Best Talkeetna AK Things to Do 2024 1
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Best Talkeetna AK Things to Do 2024

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to the best Talkeetna AK things to do. If you’re anything like me, you had never heard of Talkeetna before planning your trip to Alaska. Most tourists who do visit Talkeetna come here in between Anchorage and Denali National Park, where we’ll be heading next.

However, Talkeetna is famous for other reasons, namely that it is the town the TV series Northern Exposure was based on. If you’ve ever seen Northern Exposure, which starred John Corbett of Sex and the City and My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, as well as Rob Morrow of Numb3ers fame, then you’ll know to expect a small town full of quirk.

So quirk is what I shall bring you today! Let’s not waste any more time!

best talkeetna alaska things to do

Best Talkeetna AK Things to Do

Morning: Explore Talkeetna

So, Talkeetna isn’t a massive town. We’re going to have plenty of time finding the best Talkeetna things to do in the morning and through lunch. Then we’re going on a fun activity in the afternoon, but I’m going to save that as a surprise for later.

The main thing to do in Talkeetna is shop because there are tons of cute stores in town, and they LOVE tourists. I mean, I’m sure some of them complain about us behind our back, but that’s just fine with me.

Talkeetna is also a great place for exploring cute buildings and eating delicious treats. We’ll find more than enough of those on our…

Approximately Top 5: Talkeetna AK Things to Do

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1) Train Travel to Talkeetna

OK, so this is optional, but if you can take the train to Talkeetna, I strongly suggest doing so. The views are spectacular, and if you take the Gold Dome service, which I strongly suggest you do because it has the best views, the food is delicious.

I took the Anchorage to Talkeetna train and had an amazing time. We had our own tour guide up front who explained everything we were seeing on the road, from the appropriately named Mist River to Wasilla, the home of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. (She didn’t seem very popular in Alaska at the moment.)

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For breakfast, you have a variety of choices, but I opted for the delicious Denali scrambled eggs with reindeer sausage. It sure kept me satisfied until lunch time.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska

The train also has great cocktails. Since this was a morning train, I was a good girl and just had this lovely Bloody Mary. (It’s never too early for a Bloody Mary.)

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2) Nagley’s Store

Nagley’s Store is the most iconic building in Talkeetna. You simply can’t come to Talkeetna and pass up the opportunity to visit here. As you can see from the moosey sign above, this store has been around since 1921, although not in its exact current location.

As you can see, the building looks rather rustic, and in fact these old-fashioned materials have been known to catch fire several times. But don’t worry! Nagley’s didn’t catch fire even once when I was inside.

The most famous thing about Nagley’s is its cats. In fact, one former cat at Nagley’s, Mayor Stubbs, was the former mayor of Talkeetna. (That isn’t a joke. I told you Talkeetna was quirky!) Mayor Stubbs has sadly gone to the great catnip farm in the sky, but Nagley’s will always have a store cat to greet you. (And Talkeetna still has a cat for a mayor.)

best things to do in talkeetna alaska
3) Go on a little nature walk

Talkeetna is right by the charming Talkeetna River, and on a clear day, which it isn’t always, you can get views of Denali National Park. It’s an easy walk to the river outside of town where you can get away from the other tourists and go for a lovely stroll.

Just be aware that the ground around the river can get awfully muddy, especially if it has rained recently, so plan your shoes accordingly. And don’t worry about getting too many pictures of the river because we’re going to get up close and personal with the river later.

My favorite spot in the woods near the Talkeetna River is the sign marking where Belle’s Barn used to be. Belle Lee McDonald came to Talkeetna as a single woman to provide meals, laundry, and other services to the miners in town. She met her husband here and they started a Trading Post in town. She was a true pioneer, and it’s great that the town still honors her.

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4) Talkeetna Museum

The Talkeetna Museum is just what it sounds like: a museum dedicated to the history of this cute little town and its cat mayors.

You can find all sorts of historical objects here, but my favorites were the objects related to the Gold Rush. I mean, I know in my head that it wouldn’t have been great to be alive during Gold Rush times, mostly because of the lack of dental care, but it still looks like tons of fun.

Don’t miss the photo of the Gold Rush old tymers trying to use a moose like a horse. Spoiler alert! It didn’t work.

At the museum, I learned that Talkeetna is so safe that it was a major story when a Talkeetna resident was murdered about two decades ago, and she was murdered in Anchorage, not Talkeetna. I guess when your town is that safe, you can afford to have cat mayors.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska
5) Lunch!

I recommend going to Denali Brewing Company for lunch because they have great craft beer that they make themselves and great sandwiches. They are very popular, so you will probably have to wait for a seat, but they’ll hold your spot. Just go shopping for a bit (more on stores to visit soon) and wait for them to text you that your table is ready.

I ordered their Blues and Wheat beer, which is only available in the summer. That makes sense because it’s a blueberry beer, and summer is definitely blueberry season in Alaska. It was very tasty and a little sour, like I expect fruit beers to be.

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I also loved my pulled pork sandwich, which was nice and crispy, served on a buttery roll. Yes, even after that big Denali Scramble this morning, there was still room for lunch.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska

For dessert, I suggest going to the Talkeetna Roadhouse and getting their famous Razzy pastry, which is a massive raspberry cinnamon roll. I could only eat a few bites, but don’t worry! It tasted just as good for breakfast the next morning.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska
6) Shopping!

Like any other place in Alaska that caters to tourists, Talkeetna is a great place to go shopping. It’s not hard to find the shops because most of them are on the main drag. However, I will be happy to point you to some of my favorite places.

