In my humble opinion, Anchorage is one of the ugliest and non-descript towns (or wan-a-be-city) that I have ever seen in my life. Just a warning - save your well earned dollars for another spot in Alaska.
Having lived in Anchorage/Wasilla for two years and returning every couple years to go out to my cabin on the Prince William Sound, I would save my money for some other part of Alaska. Anchorage is nice but not where I would go for the Alaskan Experience.
Not a bad place to start from though.
I live in Anchorage and think it would be a rip-off for people spending their hard earned dollars. If someone wants to experience "true Alaska" they really need to steer away from Anchorage and go to Denali, Homer, Cooper Landing,Seward, Haines, Skagway, Kodiak, Durch Harbor, etc, etc, etc. There are so many options outside of Anchorage and the over-priced hotels and restaurants. I would hate it if outside visitors only had Anchorage to remember as their last stop.
I guess I should qualify my opinion. It seems that there are some travelers that are not extending any time before/after cruising (a waste of an excellent opportunity in my experience) and are spending their day or part of in Anchorage. I still say, as an "outsider", Anchorage has plenty to experience and do. I am not recommending days there but certainly a day or two is very worthwhile, again in just my opinion.
You are correct, a day or two in Anchorage could be well spent. We have several museums, Cook Inlet, Ship Creek and downtown. However, I still stand by my initial opinion that I'd rather spend my money in other parts of Alaska. Given the chance to stay at the Captain Cook (Anchorage) or Gwin's Lodge (Cooper Landing) I'd take Gwins any day. Anchorage just isn't in the same league as other areas of Alaska. Maybe I'm biased because we live here; however, when we have guests from the lower 48 we usually get them out of Anchorage as soon as possible.
I wish I had known this before our trip as I found out on my own instead. You really need to hire a car if your staying in Anchorage for more than one day and your not on a tour.
We stayed two days in Anchorage and found the restaurants were expensive and there were way too many tourist type shops (actually I felt all the towns we visited in Alaska did).
We did cycle the coastal trail which we really enjoyed and would recommend for active people and we also did a trolley tour of the area which was quite fun and informative. We also went to the Saturday markets which were great, if your there on a Saturday afternoon ...go!!
We did enjoy most of our time here but I feel one day would have been plenty. We could have seen so much more of the area if we'd had a car to get out of downtown Anchorage. We didn't plan on it coz of the driving on the wrong side of the road thing but in hindsight we could have overcome this and had a better holiday experience for it
Just hope this helps others who are planning on spending a few days here especially if you already drive on the wrong side of the road...lol.
You live and learn and that makes up part of your holiday experience.
In Anchorage, we went to the Alaska Heritage Center, the zoo, and on that very scenic driving tour recommended on www.frommers.com and thought all that was great. We also spent time in addition to the cruise ports in Denali Park and in Fairbanks, so it was a well-rounded itinerary.
We spent a total of four nights in Anc but that was coming in and later for two nights and a fourth for returning rental car and packing before catching bus to Seward. I would agree that instead of spending about two days in Anc area, we should have turned our trip down to Seward and back from a one nighter to take the Kenai Fjords tour to a three day trip and tried to get to Homer. That seemed to be too much driving before heading up to Denali for two nights in the opposite direction. The best way is to take a trip every year and concentrate on one or two land areas at a time. But then, there is also Canada, the Carribean, Europe!!!!!!! So many places, so little time. Unless BQ will loan us some of her 7 weeks vacation. That would be my only reason for wanting to be a teacher, and have summers to see and experience all of Alaska and all the other great spots.
We flew to Anchorage two days prior to departing from Seward on a one-way Glacier Discovery sailing of the Veendam. We stayed at a downtown hotel which offered us free transportation to and from the airport, and were happy not to have to rent a car. We loved being in Anchorage on a Saturday when the outdoor Saturday market was held and the Irish Music Festival had everyone clapping their hands and smiling. The weather was very warm and sunny.
Sunday we took the train to Seward to board our ship. I wouldn't pass up a visit to Anchorage on a Saturday during the summer if there is a music festival (which is mostly for local folks, not tourists), but that means arriving in Seward on Friday or leaving Seward on Sunday.
Come to think of it, we had lunch at the Glacier Brewhouse on Saturday afternoon and there were a lot of Saturday arrivals from the Island Princess there. The Brewhouse may be a famous place for tourists to eat, but plenty of locals told me they enjoy the food. The bread pudding with sauce was delicious, and the ribs and crab legs were tasty, too.
We are cruising from Seward aboard the Veendam on June 18, 04. Arrive in Anchorage on Fri - pm. Will be in Anch on Sat. Leave by train Sun for the ship in Seward. Plan on renting a car in Anch and maybe doing a helo/dog sled out of Anch.
I was born and raised in Anchorage.... and I can agree, in part, about your Anchorage thoughts. Wasilla, Homer, Talkeetna, etc have Anchorage beat. Small town Alaska
is what I miss.
Having said that, Anchaorage still has it's appeal as a transition to rural Alaska. I spent a week, last year, on a visit home. Visited friends, did the tourist trap crawl and finally went to Talkeetna. Rented a car and took a friend [and wife too] The friend LOVED Alaska since it was her first trip. She liked the zoo, Alaska Heritage Center and Portage Glacier, all do able in one day. She thought the best part was breakfast at the Roadhouse in Talkeenta. Outside watching tourists and locals was like being in that TV series... Northern Exposure. Train ride to Seward capped it all off.
Anchorage has cleaned up quite a bit of the bar scene, which I found a good thing. The people were just as friendly helpful and interesting as I remember.