Nestled in a valley next to Mount Alyeska, Girdwood was founded as a gold mining town in the early 1900s. The community boomed in the years following construction of the Alaska Railroad, but population dipped during World War II after a presidential order stopped all mining. A second boom occurred in 1949, during the construction of a highway linking Anchorage and Seward.
In 1960, the dream of several Alaska ski buffs became a reality with the construction of a chair lift and day lodge at the base of Mount Alyeska. Just 40 miles south of Anchorage, Alyeska Resort is now popular with skiers from around the world. The mountain gets an average of 650 inches of snowfall annually and boasts more than 1,000 acres of skiable alpine terrain.
While winter in Girdwood is a skier’s dream, summer ushers in quirky fairs and festivals. Celebrate summer solstice with live music during the Fiddlehead Festival. Girdwood Forest Fair features Alaska artists, hand-crafted items, exotic foods and entertainers from all over Alaska. Bring the buckets and the kids for some fun at the Blueberry Mountain Arts & Music Festival. Wrap up the summer with a fungus hunt led by an expert mycologist – the Fungus Fair educates and entertains.
During the summer, visitors and locals enjoy hiking and biking trails, berry picking and panning for gold. For the more adventurous, there is lift-assisted mountain biking and paragliding. After a long day of activity, settle in for some relaxation at The Spa at Alyeska.
For a small community, Girdwood has some of the best fine dining around. Fuel up before any adventure at the Bake Shop with freshly baked goods, giant sourdough pancake stacks, sandwiches and bottomless bowls of homemade soup. Jack Sprat cooks up the latest in culinary trends from around the world using organic produce, and Seven Glaciers offers signature Alaska dishes with a panoramic view - one of five restaurants at The Hotel Alyeska.