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3 Days in Anchorage - End of September

3 Days in Anchorage - End of September

Old Aug 10, 13, 9:49 am
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3 Days in Anchorage - End of September

My wife and I will be in Anchorage the last weekend of September. I'm guessing this is pretty much at the end of the tourist season, but does anyone have recommendations on things to do? We will have a car and I have not yet made any hotel plans, and we are open to almost anything.

Cheers,
Pogopossum
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Old Aug 10, 13, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by pogopossum View Post
My wife and I will be in Anchorage the last weekend of September. I'm guessing this is pretty much at the end of the tourist season, but does anyone have recommendations on things to do? We will have a car and I have not yet made any hotel plans, and we are open to almost anything.

Cheers,
Pogopossum
One of my favorite times of year. The weather may be sunny/gray/raining/sunny (in one hour) but the trees will be turning and there's still plenty to see.

I 'd spend the first night in Anchorage and just get a feel for the place - drive around town, see the floatplanes at Lake Hood, just get acclimated.

The next morning, head south on the Seward Highway to Girdwood, around 45 min. down the road. The scenery along the highway (Turnagain Arm) is truly spectacular, and keep an eye out for Beluga whales in the water and/or Dall sheep on the hillsides above the road.

Carb up and caffeinate with a cinnamon roll (omg) at the bakery at the Alyeska resort hotel - http://www.thebakeshop.com/ then continue down the highway to Portage Valley (look at hanging glaciers on the peaks) and through the tunnel to Whittier. Philips will still be running their "Glacier Quest" tour out of Whittier - http://www.phillipscruises.com/route.htm - well worth the money and the 3 1/2 hours.

Back to Anchorage that night, or if you want to stay at the Alyeska hotel, that would also be an excellent choice. (You could eat at the Double Musky in Girdwood - good food but pricey and the owner was one of Ted Stevens' enablers ) That way you could ride the gondola up the next morning and still be back in Anchorage that afternoon. (Note the gondola stops running on the 29th.)

Pretty full three days.
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Old Aug 10, 13, 4:26 pm
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Thanks Gardyloo! I was wondering if it would be worth going to Whittier - and I will definitely check out the Philips cruise.

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Old Aug 10, 13, 9:17 pm
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You can look at both Phillips and Major Marine for the Prince William Sound cruise. I have found Major Marine boats less crowded and cheaper (due to 2-for-1 coupons) than Phillips.

Depending on when you arrive into Anchorage on Day 1, I might consider two nights in Girdwood. There is so much to see/do in that whole Portage Valley area. Besides what Gardyloo mentioned, there is Potter Marsh (look for moose and birds), gold panning, Wildlife Conservation Center, Winner Creek Trail for the unique hand tram (has been closed for repairs since early summer but is supposed to be operating again soon), Begich Boggs Visitor Center, Byron Glacier trail and more.

Then the last day, depending on departure time, you can spend time in Anchorage. Most flights depart from ANC to the lower 48 in the evening so you would have the better part of a day in Anchorage.
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Old Aug 12, 13, 5:56 pm
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Here's our plan: Arrive ANC late Day 0, overnight in Anchorage. Day 1 Take an easy ride to Girdwood and the Hotel Alyeska, Day 2 Girdwood in the morning and then the tunnel to Whittier and the M/V Glacier Quest, return to ANC, Day 3 Anchorage all day, return flight to MSP that night at 9:50.

That was easy! Now the rest of the trip, all before this, is 3 days on the Empire Builder then 7 days in Seattle and Washington state. What to do, what to do...

Cheers,
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Old Aug 13, 13, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by pogopossum View Post
Here's our plan: Arrive ANC late Day 0, overnight in Anchorage. Day 1 Take an easy ride to Girdwood and the Hotel Alyeska, Day 2 Girdwood in the morning and then the tunnel to Whittier and the M/V Glacier Quest, return to ANC, Day 3 Anchorage all day, return flight to MSP that night at 9:50.

That was easy! Now the rest of the trip, all before this, is 3 days on the Empire Builder then 7 days in Seattle and Washington state. What to do, what to do...

Cheers,
Pogopossum
Sounds like a good plan. As fti mentioned, you can stop at Potter Marsh (just as you leave Anchorage) on the way down or the way back from Girdwood/Portage.

If the weather's good and the road beckons, you might overshoot Girdwood on the first day and continue down the Seward Highway to the cutoff for Hope. Hope is an old mining village with only a few buildings and residents, but it's quite scenic (only town on the south bank of Turnagain Arm) and there might still be some fish in the creek to look at. You could easily be back in Girdwood that afternoon. It's a chance to get something of a feel for village life in Alaska, albeit on the road system.

