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Anchorage

More ideas for things to do around Anchorage, for tourists and locals alike

The New York Times last week laid out its top Anchorage stops for tourists. The article got ADN employees talking about our favorite local eats, hikes and activities, especially the lesser-known ones.

Here are some of our suggestions. What are yours?

EAT:

Pad Thai at Lahn Pad Thai (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

Lahn Pad Thai. The fresh rolls have an interesting twist, with very thin slices of green apple in them. Drunken Noodles is one of our favorites. – Pam Dunlap-Shohl, designer 

Serrano's Mexican Grill. Unique menu that includes shrimp tostadas and amazing street tacos with juicy pork or carne asada. Great staff. – Alex DeMarban, reporter

Arctic Roadrunner. An Alaska experience eating burgers on Campbell Creek. You might even see a live salmon go by as you're eating a salmon burger. Bring cash (very retro, no credit cards). – Yereth Rosen, reporter

Thai Kitchen. Beef Panang and Crispy Tofu. Can't go wrong. – James Ives, lead developer 

Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant. Comfort food covered in butter. (But save the bloody mary for Spenard Roadhouse.) – Loren Holmes, visual journalist

Rustic Goat: Share a plate of the pulled pork nachos and grab something off the dessert menu, too. The Rustic Goat s'more — a chocolate pot de creme with graham cracker crust and torched marshmallow fluff — is a personal favorite. – Suzanna Caldwell, reporter

Cafe Nordstrom: Surprisingly first-rate food at a price considerably lower than you'd find at other downtown restaurants. Particularly good for lunch. – Mike Campbell, editor

Southside Grill. Diner food done right. – Laurel Andrews, reporter

Thor Gouker holds Kachemak Bay oysters at the Northern Lights Oyster Co. stand at the Anchorage Farmers Market in 2009. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

Get your own Alaska oysters (at a farmers market, 10th and M Seafoods, or delivered from Kachemak Shellfish Growers Co-op) for a fraction of price of restaurants. Find your own spot to shuck and drink whatever you have on hand. – Steve Kruschwitz, front end developer

Tommy's Burger Stop. When it's my turn to cook, it is at Tommy's or Bear Tooth. And you can get Double Muskie pie at Tommy's. – Bob Hallinen, photojournalist

Bubbly Mermaid. I freaking love oysters. – Jerzy Shedlock, reporter

Also check out: Best lunch deals in Anchorage, Part I and Part II.

EXPERIENCE:

A beer flight at King Street Brewing Co. (Mara Severin)

Brewery hopping. Midnight Sun Brewing Co., King Street Brewing Co., and Anchorage Brewing Co. are all near each other. Another great beer spot, Resolution Brewing in Mountain View, is also definitely worth a stop. I'd recommend a flight of their brews. You can sift through their little record collection and choose something to listen to while you sip. – Annie Zak, reporter

Koot's, formally known as Chilkoot Charlie's, might be one of the most iconic bars in Anchorage. The sprawling maze is actually a handful of bars under one roof. Take your pick from a Russian-themed room, an arcade, the Bird House (where bras adorn the walls and ceiling), and more. Fair warning: it can get a little rowdy. – Annie  

Watch a cheap movie at Bear Tooth Theatrepub, and use the money you saved on the ticket to splurge on food and drinks, which you can eat in the theater.  – Laurel

Bear Tooth Theatrepub (Sarah Bell / Alaska Dispatch News)

If it's a sunny summer Wednesday, try yoga on the Delaney Park Strip. If it's fall (after Labor Day) and it's Tuesday, try the Tuesday Night Races. It's a great activity with kids, and a good way to see some trails. – Yereth

Check out one of the state's best collections of Alaska Native art at the Alaska Native Medical Center. Take the elevator up to the top floor and walk down to check out displays on the stairwells and in each floor lobby. Then shop at the hospital craft shop, which has a collection of Alaska Native carvings, masks, baskets and more. Check the hours — typically it is only open 10 to 2 p.m. weekdays and some Saturdays. – Lisa Demer, reporter

The setting sun illuminates buildings at the Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass on Oct. 1, 2014. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)

Hatcher Pass. Just north of Anchorage, you can get mountains, history and a rushing river all in a morning. You'll still have time to get lunch nearby and get back to the Anchorage Museum (depending on the day), go to see a show and/or get dinner. — Pam

If you're from Oregon, Washington, or elsewhere in the country where recreational marijuana is already allowed, legal pot shops might be nothing new for you. But they're relatively new to Alaska, and the novelty has definitely not worn off yet. There are several to pick from, but finding a place to legally smoke your purchase can be an issue if you're a tourist. – Annie

Visit a glacier or three. There are plenty of accessible glaciers within a few hours of Anchorage — but keep safety in mind. – Annie

The biking options in and around Anchorage are almost limitless. The vaunted trail system features the Campbell and Chester Creek trails, which cover a large swath of the city. The Coastal Trail, with its tranquil views of Denali and Cook Inlet, is the city's most popular route, especially with tourists. Heading south on the trail will land a traveler at Kincaid Park, which offers wilderness trails for single track riders and potential wildlife encounters. – Chris Bieri, copy editor

Go mountain biking on the single track trails in Kincaid Park — particularly Middle Earth trail, which traverses almost the whole length of the park and ends with great views of Cook Inlet and Fire Island. – Suzanna

HIKE:

A hiker gains altitude on the North Face Trail on Mount Alyeska, which begins near the Alyeska Resort hotel and climbs about 2,000 feet in 2.2 miles. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

The Alyeska North Face Trail is a great hike for families. Glacier Express restaurant at the top has hot chocolate for whining kids and beer for parents, plus awesome chili, fries and everything else. There's a free ride down on the tram and amazing views of Inlet. June is the best time — or late May after snow melts — to avoid the rabid flesh-eating flies that arrive around late July. They can also be stopped with bug-off lotion (better than bug spray) – Alex

On a sunny fall day, the Lost Lake Trail near Seward delivers breathtaking views at several junctures, including Resurrection Bay. If you have a second car at the Bear Creek Fire Department, the second half is pretty much all downhill. — Mike

Eagle and Symphony lakes. Close to town, pretty mild terrain, interesting views. – Steve

The back of Wolverine Peak as viewed from Long Lake (Vicky Ho/ Alaska Dispatch News)

Wolverine Peak, if you have a lot of time. Fabulous view at the top. – Yereth

Winner Creek Trail. A beautiful walk through the Girdwood forest, plus a bonus waterfall and hand-tram near the end. – Laurel

Also check out: ADN's hiking trail condition map and Vicky Ho's Cautionary Tales hiking column.

SHOP:

Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, even if it's just to hang out with the staff and get the latest scoop on what's happening outdoors. – Yereth

Title Wave Books. Cheap reads. –Yereth

Dos Manos is a funky little Midtown gallery. Stop in to find beautiful art, jewelry and other handmade Alaska trinkets. Bella Boutique, just around the corner, is known for a wide selection of handmade products, with an eclectic mix of items including jewelry, novelty gifts, bags and clothing. – Suzanna

Summit Tea and Spice has a really nice selection of spice rubs and seasonings crafted with Alaska fish and game in mind. It's an especially nice way to prepare that fish that (hopefully) you managed to catch. – Suzanna

6th Avenue Outfitters. Good gear, helpful staffers, no pretense. — Mike

Blue Hollomon Gallery and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art for the artsy crowd. — Pam

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