Anchorage is the starting point for many adventures looking to explore the raw beauty of Alaska. It puts you in the perfect position to head north and explore epic landscapes like Denali, but also ideal for those who want to explore the southern peninsula, including charming towns like Seward and Homer and the surrounding Chugach State Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Kachemak Bay State Park.
As Alaska’s largest city, you’ll never run out of things to do in Anchorage. It sits between the Chugach Mountains and the Cook Inlet, and even though it’s sandwiched between rugged natural landscapes, Anchorage has plenty of big-city amenities to keep you busy from sun up to sun down.
If you’re planning a trip to Alaska and researching where to stay, I’d highly recommend staying in Anchorage. Not only is the Ted Stevens International Airport less than six miles from downtown Anchorage, but also the Anchorage Depot, where you can hop on a train to scenic spots including Seward, Denali, and Fairbanks.
But where should you stay in Anchorage? Well, we’ve got plenty of options for you, breaking down some of the most popular neighborhoods in Anchorage to help you make your decision.
Luckily, many of the Anchorage neighborhoods are within walking distance of each other, and there are always bicycle paths and nature trails that connect each area, so no matter what area you choose, you’ll still be close to all of the action.
Show Table of Contents
- TL;DR: Best Places to Say in Anchorage
- Best Areas to Stay in Anchorage
- Where to Stay in Anchorage
- 1. Downtown Anchorage
- 2. Midtown
- 3. Mountain View/Government Hill
- 4. Eagle River
- 5. Chugiak
- 6. Spenard/Turnagain
- 7. Hillside
- 8. Girdwood
- Can you suggest some pet-friendly lodgings in Anchorage?
- What is the best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska?
- Are there any hotels in Anchorage offering airport shuttle service?
TL;DR: Best Places to Say in Anchorage
|Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa||Downtown||Views, Spa, Pet-Friendly||$$$|
|Four Points by Sheraton Anchorage Downtown||Downtown||Free Parking, Fitness Center||$$$|
|Qupqugiaq Inn||Midtown||Budget-Friendly, Luggage Storage||$|
|Crown Plaza Anchorage Midtown||Midtown||Indoor Pool, Spa, Fitness Center||$$|
|Townplace Suites by Marriott Anchorage Midtown||Midtown||Breakfast, Spacious Rooms||$$$$|
|Alyeska Resort||Girdwood||Ski, Spa, Hiking Trails||$$$$|
Best Areas to Stay in Anchorage
- Best area for first-timers/tourists – Downtown Anchorage
- Best area for budget travelers – Mountain View/Government Hill
- Best area for luxury travelers – Girdwood
- Best area for safety – Midtown Anchorage
- Best area for families – Downtown Anchorage
- Best area for couples – Spenard/Turnagain
- Best area for foodies – Downtown Anchorage
- Best area for nightlife – Downtown Anchorage
- Best area for easy access – Downtown Anchorage
Where to Stay in Anchorage
1. Downtown Anchorage
It’s no surprise that the majority of Anchorage hotels are in downtown Anchorage. Just like every other major city, downtown Anchorage has a thriving nightlife, a plethora of restaurants, and plenty of parks and green space to enjoy. Plus it’s easily walkable and close to just about every major mode of transportation and tour company.
Speaking of walking, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got on your best pair of sneakers because Anchorage is overflowing with hiking trails that you’ll want to explore. You can be wandering the streets admiring the architecture one minute and then run into a trailhead the next.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Path is an 11-mile trail that runs from downtown Anchorage over to Kincaid Park and is easily one of the most popular trails in Anchorage. You can walk the trail, but if you really want to live like a local, rent a bike and peddle your way along this scenic waterfront trail.
In addition to the many hiking trails around downtown Anchorage and the surrounding neighborhoods, there are also plenty of bike trails to enjoy. Outdoor recreation is extremely popular in Alaska, and whether you’re salmon fishing or just enjoying a casual bike ride downtown, being outdoors is a way of life in Alaska.
Of course, if Mother Nature has other plans and a rainy or snowy day is in the forecast, there are plenty of options for indoor activities, and one of my favorites is the Anchorage Museum. This kid-friendly museum features everything from science and technology exhibits to native Alaskan artwork and everything in between.
