Anchorage tops Conde Nast Traveler’s 23 Places to Go in 2023
Conde Nast Traveler put Anchorage at the top of its list for U.S. travel destinations this year, citing outdoor adventures, a new Nordic spa, and northern lights views.
Wedged between a majestic sea and the towering Chugach Mountains, Anchorage plays basecamp to Alaska’s vast wilderness. Many travelers fly here for a multi-day stay before cruises or journeys along the Alaska Railroad – which is celebrating 100 years in 2023. But the city’s an outdoorsy haven in its own right, too: northern lights flicker from August to April, salmon roil downtown’s Ship Creek, and moose make guest appearances along a 100-mile trail network.
Welcome to Alaska’s First Nordic Spa and the winter opening of Alaska Glacier Lodge
When adults-only Alyeska Nordic Spa opened last September – the first Nordic spa in the state – Anchorage also became Alaska’s most accessible wellness destination, pairing all that nature with an equal measure of indulgence. Temperate rainforest surrounds Finnish and Russian style saunas amid the spa’s 50,000-square-foot bathing circuit, which is part of Alyeska Resort, an award-winning ski area where summer means mountain bike rides and glacier hikes.
If you love the great outdoors as much as comfort and privacy, Alaska Glacier Lodge is your perfect Alaska accommodation and it is now open in winter. A winding road leads you deep into the mountains to the lodge for northern lights viewing and glacier helicopter tours including flightseeing, ice climbing, and dogsledding. It is remote enough to feel like true wilderness, yet perfectly situated for exploring Southcentral Alaska.
Alaska Railroad celebrates 100 years in 2023
Celebrating 100 years, the Alaska Railroad has connected many of Alaska’s most popular destinations: Anchorage, Denali National Park, Girdwood, Talkeetna, Fairbanks and more. Today, the Railroad offers an array of day trips – such as rail to Seward for a wildlife and glacier cruise – as well as multi-destination vacation packages that include rail, accommodations and activities. Adventure abounds at the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, a back country paradise developed in partnership between the Railroad and the Chugach National Forest Service – here, you can go for guided hikes, raft amid glacial icebergs, or go ice climbing on the glacier itself. The Railroad also offers daily summer access to two national parks: Denali National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park (accessible from Seward). Traveling aboard the Railroad ensures that the journey will be just as spectacular as the destination: incredible views unfold along the tracks, and knowledgeable tour guides share the stories behind the sights. Two classes of passenger service: glass-domed GoldStar Service (includes dining!) and comfortably appointed Adventure Class. Learn more.
5 Best Spots to See the Northern Lights in Anchorage
Make Anchorage your base camp for catching the aurora borealis. Spotting the northern lights can depend on everything from weather conditions to the presence of man-made light, so to maximize your chances, it’s best to be in a location known for clear, dark skies. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to travel far from downtown Anchorage to find prime aurora viewing locales. Local guide services can help show you the way. When the skies are clear and solar conditions are right, these are some of the top places to see the northern lights in Anchorage.
1. Glen Alps
The Glen Alps trailhead parking lot is a high elevation vantage point for northern lights above the city.
2. Point Woronzof
At the northwestern edge of the city, this coastal park has great northern exposure along the shore of Cook Inlet.
3. Eklutna Trailrace and Knik River Valley
The Knik River drainage has a northern horizon without any mountains in the way. The area offers good visibility even when the aurora is low on the horizon.
The Chugach Mountains shield the quaint ski town of Girdwood from Anchorage’s city lights, and the Alyeska Resort offers a northern lights wakeup call.
5. Eagle River Nature Center
At the end of Eagle River Road, the Eagle River Nature Center is an entrance point to Chugach State Park and a serene spot that seems a world away from daily life.
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