With a population of just 876, the Alaskan town of Talkeetna, located 115 miles north of Anchorage, is a little taste of Woodstock in the state known as The Last Frontier. Historically known as a pit stop for mountain climbers trekking the nearby Denali, this uber-liberal hippie hamlet has lured artists, musicians, and craftspeople to its ranks for years, coming together to create what is now the state’s quirkiest small town. Need convincing? Until his death in 2017, the town’s officially elected mayor was a cat named Stubbs, who won a write-in campaign after Talkeetna residents felt they were given no other viable candidates.
If you’re heading across Alaska on a hike, flight or cruise and want to spend a few hours experiencing some old-school flower power, here are eight spots that will give you an authentic taste of Talkeetna.
Denali Brewing Company
Talkeetna’s only brewery, Denali Brewing boasts incredible views of Denali and the Alaska mountain range and is the perfect place to grab a pint and take in Talkeetna’s local flavor. Priding itself on sustainability, all food served at the brewery is made with locally sourced ingredients, and all of the brewery’s waste is donated to local pig farmers. If you’re an IPA fan, don’t miss the Twister Creek IPA, a delicious take on the style and the brewery’s most popular pour, as well as the Big Dipa, a double IPA with a cult following.
Nagley’s General Store
A stroll through Talkeetna’s main street isn’t complete without a visit to Nagley’s, an old-school general store full of the town’s quirky history. Originally a goods supplier to the miners and trappers passing through Talkeetna on their way to Denali National Park, Nagley’s now serves as the go-to pit stop for locals to pick up snacks and essentials, and its walls of taxidermy pack in quite the authentic Alaska experience. Along with being the longest operated general store in the region, Nagley’s also served as the office of Mayor Stubbs the Cat during his 20 year term.
Mountain High Pizza Pie
This bright purple family-run restaurant serves homemade pizza, flatbreads, and soup, with all vegetables coming from their backyard garden. Grab a slice with reindeer sausage (a local favorite) and wash it down with a pint from Denali Brewing, available on tap. Mountain High’s dedication to farm to table doesn’t stop there — they also brew their own kombucha.
If you’re looking for an authentic Alaska experience, the Talkeetna Roadhouse is an essential stop. Frequented by locals, you’re bound to make friends with fishermen, pilots and longtime residents of the Alaskan bush while dining at the establishment’s family style tables. (The breakfast menu states that you can “order eggs any way you want, but they’ll come out scrambled every time.”) The Roadhouse also offers hostel-style lodging — with a few private rooms — for travelers making a pit stop in the town.
The High Expedition
The newest addition to Talkeetna’s main street, this unique cannabis dispensary is located in a cabin formerly owned by mountain climbing legend Ray Genet, and doubles as a museum dedicated to the Swiss-born mountaineer who holds the record for the most summits ever on Mount Denali. Marijuana — which is legal in Alaska — is available for purchase in the form of indica, edibles, hybrid flower strains, CBD-infused oils, and more.
Known for its illustrious birch trees, which produce delicious organic birch syrup, no trip to Alaska is complete without experiencing a little taste of the state’s “sappy hour.” Kahiltna Birchworks in Talkeetna offers educational tours of the on-site processing plant where its syrup is made, and samples are available for almost every type of birch syrup there is, including brittle, candy and jams. If you’re looking for sweet treats to bring home as gifts, this is the place to go.
The Dancing Leaf Gallery
This small art gallery dedicates itself to exclusively featuring work from Alaskan artists. Many of the artists whose work is featured live in remote areas of the state, making Dancing Leaf the only place you’ll find their work on view. To make it even more of an Alaskan experience, the building itself was designed and built by the owners and their friends.
Flying Squirrel Bakery & Cafe
This family-owned cafe features artisan pastries and savory breads made with fruits and vegetables grown on the family’s Talkeetna farm, the Birch Creek Ranch. All ingredients not grown on the farm are sourced from in-state, and listed on the bakery’s menu. Flying Squirrel dedicates itself to being heavily involved in the Talkeetna community, hosting monthly art shows, jazz nights, baking classes, and themed dinners.