New Tours, Attractions and Restaurants Make 2016 the Year for an Alaska Visit

With amazing parkland, huge glaciers and incredible wildlife, a visit to Anchorage is an unforgettable part of any Alaska trip. 2016 holds something new. Here are eight new things you should be sure to consider when planning a visit:

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years

The National Park Service centennial this year takes on special significance in Anchorage. Five national parks are easily within a day’s travel of Anchorage: Denali, Kenai Fjords, Katmai, Lake Clark and Wrangell-Saint Elias national parks. All are connected to Anchorage by road or rail – or in the case of parks without any such connections, by small aircraft. North America’s tallest mountains, iconic bear viewing spots, whale watching, and countless glacier views are an integral part of Alaska’s national parks, and of a visit to Anchorage. The anniversary takes on special significance in Alaska; Denali National Park was the first park established after the park service was created.

Chester Creek Trail Refurbished

The Chester Creek Trail’s complete repair and repaving project was completed earlier this year. All four miles of the trail have been repaved, with many fixes below the surface as well. It’s the first extensive repairs to the trail since it opened in the mid 1970s. The paved, multi-use Chester Creek Trail is popular with walkers, cyclists, runners and skiers. It’s a connector between East Anchorage and downtown and mirrors the course of Chester Creek as it flows west to Westchester Lagoon and Cook Inlet. 

Race Renames

One of Anchorage’s most popular races has a new name, Anchorage RunFest, formerly Big Wild Life Runs, unveiled the new name Oct. 1. The event has grown into a weekend-long series, with an expo, marathon, half marathon, 5K, mile and 49K Ultra we truly are a festival of running in Alaska.” The races are hosted annually by the Anchorage Running Club. Anchorage RunFest takes place August 20-21, 2016, and registration is already open.

New Summer Dog Sled Tour

Girdwood Mushing Company shows summer travelers running a dog team isn’t a seasonal passion. Their 2.5 hour Summer Sled Dog Adventure takes guests out to five-time Iditarod finisher Nicolas Petit kennel, to meet a team of Alaska sled dogs and learn what it is like training, managing and living with them. The tour uses 6-wheeled vehicles along a section of the historic Iditarod Trail near Girdwood, Alaska, to access the kennel.

Sunset Glacier Cruises with Phillips

Phillips Cruises & Tours introduces their Sunset Glacier Cruise for 2016. This 2.5 hour cruise spends the evening viewing the glaciers of Blackstone Bay and includes dinner. The high-speed catamaran can get to the glaciers fast, giving passengers more time viewing these massive rivers of ice. Cruise departs Whittier at 7:15 p.m. and returns to pier at 9:45 p.m. The cruise pairs well with Chugach Adventures trip to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and Spencer Glacier whistle stop aboard the Alaska Railroad.

Williwaw Unveils Restaurant, Concert Venue and Bar

Housing a new café, restaurant and concert venue, Williwaw heads into its first summer. Williwaw has two floors and also a rooftop deck. The main restaurant focuses on locally-sourced ingredients for its sandwiches, Asian noodle and rice bowls and daily chalkboard entrees. A second story, speakeasy-style bar devotes itself to craft cocktails and is accessible only with a password relayed by picking up the receiver in an innocuous looking phone booth in the restaurant.

Anchorage Distillery Opens Tasting Room

Glacier water, Alaska-grown grain and berries come together in the spirits crafted at Anchorage Distillery. People come together in their new tasting room to sample them.  The Distillery makes vodka, gin and whiskey from Alaska ingredients. Their new Spirit Mine Tasting Room is open Tuesday through Saturday from 2 - 8 p.m. A weekly tour is on each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center Opens Bison Hall

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is home to moose, bear, bison and other wildlife, but its new event and education center is built with two legged visitors in mind. Bison Hall will be a 3,840-square-foot barn-style structure for special events and classroom-style presentations. Located next to the existing gift shop, the building will have extra restrooms and an extended roof to provide shelter for outdoor activities as well.