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Anchorage

Photo © Charzotte

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Alaska Anchorage

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Introduction

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska with around 280,000 inhabitants living in the urban area, about 40% of the total population of the state. It is the main starting point for most travellers arriving by air and visiting Alaska.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Downtown
  • Midtown
  • South Anchorage
  • West Anchorage
  • Spenard
  • East Anchorage
  • Hillside
  • Eagle River
  • Chugiak
  • Peters Creek
  • Bird
  • Indian
  • Girdwood

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Sights and Activities

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Weather

Anchorage has a relatively mild climate compared to much of Alaska's interior, though temperatures can plummit in winter (December - February). Average highs during this time are around -5 °C, while average lows are around -12 °C. The record low is -39 °C though so bring loads of warm clothing during this time. Summers are short and last from June to August when average highs are around 18 °C and lows around 10 °C. The record is set at 29 °C but you should consider yourself lucky with temperatures approaching this maximum. Rainfall is relatively low throughout the year, with most of it falling during the summer and early autumn months (August-October). Snow is common from October to April, with most of it falling from December to February.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-5.9 °C-3.4 °C0.6 °C6 °C12.4 °C16.4 °C18.4 °C17.2 °C12.9 °C4.7 °C-2.7 °C-5.3 °C
Avg Min-13.1 °C-11.4 °C-7.7 °C-1.9 °C3.8 °C8.4 °C10.9 °C9.7 °C5.3 °C-1.8 °C-9.4 °C-12.2 °C
Rainfall20.1 mm19.8 mm17.5 mm17 mm18.5 mm29 mm43.4 mm62 mm68.6 mm51.6 mm28.2 mm28.4 mm
Rain Days4.64.74.54.34.267.79.9118.85.56.6

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Getting There

By Plane

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is located about 7 kilometres southwest of the city. Route 7A of the Anchorage People Mover bus system serves the airport's North and South terminals once every hour in each direction, connecting it with the downtown Transit Center and the Dimond Center mall. Taxis, shuttles and rental cars are all available as well.

Alaska Airlines has flights to/from Chicago, Portland, Denver, Fairbanks, Honolulu, Juneau, Los Angeles, Nome, San Francisco and Seattle, as well as some smaller regional airports in Alaska. Northwest Airlines serves Detroit and Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Air Canada has flights to Vancouver, American Airlines to Chicago and Dallas, Continental Airlines to Houston and Seattle and Delta Airlines to Atlanta and Salt Lake City. US Airways serves Phoenix and further away there are flights to Frankfurt with Condor and to Taipei with China Airlines. Also, Japan Airlines has flights to/from Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo, and Korean Air to/from Seoul. Several smaller airlines serve a few main US cities and many regional airfields across Alaska.

To add, the Lake Hood Seaplane Base is the world's busiest seaplane airport with destinations througout Alaska.

By Train

The Alaska Railroad offers year round services between Seward and Fairbanks, with regular connections during summer (half May - half September) though with just weekly services the rest of the year.

By Car

Lighthouse outside Kenai, AK

Lighthouse outside Kenai, AK

© All Rights Reserved Daver141

Alaska Route 1 connects Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula southward. It is also called the Seward Highway and connects with Alaska's Marine Highway (see below). Northwards it is called the Glenn Highway.
The Alaska Highway starts in northern British Columbia, Canada, and terminates in Fairbanks. You can either get to Anchorage via the Parks Highway from Fairbanks or the Glenn Highway from Tok (the first major Alaskan town after crossing from Canada).
The Mile Post is a good roadguide for Alaska and parts of Canada.

By Bus

Buses connect Anchorage with several major cities and towns in the southern portion of Alaska, as well as to Fairbanks.

By Boat

Anchorage can also be reached by Alaska Marine Highway, which handles transport along most of Alaska's southern coastlines. It's officially even part of the National Highway System.

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Getting Around

By Car

Most of Anchorage is built on a grid system originally laid out by the railroad: numbered streets run east-west, starting at First Avenue in the extreme north of the city (at the Port and train depot) and ending up in the mid-hundreds at the south edge of town. Lettered streets run north-south, starting at A Street in the middle of downtown and going up to the west; east of A Street, the street names begin with sequential letters and are named after Alaskan cities and towns (Barrow, Cordova, Denali, etc.). This makes finding yourself on a map fairly easy, although the system gets less coherent outside of the downtown area. Note that the Seward Highway becomes Gambell and Ingra streets, while the Glenn Highway becomes 5th and 6th Avenues.

If you want to explore areas outside the city proper, renting a car is the way to go. Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

People Mover has buses throughout the metropolitan area. Fares are $2/trip or $5/day pass. Most bus routes have one bus in each direction per hour, but some routes increase it to two buses per hour during peak times. Buses are frequently late. Route 7A of the PeopleMover, Anchorage's bus system, has a stop located at the far south end of the airport taxi stand area. Every hour, there is one bus going downtown and one bus going to the Dimond Center mall in south Anchorage. If you're riding the bus to the airport, note that only Route 7A, not Route 7, stops at the airport.

By Foot

While not nearly comparable to the size of major world cities (the city itself is several thousand square miles, but most of it is uninhabited and mountainous), the developed part of the Municipality of Anchorage is fairly spread out and not very walkable, with the exception of the compact downtown area.

By Bike

Anchorage features an extremely well-developed bike trail system, with over 200 miles f developed trails (120 of which are paved) winding their way throughout the city's parks and three green belts. The popular Tony Knowles Coastal Trail parallels the waterfront from Downtown to Kincaid Park near the airport. Several companies offer bike rentals and trail tours. In the winter, many of the trails are groomed and used as ski trails.

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Eat

For a wide range of options, visit the Anchorage Restaurants website. From budget to top restaurants.

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Drink

Anchorage has many, many bars. Bars must close by 2:30am Monday-Friday, 3:00am Saturday & Sunday under municipal law. Bars can stay open until 5:00am in the cities of Palmer and Wasilla, about 45 minutes north. Anchorage also probably has more micro-breweries per capita than anywhere else (except maybe Portland, OR).

All bars and restaurants in Anchorage are non-smoking.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Alaska Backpackers Inn327 Eagle StreetHostel68
Arctic Adventure Hostel337 W 33rd AveHostel85
Bent Prop Inn3104 Eide St.Hostel-
Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn365 Gold Ave Girdwood, Alaska 99587Hostel-
Jason's International Youth Hostel - Midtown3324 Eide Street Alaska 99503 - 4754Hostel-
Qupqugiaq Inn640 West 36th AvenueHostel78
Alaska Youth Hostel2910 W. 31st AvenueHostel-
Spenard Hostel International2845 W 42ndHOSTEL-
Bent Prop Inn Downtown700 H StHOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 61.216583
  • Longitude: -149.899597

Anchorage Travel Helpers

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This is version 11. Last edited at 12:53 on Sep 5, 16 by Utrecht. 26 articles link to this page.

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