Mileage Run: 36 Hours in Anchorage Alaska
We’ve been flying on Alaska Airlines and achieving elite status for years now, but strangely enough, we had never been to Alaska. When a good deal popped up to fly to ANC – Anchorage from YVR – Vancouver through to SEA- Seattle this past May, we decided to book the tickets as it would give us the opportunity to visit Alaska and earn some status and usable miles. In this post, we will share our 36 hour trip to Anchorage Alaska with you.
We departed SEA- Seattle at 21:05 on flight 97 and arrived at ANC – Anchorage around 11:30 pm. After 3.5 hours of flying. Due to how far north Anchorage is, as summer approaches it never gets fully dark and the sun had set just before we landed. We consider this to be a memorable and special flight and it was so strange to leave the darkness of Seattle and see the sky illuminated as we approached Anchorage, revealing the mountain range and landscape below.
On the way back, we departed ANC – Anchorage at 16:22 on flight 90 and arrived back in SEA- Seattle around 08:30. While we were waiting at the airport, we enjoyed some craft beer in the Alaska Lounge which we accessed using Priority Pass and go to observe the scope of cargo operations at this airport. A lot of these flights were not just dropping off cargo but also refueling to continue their cargo run to other airports in North America.
We were on a mission to requalify for Hyatt Globalist status so we decided to stay at the newly opened Hyatt House in Anchorage, a short 10 minute drive from the airport. The hotel had just opened a few weeks earlier and still had that new smell to it. It was your standard Hyatt House you could say and we were every comfortable during our 2 night stay. Surprisingly, the complimentary breakfast was one of the best ones we’ve ever had at a Hyatt House hotel.
Hiking Flattop Mountain:
During our research, we found numerous interesting hikes but trail conditions at this time of the year and driving time limited what we could do. We settled on the only reasonable choice, which was Flattop Mountain, also the most popular one. We figured it would also be challenging but not too difficult because it’s 3 miles with an elevation of 1,500 feet. With running shoes and casual attire, we set out around 09:00 to start the hike, thinking there wouldn’t be a lot of snow based on the TripAdvisor reviews we had read. Unfortunately, the trail had a lot of hard packed snow which made for very icy conditions and we had to turn around 3/4 of the way to the top. As I sat in the snow, staring at the flag at the top, Jason continued upwards but had to stop due to how steep and icy it was. It is also worth noting, we were the only idiots doing the hike in running shoes, most people had heavy duty hiking boots or crampons and poles. We did enjoy the scenery, the clean air, and the workout but as someone who is scared of heights, some parts were a little too scary for me due to the icy conditions on a vertical slope. I slid down on my butt most of the return journey out of fear of tripping and sliding down the entire mountain as my body bashed against rocks. Thankfully, Jason was quite patient and supportive. After all that excitement, a celebratory lunch was necessary.
Where We Ate and Drank:
Much like our Hawaii trip the previous weekend, we focused on pizza, poke, and craft beer in Anchorage.
- Moose’s Tooth: The Moose’s Tooth is an eclectic family friendly restaurant in Anchorage with a bit of a hippie vibe to it due to all the psychadelic art. As a pub style restaurant, there is an assortment of the usual suspects on the menu but their specialty here is pizza and that’s what we stuck to. As for craft beer, they have Broken Tooth beer which is brewed in-house. One of the great things about the pizzas is you can order them half and half, which we did. If you’re in Anchorage, we highly recommend eating here because it’s an institution.
- New Sagaya Market:New Sagaya Market is essentially a supermarket but they have a great selection of fresh poke and a high quality salad bar. For dinner, we decided to pick up some poke and salad and leave it in the fridge in our room for later. This poke was so fresh and probably the closest we’ve ever had to the best stuff in Hawaii off the island. If you’re in Anchorage and craving a taste of Hawaii, visit the New Sagaya Market and try their tako, it was awesome.
- Bleeding Heart Brewery: We decided to visit Bleeding Heart Brewery in Palmer Alaska, about a 45-60 minute drive from Anchorage. We were interested in the beers as well as the scenery along the drive there. Since it was a sunny day and the indoor tasting room was jammed with rowdy locals, we decided to sit outside with the cows and chickens since the brewery is on a farm. We tried the Bleeding Heart Beet IPA and talked about our impressions of Alaska so far. We definitely appreciated the setting, the beer, and the staff who are very passionate about what they do. The beers here are more experimental and really reflect Zack and Stefan’s concept that “Every beer tells a story; every beer has a Heart!”. It’s definitely worth the drive out here to visit.
- Anchorage Brewing: Anchorage Brewing has phenomenal beers and a really nice outdoor patio with a fire pit. We wish we would have brought a growler to get a fill of one of their hazy-style IPAs. While here, we enjoyed meeting locals and talking to them. People in Alaska are really friendly and everyone wants to know where everyone is from and what brought them to Alaska so don’t be surprised if random people ask you “Where you from? Why are you here?”. Of all the places we visited, we found Anchorage Brewing to be the friendliest from the perspective of speaking to other patrons and they also had the best beers, in our opinion.
- Girdwood Brewing:We decided to visit Girdwood Brewing in Girdwood Alaska, about a 60 minute drive from Anchorage. We were interested in the beers as well as the scenery along the drive there. The drive down the AK-1S was stunning and worth it. We really enjoyed the tasting room and the beers here. It’s definitely worth the drive out here to visit.
- Steamdot Coffee: While we were in Alaska, an Instagram friend who has very high standards for coffee messaged us about where to get good coffee. We followed his advice and enjoyed the coffee and cafe setting at Steamdot a lot.
As we left Girdwood to drive back to Anchorage airport, we absorbed the scenery and the vastness of the landscape, it was all so visceral and if you spend enough time in places with an abundance of natural beauty, like Alaska, Hawaii, and even back home, it really hits you in the gut. Just the previous weekend, we were in Kauai in awe of the Waimea Canyon’s red hued rocks, the ridges of the Napili coast and the mountains that framed Hanalei Bay as we swam in the Pacific Ocean. We see mountains here in Vancouver every day and yet the ones we saw in Alaska also took our breaths away with their beauty and grandness and even Alaskans commented on how beautiful Vancouver is. It’s so funny how people end up in places for determined or indeterminate periods of time and when you meet people and speak about places you’ve both been to, it’s like you are part of a little secret, one that seems very common in the Pacific NorthWest. When we were younger, neither one of us put Alaska on our list of places to visit and nor did we ever imagine we’d end up here, eating pizza, drinking beer, and hiking up iced packed mountains to get a nice view of the city and other mountains. There is a strangeness to Alaska and it’s hard to pinpoint, but I hope we get to visit again and when we do, we will make it to the top of Flattop Mountain.