Backed by the striking, frosty hills of Alaska and fronted by some of the iciest stretches of water you’ll ever want to pointedly avoid stepping in, Anchorage is perhaps the ultimate stop off on route to the ultimate adventure. Alaska’s largest city has acted as the stepping off point for many of the world’s most impressive expeditions, and has more than enough credentials to be the launch pad for yours, too.
The city itself is a diffuse area spread across thousands of square miles and home to sporadic, predictably wildlife-focused sites. The Alaskan Native Heritage Centre is a great place to start, exploring the roots of the state in an interactive assortment that takes in everything from old-world knives to skin-bound kayaks, as well as exploring the language and culture of the region in both film and cultural performances. The Art and History Museum expands on the history, while the Wildlife Conservation Centre is more of an oversized zoo, housing huge fields of bear, elk and moose that you can drive through in your car. Most of the animals are recovering from human-related accidents.
Unsurprisingly, walking and skiing have become the dominant local outdoor activities. Explore the incredible views and scenic beauty of the many trailheads (buy a trail guidebook locally to avoid missing the highlights), while feeling like your walking miles from anywhere. If you’re looking for seasonal work, the chance to take on dangerous fishing jobs offshore (or safer ones onshore) might give you the means to hang around, while only two highways take you out of the city and into the rest of Alaska. The city can feel isolated and gloomy, especially during the darker moments of the winter months, but you’d struggle to find a more naturally striking destination, and for many people it’s one of the world’s must see spots. If you are heading off on an adventure, come prepared and aware, and you’ll be in for the trip of a lifetime.