See a show at the planetarium, learn about life in the Arctic, how the railroad put Anchorage on the map, and so much more. You could easily spend at least three hours here soaking in all the history and art here.
Downtown Anchorage is also where the majority of tours will depart from, which makes everything so much easier. Just about any tour you decide on is going to be within walking distance of your downtown Anchorage hotel, and in case you need a little inspiration on what tours in Anchorage to take, I’ve got a few favorites for you:
Things to Do in Downtown Anchorage
- Trolley Tour
- Knik Glacier Helicopter Tour
- Walk through Delaney Park
- Visit the Anchorage Museum
- Portage Glacier & Wildlife Tour
- Food & History Walking Tour
Best Places to Stay in Downtown Anchorage
- Best Budget Hotel – This Waterfront Apartment
- Best Mid-Range Hotel – Four Points by Sheraton Anchorage Downtown
- Best Luxury Hotel – Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa
- Best Vacation Rental – This Villa at Bootlegger’s Landing
Just about three miles south of downtown Anchorage, Midtown is a buzzing neighborhood in Anchorage overflowing with shopping plazas, hotels, restaurants, and parks to enjoy. While it may not be as scenic as downtown, Midtown has its own charm, plus plenty of opportunities to go shopping, eat, and drink.
Fill up on Alaskan favorites like wild salmon and reindeer sausage as you soak in the culture. If you want to experience it in the best way, embark on one of the many food tours in Anchorage.
Midtown is where you’ll find the majority of breweries in Anchorage, and many are conveniently along the neighborhood trailheads. You can pop in for a brew or two as you make your way through each of Anchorage’s charming neighborhoods.
Pizza lovers can’t go wrong with a slice and a pint from the Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. If you’re hungry for a burger, the burgers and milkshakes from Arctic Roadrunner are top-notch.
Cuddy Family Midtown Park is a must-see while you’re in Midtown. This picturesque park is delightful year-round, but it really comes alive during the wintertime when you can go ice skating when the pond freezes over. There’s also an athletic track, a playground for the youngsters, and even more nature trails to explore.
Though it’s technically in the Tudor Area, Helen Louise McDowell Sanctuary is just a stone’s throw away from Buddy Family Midtown Park, and this scenic sanctuary boasts 14 acres of wetlands that have remained mostly untouched as the surrounding neighborhood developed. It’s the perfect spot to head to if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet without having to hop in the car and drive anywhere.
Things to Do in Midtown
- Walk around Cuddy Family Midtown Park
- Visit the Sourdough Trading Post
- Visit the Alaska Jewish Museum
- Enjoy dinner and a movie at Bear Tooth Theatrepub
- Visit the Helen Louise McDowell Sanctuary
Best Places to Stay in Midtown
- Best Budget Hotel – Qupqugiaq Inn
- Best Mid-Range Hotel – Crowne Plaza Anchorage Midtown
- Best Luxury Hotel – TownePlace Suites by Marriott Anchorage Midtown
- Best Vacation Rental – 3-BR Nordic Home
3. Mountain View/Government Hill
Mountain View and Government Hill are north of downtown Anchorage and great for both budget travelers or folks who would rather stay in a more quiet area. Fairview and Russian Jack Park are nearby neighborhoods that often get lumped into this area, too, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Government Hill is one of Anchorage’s original neighborhoods and is filled with historic landmarks and wonderful overlooks of the city. As you’re wandering around Government Hill, take some time to explore the Government Hill Federal Housing Historic District.
Here, architect lovers will enjoy seeing original houses and buildings dating from 1915-1950, built to house government employees who moved to Anchorage in the city’s earliest days. Government Hill is also where you’ll find some of the best views of downtown Anchorage, with scenic overlooks just about everywhere you look.
Other notable landmarks in Government Hill include the Wireless Station, Anchorage’s first radio communications hub that was built in 1917, and multiple community parks. Many of these parks are named after pioneers and trailblazers of Anchorage, like Al Miller Memorial Park and Suzan Nightingale McKay Park.
Mountain View is much more of a residential area but still boasts a vibrant community alongside areas like Russian Jack and Airport Heights. It is easily walkable, and there are many trail connections to get you from Mountain View to Downtown, Russian Jack, and Airport Heights.
