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Culture visit - trip report

Culture visit - trip report

Old Sep 2, 13, 9:12 am
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Culture visit - trip report

We've been to Anchorage and other places in AK before. As always, when we look at the end of the year approaching and need MQM's, ANC beckons. So we just spend a relaxing weekend in ANC. We took the long way from NYC, LGA-DTW for lunch with our son, LAX for a quick meet to drop off family pictures and on to ANC.

Love downtown Anchorage - Like the French Quarter in New Orleans where we also live, it's a place to get around by walking. We spent most of Saturday at the Anchorage Museum. The art collection is well worth spending hours and multiple visits (we'll be back again for that) and then we did a guided tour of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center which was just fabulous. Also spent more time going back through the exhibit to review details.

Picked up a rental car on Sunday morning and drove up to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer. It was Native Heritage Day with hours of Dancing and Drumming and many nice handcrafted items to buy from vendors, so my wife did some early XMAS shopping for friends.

Nice dinners at Sacks and Orso - fresh Silver Salmon and Halibut.

Down to SEA today for a couple of days of walking around, Boeing Factory, and Museum of Flight.

Next trips will be for the Iditarod and viewing the Northern Lights and a side trip to Kotzebue (in the summer) to see where a friend used to live. AK is such a great place to visit.
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Old Sep 7, 13, 6:51 pm
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Nice review! Makes me just a bit homesick.
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Old Sep 7, 13, 9:41 pm
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Thank you.
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Old Sep 8, 13, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by SuperG1955 View Post
We've been to Anchorage and other places in AK before. As always, when we look at the end of the year approaching and need MQM's, ANC beckons. So we just spend a relaxing weekend in ANC. We took the long way from NYC, LGA-DTW for lunch with our son, LAX for a quick meet to drop off family pictures and on to ANC.

Love downtown Anchorage - Like the French Quarter in New Orleans where we also live, it's a place to get around by walking. We spent most of Saturday at the Anchorage Museum. The art collection is well worth spending hours and multiple visits (we'll be back again for that) and then we did a guided tour of the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center which was just fabulous. Also spent more time going back through the exhibit to review details.
Do you have any hotel recommendations for downtown Anchorage?
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Old Sep 8, 13, 8:24 am
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Originally Posted by LibFlyer View Post
Do you have any hotel recommendations for downtown Anchorage?
I'll start by quoting the experts. jackal put the following together for the 2013 Great Alaska Do, which we wanted to join but were unable to work into our schedule.

... Aside from the big four full-service places (Marriott [newest of the downtown options], Hilton, Sheraton, and the locally-owned four-star Hotel Captain Cook [probably the nicest and definitely the one with the most character]), there are some other lodging options downtown. There's a Clarion, a Hawthorn Suites, an older HoJo, and a run-down Ramada Limited on the chain side of things and a smattering of independent places (some of those may offer airport shuttles). The decent independents downtown are not going to be cheap, but they do have some character. Check out the Historic Anchorage Hotel (next door to the Hilton), the Anchorage Grand, the Voyager Hotel (across from the Captain Cook), and the Copper Whale Inn. I'm probably missing a few, but do stay away from the Inlet Inn. (The Inlet Towers is completely different and reportedly decent, but I know absolutely nothing about it other than having driven by it.) Also avoid the Econo Inn, which is so crappy it lost the Econo Lodge franchise rights , and the Red Roof Inn, which looks new but is in a junky area. The Days Inn gets mixed reviews, too.
Avoid the Clarion at all costs. We started our stay and left after one night. Serious enough for me to have written to Choice Hotel execs and the Board of Directors of the Native Corporation that owns the property. We then moved to the Sheraton and were extremely happy. If you're planing on walking downtown a lot, it's a longer walk. I'd ask one of the locals to comment on the safety of walking to or from from the Sheraton late at night which wasn't an issue for us. My sister-in-law who's very picky and finicky loves the Captain Cook.

Next trip we'll try the Copper Whale Inn. It's in a great location. A pleasant walk downtown on either 4th or 5th Avenues and a block from Resolution Park where we've watched all sorts of sea life in Cook Inlet and gotten great views of Denali on a clear day. There's a bicycle rental shop right there, fine dining, and the Snow City Cafe for breakfast if you get there early to beat the crowds.

