A town known as the “Paris of the North” can’t be missed, right?!? Turns out Dawson City, Yukon in Canada has way more going on than we ever expected from this end-of-the-road destination. Unfortunately we only scheduled two days and one night in Dawson and for that we’re bummed. Normally if we like a place we’d stay longer but we made plans for Summer Solstice in Fairbanks so lingering isn’t an option at this point.
The town is famous for the gold rush boom and having Canada’s oldest casino called Diamond Tooth Gerties along with their dancing girls show. We did not see the show because they charge a fee to enter the casino and they require a 2 drink minimum to watch the show, no thanks. Another oddity that gets this town international fame is the Sourtoe Cocktail at the Sourdough Saloon. Local legend says its an old toe from an infamous rum runner that lost his toe to frostbite during a cross-border delivery, the story is colorful and fun but we didn’t feel the need to partake.
These days it’s a long stretch to compare Dawson City to Paris, France but the stories from the boom days are fantastic and there is still a ton of charm here. The dirt streets seem authentic along with the well maintained wood boards for sidewalks. The visitor center is the hub of this little town and the folks behind the desk are extremely helpful in directing visitors in their requested direction. We asked for places that feature organic, local produce and we specifically requested a local hot spot for dinner, a place for breakfast and a place for a good cocktail. We were not disappointed by any of the recommendations. The visitor center also had fast and free WiFi which we took advantage of for an hour to check in.
Sips, Bites & WiFi
Overall our food experiences here were surprisingly good (considering it’s at the end of the road) with a strong focus on local, regional, sustainable and all that jazz we appreciate. I can’t say anything was “Amazingly Good” but everything was “Pretty Darn Good” if that makes sense, we think that’s impressive for such a remote place.
Klondike Kate’s – We arrived an hour late!!!! We sat at 7:30ish and when we looked at the chalkboard the “happy hour” specials were prominently displayed…and dang they were the deal! Either way the prices were extremely affordable at this little eatery that was jam packed when we arrived, it’s obvious the food is good and the happy hour isn’t a secret for the locals.
Bombay Peggy’s Pub – We were told they serve up the “Best martini’s you’ll ever drink” so it was hook, line and sinker for us cause we’re always looking for creative cocktails. “Best” is a bit of a tall order, but we very much enjoyed ourselves and our cocktails here.
Alchemy Café served up tasty food using some local ingredients. The coffee was a perfect start to our day and for some reason I was drawn to the vegetarian miso noodle soup, don’t know why, but it was yummy! Nikki had the sourdough french toast made from the local sour yeast, it was totally unhealthy and yummy. There’s fast free WiFi here and the owner also repairs Macs! A random note: You MUST visit the bathroom here, it’s pretty funky.
Commissioner’s Tea – While we were in town the Commissioner invited the entire city over to his mansion for tea, and to our surprise just about everyone showed up. Apparently it’s been a tradition since 1912 to invite Dawson residents and visitors alike to this little afternoon soiree. Tea, sandwiches, cookies and cake all served by volunteers in traditional dress and proper cups (if you arrive early, otherwise you’ll get a standard mug). The event was sooo casually lavish we dropped in feeling under dressed but we were welcomed with smiles and a nice warm cup. Such a neat event to stumble upon and it was FREE, although all donations went to a local non-profit so we left some dough behind to say thanks!
Klondike River Campground (KM 697) is a short 12 minute drive into town but totally worth a visit. Free campfire wood, spacious, private sites and its way less expensive than the private parks in town.
Before we knew it we’d blown through our 36 hours in town and we were running late to catch the ferry over to the Top of The World Highway and a slightly nervous crossing into Alaska (we’re hoping the agents haven’t watched our Canada Border Crossing video).
Sternwheeler Graveyard – A trail from the Yukon River Campground in Dawson City leads to the river bank and eventually ends at a “graveyard” of old sternwheelers.
Midnight Dome – High above Dawson City is the rock formation known as Midnight Dome. I had this on our list but we totally spaced and forgot to do it! It’s not a big hike but the views are spectacular. Oh well, next time.
Fuel Prices – Fuel in Dawson City was more expensive at $1.39/liter so we just put the minimum amount in to get us to Chicken, AK where volume will switch back to gallons and prices will be much lower.
Road Conditions – The highway that runs through Dawson City was nearly perfect. The roads in town are mostly dirt, but there’s really no reason to drive through town, it’s plenty small enough to park on the main road and walk everywhere.
Weather – Temperatures were mild and pleasant with highs hovering in the upper 60’s and the lows in the mid 40’s.
Dates Visited – June 13 – June 14, 2015
See all our Alaska Travels and tips here: Alaska Bound
Have you been to Dawson City? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and go ahead, rub it in if you loved the dancing girls, won big at the casino or kissed the toe!