We spent the afternoon today in Talkeetna. We generally aren’t big on wandering around tourist towns, so we weren’t even really sure we wanted to visit here, but it was along our route and we found a decent place to stay, so we decided to give it a shot.
Let’s first say that it is a busy place! Tons of tour buses come in all day long, so there is a constant influx of people, but other than a couple of times that we bypassed a shop that was too crowded, the large numbers of people didn’t really seem like much of a bother.
We arrived hungry, and Talkeetna did not disappoint. There were so many choices that we couldn’t pick just one, so we had a bit of a progressive dinner. We first stopped at the Talkeetna Spinach Bread trailer and split an order of their signature item. It was cheesy and delicious! Then, we debated for a good hour on the next course and ended up at Shirley’s Burger Barn. We got a salmon burger and a bison burger and cut them each in half to split. Both were great, but Jeff preferred the bison and Heather, the salmon. Of course, dinner isn’t complete without dessert, so we stopped on the way in for the night for ice cream. We probably each ate a week’s worth of calories in one afternoon, but who is counting?
While this is definitely a town that is geared toward tourism, we found it to be a little different than most. First, most of the shops carry actual Alaskan made goods and not the typical tourist junk. There were so many beautiful items – from knives to wall décor – that we had to talk ourselves out of buying. We could have spent a small fortune here! It also has a very laid back, chill vibe. While there were a lot of people, everyone seemed very relaxed and just happy to be here. There wasn’t a ton of hustle and bustle. Finally, we loved the eclectic look of the town. There was everything from historic cabins to funky food trucks to river and Denali views (sometimes…when it is not so cloudy!)
There was also a ton of live music happening all over town. There was a concert happening in a community gathering space, music in the beer garden, and a street performer on Main Street. It was fun to walk along and hear the music change depending on what we happened to be closest to at the time.
Finally, Talkeetna is known for its air travel. Most of those serious climbers who attempt to climb Denali each year start by flying to base camp from Talkeetna. There are also a number of flight-seeing tours that begin from here, therefore, there is a fairly busy state airport a short walk from the downtown area, as well as a small historic grass strip. We decided to walk to both. We weren’t lucky enough to see anyone take off or land from the small grass strip, but we did see a couple of small planes take off or land at the larger airport. It was fun to watch.
Talkeetna is the type of town that Heather’s Dad, Gary, would love. There were multiple times throughout the day that we mentioned how much we wish he could be here with us to experience it and how much he would enjoy it. Dad, if your ears were burning all day today, now you know why!
Tomorrow morning, we will walk over to the river to try one last time to get a good view of Denali before we head further south. It isn’t unheard of to see it from as far south as Anchorage, but we were so hopeful to get a good view from up this way. We have one more chance, so wish us luck!
Until next time!