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There are lots of fun things to do in Talkeetna, here’s what I got up to during two wonderful days in this quirky frontier town…
It’s the place to go flightseeing over Denali from, it has great restaurants, attractive historic buildings, and a whole bunch of characters that live there. There are many reasons to visit Talkeetna, Alaska, but the reason I wanted to visit wasn’t any of the above.
I wanted to visit Talkeetna, Alaska because they have a cat for a Mayor. The current cat Mayor of Talkeetna is called Denali, but when I visited it was Mayor Stubbs.
Apparently, when Sarah Palin was the mayor of the neighboring town of Wasilla, her and Stubbs used to rub shoulders at mayoral events. Wonder which one of them was the better mayor (my money is on Stubbs).
I loved the sound of this quirky little Alaskan town and I knew that I just had to go there.
Talkeetna, Alaska is listed on the national register of historic places and was originally inhabited by the Athabascan Indians before gold prospectors and railroad men started settling the area from the late 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century.
Talkeetna was established as a town in 1919 once it was linked by railway to Anchorage. These days it is popular with climbers that are aiming to summit Denali, and during late spring/early summer they pretty much take over the town.
I ended up spending two nights in Talkeetna and I loved my time there.
Talkeetna, Alaska is the perfect little town to just wander around. I ate, I wandered, I browsed. It was perfect.
The Best Things To Do in Talkeetna
Sample the Local Cuisine
One great rainy day activity is sampling local cuisine and all of my meals while I was in Talkeetna Alaska were well above average.
The Spinach Bread Airstream food truck parked in a permanent spot on the main street serves up massive hunks of grilled spinach and cheese bread and although it looked delicious, I went for their meal of the day which was a black bean dish with fluffy rice, fresh coriander, homemade salsa and crushed peanuts – so good.
My favorite meal in Talkeetna, Alaska was at the iconic Talkeetna Roadhouse where I breakfasted at a long communal table. It is kitschy as hell with walls covered in flags, photos, and signs but that’s why I loved it.
It was at the Talkeetna Roadhouse that I had one of the most unusual and delicious breakfasts ever – the super decadent Nick’s Way which consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash brown potatoes, a buttery soft homemade biscuit, and reindeer sausage gravy – simply incredible and I didn’t need to eat again until dinner.
If you only have time for one meal in Talkeetna – make it at the Talkeetna Roadhouse!
Wander the Historic Downtown
There are a couple of historic cabins dotted in the back streets of Talkeetna that are set up to show what they would have looked like when the original owners who built them in the late 19th century/early 20th century lived there. One of them still has its original Sitka strawberry patch. I picked a few and they were delicious.
I visited most of the town’s points of interest that were inside to escape the cold and rain. The Salmon Centre was interesting with baby salmon in tanks and information about their life cycle, and I enjoyed browsing the many tasteful gift shops scattered through town.
Go Rafting or Tubing
I didn’t get a chance to go rafting or tubing on this trip but they are both popular excursions to do from Talkeetna and look really fun. You can even do an overnight rafting trip for a real adventure.
Discover Talkeetna’s History at the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum
My favorite attraction was the Talkeetna Historical Society Museum which is spread out over three historic buildings behind the main street of town.
It was a higgledy-piggle of exhibitions crammed into every nook and cranny, lots of old photos and all kinds of randomness: exactly the way I like my local museums to be.
I learned about the homesteading act that bought a lot of people who wanted a better life up to Alaska from the lower 48 and about the history of Talkeetna as a town.
One of the buildings housed an exhibit about Denali (the mountain, not the Mayor) and I somehow perfectly timed my visit with a detailed talk by a ranger about summiting the mountain. The exhibit also touched on the many people that have died trying to summit.
After learning more about climbing Denali and the danger in attempting it, I visited the Ranger Station to watch the film that all mountaineers have to watch before attempting a climb. The film went through the climb step by step which was very interesting.
Visit the Talkeetna Cemetery
There is a quiet little cemetery tucked away near the airfield that has a memorial to all of the people who have died trying to summit Denali. There are a lot of names on there. When the weather is bad on Denali it can be more dangerous than Everest.
Meet the Mayor
I popped into Nagley’s Store and the adjoining West Rib Pub and Grill to look for Stubbs numerous times but unfortunately, I never did get to see him. I hope you have better luck seeing Mayor Denali if you visit.
