Best Places to Live

Anchorage, AK

Population: 288,000
Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek

Winter Cities Institute CEO Patrick Coleman lists Anchorage, AK, among his favorite cold-weather towns. It’s no wonder; this Alaskan beauty knows how to chill.

"Numerous outdoor ice skating venues are created on the small frozen lakes in the city that include skating pathways," Coleman says. "Anchorage public works crews use a 'friendly snowplow' that prevents the pushing of snow into residents driveways during snow clearing operations. The municipality of Anchorage also considers design for winter in zoning and building regulations."

The city's economy has remained warm in spite of a national cool down. Anchorage gained more than 5,200 jobs between 2005 and 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Getting around town is made easier by a city-run bus system and carpool organizer called the People Mover. But let's get to the fun stuff.

From skiing and snowboarding at the Arctic Valley Ski Area to sledding in one of the city’s snow-packed parks to ice fishing for Alaskan salmon and trout in nearby Mat-Su Valley, Anchorage offers many outdoor activities. Dogsledding has become a time-honored winter tradition here. Anchorage is the starting point for the world famous Iditarod Trail sled dog race. For the truly adventurous, there’s skijoring, an old Scandinavian form of transportation that pairs a rider on Nordic skis with reindeer or dog pulls.

Alaska’s breathtaking terrain can be intoxicating, but there’s plenty to do on the inside as well. Enjoy big-city cuisine with a small-town feel at Marx Brothers Cafe or tune into the local music scene at Tap Root bar. Dark winter nights bring a chance to glimpse the Northern Lights – by far the city’s most impressive outdoor attraction. 

Winter Weather

  • Average January low: 7 degrees
  • Average annual snowfall: 70.6 inches


Photo by Frank Kovalcek, aka Alaskan Dude.

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