It’s hard to arrive in Anchorage (pop. 280,000) without some strong preconceived notions of what to expect—especially if you’ve been traveling around the state for a while. Generally, Alaskans either love or hate Anchorage, and their degree of affection or distaste is usually revealed by their chosen proximity to the city.
You’ll certainly have heard of Anchorage’s urban sprawl, its traffic jams, sprouting apartment buildings and condos, corporate skyscrapers, mall mania, fast-food frenzy, and crime; in other words, that it’s the antithesis of every virtue and value that God-fearing, law-abiding, and patriotic Alaskans hold sacred. And you’ve probably also heard the old joke about being “able to see Alaska from Anchorage.”
You might also have been told that Anchorage has nothing to offer travelers, and that if you’re looking for a true Alaskan experience, you should avoid the city altogether. Don’t believe everything you hear; Anchorage is an attraction of its own and definitely worth some time.
Anchorage can be an eminently enjoyable and affordable place in which to hang out. It certainly has one of the most flower-filled downtowns of any American city; visitors are always impressed with the summertime bounty of blooms. You can easily fill a whole day touring downtown , or just lying around a park for the one day in four that the sun shines. Explore Anchorage’s far-flung corners such as the resort town of Girdwood  south of the city (popular for winter skiing and summer hiking), rapidly growing Matanuska-Susitna Valley  (home to the towns of Palmer  and Wasilla ), and grand mountain country at Hatcher Pass . Or spend a day researching the many places to go from Anchorage and the best ways to get there.
Of course, if you can’t overcome the idea that “Alaska population center” is a contradiction in terms, you can simply breeze into town, make your connection, and quickly “get back to Alaska.” But if you want a fully rounded experience of the 49th state, get to know Anchorage, urban Alaska, and come to your own conclusions.