Go Flightseeing Over Denali
I saved the best for last. I did a flightseeing tour from Talkeetna that circled Denali and then landed on a glacier! Needless to say, it was the highlight of my time in Talkeetna. You can read more about it here.
I learned a lot during my short time in Talkeetna Alaska and there were so many reasons why I ended up loving that small frontier town. I may not have seen the cat Mayor that brought me there but I couldn’t imagine not experiencing Talkeetna.
Have you been to Talkeetna Alaska? Would you go?
How to Plan Your Own Talkeetna Trip
Where to Stay in Talkeetna
As the Talkeetna International Hostel is no longer open, my first choice of accommodation now would be the iconic Talkeetna Roadhouse, a historic inn with an incredible restaurant that is right on the main street in town. They have dorm rooms as well as hotel rooms. They are currently closed for extensive repairs but will reopen for the 2023 summer season.
Other great cabin and lodge options include Denali Fireside Cabin & Suites which offers studios, suites, and cottages, and the cozy Susitna River Cabins.
For vacation rentals, there are so many cool places to stay, and this is generally the most affordable option if you are traveling with friends or family. Here are the best vacation rentals in Talkeetna:
- Cozy One Bedroom Cabin Close to Downtown
- Bohemian Chic Yurt Near Downtown
- Easy Street One Bedroom Bear Cabin
- Quaint and Cozy Eastside Yurt
- Cute Cabin and Tiny Home Close to Town
- Modern Log Cabin With Sauna
Getting to Talkeetna
If you are coming from Seward, Anchorage, or Denali National Park, and you don’t have a vehicle, you can catch the Park Connection Bus.
Alaska/Yukon Trails also travels between Anchorage in the South to Fairbanks in the North, and you can stop in Talkeetna if you are coming from either direction.
Another option is to take the train on the Alaska Railroad from Denali or Anchorage to Talkeetna.
If you liked this post, check out some of my other Alaska content:
- Ther Best Things To Do in Sitka, Alaska
- Sitka Hiking: Scrambling to the Summit of Mount Verstovia
- The Best Things To Do in Juneau When It Rains
- The Ultimate Denali National Park Guide for the Budget Traveler
- Overcoming my Fears on a Denali Flightseeing Tour
- Wild Alaskan Terrain Along the Mount Healy Overlook Trail
- What To Expect on the Harding Icefield Trail
- An Aquatic Safari Through Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
- Fun Things To Do in Seward AK This Summer
- Eating Anchorage and Other Tales from the City
- The Best Day Trip from Anchorage: Hiking Flattop Mountain
- Summer in Alaska Itinerary
Supposedly…..the once wildly popular tv show “Northern Exposure” was based on the town on Talkeetna. It fits. There is so much warmth and quirkiness in that wonderful place. I love Talkeetna.
I didn’t know that but I am not surprised either, it is a very friendly little town.
We went to Alaska in 2005. Was the most wonderful trip I planned the trip a year in advance. Talkeetna was great saw Mayor Stubbs. Would love to go back but might be sad if it has changed a lot.
Hi Laurie, that’s so cool that you saw Mayor Stubbs! I don’t imagine he would still be around now as it was five years since I was there. I would love to return too. Where did you go?
Stubbs for President! I love the idea of a cat mayor. AND he’s got political experience unlike some current political options.
I did too, surely cats wouldn’t get corrupted like regular politicians too
That sounds like such a wonderful little place.
I’ve wanted to go to Alaska for ages now. I should really have gone there when I was in North America this summer :/ Maybe next year! 🙂
It really is Zascha. I hope you make it there
So sorry you missed Stubbs! We stumbled upon him sleeping on one of the couches in one of the shops and I was able to get a few pictures of him. Loved Talkeetna!
I’m jealous! Would have loved to have seen him but loved Talkeetna anyway
We wasn’t too interested in us. He just kept on sleeping while I snapped a few pictures. I wrote a post about him http://wanderingdawgs.com/2013/10/19/stubbs-the-cat-mayor-of-talkeetna-alaska/
Cool I will take a look 🙂
Sounds wonderful! I’ve never understood the concept of ‘biscuits and gravy’ though – it always looks to me like someone threw up on the plate (apologies for that mental image!). I suppose it must taste better than it looks.
Haha it’s not a thing where I am from (New Zealand) and the gravy definitely doesn’t look like what we would call gravy but it was delicious all the same 🙂