Downtown Anchorage seen with the Alaska Range to the north.
Ken Graham

What's New in Anchorage, Alaska for 2019

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Polar Bears and Polar Explorers

The Anchorage Museum is well-known for its focus on artists and themes important to Alaska and the broader Arctic. Its winter 2018-19 and summer 2019 exhibitions continue the mission. “Aivik and Nanuq” – walrus and polar bear in the Inupiaq language – brings together works focused on these two iconic polar species. It runs through spring 2019. “Death in the Ice” brings together the latest revelations about the Franklin expedition. Lost in the Arctic off the coast of Northeast Canada, the British explorer’s ships were rediscovered in 2014 and 2016 using eyewitness accounts from Northern Canada’s indigenous communities. Produced by the Canadian Museum of History, the exhibit is on display for summer 2019.

New Permanent Exhibits for Alaska Public Lands Information Center

The joint visitor center sharing Alaska’s state and federal public lands with travelers is being totally remodeled. Opening is set for late April/early May 2019. The Alaska Public Lands Information Center’s exhibits on Alaska flora, fauna, geology and history – as well as outdoor opportunities – fare being completely replaced. Once open, visitors will be able to walk across a glacier, explore lifelike renditions of the landscape, and get advice and assistance planning outdoor adventures from National Park Service rangers.

Snow Business: Snowhook Announces Snowmobile and Fat Bike Tours

Snowhook Adventure Guides adds snowmobile and fat tire bike tours to their offerings. New tours begin in winter 2018-19. Named for the anchor used to keep an enthusiastic team in one place between runs, Snowhook also offers 3 and 5-hour dog mushing tours, as well as overnight trips focused on dog sledding. The company has roundtrip transportation from Anchorage.

Turnagain Makes 12: New Brewery Opens

Turnagain Brewing opened their doors recently in south Anchorage, the twelfth brewery in operation in the Municipality of Anchorage. Turnagain focuses on Belgian style beers, with a roster that includes Alaska raspberry lambic ale, a saison, tripel and Flanders-style red ale, and a rhubarb sour. While Turnagain remodeled and expanded the footprint of the adjoining tasting room, it should look familiar to Anchorage beer drinkers. King Street Brewing turned over the building to the Turnagain owners just as King Street moved into their brand-new facility a few blocks south.

New Vessels for Glacier and Wildlife Cruises in Prince William Sound

Phillips Cruises and Tours adds a new vessel, the Bravest, to the day cruise offerings from the port town of Whittier. The new, high-speed catamaran can carry 285 passengers. The vessel is the company’s third exploring Prince William Sound.

Lazy Otter Charter's new boat, Voyager, has arrived in Whittier for 4.5, 6 and 8 hour day cruises. The new 46-foot, 30-passenger catamaran is specially designed for glacier and wildlife cruises, and a perfect day trip from Anchorage. The company puts special emphasis on education and environment. Beach walks or short rainforest hikes can be added to all departures; the boat has a drop front like a landing craft.

Trial-size #VANLIFE in Alaska

Get Lost Travel Vans and Trickster Trips bring self-contained, fully loaded van camping to Alaska. Get Lost’s converted minivans carry rooftop tents, custom made beds and an onboard kitchen for adventures across the state’s road system. Trickster tricked out three VW buses with features including solar power, fold-down bunks, and kitchens. If you aren’t ready to sell all your worldly possessions and hit the road, you can at least test out vanlife.

Hotel News

The boom in midtown hotel building reaches a crescendo when Courtyard by Marriott and StayBridge Suites open in late 2018 and early 2019. The Courtyard is located on A Street near International Airport Road. StayBridge Suites opens December 2018. StayBridge is off A Street along Calais Drive and has suites equipped with full kitchens. Hyatt Place opens in Anchorage in May of 2019. The property on Tudor Road will open with 133 rooms.

The Lakefront Anchorage brings Lake Hood closer to guests. Alterations to exterior landscaping allow the hotel to offer a new set of lake view rooms. Guests can watch the sun slowly set as floatplanes taxi, takeoff and land at an Alaska floatplane base.

Added Airlift

United Airlines recently announced plans for daily service between Newark Liberty and Anchorage, expanding the options for East Coast travelers with designs of an Alaska vacation. Strong service continues from Alaska Airlines and many other carriers, particularly from West Coast cities.

Neighborhood Growth: Spenard Adds Bookstore, Food Hall, and New Restaurants

Anchorage’s Spenard neighborhood always been different: defined by the only meandering road in a grid of cardinal direction streets, home to a dancehall in the woods during Prohibition, and a town unto itself until Anchorage swallowed it up in the 1970s. Spenard’s distinct character continues to evolve, with recent literary, community and culinary developments.

Writer’s Block Bookstore opened, creating a hub for Alaska’s literary community, with sales, author talks and workshops. The neighborhood celebrated another literary milestone, the second edition of the Spenardian, its resident, hyper-local magazine.

The Church of Love turned a disused 1950s-era church into a space for artists, concerts, community gatherings, and classes on permaculture, sewing and more.

The owners of longtime Spenard favorite Bear Tooth Theatrepub (and it’s more famous cousin, Moose’s Tooth Pizzeria) recently announced plans to develop a food hall nearby in the coming years. Owners of The Potato, a McCarthy, Alaska, restaurant, and Anchorage’s La Bodega beer and spirits bottle shop plan to open La Potato, a pop-up restaurant on Spenard Road soon as well. In the meantime, restaurants like the fried chicken temple Chicken Shack, the aforementioned Bear Tooth, and Spenard Roadhouse – not to mention the seasonal Spenard Food Truck Carnival – cater to the needs of hungry Spenardians.