The term “bucket list” may be overused nowadays, but the concept still applies in describing the unique combination of attractions offered by Anchorage, Alaska.
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say they’ve always wanted to come here,” said Andrew Halcro, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.
The vibrant city of more than 290,000 offers features unlike those anywhere else in the country, and visitors there have the chance to experience life in the country’s largest and most untamed state.
“Anchorage is one of the most attractive settings anywhere,” Halcro said. “It’s not only urban, but also rural.”
He noted that the city serves as both a vacation destination and a great place for meetings.
“People can spend two or three days at a convention and then take a few days traveling around the state,” he said.
What makes Anchorage stand out is the rugged beauty for which the entire state is famous, as well as its appealing cultural and historical offerings.
Among the region’s most distinctive features is its abundance of glaciers. The state boasts more than 100,000, covering nearly 30,000 square miles, many near Anchorage. One of the most popular activities for visitors is taking a day cruise to check out glaciers or spot whales, sea otters and other wildlife.
Nearby destinations include Prince William Sound 60 miles to the south and Kenai Fjords National Park 127 miles south. Closer at hand are Portage Glacier and the Begich Boggs Visitor Center, located 50 miles south of the city. And without leaving town, visitors can see up to six different mountain ranges.
Throughout the region, wildlife, including moose, bears and eagles, can often be spotted in their native habitats. Or for a sure thing, visitors can enjoy the Alaska Zoo and Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
The city also boasts an active cultural life, with a diverse music scene that includes bars, coffeehouses, concerts and a yearly folk music festival. Perhaps the most colorful activity is the annual Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, a winter festival that features outhouse races, a reindeer run down the streets of the city, dogsled races and a team snowball fight tournament.
Those interested in arts and crafts can also enjoy a range of offerings. Creations from across the state can be found at the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market, where tribal regalia, customs and culture are celebrated.
Meeting the Need for Meeting Space
Anchorage offers plenty of meeting space, topped by the sprawling Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. With nearly 200,000 square feet of event space, the facility is the largest of its kind in the state. The flexibility provided by a variety of meeting rooms is complemented by both modern and traditional artwork. Offering options suitable for national conventions and trade shows as well as smaller groups, the center includes indoor and outdoor gathering space and, in many cases, attractive views of the region’s spectacular mountains.
Recently modernized through a nearly $3 million upgrade, the William A. Egan Civic and Convention Center offers more than 85,000 square feet of space for meetings, exhibits and prefunction activities. A sky bridge links the Egan Center to the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, which has three theaters — the 2,100 seat Evangeline Atwood Concert Hall, the 700-seat Discovery Theatre and the 350-seat Sydney Laurence Theatre — that can be used for receptions, technical presentations and general sessions.
The Anchorage Museum, also located in the downtown area, is the state’s largest museum. Complementing its extensive collections is space for groups of 50 to 500. Meetings, receptions or other events may be scheduled in a fully equipped auditorium, a gallery or an attractive atrium.
Though it serves primarily as a sports facility, the Sullivan Arena also accommodates trade shows, exhibits and large meetings. Located approximately two miles from downtown, the arena has 32,000 square feet of space and holds 220 trade show booths. An Olympic-size ice rink with an insulated floor covering is adaptable for trade shows and other large-scale events.
Also available is the Alaska Aviation Museum, which provides an interesting setting for smaller events. It has a capacity of 200, plus an outdoor area.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center, with a capacity of 700, offers on-site catering and entertainment by Alaska Native artists and performers.