18 Fun Things To Eat, Drink and Do Now in Anchorage, Alaska

by Janis on July 31, 2012

Are you planning to visit Alaska?  There is a good chance that you’ll see the state’s largest city, Anchorage, if only for a brief stop from the airport.  

Anchorage, Alaska is Mr. Jones’ birthplace and hometown.  When we visit Anchorage several times a year to see family and friends, we like to check out our favorite “local” and “tourist” spots, as well as discover what’s new.  If you like to eat, drink, shop or explore the outdoors, there’s no shortage of ways to have fun in Anchorage. 

18 fun things to eat, drink and do now in Anchorage, Alaska 


1. Eat the cheese at F Street Station.  A small, crowded bar — popular with the locals –features a huge block of sharp Tillamook cheese with a sign overhead warning it’s not to be eaten. It’s a health code regulation; those in the know nibble away.  Order burgers, fries and fresh fish off the menu, drinks arrive in canning jars.  Located downtown at 325 F Street.

2. Take a photo by the Anchorage Log Cabin and Downtown Visitor Information Center on Fourth Avenue and F Street.  This charming sod-roofed visitor center is staffed with long-time Alaskan volunteers who will make you feel welcome and answer your questions.

3. Take the free shuttle to the Zoo. Just outside the Visitors Center is the shuttle pick-up location for rides to The Alaska Zoo and other attractions that are located outside of the downtown area. Even though Binky is no longer alive, please do not try to climb into the polar bear enclosure.

4. Enjoy Pacific Rim cuisine at the trendy Ginger. Downtown on 5th, order an interesting-sounding cocktail and then dive into one of the delicious entrees. Our favorites included the broccoli beef, sesame crusted ahi and the decadent scallops mac and cheese. For dinner at Ginger, it’s best to make a reservation.

5. Drive up Arctic Valley Road for a wide-angle view of Anchorage, Cook Inlet and Alaska’s largest military installment, the Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Base.

6. Enjoy a locals’ lunch at Club Paris on 5th Ave.  Head inside to one of the dark booths for some Midwest prime beef.  Have a Paris Special (a loaf of ground tenderloin) served with Au Jus, with a side of killer fries and a spicy Bloody Mary. Other favorites include the French Dip and the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

7. Visit Earthquake Park Learn about the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake and the impact of the resulting tsunami.

8. Enjoy a view of Mount McKinley On a sunny day. Earthquake Park offers one of many excellent spots to view North America’s tallest mountain — known as Denali to the locals.

9. Buy a wine card and then find your favorite wine At the Whale’s Tail Bistro and Wine Bar in the Captain Cook hotel, purchase a wine card and pick up a glass. The Enomatic system holds 32 different wines. You choose the wine, insert your card, and choose the pour size. The value is automatically deducted from your card. We recommend starting with small tastes until you find a favorite.

10. Walk on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  Pick up this 11-mile-long paved trail in downtown Anchorage near 2nd Avenue.

11. Enjoy the View of the Mud Flats and Sleeping Lady Just one of the magnificent views along the Tony Knowles Trail.

 12. Stock up on tax-free champagne. We found Taittinger, our favorite champagne at Costco for the bargain price of $37.99 per bottle, tax free.  There are two Costco locations in Anchorage, perfect for purchasing a few bottles to take onboard if you are cruising on Holland America Line or Princess.  Note, not all cruise lines allow you to bring your own wine on board.

13. Catch your own salmon.  Even those with little time can land a salmon in downtown Anchorage on Ship Creek.  The Bait Shack is the source for bait and tackle, and rents fishing gear, waders included. Read more about how to fish in downtown Anchorage.

14. Find a book or two. Hit Tidal Wave Books in the Northern Lights Center for an astonishing selection of used and discount books, music and movies.  The 30,000 square foot Book Store is near the REI, in case you forgot some essential piece of clothing or gear.

15. Enjoy a wine flight at Crush Wine Bistro and Cellar, one of America’s Best 100 Wine Restaurants of 2011 according to Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Choose from whimsically-named flights such as Add a Little Spice, Acid Junkies or Cab Daddy.  Choose a mix of small plates or larger entrees from the menu to share or just head for the dessert selections such as Plum Torte with Birch Ice. When you find your perfect wine from flights or by the glass, you can visit the retail store upstairs to buy a bottle or two to take with you.

16. Stop by Orso (an Italian bear) at 737 West 5th Avenue.  The restaurant features some of Anchorage’s best seafood while the bar offers creative cocktails, wine flights, bar bites and scrumptious desserts. You can also order the full menu here. Best of all, you can gaze at the painting of the Polar Bear by the Swimming Pool. We like to imagine the artist was in Palm Springs when he or she painted this Orso.

17. Get out of your sushi comfort zone.  We like DISH Sushi Bar at 639 West International Airport Rd near the airport.  DISH offers adventurous sushi such as quail eggs and SMT that Mr. Jones favors, as well as a huge list of rolls. Order the Boyfriend Roll and the Girlfriend roll to see which you like better.  

18. Check out the airport art.  Can’t get out of the airport? Spend your layover checking out the wall art and Alaska factoids.

BONUS TIP: Wait until you’re downtown Anchorage to rent a car.  Anchorage has shockingly high taxes on rental cars from the airport. If you are staying downtown, you can avoid most of the tax hit by taking a cab or shuttle to downtown, and then renting a car from the downtown Avis location for the day or days that you intend to go beyond downtown.  If renting just for the day, you won’t have to worry about overnight parking.

 Have you visited Anchorage? What’s missing on this list?

Other posts on Alaska that you might enjoy”;.

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