Don't expect the variety of a big-city zoo, but what the Alaska Zoo lacks in size, it makes up with a charm all its own. Anchorage residents have developed personal relationships with the animals, naming many of them. The zoo's best feature is the opportunity it affords to see familiar Alaskan animals up close. We enjoy watching the polar bears, Ahpun and Lyutyik, play and swim underwater (you can check that out on a webcam, too). Gravel paths meander through the woods past enclosures with natural flora for bears, wolves, seals and otters, muskoxen, Dall sheep, moose, caribous, and waterfowl. If you want to pass yourself off as a master wildlife photographer, crop out the Bactrian camels, snow leopards, and a few other northern creatures that don't normally live in Alaska. Two-hour naturalist tours take place every day at noon, and include some backstage stops, for $25 adults, $15 for children 12 and under. A snack bar serves basic meals, and there is a gift shop. The zoo is a 20-minute drive from downtown, without traffic; if you don't have a car, it's possible in the summer to catch the zoo's free shuttle, which picks up from several downtown locations daily (call for details).