Thriftygal’s Anchorage Bucket List

By | October 4, 2016

I’m retired and I travel and I make stupid lists. That’s kind of my thing. Nearly every trip gets a Bucket List and I thought I’d share with you my Anchorage Bucket List to give you some ideas on (1) what you can do in Anchorage and (2) what life is like when you’re retired and you travel and you make stupid lists.

Thriftygal’s Anchorage Bucket List

1. Strengthen three friendships with people I know in Anchorage.

One of my favorite discoveries about life is understanding how to make friends. In a nutshell: ask people to do things with you, make fun memories together, hang out, share confidences and then, often,

Bam, friendship!

Alaskan posse

I had three friends I acquired along my life path that I wanted to hang out with in Alaska – a flight attendant friend I’ve known for ten years and a married couple I met at that fabulous financial retreat known as Chautauqua three years ago. Fun word, but hard to spell and (if you’re contemplating) an event you should absolutely attend. Absolutely.

2. Biking. So much biking.

I had no clue that Anchorage boasted such a tremendously fabulous system of bike paths. Did you? Perfect, gorgeous, accessible and shockingly thorough bike trails + ready access to a bike and a biking buddy or three = daily bike rides = happiness.

It’s just math.

Apparently, in the winter, the bike paths also double as a cross-country skiing trail. I want to go back just to try that now.

3. Locate and gawk at a moose in the wild.

While out biking and strengthening friendships, I did this easily on three separate occasions. Bam, memories!

The world is freaking beautiful.

4. See a bear. Preferably wild.

This is a picture taken in front of my friend’s house one Saturday morning.

5. Really, any wild animal would be delightful.

Smug Stellar’s Jay feels entitled to food.

While out biking, I saw some type of owl. I don’t know birds, but people stopped to stare at it.

If you drive south along the Seward Anchorage Highway, you can spot bald eagles.

Stop at Beluga Point. Beluga whales frequently hang out there. It’s aptly named.

A bit farther south on that highway is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The lucky people here take care of “sick, wounded & orphaned animals.” They’re not wild, but you can see bears, foxes, and a smelly porcupine named Snickers.

6. See the Northern Lights and cross off that life bucket list item.

Stupid moon. This is the only one I didn’t cross off.

7. Chop some wood.

Quintessential Alaskan activity, no?

8. Watch the airplanes take off from the park by the airport.

It’s called Earthquake Park. The sunset is also super pretty over the water there.

9. Learn to knit.

This also feels like an Alaskan activity. I learned how to make these booties in about a week.

10. Some sort of water activity.

I did some packrafting at Portage Glacier.

The view from the raft

You can also do glacier tours, sailing, or fishing if that’s your thing.

11. Ride a mechanical bull.

I’m not sure why this wasn’t on the life bucket list. Find a bar that has this and go do it too. It’s fun!

12. Learn about some natural features.

There’s the bore tide which is just one long continuous wave. It doesn’t break until like, ever. People surf on it. Or paddleboard.

Surf’s up

There are also mud flats which is basically quicksand. It’s not just in cartoons apparently.

13. Every trip activities

These are the things I try to do on every trip I take.

  • Get a pair of earrings.
  • And a postcard.
  • Wander around the grocery store.
  • Take a picture of a cat. My instagram is basically “cats around the world and other stuff”

So, how much did 2.5 weeks in Anchorage cost me?

Flights into and out of Anchorage: ~$100 (miles and buddy pass)
Entertainment and food: ~$460
Lodging: $0 (friends)

Total: ~$560

Not too shabby. I always type that in a British accent.

23 thoughts on “Thriftygal’s Anchorage Bucket List

  1. TA

    Do u plan to get back to work? Where do you live when you are not travelling?

  2. V

    Over 70 miles of ski (or bike, in the off-season) to be precise!

    -Former Anchorage resident 🙂

  3. Simon Kenton

    Just passed through Anchorage on the way to Kodiak to join my son fishing for silvers and hunting blacktails. The highlight was climbing above timberline and seeing mountain goats, brilliant white dots in a black and emerald world. The shocker was working through a tangle of alder and willow, and jumping a Kodiak bear off its bed at 12 yards. You can infer it went the other way; if it had come for us someone else would be writing this.

    1. walter

      the first thing i thought about when i read about all those nice bicycle paths…nothing like fleeing prey riding by at 10+mph to get the juices flowing! glad to hear you have all your limbs intact.

  4. Don

    For a city, Anchorage is pretty cool. In fact. ALASKANS say it is the closest city to Alaska; (Meaning it is not the real Alaska). The real Alaska begins when you get on a float plane, boat, dog sled, snow shoes, or just walk a couple days away from the road. That’s where it begins. In a tent or a cabin eating what you forage, cooking on a fire. It’s really much more real when you are in the middle of nowhere, but Anchorage is close to it.

