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Douglas Markowitz

So, you think all there is to Alaska is the miles and miles of wilderness? Prepare to be proven wrong, because Anchorage’s museums, historic sites, and other cultural activities demonstrates that it’s worth staying in the city for just a little while longer.

Alaska Native Heritage Center

For those interested in an up-close-and-personal encounter with Alaska’s patchwork of native populations, this is the place to go. You’ll find historical and artistic exhibits and explore native dwellings, but the center also presents live dances, games, and storytelling that truly bring these cultures to life.

8800 Heritage Center Dr., Anchorage, AK; alaskanative.net

Anchorage Museum

This largest museum in the state of Alaska presents exhibits on the history and art of the Last Frontier. Explore Alaska Native artifacts on permanent loan from the Smithsonian, as well as contemporary art from Alaskan artists, and let the kids run wild in the discovery center, which features 80 hands-on science exhibits.

625 C St., Anchorage, AK; anchoragemuseum.org

Alaska Aviation Museum

Adjacent to Lake Hood, the busiest seaplane base in the world, this small but fascinating museum is dedicated to the unique aviation culture of Alaska. Four hangars of vintage aircraft, some in the middle of restoration, are waiting to be explored, and watching the seaplanes take off may inspire you to go on your own flightseeing trip.

4721 Aircraft Dr., Anchorage, AK; alaskaairmuseum.org

Alaska Zoo

Pretty much any animal you could hope to see in the Alaska wilds can also be found here in Anchorage’s well-maintained zoo, from large herbivores like moose, musk oxen and caribou to apex predators such as wolves, several bear species and even the non-native, tundra-dwelling Amur tiger.

4731 O’Malley Rd., Anchorage, AK; alaskazoo.org

Crow Creek Historic Gold Mine

Far to the south of downtown but still within the city limits lies this historic site, established in 1896 during the Klondike gold rush. Visitors can explore the oldest buildings in the area and get down and dirty panning for gold. If you manage to find some shiny stuff, it’s yours to keep.

Mile 3.1 Crow Creek Road, Girdwood, AK; crowcreekmine.com

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