How to Spend 3 Days in Anchorage
There’s lots to do and see in the Anchorage area, so the more time you have here, the better. With three days to visit, you’ll want to take advantage of sightseeing tours and flightseeing and railway adventures to cram in as many experiences as possible. Here are a few ideas for making the most of your time in Anchorage.
Day 1: Discover Historic Downtown Anchorage
Spend your first day in town touring downtown Anchorage and learning about Alaska’s rich history and culture. If this is your first time visiting, consider taking the city’s popular 1-hour trolley tour or a half-day city tour to get oriented. Visit Earthquake Park, where you can still see the damage caused by the 1964 Alaska earthquake (one of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history), then stop by the Alaska Native Heritage Center or the Anchorage Museum for a crash course in local history. Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Lake Hood, the world’s largest and busiest seaplane base, and to the nearby Alaska Aviation Museum.
In the afternoon, bike or stroll along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to enjoy spectacular views of downtown Anchorage, the Chugach Mountains, and Cook Inlet. In the evening, you can join a northern lights viewing tour, a sunset wildlife safari, or a tasting tour of local craft breweries.
Day 2: Road Trip Along the Turnagain Arm
Anchorage is the perfect base camp for exploring the Turnagain Arm of the Gulf of Alaska. Take a drive along the Seward Highway, which hugs the coast of the Turnagain Arm and is filled with scenic viewpoints and top attractions like the Alyeska Resort, Portage Glacier, and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. You can join a guided tour of the area’s top attractions or opt for a hop-on hop-off tour, which will give you more freedom to explore on your own.
Alternatively, for an even more memorable experience, see the incredible coastal scenery of the Turnagain Arm aboard the Alaska Railroad. The 4-hour journey from Anchorage to Seward starts early in the morning and arrives before lunch, leaving you time to explore the town before taking the train back in the evening.
Day 3: The Glenn Highway, Matanuska Glacier, and Beyond
On your last day in Anchorage, head north along the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway, which stretches 135 miles (217 kilometers) from downtown Anchorage into the interior wilds of Alaska. The highway follows the ancient path carved by the Matanuska Glacier and provides some of the best glacier-viewing in the state as well as plenty of recreation opportunities in the Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area, Sheep Mountain Dall sheep reserve, and on the Matanuska Glacier itself. Tours of the Matanuska Glacier are available for all ability levels and range from simple sightseeing hikes to advanced treks that get visitors up close to crevasses, ice caves, and brilliant blue meltwater pools.
If you don’t have the time to take a glacier expedition on foot, choose a helicopter or flightseeing tour, some of which include a landing on the ice. For your final evening, check out the Alaska Botanical Garden and Alaska Zoo, both are open late during the summer months.