If you ask me, one of the very best things about living in the United…
If you’re heading to Anchorage, Alaska, be prepared to pick your jaw off the floor.
It may be one of the 50 states (the 49th to be exact), but for anyone who has travelled there or plans to travel there you know that it feels like you are going somewhere both foreign and fantastic, a place not of this earth let alone our own country. That, my friends, is the reason why EVERYONE wants to experience Alaska!
I went for the first time last summer and can’t stop thinking about it. Here’s what we did.
Not your typical T-shirt shop
You can imagine that being surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature inspires some pretty creative people in Alaska and it does. At her shop, Octopus Ink, Shara Dorris creates original designs of the sea life she adores: octopus, seahorses, jelly fish and a gorgeous mermaid and then hand screen prints them on eco friendly clothing.
The Anchorage Mall on 5th Avenue
Confession: I will do anything not to go to a mall when I travel. It’s just travel death to me-even in Malaysia where everyone goes to air-conditioned malls, I still walked around in 105 degrees until I just about passed out. But when it comes to Alaska, I have different advice. Whatever weather report you based your packing on will be out of date within 4 hours of landing, so you’ll need to quickly re-evaluate, and then purchase some new items that will help you acclimate to what could be a 40-degree change in weather. To that I say head to the mall, which I found to be well stocked with great stores that offered everything from outdoor gear to a better moisturizer than I had brought with me.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Be assured that every itinerary I do will have some sort of incredible walk or hike. A nice walk does two things: lets you experience new surroundings while allowing your mind wander. This paved trail hugs the coastline for 11 miles and is the only easy accessible hike I know of where both a moose and beluga whale sighting is possible. Nothing makes me happier when I travel than a hike like this.
Alaska Heritage Museum and Anchorage Museum
Alaska is such a trendy place….when it comes to television programming. Just about every network has its Alaska shows: Alaskan Bush People, Edge of Alaska and Escaping Alaska to name a few. All tap into American’s fascination with what we consider to be the last frontier. Alaskans are remarkable people, full of tenacity and grit. The rest of us love to think we ourselves posses the same… until that first cup of non-single origin coffee hits our lips and we throw a hissy fit. Do yourself a favor-enjoy the shows, but experience the real lives of these amazing people along with their culture and history.
I’m not sure if what they served was single origin, but it was good. Real good. A family-owned business for 10 years, DHC is located in a pretty darn charming house in the middle of the city. They have Manic Monday and WackyWednesday specials where 20oz lattes come at a cheaper price. But I loved that Friday is Frappe day. Do you know what a frappe is? Growing up in New England, I did and I haven’t seen an ice cream milk shake called that in awhile.
Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife!
Who doesn’t want to see a reindeer, moose or bear? I suppose that last one depends on context! How about from the comfort of an airplane? One-day flight tours depart from Anchorage and head deep into bear territory for an exhilarating outdoor experience that just screams Alaska. Tours are available to Kodiak Island, Denali and McNeil River to see brown, black or grizzlies.
Second mall confession: While I run away from shopping malls, I love strip mall restaurants and even seek the best ones out when I travel. Restaurants in strip malls usually offer scrumptious food at a very decent price. They’re also usually run by 1st and 2nd generation American’s who can only afford this low-curb appeal real estate and instead put all there money in the food. This spot, featuring Danish/American food with emphasis on local ingredients including incredibly fresh seafood, is a strip mall sensation.