There’s a good reason why Anchorage was once called “Air Crossroads of the World” — when it comes to air traffic, Alaska’s largest city is at the center of it all. Alaska itself is home to more pilots and airplanes per capita than anywhere else in the country, and Anchorage is home to one of the busiest air cargo hubs on earth, the busiest floatplane base in the world, and the largest U.S. Air Force base in Alaska. Visit these local lookouts for up-close views of everything from cargo carriers to fighter jets to floatplanes.

  1. Point Woronzof. Bike the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (or drive) toward Point Woronzof Park. A couple hundred yards to the east of the parking lot is the edge of the runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, one of Anchorage’s most popular and impressive places to watch the planes. This scenic viewpoint sits directly in the flight path and also offers sweeping Cook Inlet panoramas and occasional glimpses of Denali.

  2. Lake Hood Seaplane Base. A short drive or bike ride south from Point Woronzof, the shores of Lake Hood buzz with small planes all summer long. Watch them splash down for landing or take off in a spray of water, bound for sightseeing expeditions or remote lakes and cabins throughout Southcentral Alaska. There are lots of places to see them come and go: Stroll the lakeside path, settle in for a drink and a snack on the shoreside deck of a local restaurant, or book a flightseeing tour for a chance to climb inside and experience it all from the air.

  3. Suzan Nightingale McKay Memorial Park. Tucked against the edge of a scenic bluff in Anchorage’s Government Hill neighborhood, this local park provides big views of Cook Inlet, the surrounding mountains, the Port of Anchorage, and often the F-22 fighter jets training in the airspace over the adjacent Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

  4. Davis Park. Featuring a disc golf course, ballfields, and forest trails, this neighborhood park shares a fence with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, giving park patrons a front-row seat to the training exercises frequently taking place in the skies above. Accessible via the Ship Creek Trail from downtown Anchorage, Davis Park is one of the best places to see F-22s twirl and loop over the trees, and watch for lumbering C-130s roaring by at takeoff and landing.

  5. Northway Mall. A vacant shopping center alongside the Glenn Highway puts aviation enthusiasts directly in the flight line for small planes coming in to land at Merrill Field. Park at the western end of the parking lot to watch single-engine Cessnas glide down toward the runway across the street, close enough to make out the mechanical details on their bellies, framed by the towering backdrop of the Chugach Mountains.