The Heritage Library Museum is located in the Bank of Alaska offices, at Northern Lights and C Street (907) 365-2834. This free museum is a cornucopia of Alaskan artifacts, books, newspapers from the early 1900s, and gold rush scenes on the original glass photographic plates. There are more Sydney Laurence paintings and collections of Native parkas and rare maps. A browser could spend at least a day here.
Alaska Experience Center -- 705 W. 6th Avenue, (907) 276-3730, is a 40-minute audio-visual show projected on the inside of a dome, features panoramic vistas with earthshaking sound and music. The attraction also features an earthquake exhibit
The Alaska Wilderness Museum (5th Avenue and I Street), and the Alaska Wildlife and Natural History Museum (4th Avenue and E Street), both feature stuffed bears and other Alaskan animals.
A self-guided walking tour starts at the Log Cabin Visitor's Center where you get your map. A guided tour is available from Historic Anchorage, 542 West 4th Ave., on the second floor of City Hall (562-6100). Tours depart Monday&endash;Friday at 10 a.m.
The Alaska Zoo is on O'Malley Road (346-3242). This park features the animals of Alaska with a few elephants and big cats. Although the 6 types of owls are impressive, caged Alaskan animals provide a sad, silent commentary. The kids will enjoy the zoo, but why not visit the national and state parks, and see the animals in the wild.
The Potter State Game Refuge hosts more than 130 species of waterfowl that visit or reside year-round at this outstanding nature reserve. A board walk runs over the large marsh. It's located south of Anchorage, on the Seward Highway, the route to Portage Glacier and the Kenai Peninsula.
Chugach State Park, a superb alpine wilderness, is north of town, with impressive high meadows and peaks.
An unusual day trip to Whittier has you driving south along the Seward Highway (beside Turnagain Arm), and then putting your car on an Alaska Railroad flatcar for a 30-minute trip to Whittier, on Prince William Sound. From Whittier, you can take a ferry to Valdez and view a constellation of glaciers, including the Columbia.
If you're traveling along the Glenn Highway, you'll see a large glacier across a valley. Viewing the Matanuska Glacier provides a good day-trip from Anchorage, with the additional benefits of visiting the towns in the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys.
A 50-mile (80-km) day-trip offers an exciting drive over Hatcher Pass to Independence Mine Historic State Park. Drive from Anchorage on State Route 1 (Glenn Highway) to the junction of the George Parks Highway (Route 3). Take Highway 3 northwest to the junction of the Fishhook-Willow Rd. (just past Willow), and turn right (east). The historic mine is on this road beyond Hatcher Pass (el. 3,886 ft.). After visiting the mine, driving to Palmer and returning to Anchorage on the Glenn Highway provides the second half of a fine loop drive.
Arts and Crafts
Craft work from across Alaska is available at several shops, including Alaska Native Arts and Crafts Showroom, 333 W. 4th Avenue; Gingham House, a Native crafts workshop and store at K Street and 6th Avenue; and Bering Sea Originals, Diamond Mall, 800 E Diamond Boulevard, and Northway Mall, 3101 Penland Parkway. All offer weaving, baskets, carvings and jewelry ($10 and up).
Several special events are held during the long Anchorage winter. The start of the Iditarod dogsled race brings excitement to the city during the first week of March. Fur Rendezvous, held in the second week of February, includes trapper games, the world dogsled championships and snowshoe softball. To obtain information on wilderness adventure, visit the Log Cabin Visitors Center. Brochures on several companies that offer white water trips and wilderness experiences in the area are available.
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