Our pioneer’s steps in Alaska started here. We landed in Anchorage and were transferred to Whittier only a few hours later to board. Anyhow, we caught our chance to quickly discover Alaska’s largest city exploring downtown and especially the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center and the Anchorage Market and Festival.
History and Amazing Fact
- Anchorage airport is one of the world’s busiest for cargo traffic.
- Moose call the city home and their population triples in winter.
- During WWII, Whittier was built as a deep-water port railroad terminus for fuel and supplies.
- Whittier tunnel is the longest highway tunnel in North America
Log Cabin Visitor Information Center
We started the day with a visit to the visitor center. It is small log cabin built in 1954 but there is plenty information inside about Alaska and really nice people to help. If you are nostalgic about postcards, this is your chance. They offered free stamped Alaska postcards for your loved ones.
From the log cabin, we walked to discover downtown Anchorage during a quiet Saturday morning. As we were heading along between 1th and 6th avenue, we passed by numerous stores offering Natives Arts and souvenirs. We also marched by Town Square, a really green and flowering foliage park between the 5th and the 6th Avenue.
Anchorage Market and Festival
Only a few blocks from the visitor center, there is the Anchorage Market and Festival. We immersed in this local outdoor market which hosts nearly 300 vendors. This is great if you’re looking for souvenirs, local products or artisanal food. Entertainment was provided by a local tap dance group. We sat there for a moment to enjoy their performance.
Among different products, there were a lot of fur vendors, Native Art, and food. For instance, we tried savory popcorn like cayenne popcorn, pepper popcorn…, really surprising! We succumbed to a handmade garlic nectar. It looks like honey and has roughly the same texture. This vendor offered numerous flavors and I picked garlic for the endless cooking possibilities. Yummy!
This market and festival was a really cool immersive experience!
Scenic drive en route to Whittier
Leaving Anchorage behind, we headed to Whittier for our Alaska cruise embarkation. As we left the state’s largest metropolis, we stepped into the wilderness. Within less than 2 hours, we exposed to the “Last Frontier.” Surrounded by beautiful landscapes, the one lane highway (so unobtrusive compared to the six lines in L.A.) goes along the Turnagain Arm, where, if you are lucky, you can see whales. I didn’t see any, however, while crossing a bridge I saw numerous salmons jumping onto the river. It’s was amazing!
Glacier View from Whittier Tunnel Entrance
While waiting to go through the tunnel to reach Whittier (there is an alternative circulation as it is a one lane road into the tunnel), we admired nature around us. On top of the mountains, we saw a few glaciers.
Whittier is a really small city we didn’t explore due to our boarding. Do you see the building in the picture? Most of the population of the city is living down there.
- From the international airport to downtown we took the city bus for a quick ride ($2 per person).
- Whittier is located 90 minutes south of Anchorage by car/bus.
- Whittier tunnel is open for 15 minutes every hour in each direction (on the half hour to Whittier, on the hour to return). The toll is $13 for passenger vehicles.