Alaska Visitors Guide

Explore downtown Anchorage’s museums, restaurants, shops and nightlife

Anchorage’s downtown has many enjoyable experiences to offer, and it’s conveniently compact and centralized for visitors to explore on foot.

Of the roughly 732,673 people who live in Alaska, nearly 288,121 people call Anchorage home. While town proper sprawls across 1,706 square miles, Anchorage’s downtown is neatly compressed and easy to navigate. It’s the oldest developed part of the city and its sensible street grids render it pleasantly walkable for tourists lodging downtown or with an Anchorage stop in their itineraries.

Start your urban adventure at the central Log Cabin Visitor Information Center at the corner of F Street and Fourth Avenue. Staffed year-round by well-versed hosts, the center offers loads of information about the city’s history, general visitor guides and access to out-of-town excursions and city tours.

For the historically curious, pay attention while roaming downtown streets; interpretive signs dot the sidewalks and share photos and stories of Anchorage’s earliest days, pointing out important landmarks and significant buildings.

While the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake destroyed many of Anchorage’s older buildings, significant historic structures remain. Next to the visitor center sits the two-story cast concrete Historic City Hall, which first opened in 1936. Its lawn is often fronted by summer vendors selling ever-popular reindeer hot dogs and sometimes hosts free outdoor public concerts.

Nearby, a handful of charming circa-1915 cottages on Third Avenue are among the city’s original homes. Just below downtown in Ship Creek, the Alaska Railroad Anchorage Depot, built in 1942, still serves the state’s rails today.

The circa-1915 Oscar Anderson House Museum today is surrounded by a charming park, a quiet corner of downtown where kids can burn off some energy. The house, which in past summers opened to tourists, was donated by Anderson’s widow in 1976. It was closed in summer 2023 for renovations and repairs. Updates to its accessibility will be shared on the museum’s website.


Other downtown stops for the historically curious include the Anchorage Museum, packed with historical, arts and cultural exhibits, and the Fraternal Order of the Alaska State Troopers Alaska Law Enforcement Museum, boasting the state’s only collection of historical law enforcement memorabilia.

The Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery was established in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson. Just south of Sixth Avenue and west of Cordova Street, it’s the final resting place for some of Anchorage’s most significant pioneers and historical figures, including Alaska Native leaders, politicians and artists. The 22-acre cemetery covers a nine-block area and offers contemplative space for walking along its footpaths.

Downtown’s shopping helps pass the time, too. The Anchorage 5th Avenue Mall has lost many retailers in recent years, though it still has local and chain stores of interest, such as Sephora, Bath and Body Works, Lush, Canada Goose, Eddie Bauer and JCPenney. A food court offers affordable daytime dining options.

For authentic Alaska treasures, wander downtown’s streets. Tourist shops sell reasonably priced T-shirts, hats and other trinkets. More valuable and individualized Alaska mementos like crafted jewelry, fur items, ivory figurines, pottery and Alaska Native art are sold at higher-end boutiques.

Sevigny Studio sells locally crafted jewelry, pottery and artwork, including originals and prints by its namesake Katie Sevigny. The Kobuk is a charming shop selling locally made collectibles and global crafts, foreign foods, gourmet candies and a wide range of tea.

Anchorage dining and nightlife

Anchorage’s nightlife options span dives, cocktail bars and beer-forward pubs. During our long-lit summer days, score a patio or deck seat to soak in the novelty of late-day sunshine and gorgeous views.

For pub-crawling, begin at the corner of F Street and Sixth Avenue, across from the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, where a nexus of bars includes Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse. The menu covers the gamut of Alaska pub grub, like fried halibut and king crab nuggets with garlic aioli, and its expansive beer selection is top-tier. Next door to Humpy’s is Flattop Pizza + Pool, featuring a laid-back urban vibe.

Across the street, Williwaw Social boasts a rooftop bar that opens on nice summer days and is unparalleled for views of Anchorage’s Town Square Park. A second open-air option is 49th State Brewing Co. Its deck overlooks Cook Inlet, and you can even glimpse the tip-top of Denali during favorably clear conditions.

For a fancier evening, several fine-dining restaurants downtown have clever craft cocktail creations and extensive wine selections.

Ginger serves Pacific Rim-influenced cuisine with a modern, warm aesthetic and a chic bar. Crush Wine Bistro and Cellar features wine flights from an impressive cellar presented by knowledgeable staff, alongside shareable small plates and seasonally sourced entrees.

For unexpectedly great Cajun cooking, check out Gumbo House. Now located on Sixth Avenue, the nearly 20-year-old restaurant features jambalaya, po’boys, gumbo and a full bar. Live music is performed some nights as well.

For a fantastic view, visit Simon & Seafort’s, and enjoy craft cocktails and Alaska seafood while staring out across pretty Cook Inlet with mountain Sleeping Lady in the distance. A second option is found on the top floor of the Hotel Captain Cook at the Crow’s Nest. The venerable fine dining restaurant also has a bar area, with fantastic cocktails and a deep wine list.

For a laid-back dive-bar experience, mingle with friendly locals at Darwin’s Theory or Pioneer Bar. Both share commonalities: long legacies, personable bartenders, and affordable drinks and Alaska-brewed beers and ciders.

Mad Myrna’s is downtown’s lively and welcoming gay club, recently remodeled. With drag shows, cabaret performances, karaoke nights and dancing, Myrna’s is a true standout with a high-energy vibe and a long tradition of inclusive entertainment in the Last Frontier. It’s also a sleeper hit on the foodie scene with some truly delicious menu items.