One of the popular attractions in these woods is the Alaska Native Heritage Center, a fascinating museum that preserves the history of Alaska’s 11 main cultural groups and indigenous people. It’s technically in the Native Village of the Eklutna, which isn’t far from Mountain View.
This is one neighborhood with plenty of rugby pitches, little league fields, sledding hills, and picnic facilities that the entire family can enjoy. You may even want to challenge the family to a game of disc golf!
After a game or two, you’re bound to work up an appetite, and the cuisine in Mountain View ranges from Hawaiian to German and everything in between. Jamaica’s is one of the oldest continuously operating pizzerias in Anchorage, and they’ve been serving up some of the best pizza in Alaska for over five decades.
Things to Do in Mountain View/Government Hill
- Visit the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature
- Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center
- Walk through Ship Creek Overlook Park
- Visit Suzan Nightingale McKay Park (Denali View Point)
- Stroll through the Government Hill Federal Housing Historic District
Best Places to Stay in Mountain View/Government Hill
- Best Budget Hotel – Merril Field Inn
- Best Mid-Range Hotel – Aptel Studio Hotel
- Best Luxury Rental – This 4-Bedroom Home with views of the Chugach Mountains
- Best Vacation Rental – This 3-Bedroom Home
4. Eagle River
Eagle River and the surrounding neighborhoods of this northern Anchorage area will have you feeling like you’ve left the city limits entirely. Here, life leans to a much more residential style with tons of undeveloped land and ample parks to enjoy.
If you prefer to stay in apartments and VRBO-style lodging, this is the place to be. There aren’t many hotels in this area, but there are plenty of apartments, villas, condos, and houses of various sizes. Whether you’re a party of 10 or just a solo adventurer, you’ll be able to find a rental that fits your needs in these neighborhoods.
Eagle River Nature Center has plenty of hiking trails, nature programs, and even a few camping opportunities if you’re looking to spend a few nights camping under the stars. The trails are open year-round, and there’s a trail for every skill level. Even if you’re just starting out, you’ll be met with incredible mountain views, glacial streams, and maybe even a chance to see some Alaskan wildlife.
The fun doesn’t stop there. There are several Chugach State Park access points, lakes stocked for fishing, and both summer biking and winter ski trails to explore. In the winter, check out the sledding hills at Eagle River Town Square Park.
Things to Do in Eagle River
- Visit the Eagle River Nature Center
- Visit The Eagle River Town Square Park
- Visit Beach Lake Park
- Hike The Mile High Trail
- Visit Eklutna Lake
Best Places to Stay in Eagle River
- Best Budget Hotel – Eagle River Microtel
- Best Mid-Range Rental – This Alaskan Adventure Apartment
- Best Luxury Rental – This 4-Bedroom Villa
- Best Vacation Rental – The Birchtree Escape
Just north of Eagle River lies Chugiak, another great neighborhood in Anchorage to stay in if you prefer to keep away from the crowds.
Nature lovers, a visit to Thunderbird Falls is a must. The hike is about a mile long, very easy, and well-maintained. At the end of the trail, you’re met with a beautiful view of Thunderbird Falls, a stunning 200-foot waterfall surrounded by enchanting emeralds all around the Eklutna Canyon.
Nearby, the Native Village of Eklutna is worthy of a day trip. The village dates back at least 800 years and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Anchorage. Points of interest here are the Eklutna Historical Park, where you can learn the history of native Alaskans, and the beautiful Eklutna Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in Anchorage.
Speaking of lakes, Mirror Lake is also one you should add to your list. This secluded little park has several picnic tables where you can enjoy a picnic, plus a playground for the kids, a sand volleyball court, and a mesmerizing view. This is a popular spot for stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking, and you can rent them from AK Paddlesports.
Things to Do in Chugiak
- Hike the Peter’s Creek Trail
- Visit Mirror Lake
- Visit Beach Lake Park
- Visit Thunderbird Falls
- Visit Eklutna Historical Park
Best Places to Stay in Chugiak
- Best Budget Stay – This cozy studio in the mountains
- Best Mid-Range Rental – This rustic cabin with a hot tub
- Best Luxury Rental – This modern loft with a rooftop deck
- Best Vacation Rental – This 5-bedroom farmhouse
The Spenard and Turnagain neighborhoods are the closest to the Anchorage International Airport (about five minutes away), but Anchorage isn’t that large, so you’re never more than 20 minutes away from the airport anyway, and this little slice of Anchorage is ideal for waterfront views and all things aviation.
