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Alaska, the last frontier

Pro travel tips for a weekend in Anchorage, Alaska

Trails like Crow Creek Pass, which is only 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, Alaska, offer jaw-dropping, scenic opportunities to explore the great outdoors when visiting Alaska. Photo credit: Christina Butcher

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There's no better way to appease your inner explorer than by heading to Alaska for an outdoor summer adventure. It doesn't have to be a long adventure -- a few days are all you need -- and it doesn't have to be expensive. Simply pick out a long weekend on the calendar, pack your bag, and book a plane ticket to Anchorage, Alaska. A world of outdoor adventure, wildlife and stunning landscapes await you there. And while you wait to board your plane to America's last frontier, read these pro-travel tips to get the most out of your Alaska experience:

Get out of town

Trust us when we say that transportation is part of the fun while vacationing in Alaska. If you plan to explore more than downtown Anchorage (and we hope you do), it's a good idea to reserve a rental car from the airport. While the daily cost is quite steep compared to other popular vacation spots, it's worth the extra money to be able to ditch the city and drive the infamous Seward Highway, a coastal and national scenic byway.  

Traveling south from the city, you'll find pull-offs to natural wildlife viewpoints like Beluga Bay and the cascading rainforest waterfalls of Rainbow Falls. The trailhead to Flattop Mountain is also right off the highway and offers panoramic views of the Anchorage coastline. All three destinations are within an hour's drive of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). 

Embrace Native culture and history

Alaska is chalk-full of interesting history relating to both pre- and post-statehood. Indigenous peoples occupied the area for thousands of years before settlers arrived in the 17th century, and there are ample opportunities to learn about past and present indigenous cultures in the Anchorage area. Start by visiting the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where you'll be exposed to Alaska Native storytelling, live dance and performances, cultural artifact exhibits and Native Games demonstrations. 8800 Heritage Center Dr, Anchorage, Alaska, 907.330.8000,

The Anchorage Museum is another great place to soak up local art and culture. The museum is the largest in the state and includes visual arts in mixed media, an interactive history gallery, live music and film, a planetarium and live art and music performances. 625 C St., Anchorage, Alaska, 907.929.9200,

Eat like a local

That means eat more salmon, or any locally caught seafood you can find. We followed the advice of countless Anchorage locals and headed straight to Snow City Café, a popular brunch spot downtown, to find exactly that. Made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls, house-made Alaska smoked salmon cakes and reindeer sausage were waiting for us. And while wait-times can easily rack up to almost an hour at Snow City Café, you can skip the line by grabbing first-come, first-served seating at the retro-style counter. 1034 W. 4th Ave., Anchorage, Alaska, 907.272.2489,

If you're on the hunt for dinner and drinks, head to Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria, where made-from-scratch pizza and locally brewed beer await you. This is also the original home to Broken Took Brewery, so you'll have opportunities to test freshly brewed beer while listening to regulars chat about the best fishing and hunting spots in the area. 3300 Old Seward Hwy, Anchorage, Alaska, 907.258.2537,

Forget about fancy digs 

Go camping or stay in a hostel, instead. You'll spend so little time indoors or in the city proper that it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on a hotel room. Instead, opt for an affordable campsite in the nearby Chugach National Park or consider staying at Aleyeska Hostel in nearby Girdwood, Alaska. Hostel bunks in a shared dorm can be reserved for only $25 and you'll have the added benefit of meeting locals and fellow travelers who don't mind sharing travel tips and helpful advice. 227 Alta Drive, Gridwood, Alaska, 309.783.2222,

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