Help me escape Anchorage for 36 hours!
September 14, 2006 7:06 AM   Subscribe

I'll be alone in Anchorage, Alaska next weekend with a limited budget and no plans. Help!

I read some of the recent Alaska questions, but since my trip is so short, I wanted to focus on a 4-hour perimeter around Anchorage. I arrive late Friday night, will have a car, and need to be back in Anchorage by 4PM on Sunday. I'm eager to get out of the city, but I'm not exactly an experienced/fit hiker, so camping and rugged day-hikes are not for me. Hope to keep my entertainment/activity expenses under $100 for the weekend. Would love to take some pictures of jaw-dropping scenery, and maybe have a delicious meal or two. Do you have good weather/bad weather suggestions for me?
posted by isthenewblack to Travel & Transportation around Anchorage, AK (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The town of Talkeetna is about 2 1/2 hours away, at the foothills of Denali, and is an absolutely lovely place to spend an afternoon. Among other things there's a national park ranger station with Denali touring info, and lots of restaurant/brewpub type places along the main street.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:27 AM on September 14, 2006

Seward is very nice, and the drive there from Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm is utterly stunning--mountains reflected in the water, the occasional mountain goat or bald eagle. You can stop at Portage Glacier along the way--there's a nice ferry out to the face of the glacier itself, tho I think it's a little pricey ($20 or so.) If you can extend your range a bit, Homer (about 5 hours out of Anchorage, IIRC) is also really lovely.

Within Anchorage, eat at the Moose's Tooth (great pizza and good beer) or the affiliated Bear Tooth theatre-pub, which has amazing gourmet burritos and extremely cheap second-run movies which you can watch while eating your tasty food. If you are a coffee person, go to one of the Kaladi coffeehouses scattered around the city--I personally think that Anchorage's coffee culture rivals Seattle's, and it's still largely Starbucks-free.

There are a number of lovely and not too strenuous day hikes around Anchorage; I haven't done most of them in ages, tho, so try this site for ideas, or just do a Google for Anchorage hiking.

Dress warm; it'll get a bit nippy by this time of year.
posted by fermion at 9:18 AM on September 14, 2006

Er. This site.
posted by fermion at 9:19 AM on September 14, 2006

The thing about going to Talkeetna is that there is no guarantee of seeing Denali; the cloud cover over Mt. McKinley is often too thick to see much of anything. But there are some good restaurants there.

For jaw-dropping scenery, drive to Seward. It's just 2 hours or so south of Anchorage. Portage glacier is a shorter drive south, if you like looking at icebergs and glaciers (and really, who doesn't?).

Instead of going straight to Seward, take the exit to Homer and in Cooper Landing stop at Gwin's Lodge for some excellent fried halibut and a great view of the Kenai River.
posted by rhapsodie at 9:24 AM on September 14, 2006

If you can extend your range a bit, Homer (about 5 hours out of Anchorage, IIRC) is also really lovely.

Disclaimer: I was born and raised in Homer. This time of the year, most all of the touristy shops will be closed in Homer. Sure, you can drive out to the end of The Spit and marvel at the mountains and the Kachemak Bay, but just about the whole place will be closed. My all-time-favoritest burger joint, the Glacier Drive-In, will definitely be closed. Which is sadder than you know. Now that I think about it, most of the touristy things in Seward will be closed as well. But all of the foliage should still be yellow and pretty, even if not New-England-pretty.
posted by rhapsodie at 9:28 AM on September 14, 2006

Portage glacier is a shorter drive south, if you like looking at icebergs and glaciers.

Unfortunately there's no guarantee of seeing these either, nowadays--the glacier has receded out of sight over the last couple of decades, tho you can still usually see a few icebergs.

It's still very pretty, tho--the lake is an interesting blue-grey color because of the glacial silt--and the visitor's center has a nice movie about glaciers called Voices from the Ice.

Er. I shall attempt not to dominate this thread. I'm in homesick-Alaskan mode at the moment, so I have a tendency to spout off about how wonderful it all is.
posted by fermion at 9:34 AM on September 14, 2006

I'll third Seward!! And, should I return to AK, I will re-visit The Bear Tooth in Anchorage. Excellent grub, that you can eat while catching a second run movie! Absolutely affordable.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:02 PM on September 14, 2006

Hey, also, down in Seward, though it sounds like a Glacier Tour will be out of your price range, they have a little aquarium that was an hour's worth of fun (if you like puffins as much as I do!)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:14 PM on September 14, 2006

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