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Dawson City (Yukon) (Photo:Timothy Epp/Shutterstock)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Dawson City (Yukon)

With its mix of charming historic buildings and bright new ones designed to appear historic, the former gold rush town of Dawson City feels like a place where you might once have been able to watch a gunfight in front of the local saloon.

Part of Canada's Yukon Territory, Dawson is often found on Alaska cruisetours offered by lines like Holland America and Princess. In its heyday, it overflowed with 40,000 residents. Today, that number hovers around 1,300, fluctuating throughout the year as seasonal workers -- often college-age young adults -- come and go, living in tents and working multiple jobs in exchange for the freedom of summer living in the Yukon. Locals are friendly, and the close-knit small-town mentality means there's relatively little crime. Plus, given the municipality's small size, it's totally walkable, and it's nearly impossible for visitors to get lost.

Although the town is tiny, it's self-sufficient, encompassing a bank, post office, hospital, hardware store, grocery stores and markets, restaurants, clothing stores, cafes, a theater, a visitor's center, hotels, plenty of shops where artists sell their wares and even a ferry service. For any external needs, residents will make the six-hour drive to Whitehorse, the Yukon's capital city.

When the Yukon and Klondike Rivers flooded in 1979, it devastated Dawson, prompting the construction of a dike that runs along Front Street, the only paved thoroughfare in the no-traffic-light town, which spans an area of just 8 x 10 blocks. The dike provides a path that's lovely for walking or jogging while enjoying gorgeous views of paddlewheelers in front of mountainous backdrops that will take your breath away.

About Dawson City (Yukon)


Pro

Dawson City is tiny -- 8 x 10 blocks -- meaning it's nearly impossible for visitors to get lost

Con

It isn't a cruise port, so you'll have to book a pre- or post-cruise stay to see it

Bottom Line

This tiny, colorful and friendly town oozes character and gold rush history


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Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The official currency is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere. Visit www.xe.com for the latest exchange rates.

Language

English is the primary language spoken.

Best Cocktail

Sourtoe Cocktail: No trip to Dawson City is complete without a visit to the Downtown Hotel's Sourdough Saloon, home of the famous Sourtoe Cocktail -- a shot of straight alcohol with a real severed human toe floating in it. Take the plunge for $5 (plus the cost of the alcohol), and you'll be inducted into Captain Dick's Sourtoe Cocktail Club. But be careful: Anyone who swallows the toe is slapped with a $2,500 fine. Whether you decide to take the shot yourself or simply watch others, it's worth a top spot on your agenda. (Open daily, Sourtoe Cocktails offered after 8:30 p.m.; corner of Second and Queen streets; 867-993-5346)

Bombay Peggy's Martinis: This former brothel was built in 1900 and moved from its original location when it began sinking into the swampy land on which it was built. Now a restored inn and pub, it boasts a list of martinis with names that are likely to make you blush. Some of the tamer monikers include the Bloomer Remover (gin, dry vermouth and olives), the French Kiss (gin, prosecco, lemon, honey and heliotropic bitters) and the Chastity Belt (vodka, cassis, white cranberry and prosecco). We tried the Blueballer (blueberry vodka, elderflower liqueur, lychee and lime) and the Easy Lai (liqueur, coconut rum and pineapple juice) and loved them both. (Open daily from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. during the summer season and from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. for the rest of the year; corner of Second Avenue and Princess Street; 867-993-6969)