Why you must visit Anchorage now

This compact urban oasis between the panoramic Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet has recently seen a boom in boutiques, wine bars and gastropubs that take fresh-caught and raw bar food to a new level. Hard to get to, for sure, but A-Town is worth the trek. Here's your cheat sheet to take it all in.

Wine& Food:

The center of Anchorage's wine scene and one of Wine Enthusiast's 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2012, Crush Wine Bistro and Cellar offers both a bistro and a wine shop. Expect world-class food and globetrotters like pork empanadas with pinot noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Simon& Seaforts Saloon& Grill emphasizes fresh seafood along with views of the Alaska Range and Cook Inlet. Start with freshly made margaritas and enjoy specialties like crab-stuffed halibut or rock salt-crusted prime rib.

Atop the Hotel Captain Cook, the Crow's Nest offers stunning views from every table. Combine a selection from the over 10.000-bottle wine cellar with king crab legs or lamb osso bucco. On the lobby level, Whale's Tail Bistro and Wine Bar offers a self-serve wine dispensing system with 32 wines priced from $3 to $29 per pour.

Located in one of the oldest houses in Anchorage, Marx Bros. Cafe The restaurant was practically invented in 1979. The restaurant offers a top-notch wine list and cuisine like grilled Kobe sirloin with bourbon honey glaze. Marx Bros. Also operates the excellent Muse restaurant at the Anchorage Museum.

Glacier Brewhouse highlights offerings from its open-view brewery. Wood-fired ovens produce hearty meats, poultry and pizza (be sure to try the reindeer sausage). Ginger reflects Asian sophistication in dishes like five-spice duck breast.

The Alaska Denali Winery (denaliwinery.info) does produce more than 80 of its own wines. If you like the stiffer stuff, head to the Alaska Distillery . Distillery produces whiskey, gin and various flavored vodkas, including willowherb, blueberry and the surprisingly delicious smoked salmon.


Named for the British navigator who explored Alaska in 1778. Hotel captain Cook attracts celebrity guests like Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. Most of the 547 rooms and suites are in three towers and offer views of the bay or mountains. Historic Anchorage hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel is said to be haunted and keeps a "ghost log" to record spectral sightings. Copper Whale Inn offers contemporary downtown charm. Although the 14 rooms are small, some overlook the ocean or gardens.

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