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.
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.
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.
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
If you take the local tolley car into the Heriage Center your only allowed 3 hours to walk around and learn about the Natives of the land. To me not enough time, I didn't want to leave just yet, but I had to or I would have had to hitch-hike back to the main center of town.
Unique Suggestions: Just go with the flow and enjoy your time there. Be friendly to the Natives and buy their art stuff.
Learn to dance, and if you don't know how to dance Native then just follow the main guy with the feather in his hand.
Unique Suggestions: Don't worry, don't be scared or stage fright, do your best to follow the leader, and it will be over before you know it.
Fun Alternatives: You just have to make it fun, I enjoyed just talking to the local natives and enjoyed the history of how they came to be, myth it's always myth on how we came to be on this earth. But believe me I think you'll enjoy it.
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.
When leaving Page Arizona, everyone that knew of my travel to Alaska would ask "Did you go Salmon fishing". Of course my answer was NO!!! I travel 3 States and 1 country to visit the Natives of Alaska. So if you are like me, then this is the place to be "Alaska Native Heritage Center", it was a place where I reconnected to my Native Roots. Like Ariziona being the Native American State so is Alaska is a land of many Native Peoples.
This place will show you unique experience to learn and explore the traditionaol ways of Alaska Native cultures.
Unique Suggestions: When your there this center has 26-acre site that you can stroll the compound and see all the different varity of Native home structure of each tribes and the story telling in each house. And right in the middle of the compound is a beautiful Tiulana Lake. When you enter the main building you'll see,
1. Gathering Place
2. Information kiosk
3. Culture Crafts Gift Shop
5. Hall of Cultures...galleries & studios.
6. Feature Walls...stories from the land.
7.Studio Workshop...langusges, arts and history
Fun Alternatives: Will, although this would seem like a tourist trip, I would think it would be important to know and learn what you can from the locals. That way you not putting you foot in you mouth...as sometimes I have done.
This isn't a trap, just a way to get you to visit!! This sign appears in Darwin's Theory a local bar which is filled with no-nonsense drinkers.
See more on nightlife tips.
Unique Suggestions: Visit the heavy petting zoo!! Add some romance to your travels by becoming one of the exhibits.
Fun Alternatives: Become a Darwin Chicken (ladies only). See the bar tender for more information.
Koots, as its called by the locals, usually with disdain, is the large Anchorage pickup bar. Supposedly world famous, with five or six different dance floors with different music, it would seem to be the place to go. According to the locals, it is not. As one Anchorage resident put it, "do us a favor and DON'T write about that place!"
Unique Suggestions: if you have to go and check it out, get a couple of shots at the bar and check out the scene from a distance. Or, better yet, just check out the website: www.koots.com, and then head elsewhere
Fun Alternatives: downtown Anchorage is better for nightlife. There are numerous bars (see nighlife tips) which are crowded but not as packed.
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.
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.
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.
...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.