First, I like the Dancing Leaf Gallery, which is a great place to go if you like local art and earrings made out of salmon bones, like I do. This entire gallery is dedicated to Alaskan artists, and I do suggest shopping local when you travel, if you can possibly help it.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska

Denali Dry Goods sound like it would be a grocery store, but it’s actually a wonderful spot if you’re looking for Alaska Native crafts like these earrings I got that are made of birchbark and designed to look like berry baskets. They also have a great collection of prints of photos that Ansel Adams took of Alaska.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska

Finally, check out Silverbear Sundries, which sells healing salves made from a local plant called Devil’s Club Root. (I’ve never seen this plant outside of Alaska and healing products made from it are crazy popular here.) It’s worth coming here just to meet the charming couple that runs the store. You may tell them I said that!

best things to do in talkeetna alaska

Best Talkeetna AK Things to Do

Afternoon: Wilderness Explorer

So, for the afternoon, we’re going to get out on the water with a delightful jet boat cruise. I recommend this cruise because it’s got a cover, so we can be happy on the boat rain or shine. The boat cruise leaves several times a day, but for this itinerary, I think the 2:30 cruise works best.

You can go ahead and book your spot on the boat right here. A lot of tour companies use this boat cruise for their clients, so you’ll want to reserve your spot in advance. Then get ready for…

Three Fascinating Facts: Wilderness Explorer

best things to do in talkeetna alaska
1) What is this river?

So, this is the Chulitna River, not the Talkeetna River. I am honestly not 100 percent sure what the difference is between the rivers. There’s also a Susitna River next to Talkeetna, and the Chulitna is one of its tributaries. Just so many rivers, so little time. However, I think we can all agree that the views of the mountains from this river are stunning.

One of my favorite fun facts that we learned about the rivers in Alaska is the about the Ice Classic. This is a lottery where people try to guess the exact date and time that the ice will start to break up in the Tanana River. The jackpot is hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a lot of the money raised goes to charity.

Last year, the winning date was in May, so that should give you some idea of when winter ends in Alaska.

best things to do in talkeetna alaska
2) Will we be in a boat the whole time?

Absolutely not! There will be a lovely excursion to a hidden trail, where you can go for a nature walk and learn about the local plants and history.

Our guide introduced us to many plants I would never have been able to find on my own, and they were delicious! (Spoiler alert, do not go picking and eating random berries and plants if you’re out for a nature walk by yourself.)

best things to do in talkeetna alaska

The red currants were quite delicious, and though I have eaten red currants before, I had never tried any that were this fresh. We also got to sample something called watermelon berries and some fresh rosehip, which I had previously only had in tea.

Watermelon berries are special to Alaska, and they are cute and plump, just like tiny melons. This is a real local treat, so don’t miss the chance to eat one fresh in season! They also have a bunch of seeds in them, so be prepared! Your guide will warn you.

best talkeetna alaska things to do
3) What was this about history?

Well, we learned about traditional methods of hunting, preparing animal meat, and turning animal furs into clothing. Of course, this isn’t just history because these methods are still used today by some people. They even had some traditional animal traps set up–with signs warning that there was danger and we should keep away.

I wonder if there are some clever beavers out there who can read and will avoid the trap. Flee, good beavers, flee!

My favorite history stops on the tour were the fish smoker and the trapper lodge. The fish smoker was neat because I had never seen a Native Alaskan fish smoker before. I mean, I’ve eaten a lot of smoked salmon, like any Jewish person from New York City, but this was the first time I had met a real fish smoker in the flesh.

I liked the trapper lodge because we got to pet so many of the furs here. I don’t buy new fur for ethical reasons, but petting vintage fur that has been locally sourced felt okay. Although our guide did say that sometimes animals steal the furs, so they need to store them securely at night.

Why would animals steal the furs? Are they going to wear them at a black tie event?

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Best Talkeetna AK Things to Do

Evening: Dinner at Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

It’s about that time on our day of the Talkeetna AK things to do to go find some dinner. And it will be the easiest thing just to head back to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and get dinner there. They have more than one restaurant, but I just went to the Base Camp Bistro because you don’t need a reservation and it was easy to get seated.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to unwind with a refreshing cocktail like the Ginger Smash.

best talkeetna alaska things to do

Then warm up your stomach with a bowl of seafood chowder. It might not be the most beautiful soup I have ever seen, but it sure tasted purdy.

best talkeetna alaska things to do

And for my main course, I enjoyed this plate of penne Bolognese, except the Bolognese sauce was made with reindeer meat instead of beef! I won’t find this back home in Little Italy. But it was hearty and satisfying, and a great way to end our day of the best Talkeetna AK things to do.

Talkeetna AK things to do

Best Talkeetna AK things to do

Where to Stay

If you want to really enjoy your day of the best Talkeetna AK things to do, you’ll need a great hotel. I recommend the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. This hotel is just a short drive from all the shops in Talkeetna, and it has its own restaurants so you can relax and enjoy a fine evening after a fun day of exploring.

Plus, you can see how big and comfortable the rooms are in my photo above. And I had that room all to myself!

You can go ahead and book a room at this hotel by clicking here.

If you’d rather book a room in another hotel in Talkeetna, just click here. This search engine will help you explore other excellent options for your day of the best Talkeetna AK things to do.

That’s the best Talkeetna AK things to do!

What do you think are the best Talkeetna AK things to do? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Talkeetna? Any questions about anything in this post? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours with the best Talkeetna AK things to do.

Add on the best Icy Strait Point things to do. Check out the best things to do in Sitka Alaska. Add on 24 hours in Anchorage. Enjoy a day of what to do Skagway Alaska. Experience what to do Seward Alaska. Have fun on a what to do in Denali AK day. You can also try the most fun things to do in Fairbanks AK.

Best Talkeetna AK Things to Do 2024 2

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