If you’re a fan of aviation, then pull up some grass and enjoy watching one of the many seaplanes land on Lake Hood, the world’s largest float plane base. Nearly 200 planes take off daily from this aquatic runway!
Nearby, the Alaska Aviation Museum gives visitors an in-depth look at Alaska’s aviation history. You can see four hangars of exhibitions, more than 25 vintage aircraft, and even watch the seaplanes land and hear live radio feed from the Lake Hood tower. Kids of all ages will love this, but you know what? Adults will too!
As you wander around this part of Anchorage, you’ll find many trails connecting you to downtown, like the Lane Fleischer Chester Creek Trail and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. After all of that walking, be sure to swing by the Bear Tooth Theatrepub, the only dinner movie theater in Anchorage.
If you’re a sucker for sunsets, check out Point Woronzof or Lyn Ary Park. Both offer sensational sunset views and fewer crowds than the nearby Earthquake Park.
Don’t get me wrong, Earthquake Park is still a must-see. As you stroll through the park, you’ll see evidence of the famous 1964 earthquake, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake that was the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America.
Things to Do in Spenard/Turnagain
- Visit the Alaska Aviation Museum
- Visit Earthquake Park
- Visit Kincaid Park
- Visit the Point Woronzof Overlook
- Visit Spenard Beach Park
Best Places to Stay in Spenard/Turnagain
- Best Budget Hotel – Chelsea Inn Hotel
- Best Mid-Range Hotel – Coast Inn at Lake Hood
- Best Luxury Hotel – The Lakefront Anchorage
- Best Vacation Rental – This 2-Bedroom house in Turnagain
The Hillside neighborhoods are located on the southeastern side of Anchorage, and they’re ideal for outdoorsy folks. Sure, every neighborhood in Anchorage offers community parks to enjoy, but the Hillside neighborhoods really take it to the next level.
Hikers, this is your spot. Between the Far North Bicentennial Park and the Glen Alps, you’ll find countless miles of hiking trails to explore, and these trails come with some of the best city center views in town.
The Glen Alps Trailhead is a popular gateway to Chugach State Park, and there are a few different trails of various levels of difficulty. Even if you’re a beginner hiker you can still find a trail with an easy elevation gain.
On a clear day, you might even be able to spot Denali! Even if you can’t see Denali, you’ll have stunning views of the Anchorage Bowl, Mount Susanna, and the Cook Inlet.
If you’re visiting in the fall, keep your eyes out for wildlife along the way. Fall is when moose enter the rutting season, with bulls clashing and competing for females. Fall is also when blueberries are in season, so feel free to pluck some along your hike–they’re a great snack!
One of the most popular attractions in the Hillside neighborhoods is the Alaska Zoo. From wolverines to flying squirrels, the Alaska Zoo is home to more than 100 birds and more than 50 different species of mammals, including polar bears and muskox! The 25-acre zoo also has a petting zoo area that kids of all ages will enjoy.
While this side of town certainly offers a more peaceful stay, it is one area you’ll want to rent a car for. Many of the attractions here are just out of a pedestrian’s reach, so do yourself a favor and hire a car so you can have the freedom to explore Hillside plus any other adventures you have planned, like hunting for the Northern Lights.
This is also an area where you’ll find fewer hotels. Because it’s so residential, visitors to this area are encouraged to rent one of the many locally-owned apartments and homes in the neighborhood. These accommodations are perfect for the budget traveler, plus you’ll have amenities like a full kitchen so you can cook your own meals if you wish.
Things to Do in Hillside
- Visit the Alaska Zoo
- Anchorage Golf Course
- Hilltop Park & Ski Area
- Far North Bicentennial Park
- Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary
Best Places to Stay in Hillside
- Best Budget Hotel – This Hillside Anchorage Home
- Best Mid-Range Hotel – Alaska Sundance Retreat Bed & Breakfast
- Best Vacation Rental – This 3-bedroom house with a view
Girdwood is technically a part of the Municipality of Anchorage, but it feels like a completely different place. It’s about 40 miles south of Anchorage and you can drive there in less than an hour, and the views along AK-1 are just incredible.
