Article •  Anchorage, Alaska, USA

7 Of The Best Things To Do During The Winter In Anchorage Alaska

Last Updated On: October 21, 2022


So you are going to Alaska? You are in for a real treat!

Resting at the foot of the Chugach mountain range and snuggled against the Cook Inlet, Anchorage is the perfect place for nature lovers and adventurers alike. While most people think of Fairbanks and the capital of Juneau when mentioning Alaska, Anchorage has so much more to offer than the town itself. Under the blankets of white snow, choose from countless snowshoeing trails, ice climbing tours, and wildlife sightings to helicopter and snowmobile tours.

Yes, you heard right, wildlife sightings. While the bears might be deep asleep during the cold winter months, the usually shy moose ends up coming closer to the city due to the big amount of snow in higher elevations. Did you know that around 1500 resident moose call Anchorage their home?

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

Although Anchorage is by far the biggest city in Alaska (293,531 population) it has somehow been able to maintain a very charming small-town vibe. I guess it helps that most of downtown Anchorage is pretty much walkable and the airport is only a short 10-minute drive away.

For the best lodging experience, we recommend either The Lakefront Anchorage or Hotel Captain Cook. My favorite part about staying at Hotel Captain Cook is the uninterrupted views of downtown Anchorage and the snow-covered Chugach Mountains in the distance. A little tip, if you saw it in our Instagram Stories, try to get a corner room so you will be surrounded by two big windows, which are perfect for sunrise and sunset snuggles in bed. Believe me, it will make all the difference and will add so much to your stay here in Anchorage.

Regardless if you decide to stay at Hotel Captain Cook or somewhere else, you should still check out their lobby and admire the yearly Gingerbread Village available only during the winter months. Pastry chef Joe Hickel, the creator, and designer of the Gingerbread Village has been creating gingerbread villages for over 38 years.

Keep scrolling if you are interested in learning more about the 7 best things to do in Anchorage during the winter.

table of contents









Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This directly supports Bare Escape, by offsetting the cost of running this site so we can continue to provide you with free content to help you plan your next escape! This media visit is supported in part by the Municipality of Anchorage.

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

1. Explore downtown Anchorage

Duration: 1 hour

Inclusions: Alaska Activity Map

Price: Free Self-Guided Tour

The Hotel Captain Cook is located in downtown Anchorage and is the perfect place to check-in when exploring Anchorage. But before venturing out on your own, I would recommend stopping by the visitor information center to get the latest recommendations. Located in a log cabin with a sod roof at 4th and F Street, it is almost impossible to miss. Make sure to ask for The Alaska Activity Map of Anchorage as it provides a pretty detailed outline of all the Points of Interest, Restaurants as well as Tours & Activities in and around Anchorage.

For a nearby hiking trail and easy escape into nature, check out the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This beautiful walk along Cook Inlet runs from the city to Kincaid Park for a total of 11 miles.

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

2. Hike to the Barbara Falls

Duration: 2-3 hours

Inclusions: Transfer, Guided Tour, Snacks (with go hike alaska)

Price: $89 (with go hike alaska)

Tucked back into a gorge, this 25-foot-plus waterfall gushes over giant boulders and looks quite impressive both in the summer and winter alike. Since this blog post focuses on “The top 7 things to do in Anchorage during the winter,” we found ourselves here in Anchorage during December when the entire waterfall was frozen. This was our first time seeing a waterfall frozen and it was even more beautiful to witness in person, especially when the snow started to slowly fall.

The hike itself is super easy and only takes around 10-15 minutes. The falls can be accessed from a neighborhood off Hiland Road. Simply walk along the old road until you reach the small South Fork Bridge. The trail forks and hike leads upstream along the South Fork Eagle River and before you know it you have reached the impressive Barbara Falls.

For more waterfalls in and around Anchorage along with detailed directions click here. If you don’t feel comfortable going on your own or don’t have a car, go with a guide. Matt from Go Hike Alaska would be happy to guide you to the fascinating and beautiful Barbara Falls.

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

3. Go Snowshoeing

Duration: hours

Inclusions: Snowshoes + walking poles 

Price: $89 per person

Matt Worden from Go Hike Alaska is more than just a guide. He is passionate, knowledgeable, and able to modify any of his hikes to your liking. He knows the backcountry very well and is happy to show you all that Anchorage has to offer.

Matt picked us up directly from our hotel loaded up with all the gear in the back of his truck, and we made our way to the Glen Alps in Chugach State Park.

This was our first time snowshoeing and if it’s your first time too, there is no need to worry. You can choose between beginner and advanced trails, and in all honesty, it isn’t very difficult at all. Expect to get a workout, especially when you are hiking through deep untouched areas of snow uphill.

We personally can’t recommend the tours from Go Hike Alaska enough and are the perfect way to easily explore the backcountry.

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

4. Visit Girdwood

Duration: 1 Hour drive from the city of Anchorage

Highlights: Helicopter Tours, Snowmobile Tours, aerial tram, snowboarding, skiing

Where to stay: Alyeska Resort

Girdwood is a small community nestled in the Chugach National Forest around 40 miles southeast of Anchorage. This winter wonderland is easily our favorite town in the extended Anchorage area and should not be missed when traveling through Alaska.

