Small Town USA: Anchorage, AK

Home / Small Town USA: Anchorage, AK - November 3, 2012 , by kimberly

Happy Saturday friends! Today, I have a new guest post for you in the Small Town USA series. One of my friends is currently living in Alaska and was willing to put together this great guide to Anchorage. So without further ado…

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Hello Fellow Family Practice Readers –

I am a  single, 26 year old female working and living in the land of the last frontier – Alaska.

Map of Alaska

I live in the “city” – one of the two major cities in our state, located in Southcentral Alaska, on cook inlet and surrounded by mountains – Anchorage, AK.

Anchorage City Anchorage Close-Up of Downtonw Anchorage Downtown

Anchorage was originally a “tent city” which was mainly populated in our port and downtown area. US Secretary of State William Seward purchased Alaska from Russia (for $.02 cents an acre) in 1867, and gold was first discovered along the Turnagain Arm in 1888. Alaska officially became a US territory in 1912.

Anchorage Tent City

A majority of Anchorage’s economic boom throughout the early 1900s was centered upon the growth and development of an Alaska railroad. Our airforce and army bases were constructed in the 1940s, and of course, oil was discovered in 1968 in Prudhoe Bay, and hasn’t slowed since. Currently 90% of our state budget is funded by oil money.

How big is small? While there are still many small-town qualities to Anchorage, and likely always will be given our extreme temperatures and isolation, we now have a population of almost 500,000 people. That may seem small to many of you, but please keep in mind that the STATE of Alaska has about 750,000 people. That being said, a day never goes by without running into someone I know, somewhere throughout the day.

Alaska Railroad

Anchorage has a lot of interesting opportunities for recreation. The municipality stretches along the Chugach range for a total of about 2,000 square miles. The municipality actually includes several cities including Girdwood, Eagle River, Chugiak, Indian, and Anchorage. The municipality has three ski resorts within its borders, Alyeska being the biggest (and arguably my all-time favorite Alaska view!), and hosts miles and miles of waterfront or mountain top trails for recreational use. Two of the most popular:

· Tony Knowles Coastal Trail []

· Flat top []


Alyeska Ski ResortView from Top of Alyeska 

We do have a “downtown” area – although our tallest building is the Conoco-Phillips Office building, which is only 22 stories high. Our nightlife scene is mainly located on 4th Avenue downtown – there are five main bars, ranging from dive bars to the club scene and back again.

Being in southcentral Alaska, and on the water, we are a bit luckier with our weather then some of our neighbors farther north. The snow usually falls and sticks in October, and our annual “break-up” season takes place in April. At our darkest time of year (January) we usually have about 5-6 hours of sunlight per day, and around solstice we get up to 20 hours of sunlight.

Despite the disclaimers, we still live far in the north – and that being said, our winters are cold (its 11* today!), and last year we broke the all-time snow record (134.5” of snow!).

Fun Facts:

Anchorage has a 3:1 guy to girl ratio, which at first seems wonderful as a single girl – however, as the locals are fond of saying “the odds are good, but the goods are odd”.

Much like you may hear when traveling out of the country, locals regularly call the contiguous 48 states the “states” or the “lower 48”. When online shopping – Alaska isn’t counted in the United States shipping fees, and all of our “Dollar Menus” here are $1.29-$1.49 to account for the increased shipping charges of food.

Each year in October, all Alaskan Residents get something called the PFD deposited in their account. This year it was $878 – and it is our “oil royalty” payment as an oil producing state.

PFD Announcement

The state of Alaska has no sales tax, or income tax.

Many citizens still rely on a subsistence lifestyle. This is especially true as you travel farther north, or to some of the more remote villages – however even in Anchorage, dipnetting season and hunting season are taken very seriously as a way to fill our freezers for winter.

Alaska has less roads than the country of Afghanistan. As such, a majority of travel (OUTSIDE of Anchorage) is done by float plane, snowmachine, boat or four wheeler. In Anchorage, Lake Hood serves as the largest (and busiest) seaplane base in the world. Insider tip: this is one of my favorite lakes to run around! Always something to see.

Anchorage was voted the “Worst Dressed City in America” – carhart, bunny boots, flannel, denim and fur are all still very popular here.


Alaska is a dream destination for many – and being Anchorage’s largest city, we are the gateway to the rest of the state for most. You can fly into Ted Steven’s International Airport, or dock your cruise ship at the Port of Anchorage, and easily get to the Kenai Peninsula (world fishing capital) or up to Mt. McKinley/Denali National Park by bus. There are several train rides out of the Anchorage Port Depot as well, which is a wonderful way to see a variety of wildlife and scenic sights.

Lake Hood

A majority of our tourists arrive during the summer months for fishing and sightseeing, or August – October for hunting season – although some do come seeing winter adventure as well. For those, Alaska offers heli-skiing, snowmachine trips, snow shoeing and cross country ski trails at all times. There are also winter events such as “Arctic Man” in April, which takes place in the remote northern Hoodoo Mountains. During the week of Arctic Man, the amount of people and motorhomes in the parking lots actually form the 3rd largest city in Alaska.

Arctic Man

Of course, the biggest draw in the winter is still the Iditarod []. The Fur Rondezvous festival takes place entirely in Anchorage, and has quite a list of activities, including a false start of the Iditarod. My favorite last year was our own version of running with the bulls – the running of the reindeer.

Running with Reindeer


Thank you so much for sharing your home town with us!

2 thoughts on “Small Town USA: Anchorage, AK”

  1. Brenda says:

    Fabulous photos from Alaska. I have visited for fishing once upon a time in the month of June and had a wonderful time and productive fishing, too, caught 4 salmon from 26 lbs – 34 lbs. Although the winter pictures are gorgeous, I don’t know if I could handle the extreme cold. My favorite memory of time spent on the water in Alaska was our day of crabbing and then sitting in the sunshine on the boat, eating to our hearts content the delicious crab we had caught. Thank you for sharing about your town of Anchorage! Running around Lake Hood sounds fun. It’s amazing that so many people show up for Arctic Man! Unbelievable!

  2. Garp says:

    Nice post. I’m from Palmer after living a year in Anchorage. It was a big day in Palmer when we got our second stoplight!
    Garp recently posted..Why to buy and cook local food.My Profile

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I am a twenty-something working gal, a wife and mom to two young boys - a preschooler and a second grader.
I'm a strong believer in forging my own path and making my own rules.
My husband and I are both history majors trapped in the business world; our adventures tend to have a history lesson attached.
Together, we're working to coordinate our values, beliefs, goals and ideals into a practical parenting style that works for us.
I believe healthy food can and should be fun, tasty and affordable.
I use this space to share recipes and workouts for busy gals like myself and I invite you to follow along with us in our daily lives. Welcome.
Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and get ready to have some fun with us :)

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