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Destinations: Fly away ideasDestinations: Fly away ideas

Tour Anchorage on a budget

Editor's note: Since the original publication of this article, the water pipe mentioned in the story has been removed.
The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage offers something for everyone—and every pilot. And you don’t have to break the bank to have fun.
April 2019 Pilot Briefing

Helicopter and floatplane tours
Take to the air to explore Anchorage, Denali, or Lake Clark National Park, which is accessible only by airplane and sometimes by boat. The scenery around Anchorage itself is stunning, with the Chugach Mountains filling the skyline to the east and Cook Inlet to the west. If you’re going to splurge, do it with an aerial tour. Local tours start at $110.

Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest
These free, popular attractions are close to Anchorage and on the road system. They offer hiking, access to glaciers, and more. Flattop Mountain and overlook are in the Chugach, and Flattop is considered the most-hiked mountain in the state.

Glacier grandeur
The Knik Glacier near Palmer, about a one-hour drive northeast of Anchorage—and Portage Glacier, about one hour to the southeast—are two of the closest glaciers. To tour the Knik Glacier, you’ll need to take a tour, which will cost you. It’s free to hike on the Portage Glacier, but cruises start at $39.

Wet your whistle with a free sip of pure glacier water. Alaska 1 South takes you from Anchorage to Portage Glacier. Along the way, you’ll spot a small pipe sticking out of one of the cliffs on the side of the road. It’s a popular place to stop and fill your water bottle with glacier water.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
This nonprofit sanctuary cares for animals that have been injured or orphaned, or are ill. Enjoy a self-guided tour to see bison, brown and black bears, bald eagles, fox, lynx, moose, musk ox, owls, reindeer, and wolves. The modest entry fee not only lets you get up close with Alaska’s wild animals, but it also supports their care and preservation.

Coastal Trail
To explore and stretch your legs in Anchorage, walk or bike the Coastal Trail that runs along the city’s edges and provides views of Cook Inlet. In the summer, visit the salmon viewing platform at Ship Creek, where you can watch or fish for salmon.

Alaska Aviation Museum and Great Alaska Gathering
The Alaska Aviation Museum is located at Lake Hood and is open any time of year. Browse vintage aircraft and rare birds like the 1943 Noorduyn Norseman, a classic northern bush airplane. General admission prices are modest. If you are in Anchorage in early May, stop by the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering. It’s free to attend and features seminars, exhibits, and aircraft displays.

Gweenie’s Old Alaska Restaurant
Located near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the restaurant comes highly recommended by numerous locals, including Mark Bly, known as The Flying Chef. The portions are enormous. If you are there for breakfast, try the reindeer sausage.

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Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.

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