Reed Travel Features
ANCHORAGE -- Visitors can get a taste of Alaska for free, or
very close to it, by picking their spots carefully in the state's
Knowing what to look for is essential for those who would take
advantage of the low-cost offerings, so it is advisable to start
with two sources of information located in town, close to one
another -- the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau's visitor
information center and the Alaska Public Lands Information
The bureau-sponsored facility is at 4th Avenue and F Street and
the Public Lands Center is directly opposite.
Armed with the brochures, maps and insights provided by the
staffs of each center, visitors on a budget may then begin to
explore Anchorage-area opportunities, which include the
* Begich Boggs Visitor Center at Portage Glacier. The glacier is
Alaska's No. 1 attraction, according to visitor studies.
The center offers displays indicating how glaciers are formed
and the tremendous force they exert on the state's landscape.
A film, for which there is a small charge, runs continually with
highlights of the glacial ecology of the area.
* Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This 11-mile trail winds from
downtown along the coastline of the Cook Inlet to the scenic
The view of the Anchorage skyline from the trail, at a spot
known as Earthquake Park, is spectacular.
It is possible to walk or cycle the Tony Knowles Trail in summer
and ski, Nordic-style, along much of it in winter.
* Eagle River Visitors Center at Chugach State Park. Look
through telescopes in the converted frontier-style homestead for
moose, sheep and other wildlife in the surrounding hills.
Nature hikes and lectures are scheduled frequently at the
* Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. This 2,300-acre wetland is
home to more than 120 species of birds in the summer.
Visitors also get to see moose, foxes and muskrats.
During winter, it is a favorite skating rink for visitors and
* Alaska Heritage Library and Museum. Basketry, painting,
sculpture and other crafts and artifacts highlight the cultures of
* Reeve Aviation Picture Museum. A must for airplane buffs, this
museum traces the state's aviation history, from bush monoplanes to
modern jets, in pictures collected by pioneer pilot Robert
* Chocolate Waterfall. This is a factory where chocolate and
Alaskan berries are processed. Definitely for those with a sweet
* Wildlife Museums at Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort
Richardson. Both facilities are open year-round, offering displays
of Alaska's fish and game.
* Elmendorf Air Force Base. Free guided tours are offered on
certain days in the summer.
Elmendorf, a home for F-15 squadrons, was established during
World War II to serve as the airfield for nearby Fort Richardson,
an army camp. Elmendorf became a separate base in 1952.
Reservations are required for this tour. Call (907)
* Saturday Market. Fruits and vegetables grown locally are sold
from stalls at the corner of 3rd Avenue and E Street each weekend
throughout the summer months.
* Ship Creek Salmon Overlook. There are several places on Ship
Creek, just on the outskirts of downtown, from which to watch
salmon struggle upstream to their spawning grounds in the fall.
* Big Game Alaska. This is the state's only drive-through
wildlife park, which is home to herds of bison, moose, elk and musk
ox, among other species.
* Oscar Anderson House. The city's first permanent frame home,
it was built in 1915, at a time when people were living in tents
and makeshift huts.
* Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Here, native life from
ancient days to modern times is traced through the works of Alaskan
* Eklutna Village Historical Park. More than 350 years of Alaska
history are recalled in architecture, art, mementos and places of
Eklutna Village is just 30 minutes from downtown Anchorage.
* Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. Located along the south shore
of Lake Hood Air Harbor, this museum is the home of more than 20
For more information about the low-cost opportunities in the
city, write to the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau at 524
W. Fourth Ave., 99501-2212, or call (907) 278-5559.