Kay (kaysuiko) wrote in alaskans,

Moving to Anchorage!

Hi everyone!

I'm a current Pennsylvanian moving to Anchorage next August with my husband (who is FINALLY graduating with his PhD). We're both really really excited... When my hubs was offered a job, we were given a choice between Anchorage and Houston, TX. Coming from PA, with nice falls and winters, Houston is extremely depressing... So we were super pumped about Alaska!

We've been doing some research, since neither of us have been there yet, but I know you can't really know something until you go! Does anyone have any suggestions for places we need to go or restaurants we need to try? We'll be up some time in the spring for house hunting and want to do as much as we can!

Also, telling people that you're moving to Alaska has been pretty amusing so far... All the outdoorsy, hunters think it sounds really awesome but all the wimpy city people think it sounds awful :P

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You'll find our autumn and spring are both quite brief, but our short summer is glorious! Anchorage is like most any big city, so that won't be as much of a shock. To see the 'real' Alaska, you'll have to venture out of Anchorage. Expect to pay at least twice what you are used to paying for just about everything especially groceries. I've lived 17 years in Anchorage, 3 in Juneau and now we've been in Kenai for about 10 years and I continue to prefer small towns over Anchorage. Our current favorite restaurant in Anchorage is Glacier Brewhouse for dinner and Arctic Roadrunner for the best burgers at lunchtime. While hunting and 'outdoorsy' stuff is still a big draw, you will find Anchorage has a large and active social/arts scene. I suggest you find a good real estate agent to help you find a place to live to avoid those places that aren't very safe. It's a big city...there is plenty of crime too.
I've heard wonderful things about the summer... I'm pretty excited (I'm not a huge hot weather person, so mild summers really appeal).

We plan to work with a real estate agent because we'd like to live outside of the city, but not TOO far... We're thinking Eagle River, but it'll all depend. I've heard of Glacier Brewhouse but haven't heard of Arctic Roadrunner... We'll have to check them out. Thanks! :)
Depending on when you will be up in "Spring" (such a relative term up here!) you may hit us right during what is called "break-up." This is when all the snow is melting and mostly brown & muddy & there is trash everywhere that was covered in snow all winter. It's actually the ugliest point in the season. :-)

But don't judge Anchorage by how it looks during break-up! Once we shake off the mud & extra layers of fur & warmth, we rev up into high gear. There are festivals and outdoor music and something going on and things to do constantly.

During the Spring (April & May-ish) there will likely still be snow on the ground as I've mentioned but the roads will be easy to travel. You could head out to Girdwood for the day and go up the Alyeska Tramway to get a bird's eye view of Cook Inlet -- beautiful! It is difficult to tell you what else you can "do" because a lot of things close for the winter and do not re-open until May. You could try the Seward SeaLife Center if you want to drive a few hours outside of Anchorage. Depending on the weather, you could also see if they are doing any glacier tours out of Seward or Whittier.

If you want an amazing but pricey meal in Girdwood, definitely go to the Double Musky and have their Peppercorn Steak (featured on Food Network several times). If you want a less pricey meal, go to Chair 5 restaurant for pizza & burgers & beer.

In Anchorage proper, I would steer you to Brewhouse as kenaiqueen mentioned, Spenard Roadhouse, Crush Wine Bistro for the pub-grub and Charlie's Bakery for the most authentic dim-sum (and strangely enough the BEST French pastries made by a Chinese chef who studied in France).

I hope your trip goes well and you end up loving Alaska as much as we do!
The more we look into it, it appears that we'll be up closer to May or June... My husband's company has an excellent relocation package that pays for househunting expenses, but we have to be in the system for it all to work out... So we should be able to miss the messy part ;)

I'm really excited for all the festivals! Rondy looks like fun, and I'm really excited about the State Fair! I currently live in Central PA and we have a huge county fair that's a lot of fun. Alaska's fair seems like ours + lots of awesome food and giant cabbages!

Depending on our final plans, we may not get a chance to do too much, but I'm going to start a list of awesome restaurants... We still have to eat, right? Hehe! The SeaLife Center sounds awesome (I'll have to make a note to visit it eventually).

Strangely enough, I've heard of Charlie's Bakery! As a baker myself, I was curious to see what's up there... It sounds so random but I've heard GREAT things! Definitely on my list of must-visits :)

Thanks for all the suggestions! We have a feeling that we're going to LOVE Alaska!
If you like "big city" living, keep in mind that Anchorage has about 290,000 people which is the largest population in Alaska but is by no means a bustling metropolis like you might be used to! If you like small town community living, you might consider living in Eagle River which is an easy 20 minute commute (summertime and about 40 mins in winter) to the military bases & Downtown Anchorage. I live in Eagle River and I love having space between me and my neighbors and the community feeling.

In the first two weekends of June you can check out our small (but with lots of heart & soul!) Renaissance Faire. If you do, come check out the pirates and ask for Lotta. :-D
We're looking at Eagle River for all the reasons you just mentioned, hehe. We like the idea of a little more space but still having a nice community :)

It's been many many years since I visited a Renaissance Faire! I also love pirates. We'll be too late for the Faire this year, but it's definitely on my list ;)
I'd also highly recommend Aladdin's for some amazing Mediterranean food (love their homemade lemon ice cream) and Snow City Cafe for breakfast/lunch. There are also some great hole-in-the-wall places like Thai Basil and Hometown Korean.
Check out the memories section of the community. There are a couple of posts related to these topics.
Oooh great stuff in the memories! Thanks for the tip :)

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Haha thanks!

At my bakery, every time the oven breaks we talk about ripping it out and beating the crap out of it, Office Space style ;)
I'm really surprised no one has mention Moose's Tooth for Pizza! By FAR the best pizza in state! They even have their own brewery that produces great beer! Along with offering a first tap every month along with a great concert.

As for somewhere you can just grab a lunch that is nutritious at a great price you should check on Middle Way Cafe! They also have killer smoothies.
Nearly everyone in Anchorage will tell you that Mooses Tooth Pizza is totally worth the wait. It really is!

My favorite for the past couple of years, though, has been The Spenard Roadhouse. They use a lot of local ingredients, and always have interesting things on the menu, especially the Bacon of the Month!
You know I kept thinking that place was just like all the other crappy restaurants in town but I must be thinking of what use to be there. I need to go check that out! Especially if there is a bacon of the month!
oh yeh, Spenard Roadhouse is most definitely NOT anything like Hogg Brothers. Its well worth a trip there to see.
Oooh bacon of the month! My husband loves the sound of that haha.
Mmm pizza and beer! You can't go wrong ;) We'll definitely check that out :)
Alaska has an extremely large collection of microbrewerys for its population.
Houston is awesome (my husband and I are from there) but we loved living in Anchorage. Our favorite restaurants were Tommy's Burgers, Lucky Wishbone, and Captain Chuck's. Once you are moved up there you should try the Talkeetna Roadhouse in Talkeetna and the Turnagain Arm Pit near Girdwood. Go down to Seward and take one of the Kenai Fjords wildlife cruises in the summer, they are worth every penny. There are hundreds of places to hike. Wherever you choose to go will be pretty. We did a lot of hiking around Flat Top and Arctic Valley. Ride bikes on the coastal trail, go ice skating on a frozen pond, there is a bunch to do outside year round as long as you get the appropriate cold weather gear.