There's just so much to do and enjoy.
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Old Sep 8, 13, 10:43 am
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Hotels

Thanks for the helpful information.

Planning to visit Alaska for the first time in August 2014.
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Old Sep 8, 13, 11:35 am
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I think that August is a great time to go. Usually great weather. In August I've fished Homer for Halibut and Lake Creek for Silvers. Toured Denali and Talkeetna, Seward for glaciers, float planes over the Kenai and ice fields and lots of the area between Denali & Anchorage. Also, every trip has included time in Anchorage. Driven through much of the Kenai.

I was born and raised in Manhattan and I look at Alaska much the same way as I look at New York City - you can never see it all and do it all, but it's sure fun trying.
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Old Sep 8, 13, 3:45 pm
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Originally Posted by LibFlyer View Post
Do you have any hotel recommendations for downtown Anchorage?
I've stayed at The Historic Anchorage Hotel a few years ago. I highly recommend it.
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Old Sep 8, 13, 8:08 pm
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Originally Posted by SuperG1955 View Post
Love downtown Anchorage - Like the French Quarter in New Orleans where we also live, it's a place to get around by walking...
I have to say that's the first time I've heard downtown Anchorage and the French Quarter compared.

Originally Posted by SuperG1955 View Post
Next trips will be for the Iditarod and viewing the Northern Lights and a side trip to Kotzebue (in the summer) to see where a friend used to live. AK is such a great place to visit.
If you like downtown Anchorage, by all means time your Iditarod visit to coincide with Fur Rondy, when (IMO) downtown Anchorage is at its best. Buy a beaver hat for those cold days on Bourbon Street.

I really like Kotzebue, summer or winter. Less self-absorbed than Barrow IMO. Or if you have some AS miles to burn, fly out to the Aleutian chain to see a remarkable part of the state. Or take the ferry if time permits, and if you're a good big-water sailor.
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Old Sep 9, 13, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Or take the ferry if time permits, and if you're a good big-water sailor.
And if you're not a good big-water sailor, take the ferry anyway- the ride from Ketchikan to Skagway is through inner passages and relatively smooth. Stunningly beautiful as well, and not overly expensive.
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Old Sep 9, 13, 5:07 pm
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Thank you both for great ideas.

As I said, there's so much to do.
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Old Sep 9, 13, 7:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
I have to say that's the first time I've heard downtown Anchorage and the French Quarter compared.

If you like downtown Anchorage, by all means time your Iditarod visit to coincide with Fur Rondy, when (IMO) downtown Anchorage is at its best. Buy a beaver hat for those cold days on Bourbon Street.

I really like Kotzebue, summer or winter. Less self-absorbed than Barrow IMO. Or if you have some AS miles to burn, fly out to the Aleutian chain to see a remarkable part of the state. Or take the ferry if time permits, and if you're a good big-water sailor.
Well 2014 is out for Fur Rondy. The dates conflict with Mardi Gras and I ride in one of the big Mardi Gras Krewes. My wife would kill me if I suggested missing it.
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Old Sep 9, 13, 8:23 pm
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Originally Posted by SuperG1955 View Post
Well 2014 is out for Fur Rondy. The dates conflict with Mardi Gras and I ride in one of the big Mardi Gras Krewes. My wife would kill me if I suggested missing it.
Kill, schmill. How can you compare tossing beads to drunk people with playing in a snowshoe softball game, or trying for the beard contest at the Miners' and Trappers' Ball? Where are your priorities, man?

Or, if you really like northern places in the winter where people wear horny hats and set things on fire, why not head off to Shetland at the end of January for Up-Helly-Aa? I bet they'd be thrilled to get a NOLA Mardi Gras Krewe member to join one of the Jarl squads. Talk about a culture visit.
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Old Sep 10, 13, 6:52 am
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I used to love northern places in the winter, my dad was born in Ste. Agathe des Monts, Quebec and grew up in Montreal where I still have lots of family and have spent lots of time in the winter.

Now that my blood has gotten thinner from a combination of living in New Orleans during the winter and the low dose aspirin my cardiologist insists I take, cold weather isn't as much fun. It looks like there's an opportunity to infuse plenty of anti-freeze at Up-Helly-Aa.

I'm thinking of researching this a little more - ya never know.
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