This is a slide show presentation at the Alaksa Center for the Performimg Arts Sydney Laurence Theatre
As we visited Alaska in late July, we decided to take a look because it would be our only chance of seing the Northern lights on our trip.
The poster for the show has the line "You pay for your whole seat but only sit on the edge", and although the slide show is very nice this seems to be a bit of an exageration.
Downtown Anchorage - Use the 6th Avenue Entrance between F and G Streets right across from Humpy's Restaurant & Grill.
AurorA - Alaska's Great Northern Lights
Unique Suggestions: If it's raining and cold, at least this will keep you in the warma and out of the souvenir shops for a hour.
Hmmm. Well, we went and saw the Earthquake 1964 feature and a movie on the dome ceiling called Alaska - The Great Land.
We consider this experience a tourist trap because the movies are quite old. It appears, from our estimation, that these displays were established in the early 1980's? Their gift store items were also quite high compared to the other gift stores we'd visited all over the state.
We were disappointed, as their advertisement let you believe it was some fantastic experience; but, considering the progress of technology since then, we found it rather lame.
We did pay half price for the admission fees with our Toursavers' Book. (See my "Must-See Activity Page" under Alaska Travelpage) Even then we wondered if we had paid too much.
Unique Suggestions: At least use a buy-one-get-one-free admission coupon from the Toursavers' Book. Paying half price wasn't TOO bad. Paying full price would have left us feeling "taken."
Fun Alternatives: We enjoyed the Aurora Show at the Performing Arts Theater (2004). If you don't get to see the Aurora in real-life experience, at least see this! It's the best of 20 years of photographs of the Aurora.
Alaska has some gravel highways. MAKE sure if you rent a car, you point out every ding, scratch, paint chip, etc, or you are liable to get accused of bringing the car back in this condition. and get chargfed for repair.
As with any other city in the world, just avoid the shops in the downtown area. You're not in Anchorage to shop anyway, or at least you shouldn't be. If you have to shop, at least wait until the Saturday market. It's still touristy, but there are some cool local crafts.
In any city, people go "downtown" for two things:
a) see architechture, history, culture, etc.
b) go shopping
Anchorage could've devoted 4th Avenue, the heart of Downtown, to vibrant local stores, etc., but instead it is a vast strip of gift shops.
Unless you want to buy a) a shirt with a polar bear on it
b) a stuffed polar bear
c) fake Alaska native art
or d) real Alaska native art at ridiculous prices,
skip 4th Avenue.
Unique Suggestions: The neighborhoods around downtown Anchorage are some of the most pleasant in the city, and there is a wide strip of land seperating these neighborhoods from the buisness area of downtown called the Delaney Park Strip. It's a nice place to play baseball, frisbee, or any other sport.
Fun Alternatives: You didn't come to Alaska to shop! You came to see the Last Frontier! Go on a day hike in the Mountains or go rent a bike and coast the Coastal Trail.
Summer markets are set up near the Hilton Hotel on 3rd Ave. near 'C' Street. They are full of art and souveiners geared toward the tourist. However, good deals can be found if you look hard enough. There is also a great variety of food vendors serving all types--from Thai to Russian to halibut quesadillas.
Unique Suggestions: Go early or after 3pm when the crowds have died down. Enter with the intent to seek earnestly for Alaskan treasure. Take time to sit, enjoy the music entertainment, and indulge in some people/dog watching.
T-shirt and souvenir shops abound on every street corner in downtown Anchorage. You can buy just about anything with a moose, bear or eagle on it. Ulu's, Alaskan native Indian knifes are easy to find as well as nice jewelry.
This was the one of the worst tourist traps I have been in. I can blaime myself to choose a bad movie there, but there is not excuses for a horrible tourist shop as well.
First of all, even as an idea this is an interesting place just in downtown, easy to reach. And they might have some nice movies there too, like good nature films of Alaska, but unfortunately I choose a very bad one. It was pose to tell about Good Friday Earthquake in Anchorage at 1964, which interests me a lot. But what I got?
