Anchorage a gateway to Alaska adventures
ANCHORAGE — Anchorage, sprawling across the Alaskan peninsula 2,800 miles north of Hawaii, is that state's largest city and a getaway to wilderness adventures. Anchorage residents, noted for their independence and frontier spirit, live in a place where bears and moose regularly amble into town.
The city was founded in 1914 as a headquarters and work camp for the Alaska Railroad, built between 1915 and 1923. Today's population is about 300,000. Kiplinger has named Anchorage the most tax-friendly city in the United States.
BEST THINGS TO DO: Anchorage is a jump-off point for flightseeing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, birdwatching, and glacier and wildlife cruises. From here travelers head south for Kenai Peninsula and fishing or north to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. But in the city don't miss:
• Alaska Native Heritage Center, http://www.alaskanative.net
• Eating coconut beer-battered Spam
• The midnight sun experience
• Biking the pretty 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, from downtown to Kincaid Park, http://www.trailsofanchorage.com
• Spotting beluga whales in Cook Inlet
• Hiking in the Chugach State Park wilderness, http://dnr.alaska.gov
• Watching salmon spawn at the Alaska Botanical Garden, http://www.alaskabg.org
• An Anchorage microbrewery tour
• Chilkoot Charlie's (Koot's), a hot spot for for night revelers for 35 years, http://www.koots.com
WHEN TO GO: Spring through fall, the climate is similar to San Francisco's spring weather, averaging 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures are similar to those at ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains, Canada or Europe, with temperatures dipping to 20 degrees. On the Web: Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, http://www.anchorage.net.