With a population of 876, the quirky town of Talkeetna -- located midway between Anchorage and Denali along Alaska's railroad line -- might seem small in size. But this town's big personality -- which was the inspiration behind the drama-comedy television series "Northern Exposure" -- can be found around every corner. If you're not convinced Stubbs -- a large, yellow tabby cat -- was the town's honorary mayor for 20 years.
Talkeetna is located in interior Alaska, so it's not a cruise port, but is included as part of many Alaska cruise tours. Nestled at the base of North America's highest peak, Talkeetna offers one of the best vantage points of Mt. Denali and some of the top flightseeing excursions in the state. As Talkeetna lies at the convergence of three glacial rivers, an overabundance of outdoor activities -- including fishing, riverboat tours and float trips -- accompany the already-vast array of Nordic skiing, hiking and zip-lining opportunities on land.
Flightseeing Tours: While visitors can catch a glimpse of Denali from town (weather permitting), flightseeing tours offer the best opportunities to see the mountain up close. Denali flightseeing tours depart from the town's local airstrip and offer add-ons like glacier landings and summit tours. If you're lucky, you might even see some climbers summiting the mountain.
Downtown Talkeetna: Back in the downtown area, visitors will find a variety of restaurants, breweries, gift shops and museums among Talkeetna's dirt roads, clapboard storefronts and rustic log cabins. Among them is Nagley's Store -- the town's general store and Mayor Stubbs' office -- and the rapidly expanding Denali Brewing Company.
The Alaska Railroad: The Alaska Railroad -- which operates year-round -- offers transportation between Anchorage and Talkeetna, and on to Denali National Park & Preserve. The journey is a long one, but offers incredible views, dining and bar services, and knowledgeable tour guides.