Anchorage has a lot of Big Alaska Adventures for a nice small price. You don’t have to take expensive tours to get great nature and wildlife experiences.
Our 10 Budget Travel Tips for Anchorage that are free or under $25, may be small on price, but they are big on unearthing the real Alaska so you can tick-off many of your life-list experiences and create unforgettable memories.
1. Anchorage Trolley Tour
Anchorage Trolley Tours provide a 1 hour, 15 mile fully narrated tour of historic Anchorage from the comfort of an enclosed, heated trolley.
Highlights include Mysterious Earthquake Park, Alaska Railroad, Westchester Lagoon, float planes departing from Lake Hood and Lake Spenard, breath-taking mountain ranges and Anchorage’s historic neighbourhoods.
Hourly and half hourly tours depart from the downtown Visitor Information Centre Log Cabin at 546 W. 4th Ave, Anchorage, Alaska
Check the Anchorage Trolley website here to confirm operation dates and times.
Your $20 adult ticket includes a complimentary coupon book with over $100 worth of traveller savings.
2. The Ulu Factory
A trip to the Ulu Factory near downtown Anchorage on the free trolley is a great free way to get oriented to the area and an unique opportunity to watch artisans craft the famous Alaskan Ulu knives.
The Ulu Factory free vintage trolley leaves from outside the Anchorage Visitor Center during the summer season, June to August. It’s a short 5 minute trip from downtown.
Once you have finished looking around The Ulu Factory take a wander to nearby Ship Creek, where you can see anglers fishing for salmon. If you want to be part of the fishing action, on the other side of the river is The Bait Shack, which is a one-stop tackle shop for licenses, fishing equipment rental, bait and tackle.
3. Alaska Native Arts and Crafts
This is a locals tip to a hidden gem for the cost of a $3 bus ride!
Double check at the Visitor Information Center Log Cabin for the best bus to The Alaska Native Medical Center Craft Shop which is located inside Alaska Native Medical Center. Here you will find high quality, handmade, authentic Alaska Native arts and crafts on display and for sale in their museum quality mini store, which is run by volunteers and open 10am to 2pm or 11am to 2pm on the first and third Saturdays of each month.
This is a great excuse to use public transport and actually be with the locals!
4. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary located in the Portage Valley, dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife. Most of the animals have either been orphaned or injured.
Surrounded by the breathtaking Chugach Mountain Range and Turnagain Arm Inlet learn about the resident wildlife. See animals like black and brown bears, bison, caribou, moose, porcupine, wolves, deer, bald eagle, owls, moose caribou and reindeer.
Your ticket includes the free animal programs. Check the summer and winter schedules for presentations like Bears Business, Meet the Wolves, Bison Banter, Carnivore Chat and more. When you arrive pick up your Animal Program Schedule outside the Be Wild Gift Shop.
An adult ticket for the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is only $16.
5. Travel with the Locals Bus Pass
Jumping on and off local buses is a great way to get the feel of a place and meet locals. This is even more attractive in Anchorage as you can get a day pass for the People Mover Bus for only $5, which is a bargain especially since individual trips are $2.
Purchase your day pass at the downtown station – when you board the bus notify the operator that you wish to purchase a Day pass before you deposit money into the farebox. Learn more about How to Ride the Bus in Anchorage
The Anchorage Transit Bus which operates every 15 minutes between Anchorage Airport South Terminal to the Downtown Transit Center is a bargain too! The ticket only costs $2 and the journey takes 22 minutes.
7. Alaska Botanical Garden
The Alaska Botanical Garden has beautifully cultivated gardens woven through a 110 acre spruce and birch forest.
Experience the gardens, wildflowers and nature trail down to Campbell Creek where salmon spawn. Give yourself at least an hour to explore.
A half mile loop takes you past several types of tender gardens including a rock garden, native plants, and both perennial and annual flowers.
A longer 1.2 mile loop through the forest lets you enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
The staff will advise you to be “bear aware” as bears do occasionally wander into the gardens.
“The Alaska Botanical Garden is an independent nonprofit living museum. Our mission is to showcase the beauty and value of Alaska’s gardens and natural areas through science, education, and recreation using organic and sustainable practices.”
The link to the Alaska Botanical Garden website here has the full list of trails, gardens and opening times.
Entry to trails is by donation, adult admission to the gardens is only $12.
8. Walk, hike or ride a bike
Walk, hike or ride a bike to enjoy Anchorage Nature.
If you visit in summer, take advantage of the long daylight hours.
Check-in to the Visitor Information Center Log Cabin for walking and cycling trail maps. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a very popular 12 mile trail that runs from downtown Anchorage to the chalet at Kincaid Park.
Leave the city behind, take a picnic and wander through scented forests and take in the views, you may even spot a moose or beluga whale!
Bicycles can be hired from $15 per hour.
9. Flattop Mountain
Flattop Mountain is the most popular hike in the Anchorage area and the most climbed mountain in Alaska. Renowned for stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains this is where Anchorage meets the wild.
To the top of Flattop is approximately 3 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation.
While the trail to the summit is rocky and steep, Flattop is considered suitable for all abilities as there are a number of loop trail options.
Start your hike from the Glen Alps Trailhead. There is a short, paved wheelchair accessible 0.3 mile loop. And if you do not want to climb all the way to the summit, there is a wide bench after the first set of stairs that offers phenomenal views.
Other hikes that begin at Glen Alps include Powerline Pass and Williwaw Lakes.
Flattop is only 20 minutes from Anchorage. If you drive, the cost for parking is $5, otherwise the Flattop Mountain Shuttle offers round trip transport to the mountain for $23.
10. Fishing and Wildlife Spotting
The Visitor Information Center Log Cabin is the place to get the best local tips. Ask them about the best places for fishing and wildlife spotting.
The Bait Shack in Anchorage has platforms and pedestrian bridges nearby, where you can get a great view of the fishing action and if you want to get in on it yourself they have fishing equipment and license packages.
Anchorage is unique in the sport fishing world. Anglers can catch 20- to 30-pound king salmon and 8- to 10-pound silver salmon right in town. There’s also excellent fishing for rainbow trout, Dolly Varden char, and Arctic grayling in area lakes and streams.
Nature never closes!
In the summer make the most of the long daylight hours by enjoying walks, bike rides, fishing and wildlife spotting.
Leave the city behind with a visit to Kincaid Park and The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail where you might spot a moose, bear or beluga whale.
The Visitor Center will be able to give you the best advice for wildlife spotting based on the time of the year.
So there you are, 10 Budget Travel Tips to enjoy everything Anchorage has to offer for less than $25.
And if you are looking for things to do in the evening, sparkling winter lights and long summer days with 17 to 19 hours of daylight, means more fun can be packed into each day. Many activities, attractions, parks and trails are perfect to visit in the evening.
Take advantage of the free shuttle that runs from Downtown to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and Alaska Native Heritage Center.
Learn more about why you should go to Anchorage and our 7 Top Tips for Anchorage to experience the real Alaska here.
Explore the local area, enjoy Alaskan art with artists and artisans, travel with locals, discover gardens, nature trails and wildlife. You can easily do it all with these money saving tips.
Check the Anchorage Events Calendar here for weekly events.
So go do it! Take a trip to The Last Frontier and don’t forget to let us know about your adventures.
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