A Taste of Talkeetna
What’s the perfect recipe for an Alaska wintertime getaway? For our family, it’s a road trip to Talkeetna, which includes a mix of friends, terrific Nordic skiing, ice fishing with the kids, community arts events, and, of course, great food. A decade ago we found few dining options here in winter, but today this vibrant small town has a surprising number of locally owned eateries and pubs welcoming folks year-round.
Here’s how a typical long weekend in Talkeetna flows for our family:
Friday evening: Roll into the heart of downtown and head straight to the Denali Brewing Company, gather by the roaring fire and enjoy a Mother Ale, Chuli Stout or another of their celebrated craft beers. Then the dinner dilemma: stay at the brewpub for favorites like their Sriracha IPA Chicken Sandwich or go down the street to Mountain High Pizza Pie for a huge calzone? Both are hearty choices to start the weekend.
Saturday: Time for outdoor fun! To fuel ourselves, we’re in and out of the Flying Squirrel Bakery Café all day. Nestled into the woods at Mile 11 of the Spur Road, the Flying Squirrel is close enough to the fantastic Talkeetna Lakes Park trail system that we can easily ski up to their door. The Squirrel team makes amazing breads, desserts and pastries, hearty soups and sandwiches, and from 4-9 PM it’s fun to watch them turn out delicious pizzas from their wood-fired ovens. Especially remarkable is the number of Alaska grown ingredients they offer in the middle of winter, many grown by owner/chef Anita Golton’s husband Brian on their Talkeetna family farm. “You can preserve a lot of food and integrate it year round if you are as industrious as possible in the summer,” says Golton. Favorites include her black current muffins, homemade sparkling rhubarb-ade, kale chips, pesto made with parsley and herbs from the farm, and granola made with Kahiltna Birchworks syrup. Every Saturday the Flying Squirrel bakes Spent Grain Bread made with brewing leftovers from their neighbors at Denali Brewing Company.
Saturday night: If we’re lucky we catch a film or local production at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar, a true gem that helps make this little community special. Meanwhile other adults in our group head out for live music and dancing at the historic and ever popular Fairview Inn.
Sunday morning: Time for a leisurely brunch of sourdough hotcakes and gigantic cinnamon rolls at the Talkeetna Roadhouse. Over coffee we strike up conversation with locals and other visitors in the cozy family style dining room that’s infused with the town’s mining and climbing history.
Sunday afternoon: We walk a few blocks from the Roadhouse to ski and explore up the river. When the sun dips low we bundle into the car, stop briefly at the Flying Squirrel for a cup of Homer-roasted KBay coffee, and head home – tired, happy, and inspired by all this little town has grown and nurtured. Until next time, Talkeetna!
Located at the confluence of the Susitna, Chulitna and Talkeetna rivers, Talkeetna is 115 miles north of Anchorage via Hwy AK-1N and Hwy AK-3N. From Fairbanks, it’s a 4.5 hour drive south via Hwy AK-3S. You can also book a trip to Talkeetna from both Anchorage and Fairbanks via the Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star. Visit their website at AlaskaRailroad.com for fares and schedules.