Should you decide to go, be sure to take the drive during the day along the scenic Seward Highway beside Turnagain Arm, and the Alaska Scenic Byway, which is also known as the All-American Highway to Girdwood. The drive is only around one hour long but so beautiful as you weave right next to the water.

If you have the time, book a night or two at one-of-a-kind Alyeska Resort, the state’s premier alpine ski destination. This is where you will find 30 acres of accessible terrain total paradise for snowboarders and skiers alike. Nash and I are not regulars when it comes to winter sports but we had the best time taking on the bunny slopes of this picturesque place. Don’t forget to look back when you take the ski lift up to the slopes. From afar the hotel looks like a castle straight out of a fairytale.

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

Experience Alyeska Resort Aerial Tramway. This is honestly a must when visiting Girdwood. The Mt. Alyeska’s observation deck sits 2,300 feet above sea level and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Visitors can either ski down or just come to the viewing deck to get a quick bite or stay for a sit-down dinner at The Seven Glaciers restaurant, which is a destination in itself when it operates.

A ticket for the tram is $30 per person.

our travel gear

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

5. Embark on a helicopter tour

Duration: 90 minutes

Inclusions: Helicopter Tour (Prince William Sound Tour) + Glacier Landing

Price: $565 per seat

Alpine Air Alaska made our dreams come true as we lifted off in the snow-dusted town of Girdwood and headed north into the most beautiful winter wonderland. For 90 minutes we flew across bizarre-shaped bright blue glaciers and spotted alpine lakes, moose, and bighorn sheep from above. We even had the opportunity to get out of the helicopter and venture onto the ice for 15-20 minutes.

This was hands down our favorite activity during our entire stay in Anchorage for multiple reasons. We’ve both never seen glaciers from above nor have we ever been on a helicopter excursion. These two experiences combined made this day extra special. Nash and I usually don’t get each other presents for Christmas. Instead, we like to save our money so we can spend it on experiences like these. What better Christmas gift than a new experience that we will remember for the rest of our lives?

Alpine Air offers multiple flightseeing tours, we chose the Prince William Sound Tour as it provides a birds-eye view of dozens of glaciers found within the protected waters of Prince William Sound.  Expect to be picked up directly from your hotel and dropped off at Girdwood Airport. Every guest is asked to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled flight time for a short safety briefing.

There really is no dress code but I would recommend wearing layers. I actually ended up being a little bit too warm since the helicopter is heated, however, walking on the Glacier was pretty cold and a bit windy so be prepared.

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

6. Glacier Walk & Snowmobile

Duration: Glacier Walk - 9 Hours | Snowmobile Tour - from 3.5 hours

Price: Glacier Walk - $299 / Snowmobile Tour - starting from $275

Important: Small Group Sizes

Before Nash and I go on any trip I spend days researching and reading all about the must-do and while we don’t mind a fully packed Itinerary there is only so much one can do on a winter day in Anchorage. What most people often forget, is that the daylight is very limited in the winter months with an average of 5-6 hours. However, if we would have had time to add a few more things during our trip to Anchorage then it would have been either a longer Glacier Walk or a take a snowmobile in and around some glaciers.

Salmon Berry & Tours offers an amazing Glacier Walk Experience to the Matanuska Glacier, tucked in the Matanuska Valley. The tour includes a 2-hour trek with experienced guides in a small group (up to 12 people). Learn how the Glacier was born and shaped as well as get ready to explore meltwater pools and impressive ice formations. This all-inclusive tour provides hotel pick-up and drop-off, helmets, trekking poles, microspikes, hot beverages, and a hearty lunch at a local lodge.

Glacier City Snowmobile Tours was another tour operator we considered. They offer adventure-packed tours in the Girdwood Valley ranging from getting up close and personal with glaciers and scenic mountain treks to multi-day trips into the Alaskan backcountry. How amazing does this sound!

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
The Best Winter Train Ride In Alaska | Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

7. Take The Aurora Winter Train

Duration: 12 Hours

Operation Times: Weekends, mid-September to mid-May

Price: Starting from $230 (one-way)

Our entire trip through Alaska was absolutely incredible and if you asked me what activity I liked the most, I don’t think I could choose. But what do I know is that it wouldn’t have been the same without this incredible train ride through the backcountry of Alaska.

Taking the Aurora Winter Train is as magical as it sounds. The train runs every weekend from Anchorage to Fairbanks and vice versa. Instead of flying from Fairbanks back to Anchorage, we decided to take the Aurora Winter Train and it was so worth it. While a train ticket can sometimes be more expensive than a flight ticket, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The ride was 12 hours long and while it sounded daunting to me, there wasn’t a dull moment. You probably won’t believe me when I say we probably took photos and videos for over 6 hours straight, that is how magical the ride was. Magic and beauty lay around every corner and every bend.

Like this post? Don't forget to pin it!

7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape
7 Best Things To Do In Anchorage During The Winter| Bare Escape

More Posts  •  North America

5 1 vote
Article Rating