We definitely have the Native Heritage Center on our to do list. But I have a few questions:
1. How much time will we want to spend there? Of course all things are relative based on interest level and other things one wants to do, but I'm looking for ab allpark figure. I have read posts of a number of people spending 2 hours and feeling like they didn't spend enough time. Are we talking about a half day or a whole day?
2. We are flying out of Anchorage at about 11 pm. I imagine that our rental car return time is at about 1pm. Rather than paying for the rental car to fill those additional 9 hours, we were thinking of tackling our final Anchorage day car-less. In theory, we would return the rental car that morning and spend the day at the Native Heritage Center and doing other things aroud downtown Anchorage before heading out for our flight.
a) How is public transportation to/from the Native Heritage Center?
b) I've heard rumor of a Native Heritage Center shuttle, any details on how well this works?
We were at the Native Center in the end of May two years ago, and found it to be a new, evolving exhibit, that I know will get better. The guides and interpretive people were friendly and seemed to be knowledgable, but were not in traditional colorful costumes such as we saw later in the variour ports. We did spend more than two hrs there (probably 3 or more) but we were in Anch for two or more days or part days when we came in and coming back from denali. A car would be helpful around Anch because it is spread out, but then you do have to look a little for parking although not like most big cities. There are several museums and indoor things to do or just ride around the local areas outside of Anch like we did, visiting the smaller towns, watching the floatplanes take off from the lake, and other near by things, such as the musk ox farm, reindeer farm, Eagle River Nature Center where we saw a moose, and Eklutna historic park and sacred burial houses. A drive part of the way towards Seward along Turnagain Arm would be worthwhile, and give you more time to look around as opposed to riding the train or bus down to Seward or Whitter to catch your cruise or vis versa.
We will have about 2 1/2 days in Anchorage - we have the car for all of this except for the 1/2 of our last day. We plan on biking the coastal trail, walking downtown and taking in a few museums, etc.
The Eagle River area looked appealing but we have tentatively cut it from the schedule due to time and because we are hiking for so much of our trip, plus the biking in Anchorage. Also, given our schedule we don't want to do the real physical stuff on our last day lest we have no place to shower before our midnight flight back home. (If you're on the flight with me, you're welcome.)
Elkutna did not seem as necessary as we will be visiting Saxman and the Native Heritage Center.
Is/are the musk ox & reindeer farm(s) worthwhile? Its what, an hours drive (each way)? Is the drive scenic?
We were also considering the botanical gardens.
But while I may be convinced re: paying for the car for the additional partial day, I'm still interested in the transportation to the Center without it.
There is no comparism with Saxman and Eklutna. Two totally different attractions. I would definately pay for the extra day with a car. A cab from Downtown Anchorage to the Airport is about $25++ so you are saving nothing. The bus service to the Native culture museum takes up too much time unless you hit it right. Anchorage is a very spread out city that a car is a must in my opinion. Seems like a small cost to worry about?? vs giving you far more freedom and the ability to use your time more effectively. The Musk oxen farm is of interest to those who have the interest. Yes a hour each way- going past Eagle River Nature Center, Thunderbird Falls and Eklutna. But my best place for Musk Ox is at the Fairbanks U research farm. The Anchorage Botanical gardens needs a car- long way out of the downtown area.