Along the same line, you could also visit the fascinating Eklutna cemetery, in the native village of Eklutna, around half an hour north (by freeway) from Anchorage. The brightly painted "spirit houses" are quite photogenic.

Just before you get to Eklutna you'll pass a turnoff for Mirror Lake. In the autumn Mirror Lake is a smashing photo op, particularly if there's no wind and the lake can live up to its name, for example...



and



Well worth pulling off the road for a few minutes.

Let us know if you need ideas for the Seattle portion of the trip.
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Old Aug 15, 13, 9:24 pm
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I'm planning my trip around the Olympic Peninsula - but I'll post in another forum for that...

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Old Aug 18, 13, 8:44 pm
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This thread came at the perfect time for me. I found a United reward flight to Hawaii next summer. I left an open jaw to hit two islands and on a whim came back via Anchorage with a two day (really 3 given a 10 PM departure) stop over. Our itinerary in Alaska might look like Pogopossum's.

On another site someone recommended the 26 Glacier tour. Has anyone taken that? How does it compare to Glacier Quest?
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Old Aug 18, 13, 9:02 pm
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Originally Posted by highops View Post
This thread came at the perfect time for me. I found a United reward flight to Hawaii next summer. I left an open jaw to hit two islands and on a whim came back via Anchorage with a two day (really 3 given a 10 PM departure) stop over. Our itinerary in Alaska might look like Pogopossum's.

On another site someone recommended the 26 Glacier tour. Has anyone taken that? How does it compare to Glacier Quest?
I am not sure what Glacier Quest is. I took the 26 Glacier tour and then the Blackstone Bay one. I prefer the longer tour with Major Marine that goes through Esther Passage to Surprise Glacier. They spend more time at a glacier with the hope of seeing it calving. The Blackstone Bay tour is shorter but Major Marine has had 2-for-1 coupons for that tour for quite some time. If you are trying to stretch your bucks I would go with the Blackstone Bay tour. You won't be disappointed.
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Old Aug 18, 13, 9:16 pm
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Originally Posted by fti View Post
I am not sure what Glacier Quest is. I took the 26 Glacier tour and then the Blackstone Bay one. I prefer the longer tour with Major Marine that goes through Esther Passage to Surprise Glacier. They spend more time at a glacier with the hope of seeing it calving. The Blackstone Bay tour is shorter but Major Marine has had 2-for-1 coupons for that tour for quite some time. If you are trying to stretch your bucks I would go with the Blackstone Bay tour. You won't be disappointed.
Thanks. I think Glacier Quest is one tour providers name for the Blackstone Bay tour.
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Old Aug 21, 13, 8:40 pm
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Glacier Quest is a smaller vessel than the Klondike Express, which does the 26 Glacier tour. The Glacier Quest trip is shorter, about 4 hours. Both are run by Philips Cruises.

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Old Aug 22, 13, 2:50 pm
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When I was in Whittier twice in June 2012 (took two Major Marine Blackstone Bay cruises), the Major Marine ships were way less crowded than the Phillips ships. I think Phillips get contracts from cruise lines and places like Magic Bus. I never felt crowded on the Major Marine ships. My main reason for taking Major Marine was the 2-for-1 coupon offer they had.
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Old Aug 23, 13, 9:03 pm
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I suspect, since I will be taking the trip at the end of September (actually the last trip of the season), we won't have the cruise ship crowds.

At the same time, I have a minor concern about reductions in service.

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Old Sep 5, 13, 1:37 pm
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I too am traveling to Anchorage at the end of September - however a bit less time - I get in at 8pm on my day of arrival, then have 2 full days and on the 4th day leave at 6am. Was thinking of spending the first night (almost certainly) in Anchorage - 2nd night in Seward, and the 3rd night back in Anchorage. Does that seem ok? Or perhaps it would be better to spend the night in the Whittier area and do the Phillips cruise
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Old Sep 6, 13, 10:10 am
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Originally Posted by gothaggis View Post
I too am traveling to Anchorage at the end of September - however a bit less time - I get in at 8pm on my day of arrival, then have 2 full days and on the 4th day leave at 6am. Was thinking of spending the first night (almost certainly) in Anchorage - 2nd night in Seward, and the 3rd night back in Anchorage. Does that seem ok? Or perhaps it would be better to spend the night in the Whittier area and do the Phillips cruise
Whittier is really a non-place in accommodation terms; if you're taking a Philips cruise you can get there comfortably from Anchorage in the morning.

With that amount of time frankly I'd just stay put in Anchorage for accommodations - head to Whittier for one day, maybe north to Eklutna or Knik glacier for the other. In late September you're much more likely to encounter lousy weather on the way to, and in Seward, and most of the great driving scenery on the Seward Highway is between Anchorage and Portage, where you turn off to the Whittier tunnel.
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