Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, is a curious mix of industry and culture. The Anchorage Museum of History and Art is a good place to start exploring, with an informative display on the city's founding families, the oil pipeline and an overview of the area's history to the present. The boats in port and the warehouses built up along the Knik Arm waterfront reveal close ties to oil and industry. However, this actually contributes to the Anchorage aura, both businesslike and beautiful.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail ribbons along the water, providing quiet views out onto Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm. Just stay off of the mud flats—they have tragically sucked more than one visitor in unawares. This is also a great place to shift gears and cruise on a bike. Rentals are available downtown, and this coastal trail is relatively smooth and, off-peak, mostly deserted. For safe bear viewing, stop in at the zoo, or just hope for friendly moose sightings along your meanders through town.
While there are plenty of places to walk in Anchorage, most of the best hikes require a short drive for trailhead access. Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park east of town is a local favorite and easily reached with a car, though the hike itself is quite strenuous. Farther out, in the mountains beyond Palmer and Wasilla, is a choice selection of day hikes ranging in difficulty.
There aren't many great places to cast off around Anchorage, except for Ship Creek. Full of salmon, this stream runs right through town and gets fished dry in summer.
If you've wandered around Anchorage and still have time on your hands, there are numerous hikes, vistas and haunts to be found within an hour's flight or drive of the city.
Anchorage is about 350 miles south of Fairbanks and north of Seward and Homer.