Anchorage at a Glance
Location: Southcentral Alaska
Access: Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
Hotel rooms: 8,500
Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center
Exhibit Space: 100,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: Six breakout rooms
Egan Civic and Convention Center
Built: 1984, renovated 2014
Exhibit Space: 33,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 14 breakout rooms
Hotel Captain Cook
Meeting Space: 12,572 square feet
Meeting Space: 23,000 square feet
Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa
Meeting Space: 24,000 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Anchorage
United States Academic Decathlon
Botanical Society for America
Anchorage has the best of Alaska at its doorstep.
Situated on the Cook Inlet with breathtaking views, Anchorage is a delightful city worth exploring for its own merits. Abundant natural wonders are paired with modern meeting facilities and surprising city comforts. Mountains, glaciers, parks and wildlife are easy to reach. Add Alaskan culture and a terrific dining scene in this walkable and welcoming downtown, and meeting attendees will wish they had a few more days in Anchorage.
Most cities can’t claim 1,500 moose living within city limits, but visitors might spot these massive creatures in nearly every corner of Anchorage. Laid-back downtown is easily navigated by foot. Vendors sell reindeer sausages on street corners, and locals mingle with tourists as they bike and walk the city’s 135 miles of paved urban trails, including the popular Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.
“Anchorage offers the best of both worlds,” said Jack Bonney, director of content and engagement for Visit Anchorage. “Our city has all the modern conveniences for a streamlined meeting, with the latest in technology, and accessibility to the mountains for moose, bear and glacier viewing.”
The city is the jumping-off point for adventures on the Alaska Railroad, such as day trips to Talkeetna or overnight trips to Denali National Park and Preserve. The railroad also travels to Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, where riders can get off at a wilderness overlook and hike, or hire an outfitter and kayak among the icebergs on Spencer Lake. Or attendees can head to Whittier for a glacier or wildlife cruise out of Prince William Sound, where coastal mountains meet the ocean.
Approximately 15 minutes from downtown, Chugach State Park contains more than 800 square miles of glaciers, wildlife and trails. As a backyard for locals and visitors alike, the park offers lakes for kayaking, glaciers for trekking, hiking and single-track biking, all with guided options by companies such as Chugach Guides Alaska and Ascending Path.
Often used for after-parties, the Alaska Native Heritage Center features six authentic, life-size native dwellings situated in a wooded area around Lake Tiulana. Indoors, visitors can watch live song and dance performances and artist demonstrations.
The Anchorage Museum showcases hundreds of indigenous Alaska artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian Institution. The museum’s contemporary Atrium, Muse restaurant, gallery space and auditorium are available for groups of various sizes.
“People are looking for a sense of place, and Anchorage delivers,” said Bonney. “Several of our Iditarod mushers make excellent keynote speakers, and audiences are totally engaged by what it takes to lead a team of sled dogs and be successful on a 1000-mile race.”
Preserving wildlife through conservation, research, education and care, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center makes the perfect place to see Alaskan animals up close in their habitats.
Located one hour south of Anchorage, the conservation center’s 6000-square-foot Bison Hall features a classroom and an event space. Its traditional barnlike, rustic decor with large windows and vaulted ceilings sports a moose antler chandelier.
“It’s not every venue where a porcupine can crash the meeting or the meeting space is surrounded by Alaskan wildlife,” said Bonney.
Major Meeting Spaces
Many of Anchorage’s largest meeting spaces and hotels are in the heart of downtown. Two convention centers lie two blocks apart and work in tandem. The Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, the city’s largest venue, offers nearly 200,000 square feet of flexible space, and its nearly 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall ranks as the largest of its kind in Alaska. The third-floor ballroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows showcase mountain views and an outdoor terrace.
The Egan Civic and Convention Center’s strength lies in its breakout space. Up to 14 rooms range from 570 to 1,368 square feet, enabling numerous sessions to run concurrently. Another 9,306 square feet can be subdivided into three spaces. Between the two, the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts lends itself to theater-style presentations and connects to the Egan Center by sky bridge.
“All three venues are located within a four-block radius of each other,” said Bonney. “Each has easy to access from the 3,000 hotel rooms available in the convention center district.”
Prime hotels for meetings include the newly renovated Hilton Anchorage, the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa and the Marriott Anchorage Downtown. The Hotel Captain Cook provides 14 meeting rooms, ranging from a 288-square-foot library with a fireplace to a 9,000-square-foot ballroom. The AAA Four Diamond Crow’s Nest restaurant on the hotel’s 20th floor delivers 360-degree views.
Closer to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, the 248-room Lakefront Anchorage hosts smaller meetings, with an outdoor deck overlooking Lake Hood. The Lakefront provides seven meeting rooms with over 6,000 square feet of space that accommodates up to 300 guests.
After the Meeting
In the heart of downtown, anglers can spend a summer afternoon or an evening under the “midnight sun” fishing for salmon at Ship Creek. Fishing licenses are available at numerous places, including the Bait Shack near the river, which can supply visitors with gear from rods to waders. Spanning Ship Creek, the Bridge restaurant makes a terrific vantage point from which to watch the fishing.
Those who want to stretch their legs can head to the Eagle River Nature Center or bask in the midst of a 200-foot-high waterfall on the Thunderbird Falls trailhead. This hike can easily be paired with a kayak trip on the glacier-fed Eklutna Lake, about 20 minutes north of Anchorage and tucked into the mountains.
“The operator will meet groups with kayaks, and at the end of the kayak trip, the group can bike back to their starting point,” said Bonney.
For a taste of city life, the Bear Tooth Theatrepub invites moviegoers to drink local brews and fill up on tasty pub food. Anchorage is home to the so-called “Beermuda Triangle,” a collection of breweries that offers a chance to sample some of the 12 establishments in the city. Big Swig Tours picks up in downtown and leads craft beer tastings in south Anchorage.
Anchorage is home to the world’s busiest floatplane base at Lake Hood. Additional diversions include flightseeing trips amidst stunning scenery. Salmon Berry Tours, in downtown, offers numerous options, among them visiting a sled dog kennel owned by an Iditarod musher, heritage city tours and customized excursions.