Kayak group near Anchorage, photo by Nicole Giels, courtesy Anchorage CVB
Often called America’s Last Frontier, Alaska summons images of untouched wilderness and unimagined beauty. So Anchorage, a diverse, bustling city of 300,000, might seem out of sync.
But despite its size and its sidewalks, Anchorage is still Alaska, from snow-capped mountain ranges that rim the city to the many outdoor adventures within easy reach.
In the winter, Anchorage is a snowy wonderland, where you can cross-country ski right into downtown. Flowers that bloom throughout the city are a surprise in the summer.
“One reason people pick us is the wildlife-viewing after a session, or they add extra days after a meeting,” said Jack Bonney, public relations manager for the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Venues like the Alaska Native Heritage Center are a taste of Alaska. The center shares customs, songs and stories of Alaskan native people.
Its large performance hall and a replica of a log-cabin-style Haida longhouse can be booked for meetings and events.
About 40 miles south in Girdwood, Alyeska Resort is a 304-room chateau-like hotel and ski resort where meeting goers can hike or bike from the hotel’s doorstep or be whisked up 2,200 feet by a 60-passenger aerial tram for mountain and ocean views.
The resort is near the gateway to Kenai Peninsula, home to world-class fishing and close to three national parks: Denali, Kenai Fjords and Wrangell-St. Elias. Alyeska Resort averages a staggering 643 inches of snow annually, so skiing and snowboarding are great after-hours activities.
Not far away, Crow Creek Gold Mine is one of the largest producing gold mines in south central Alaska. “It’s a really awesome venue with the ability to host outdoor events throughout summer,” said Bonney. Events can include recreational panning for gold.
Then there are the glaciers. “Anchorage has 50 within a day’s drive, and they’re easy to get to,” said Bonney. “We have the busiest float-plane base in the world. Several companies give flights over Mount McKinley or the glaciers.”
Companies in Whittier, 60 miles away, and Seward, 126 miles away, offer day cruises to the spectacular tidewater glaciers. “These are the epic glaciers that have chunks of ice breaking off into the sea,” said Bonney.