The ticket was overpriced, 6.50$ The 'movie' lasted 20 minutes and it was a)old b)bad quailty c) too short , basicly a bad piece of an interesting story.
Plus this 'theater', which should give you an attitude how it is to feel a 'real' earthquake...oh yeah, the chairs moved a little bit. I admit that you cannot compare that anything like a real earthquake...:( I feel sorry people who has really experienced that big quake and really knows how it is to feel a terrible nightmare, earthquake / tsunami.
Unique Suggestions: Choose your move wisely, for example 'The spirit of Alaska' is a very good and enjoyable one.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of this place, I would recoomend a museum and Erathquake Park as well as normal Tourist Information Center.
Alaska Native Heritage Center - high priced hokey but if you don't have the ability to travel around the state to see and meet the different Alaska Native peoples then, fine, feel free to pay through the nose for the privaldge.
Unique Suggestions: Call ahead to find out the times of the performances since they tend to get really crowded with tour guests. Getting a good spot helps the enjoyment of the dancing.
Bugs are a pest but oh The SCENERY is WONDERFUL !
Unique Suggestions: Go Kayaking: Ice-climbing; Hiking and birdwatching.
Fun Alternatives: What's the alternative? There is no ALTERNATIVE SURELY !
Stay at home or your hotel?
GET OUT THERE AND LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL !
Located in the same complex as the Chocolate Waterfall and 'Dusty Sourdough', you can find these trained Reindeer.
They sit back in their hutch, but come out when they see you putting a quarter into their feed machine.
For their sake, I hope they never release these guys into the wild
Also located adjacent to the Sourdough Mining Company restaurant, this guys gives a little talk and show about Alaska history.
Unique Suggestions: I think if I lived here, I'd take visitors here (as I snuck out the back) so they could learn a little bit about Alaska's Gold Rush history.
Ever see 'Toy Story 2'? This guy reminds me of "The Prospector" in the box.
oh jeeze..... they wasted nearly 3,000 lbs of chocolate to create this fountain and waterfall. It's kept at 90 degrees F to keep everything flowing. All part of a ploy to get you into the gift shop here, located across from The Sourdough Mining Company restaurant.
Unique Suggestions: eeek. If you're thinking about sticking your finger in here... don't. They only change the chocolate once every four years.
...even if it is a tourist trap, it's still one of the favorite family celebration restaurants in town 'cause the kids love to make their own ice cream dessert sundaes after dinner. Basic American food, Alaskan seafood, barbecued ribs, prime rib, and steaks--but it's all good. The one thing I've always appreciated about Sourdough Mining is that they have enough waiters on hand, and I've never had a complaint about prompt and courteous service.
If it's a birthday that you're celebrating, the waiters cheerfully clamp on miner's headgear on you and sing a birthday song, then give you a Polaroid snapshot to commemorate the occasion.
Unique Suggestions: Ah, go ahead and walk across the street to the Wildberry Products and Chocolate Factory. If the waiting list is more than 15 minutes, leave one of your party behind to take your table while the rest of your crew goes and indulges in samples or buys bagsful of handmade chocolates of all varieties. Or jams. Or nice souvenirs. (It's a handy place to get those microwave-able 'hot rocks' neck pillows that are great for sore muscles.)
Fun Alternatives: Walk down the street to the Peanut Factory for burgers and beer in a different atmosphere where locals hang out and watch sports on t.v.
Many hotels situated in DownTown Anchorage offer superb views of Cook Inlet. Some views are so inspiring, travelerish wish to walk out onto the beach of the inlet... unfortunately there is no beach. Local legend tells of a pair of newlyweds walking out unto the inlet on their wedding night, only to have the groom trapped in the mud, dying as he is sucked down from his new bride.
DO NOT try to walk into the Inlet.