visit to Anchorage, he stopped in and gave it his approval. Located downtown, Snow City’s mission is to use the freshest ingredients available and buy from local vendors whenever they can. Almost everything on the menu is made from scratch.
Location: 1034 West 4th Avenue
Phone Number: (907)272-2489
Hours: Monday to Friday 7:00am to 3:00pm; Weekends 7:00am to 4:00pm
Dish Sushi – If you’re looking for the “ultimate Alaskan meal”, Dish Sushi may not be the place for you, but it is one of the best sushi restaurants that I have been to. Their menu offers the widest variety and most creative sushi, traditional Japanese and Asian dishes.
Location: 639 West International Airport Rd
Phone Number: (907)562-1275
Hours: Monday to Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm; Friday to Saturday 12pm-10pm
WHAT TO DO
Only in Anchorage can you meet a moose, walk on a glacier and explore a vast, natural park all in a single day. There are so many things to do within the city, and within a quick drive outside the city limits, but here are my top 3:
Alaska Zoo – The Alaska Zoo has provided a home for orphaned, injured and captive-born animals for over four decades. They are a nonprofit dedicated to promoting conservation of Arctic, sub-Arctic and like climate species through education, research and community enrichment. It is one of my favourite places in Anchorage, and just a short drive up the hillside, a must visit on your trip to Anchorage.Kincaid Park – Kincaid Park is situated among 1,400 acres of rolling, forested hills and beautiful scenery and provides a spectacular view of Mt. Susitna (or “Sleeping Lady” because it looks like a lady sleeping on her back) across Cook Inlet. Many species of wildlife roam free within the park, including moose and black bear. It is also home to the best sunsets in Anchorage. Kincaid Park Beach holds a special spot in my husband and I’s heart as it is where we got engaged.Flattop Mountain – The mountains east of Anchorage, called the Chugach mountains, hold glaciers, rivers and wildlife and make up one of the large state parks and national forests in the United States. Sitting within the Chugach, at 3,510 feet, Flattop Mountain is the most climbed mountain in the state. Since it is the most accessible mountain to Anchorage, Flattop is a very popular location for hiking, climbing, berry picking, paragliding and backcountry skiing.
WHERE TO STAY
Visitors flock to the Anchorage area in the summer months, and because of this, there are several hotels scattered throughout the city, including popular chains. Keep in mind that due to increase in tourists in summer, competition for a hotel in Anchorage can be tight and expensive, so reserve in advance. For a list of recommend hotels, check this out.If you’re headed to Alaska in the near future and have questions about what to expect, what to see & do or even what to pack, feel free to contact me.
Mar, her husband and very soon-to-be little one currently call the concrete jungle of Toronto home. She enjoys writing about life as environmental educator, animal lover, outdoor enthusiast, travel addict, photograph junkie and foodie. Follow Mar’s adventures over at T.O. & fro, or find her on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin, Facebook and Pinterest!