I Heart My City: Nicole’s Anchorage

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Nicole Smoot was born in Anchorage and has called Eagle River, on the northern outskirts of the city, home ever since. The Alaskan native spends a good chunk of her time on the road less traveled, in little known and off-the-beaten path destinations all over the world. But no matter how far she roams, she’s always happy to see the sign welcoming her back to Anchorage upon each return.

There is nowhere else like it,” Nicole says. “I don’t think there’s a better place to live for a lover of the outdoors.”

Here are a few of her favorite things about the city she’s proud to call home.

Follow Nicole’s adventures on Instagram and on her personal blog.

Anchorage Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is on any number of hikes around or just outside Anchorage. The trail up Flattop Mountain is probably the most popular hike, providing panoramic views of the city.

Anytime is the best time to visit my city, but summer is my favorite because of the warm weather and beautiful colors.

You can see my city best from the peak of one of many nearby mountains. Try Flattop!

Downtown Anchorage is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. 

In the past notable people like Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall, professional hockey player Scott Gomez, and former professional basketball player Trajan Langdon have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Anchorage Museum.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s easiest to navigate by bike or your own vehicle. Anchorage doesn’t have the best public transportation.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Symphony Lake and Eklutna Lake on the outskirts of Anchorage.

My city really knows how to celebrate the summer solstice because ihosts a huge party on the longest day of the year! The daylight lasts all night in Anchorage, with the sun barely dipping below the horizon.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they prize function over fashion when it comes to clothing. The result? Anchorage has received several nods (heres’s one) for the worst-dressed city in America.

For a fancy night out, head to the Glacier Brewhouse for a cocktail and a plate of whatever fresh Alaskan seafood is on the menu that evening.

Just outside my city, you can visit the Matanuska-Susitna Valley to the north and the Kenai Peninsula to the south, both of which offer beautiful mountain and ocean landscapes.

My city is known for being the biggest city in Alaska (about 40 percent of the state’s population lives here), but it’s really the biggest little city around. You’ll always run into someone you know.

The best outdoor market in my city is the downtown Anchorage Market and Festival, held in the summer.

Bear’s Tooth Theatrepub is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Nane’s Pelmenis is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Anchorage Night Out.

To escape the crowds, head out to some of the lesser-known hiking trails around, like Mile High Saddle Trail in the Eagle River area.

The dish that represents my city best is fresh Alaskan salmon, and the Duck Fart (a layered shot made with Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Crown Royal) is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Orso and Simon and Seafort and any bar in the city—though I think the Peanut Farm claims to have created it—respectively.

Koot’s is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge.

Seeing a bull moose running down a sidewalk could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should get out and enjoy the longer days and the warmer temperatures.

In the summer you should get outside. It’s the best time of year! You can’t beat getting off work and going for hike or swimming in a lake late into the evening while it’s still sunny outside.

In the fall you should hike up above Eklutna Lake to ogle all the fall colors.

In the winter you should grab your skis or snowboard and go to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, the southernmost part of the Municipality of Anchorage.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Imaginarium Discovery Center at the Anchorage Museum.

The best book about my city is Anchorage: Life at the Edge of the Frontier by Clark James Mishler because it presents simply beautiful images of the city.

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