Friday, August 24, 2007

WCHA Roadtrip Town No. 5 – Anchorage

About one month ago, the WCHA Blog kicked off its list of which WCHA towns make for the best roadtrips. For my list, I’m basing this off five criteria (Access, Bars, City Experience, Hotels, and Ticket Cost / Availability). For a detailed list of what these five items mean to me, click here.

Here is a list of the cities the preview has previously covered up until today:

10. Houghton
9. Grand Forks
8. Mankato
7. St. Cloud
6. Madison

This week, it’s city No. 5: Anchorage, AK., which is home to the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves.


If there was ever going to be a mark against a city in the WCHA, it would certainly come here. Obviously Anchorage is very far away from most other WCHA schools, and requires a flight to gain access to the city.

There are daily flights from Denver and Minneapolis to the city of Anchorage, so finding a flight isn’t the problem. The price that one must pay for their ticket is the issue, as most flights from either airport cost in the neighborhood of between $500 and $600.

If and when a person gets to Anchorage though, it’s no different that navigating around a normal city, assuming the weather is decent. There are some minor hiccups, but all in all, getting around Anchorage is not problematic.


As with any large city, Anchorage’s downtown area features plenty of fun places to grab a drink or a bite to eat. I’ve only been to Anchorage once, but over those four days I tried to visit as many places as possible.

One of my favorites was the F Street Station, which is in the heart of downtown and near many of the other bars and restaurants in the area. We went there late at night and it was absolutely packed, mostly with college-aged kids. Because the bar itself is pretty small on the inside, it did get pretty tough to move around. The food is above-average and is served much later into the night than some other establishments in the area.

Chilkoot Charlie's was one of the most unique bars I’ve ever been to. It’s located just outside of downtown Anchorage and – like the Red Carpet in St. Cloud – features several different mini-bars inside. They have everything from a live band area to a room with wood stumps for tables and seats with underwear hanging on the walls. As you can imagine, most of the crowd was more young than old, but at the very least it’s worth a stop if you make it up to Anchorage.

Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse was another favorite of mine. It was very roomy inside and like the previous two bars, most of the clientele were college-aged. Because the inside was so large, it was much easier to spread out and getting service was also easier.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced restaurant that’s close to the arena and is a step above the “college / bar scene,” Sorrento's Restaurant is an excellent choice. They feature outstanding Italian food in a classic setting.

City Experience

The city of Anchorage – or more appropriately the surrounding area – may top all other WCHA cities in terms of City Experience. In my opinion, if the City Experience wasn’t so great, very few fans would want to make the trip up to Anchorage to watch their team play.

Even from the downtown area, the views of the Cook Inlet and the nearby mountains are spectacular. But the real fun happens when you leave the downtown area. One drive that I was advised to make was down to Seward. On my lone trip, the weather was very good – near 50 degrees in February – and because of that, the highways down to Seward were drivable, although we were warned beforehand that the warm temperature could result in possible avalanches.

But, we encountered few problems on the 130 mile drive. Just outside the city, you’ll drive along Turnagain Arm, and there are several places to stop to take pictures on the road. Further along Highway 1, you’ll be able to turn off into the city of Alyeska. There are a few ski resorts here, and you can spend a few bucks to take one of the ski lifts to the top of one of the mountains. The ride up was fairly smooth and the view was great.

On this day, there were some melting problems on the road that results in some unexpected slick spots as you ducked in and out of the shadows, but we were able to manage. As we neared Seward, there was thick fog that almost ruined our view from the city out into Resurrection Bay. Luckily the fog lifted during our lunch-break and we were able to see what all the fuss is about – Seward is defiantly worth the drive.

One could also venture north out of Anchorage and up towards Wasilla. This is as far north as we went, but this drive was very picturesque, but much different than the drive to Seward.

Be on the lookout for wildlife on both drives though. We saw a handful of moose while in the Anchorage area, but fortunately none on or near the highway.


There are several lodging options in downtown Anchorage. We were able to secure a very good rate at the Captain Cook Hotel, which is one of the best hotels in Anchorage. This hotel was very nice, and featured arguably the best hotel bar I’ve seen. There are a handful of restaurants in the hotel, and there are also several shops on the first floor. Ask a hotel worked about the “secret” breakfast area on the top floor, too.

Sullivan Arena is only a few miles from the heart of downtown, so there are plenty of hotel options near the arena, although most aren’t within walking distance.

Ticket Cost / Availability

This is another area where Anchorage excels. Tickets are very inexpensive and are easy to obtain on most nights. Additionally, because most of the crowds in Anchorage are sparse, one can move around Sullivan Arena a bit to find optimal seating or to view the game from different angles.


This is one trip that each WCHA fan should try to make at some point. Even though it’s much more expensive than most other WCHA trips, it’s worth it. The city is great and if you plan things out right you can really maximize your time in Anchorage.

Overall Grade: B