Big Alaska adventure at a small price: you don’t need to spend much to have a good time on a visit to Anchorage. Here are 12 top-budget travel ideas.  Each is in town or works as an easy day trip. 

Anchorage Trolley Tour

This one-hour, 15-mile trolley tour shows off some of Anchorage’s highlights. Tour the city on a narrated loop aboard the red trolley. Highlights aboard Anchorage Trolley Tours include Earthquake Park and Lake Hood, the world’s busiest seaplane base. $25 for adults, $12.50 for kids. Tickets include a coupon book for nearby attractions, shops, and restaurants.

Alaska Zoo

Find out about Alaska animals, and exotic species from similar climates around the world. Elusive amur tigers, moose, polar bears, grizzlies, and wolverines are among the top draws at the Alaska Zoo. In summer, there’s a free shuttle from downtown to the zoo as well. Adult (non-resident) $20, seniors $15, and kids $10.

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Wood bison, bears, moose, musk oxen, and many other animals call the Portage-area Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center home. Get closer to learning about iconic Alaska species in a vast, natural setting. Adults $25, kids $20, and children under the age of 3 are free.

Gold Panning

Nestled in the Chugach Mountains in the Girdwood Valley, the historic Crow Creek Mine offers a unique blend of historical buildings, antiques, and rare mining equipment as well as access to explore the mine’s original claims. Visitors can learn to pan for their gold and give it a try along Crow Creek (extra fees apply). Adult $13, seniors $11, and kids $6.

Crow Creek also offers guests the chance to gold mine for themselves. Tickets include a gold pan, shovel, bucket, demonstration, glass vial, and pay dirt packet. Adults $25, seniors $21, and kids $16. 

Flattop Mountain Trail

The most hiked trail in Anchorage, Flattop Mountain is great for hikers of all abilities and offers stunning views of the city and surrounding mountain ranges. Day-use parking at any state park trailhead is the same. Cost for parking: $5. Don’t have a car? Flattop Mountain Shuttle offers round-trip transport to the mountain for $25.

Alyeska Aerial Tram

Get a bird’s-eye view of Turnagain Arm, surrounding glaciers, kettle ponds, and maybe even a moose or bear browsing the slopes above Alyeska Resort. The Alyeska Aerial Tram ferries skiers all winter, and sightseers all year long. Adults $48. Kids $15.

Alaska Botanical Garden

With more than 1,100 species of hardy perennials and 150 native plant species, the Alaska Botanical Garden is the place to experience the abundance of the summer sub-arctic growing season and to learn about flora native to Southcentral Alaska. Summer Admission: Adults $5, kids $5, and children under 6 are free.

The Bear Tooth TheatrePub

Named after Bear Tooth Peak in the Alaska Range, the Bear Tooth TheatrePub is not your ordinary movie house. A full-service kitchen features food made to order and delivered to you in the theatre (with the help of a glow-in-the-dark number). The movie house features second-run contemporary, independent, foreign, and classic films. Admission $8.50

Eagle River Nature Center

Just 20 minutes north of downtown Anchorage, the Eagle River Nature Center is nestled in a gorgeous glacier-carved valley. The center is open year-round and offers weekly interpretive programs and guided nature walks for summer visitors. Wildlife abounds here including brown and black bears, Dall sheep, moose, beavers and salmon. $5 parking

Ghost Tours of Anchorage

This tour skips cheap frights for real-life murder mysteries and tales of spirits dwelling in some of Anchorage's most iconic buildings. Guide Rick Goodfellow personally researched each tale included in the 90-minute Ghost Tours of Anchorage. While the 2.5-mile walking tour may not convince you ghosts exist, you'll certainly never look at Anchorage the same way. Admission $15