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Culture

story tellers, artists and dancers at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage

Alaska's Southcentral region, encompassing Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, features some of the best the state has to offer for cultural travelers.

Anchorage is home to the impressive Alaska Native Heritage Center, a unique cultural site dedicated to educating visitors about Alaska Native groups. The Center presents programs in academic and informal settings, including workshops, demonstrations and guided tours of indoor exhibits and outdoor village sites.

After visiting Anchorage, cultural travelers may want to rent a car and drive south on the Seward Highway to the Kenai Peninsula. The Seward Highway was recently named an All-American Road and boasts some of the country's most spectacular scenery. A stop in hip and funky Girdwood is a must on this road trip. Located at the base of Mount Alyeska, the ski town is home to a group of artists who like the small-town feel of the place. Visitors can visit any number of small, unique galleries year-round or time their visit to coincide with the Girdwood Forest Fair, a midsummer arts and crafts event.

Continuing down the Seward Highway, visitors will eventually find themselves on the Kenai Peninsula. The Kenai area's growing reputation as a place of creative expression is well deserved as it develops visitor-friendly cultural sites and centers. The Kenai Fine Arts Center, located in Old Town Kenai, provides studio space for members of the Peninsula Art Guild and the Kenai Potters Guild. The guilds host monthly art exhibitions, maintain an artist sales gallery, and offer a variety of art workshops for adults and children. The region is also rich in Gold Rush history. Visitors can raft down Six Mile Creek and see evidence of mining operations from days past.

Upon reaching the end of the road in Homer, visitors will arrive in a cultural mecca of sorts. The tight-knit, artsy community of Homer prides itself on its beatnik image. Galleries and small artisan shops can be found everywhere in this oceanfront community.