  5. Dinard Jesse Gonzales

    That’s great. I enjoyed Anchorage when I went through there on an my way to Japan. Spent a day there since my flight didn’t leave until the next day. I went in October as well, and it was a fair bit warmer (high 50’s – low 60’s) than what I had expected when I think of Alaska.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog after reading through all of MMM’s articles and he mentioned your blog. I think I read all of your articles in about a week. I like your whimsical writing and heavy use of “elbow nudge” puns/humor. Keep forging through your bucket list items, I’ll look forward to your next article.


  6. tt

    Anchorage isn’t the perfect ground to test the old adage regarding guys for gals in Alaska, but close:

    ‘the odds are good but the goods are odd’

    (Confession: my wife found me waay out on the Aleutian chain.)

    PS: nice booties!

  7. Thao N.

    Sorry to hear that you missed the northern lights. We went to Fairbanks last weekend and see it all three nights we were there.

  8. snowcanyon

    Oh travel hacker! Do I need the fancy new Chase card and all its miles and perks? Dying for an opinion from the ER crowd!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I love credit cards that give me miles. If it’s a reasonable spend (e.g. $3,000 for the first three months) and I get 30k miles or more, I’d do it.

      1. walter

        Anita, did you pick up anything ‘else’ in AK? those knitted booties look an a lot like BABY booties…?

  9. chc4

    We also have always don a lot of cheap travel. Right now we’re hiking and staying in National Trust houses in the UK. Years ago we were in Ankorage and met an early retired Austrailain couple who really, really knew how to live cheaply. They were really into birding, because there is so much to learn and it costs nothing (you just need binoculars and a library book of the birds where you’re visiting). Since then I’ve learned a lot that I didn’t know about birds. I’m thrilled that I can now identify almost all the birds where we live by their calls alone and I love listening for them.

  10. Doc

    Not really in Anchorage but fairly close is Chugach National Forest so consider that as well. Other than that, some fun list right there 🙂

  11. Ramana

    Hey Anita,
    Came across your article on Forbes the other day. Congrats on the early retirement!! yay!! =. I’ve been following MMM and jlcollinsnh but never came across your site. I am glad I found it.

    Recently we been to Alaska too, Mid October to early Sept just in time when the Northern lights for when they were considered to be on the brighter side(they say don’t trust the predictions for a reason).

    But as luck would have it, its been cloudy that week. We took the tour to Arctic Circle from Fairbanks in the hope to avoid the clouds but no luck..

    We couldn’t check that off our list,. may be sometime in Ireland for that matter or we might be back to Alaska sometime in the future.
    We been pretty cheap on this trip except for the Arctic Tour. Used our southwest rapid rewards for the first leg to Portland and pretty much airbnb’d. We covered Matanuska, Seward glacier tours, Eagle River, Independence Mine, Denali, Fairbanks, Arctic Circle, Yukon River, Transpacific pipeline.

    1. Ramana

      I mean’t Iceland..typo :). And you should checkout the channel dudelikehella on youtube..they are from eagle River and daily vlog about Alaska and stuff.

      1. Ramana

        I am late to the party :). I am still stuck in the vicious cycle but getting there. We do travel frequently, mostly within US till now. We are saving and putting into VTSAX and VSGAX. I used to contribute my employer 401k but they haven’t been doing a match lately so not sure if I still have to. Paid off my car recently in 2years so will divert that towards my Vanguard funds.

        Recently I closed my Southwest RR credit card as I didn’t get much of a deal on the bonus points and opened 2 Rapid Rewards cards for my wife(as I can’t have that card within 24 months) with 50K bonus point on each. We just got our monthly statement last night and seems like we did reach the 110K points towards Companion Pass this year which is yet to reflect in out rapid Rewards account. With this I believe I can be my wife’s hutch puppy(wherever she goes I follow :)) for the next 1 year.

        I had one free credit(3 free audible credits from Groupon) left in Audible and was wondering which book to get “Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach(read/listened couple of times, thanks to public library) vs Any other. I saw that you mentioned “Your money or Your Life”, went ahead and got that one , so far an interesting listen. Vicki read that herself.

        One quick question – So when you withdraw the 4% every year that you mention do you have a cash cushion(savings account) that you go into or do you take out of your taxable account(capital gains) may be once every 6 months(I don’t think you would be touching the tax advantaged accounts :))? What cost basis do you use FIFO vs SpecID?

        1. Thriftygal Post author

          So far I’m still drawing on my cash cushion, so I haven’t touched my investments yet. I promise I’ll write about it when I do though!

          I have not read Automatic Millionaire, but I have a lot of book suggestions scattered around the site. 🙂


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