Situated on a flat peninsula on Cook Inlet, and backed by the Chugach Mountains, Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage is worth exploring. Blessed with an abundance of parks and an attractive downtown walking district, the city offers attractions such as a botanical garden, a musk-ox producers’ co-op, the Alaska Zoo, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

The Anchorage Museum of History and Art is one of Alaska’s most visited attractions and features displays of Alaska’s cultural heritage and more than 1,000 historical artifacts. You’ll find displays on Alaska’s Native cultures, Russians, New England whalers, gold rushes, World War II, statehood and Alaska today. There are even full-scale recreations of early-day dwellings.

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The newest major attraction in Anchorage is the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a short drive east of downtown. This 26-acre facility features a 2-acre lake and a walking trail to 5 traditional village settings representing the Native people of Alaska. The dramatic Welcome House at the center’s entrance houses exhibits, arts and crafts, and a theatre.

Other attractions in the Anchorage area include Potter Point State Game Refuge at Potters Marsh south of town, where you can see more than 100 species of waterfowl. Ski areas and resorts are less than an hour away, as are many beautiful parks and lakes, and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, known for its giant produce and annual Alaska State Fair. About half a day’s trip away is Glennallen, a gateway to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, which is a popular adventure-travel and backcountry-recreation spot.

If you come to Anchorage in February, you can attend the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, which includes a blanket toss and the World Championship Sled Dog Race.

Another race, the famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, begins in March in Anchorage. Mushers race their dogs from Anchorage to Eagle River, and load the teams onto trucks to Wasilla, where the race officially begins. The race ends about 1,000 miles later in Nome.

And, Anchorage is a hub for arranging flightseeing, boat or train tours to scenic attractions ranging from the Chugach Mountains, Denali (Mount McKinley) and Prince William Sound, to an Inupiat Eskimo village, the Kenai Fjords and Portage Glacier.

You can reach Portage Glacier by taking the Seward Highway south out of Anchorage for about 50 miles to the Portage Glacier Road, which leads about 5 1/2 miles to Portage Lake. From there you can board a boat that takes you across an iceberg-filled lake to the blue-tinged glacier, one of Alaska’s most popular attractions. Be sure to see the information on ice worms at the Portage Lake visitor center. These small black worms thrive at temperatures just above freezing. One of the most popular activities at Portage is the ice-worm safari, and various hikes and programs are led by naturalists who are posted at the visitor center.

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