As you make your way down to Girdwood, you’ll have stunning mountain scenery on one side, and the Turnagain Arm on the other. If you don’t have a car but still want to explore Girdwood, you can take the shuttle from Downtown Anchorage to Girdwood.
Alyeska Resort is a popular destination for folks wanting to ski down Girdwood’s famous ski slopes, but make no mistake, Girdwood is an all-season destination and there’s always something to do here. It’s an ideal spot to stay in for travelers looking to enjoy Alaska’s impressive scenery and more of a small-town vibe.
It’s worth your while to splurge and stay at the Alyeska Resort. One of Anchorage’s most popular luxury hotels, this luxury resort has it all: spacious rooms, easy access to trails, a saltwater swimming pool, spacious guest rooms, and so much more. Just the incredible oceanfront views would do me in!
In the summertime, you can hit the hiking trails, pick blueberries, and enjoy locally-made gifts and goods from the local shops. You can even pan for gold at Crow Creek Mine, a historic mine established in 1898 that’s known to be one of the most prolific mining operations in south-central Alaska.
Some of the oldest buildings in Anchorage are at Crow Creek Mine. The whole family will enjoy taking a guided tour, a salmon bake dinner, and then doing a little panning to see if you can strike it rich.
No matter what time of year you visit Girdwood, a ride up the Alyeska Aerial Tram should be at the top of your list. This tram takes you from the Alyeska Resort to the top of Mt. Alyeska, where you’ll have an incredible view of the Turnagain Arm from an elevation of 2,300 feet. The ride takes anywhere from 3-7 minutes and operates year-round.
Things to Do in Girdwood
- Visit the Great Wall of Nina
- Enjoy a helicopter ride over the Chugach Mountains with a glacier landing
- Take a sip or two at Girdwood Brewing Company
- Take a ride on the Alyeska Aerial Tram
- Visit the Roundhouse at Alyeska Museum
Best Places to Stay in Girdwood
- Best Budget Hotel – Timberline 208
- Best Mid-Range Hotel – Snowbird Chalet
- Best Luxury Hotel – Alyeska Resort
- Best Vacation Rental – This 4-bedroom chalet
Can you suggest some pet-friendly lodgings in Anchorage?
These days, it’s easier than ever these days to travel with your pet. There are several pet-friendly hotels in Anchorage to choose from, including the Residence Inn Anchorage Midtown, Hyatt House Anchorage, Wingate by Wyndham Anchorage Downtown, Baymont Inn & Suites by Wyndham Anchorage Airport, and the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa.
I’d recommend calling the hotel beforehand to learn about any pet deposits that are required, as well as the accommodations and any paperwork you’d need to bring (vaccinations, shots, etc.) so you know if it’s going to be a good fit for you and your fur baby.
What is the best time to visit Anchorage, Alaska?
Summer is the most popular time to visit Anchorage, with June through August being the most popular with tourists. September is the rainiest month for Anchorage, with an average of about 3 inches of rainfall.
Winter in Anchorage draws many crowds looking to go skiing, dog sledding, and watch for the northern lights. If you’re hoping to catch bears snacking on salmon, try to time your visit from July through September, as that’s when they’re actively feeding on the salmon run.
Are there any hotels in Anchorage offering airport shuttle service?
Many hotels in Anchorage offer a free airport shuttle service. Some of the most popular hotels with an airport shuttle service in Anchorage include the Puffin Inn of Anchorage, the Inlet Tower Hotel & Suites, the Dimond Center Hotel, Hotel Captain Cook, the Anchorage Grand Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Anchorage, the Hampton Inn Anchorage, and the Coast Inn at Lake Hood. It’s always a good idea to contact the hotel to confirm before you book your lodging, just so you don’t run into any surprise.
- About the Author
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Jacks is a New Orleans native with a passion for exploring the Arctic region. A mediocre ukulele player, photographer, and artist, she thrives on spontaneous solo adventures and encourages everyone to follow the deal, not the destination. When she’s not traveling, she’s feeding the neighborhood crows, squirrels, and blue jays that have befriended her, much to the dismay of her cat, Tugger.