Q. Which tourism places would be interesting? Thanks, Laurence
A. Laurence, you and a lady named Christy had similar questions so I sort of divided them up. So be sure and check out my answer to her also.
In the Anchorage area, be sure and check out the following:
Alaska Experience Theatre which is a theatre which treats visitors to a 180 degree wrap around dome screen, and takes you on a 40 minute trip over the state by bush plane. You will swear you are right in the plane. It is truly incredible. There is, under the same roof, a display telling about the 1964 Good Friday earthquake and a movie and convincing simulation of the quake. Yikes you say! Their website is www.alaskaexperiencetheatre.com
There is a huge outdoor market that is so much fun. Besides incredible buys in souvenirs, they have lots of food booths and even a stage with a constant display of talent going on. I could easily stay there all day – and have. You can learn more about that at www.anchoragemarkets.com
The Anchorage Museum of History and Art is worth a stop. They have a lot of wonderful dioramas of early Alaska living, native villages, etc. The Museum is said to depict 10,000 years of Alaskan history! Pretty complete,eh? You can check out what all they have at www.anchoragemuseum.com There is a nice cafe in the museum and a large, interesting art exhibit.
Since the days are so light in the summer, you can’t hope to see the northern lights outside, but we have that covered too.
The lights are visible indoors at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, There you will feast your eyes on 23 years worth of rare images of the aurora, set to music in a 40 minute digital show. www.thealaskacollection.com
We also have things like Music in the Park and a trolley car tour of the city..
If you want to learn just about everything about our native population, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center. They have a great museum, also including actual natives working on beading things, carving, smoking fish, etc. all while you watch. Outdoors on the grounds you’ll find a hiking trail and 3 different villages along the trail where native peoples are going about their daily village life and you can watch and ask questions. You really need about a whole day here. Oh, I forgot, indoors in an amphi-theatre, you will find dancers, drummers, storytellers and different acts. They have an 800 #. Call them at 1-800-315-6608
Website is www.alaskanative.net
I have left out a lot in the Anchorage area, but must hurry on. Oops! not yet. I forget to tell you to go to Sourdough Mining Company to eat and see Dusty Sourdough’s show in the tent outside, then across the street to Alaska Wildberry Products Company and Chocolate Factory. They boast the world’s largest chocolate waterfall! You can watch them making all the candies thru big squeaky clean windows. There are even samples. Yum.
Oops! Again! I can’t seem to stop thinking of neat things. Add Thunderbird Falls and also the Alaska Zoo to your list of must-sees.
In the Matanuska Valley, where I live, which is only 42 miles from Alaska, there is a lot to see and do also. We have the Musk Ox Farm, the Reindeer Farm, Hatcher’s Pass with it’s unique beauty, Independence Mine, Motherlode Lodge, hiking trails and all.
The Iditarod headquarters is here in Wasilla and that is very interesting. You can even have a dog sled ride in the summer.
Down in Seward be sure and see the Alaska Sea Life Center. I need to go back. I was there several hours and that wasn’t near enough. On the way to Seward you can visit Portage Glacier, and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. You can even picnic right next to Exit Glacier in Seward. Also, catch a boat there for the Kenai Fjords Tour which is really exciting.
Up north in Fairbanks there is plenty to do also. That is about 360 miles give or take from Anchorage. Be sure and take the Riverboat Discovery tour On it you cruise the Chena and Tanana Rivers with 3rd and 4th generation Captains who love their job. The riverboat stops at an actual Indian village where you debark and have a chat with the natives – a great opportunity to ask them questions.
It’s fun to take a tour of the El Dorado Gold Mine where you can pan for gold and go into the mine and see a tunnel of permafrost. You’ll ride a train thru the tunnel.
Websites for the above two are www.riverboatdiscovery.com and www.eldoradogoldmine.com
The main branch of the University of Alaska is at Fairbanks and their gardens are lovely. You can picnic there too. We had a lovely meal there one sunny summer day.
Near Fairbanks (about an hour away) is Chena Hot Springs which has bike rentals, canoeing, rafting, flightseeing, horseback riding, summertime dogsled rides and hiking. Oh, yes, and hot springs of course where you can soak your tired bones. For reservations call 1-800-478-4681, www.chenahotsprings.com
That might be enough to keep you busy while here, Laurence. If not, write me again. -BJ