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Skagway offers a host of outdoor activities as well as dining, museums and shopping.

Jim H. / Creative Commons BY SA

Skagway offers a host of outdoor activities as well as dining, museums and shopping.

7 fun things to do in Skagway, Alaska

Nature lovers have a wealth of choices during a day trip

One of our favorite towns in Alaska, Skagway, resides at the northern tip of the Inside Passage, and when a large cruise ship pulls into port during the summer months, often the 920 or so locals are outnumbered by the visitors.

 
  DAY TRIPPING
 
What to do during your visit
 
 

Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Disney, Crystal, Celebrity, Silversea, Regent, Oceania, American Cruise Lines and Norwegian are among the cruise lines whose ships call on Skagway. (See our Skagway port guide.)

What should cruiser visitors do during a day in port? We polled our team members who've visited, asked some locals for their recommendations, and came up with this list of 7 fun things to do in Skagway!

 

Take a hike! Trails around Skagway range from easy coastal strolls to strenuous alpine ascents.
Andrew Cremata / Courtesy of Skagway Convention & Visitors BureauTake a hike! Trails around Skagway range from easy coastal strolls to strenuous alpine ascents.

Hit one of the world-class hiking trails

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Skagway has a world-class trail system with a wide range of hiking trails and water routes with varying difficulty. Most of the trails in Skagway are accessible year round. These trails range from easy coastal strolls to strenuous alpine ascents up to 5,000 feet.

  • The Dewey Lake Trail System is easily accessible from the downtown area and consists of five trails varying from moderate to strenuous in difficulty and one to 10 miles in distance.
  • Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove are also easily accessible from the downtown area but are shorter in distance and are easy to moderate in difficulty.
  • For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Chilkoot Trail is a good option. The Chilkoot Trail, a 33‐mile trek through history, is the pinnacle of hiking adventures available in the Skagway area. A unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, the trail is enjoyed by thousands each year — but you'll want to do it only as part of a longer pre- or post-cruise vacation. The three‐ to six‐day trip retraces the route traveled by the gold seekers, bringing you face to face with hundreds of the relics they left behind.

For more information on these and other hiking trails visit www.skagway.com.

Visit Jewell Gardens, a respite of organic flowers and plants.
Emily Grace Willis / Courtesy of Skagway Convention & Visitors BureauVisit Jewell Gardens, a respite of organic flowers and plants.

Stop and smell the flowers

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In 1910, the Skagway Commercial Club declared Skagway “Garden City of Alaska.” The town's good soil, adequate moisture and long summer days translate into bountiful crops. Stroll through downtown or even in the residential areas to see some magnificent gardens.

  • Visit Jewell Gardens, a tranquil oasis of organic flowers and plants. Railroad buffs, both young and old, will love the garden railway, a G‐Scale model of the White Pass & Yukon Route that winds its way through the model town. You can also embark on a guided glass gallery tour of hand‐blown works, followed by tea service, lunch or light dinner (depending on time of day) made with fresh ingredients from the garden.

Wine and dine

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Skagway is home to a vibrant culinary scene. Uniquely Alaskan items — particularly seafood — are available at many restaurants. Increasingly, international cuisine can be found along Skagway's boardwalks, as well as gourmet espresso coffee by the pound or by the cup.

  • Hankering for fresh seafood? The Skagway Fish Co. offers some Alaskan favorites like halibut and king crab. A number of tasty non-fish options are offered as well and a good selection of Alaskan beer to go alongside. The harbor‐side location, overlooking the water and mountains, is the perfect place to finish off a day of adventures in Skagway.
Built in 1897, the Red Onion Saloon offers food and cocktails in a fun atmosphere — but it's no longer a bordello.
Courtesy of Skagway Convention & Visitors BureauBuilt in 1897, the Red Onion Saloon offers food and cocktails in a fun atmosphere — but it's no longer a bordello.
  • Starfire is an independent and locally owned restaurant in Skagway, featuring a predominantly Thai based menu, with a few surprises. Where else in the world can you find Issan‐style Kao Soi, blackened chicken Alfredo, a Big Fat Burrito, and fresh Alaskan sockeye salmon all on the same menu? Starfire takes great pride in delighting the discerning palate and creating sophisticated presentation. The food is simply beautiful!
  • A visit to Skagway would not be complete without a stop at the historic Red Onion Saloon. At the corner of 2nd & Broadway, the Red Onion is a favorite among visitors and locals alike. Built in 1897, the Red Onion Saloon operated as one the finest bordellos in Skagway and, though times have changed, the spirit has not. Enjoy great food and cocktails in a fun and vibrant atmosphere with the Good Time Girls (& Gents). Pizza, sandwiches, nachos, soups, salads and more. The RO features a large selection of Alaskan brewed beers.
  • The Skagway Brewing Co. is another favorite for locals and travelers alike. Drink a piece of history when you visit the Skagway Brewing Co., founded in 1897 to hydrate the thirsty prospectors of the Klondike Gold Rush. Enjoy fresh unfiltered ales and delicious pub fare. If you get the chance, be sure to try their signature Spruce Tip Ale, the local favorite, brewed with hand‐picked Sitka Spruce tree tips.

 

Explore the area’s rich Klondike Gold Rush heritage during your visit to Skagway.
Courtesy of Skagway Convention & Visitors BureauExplore the area’s rich Klondike Gold Rush heritage during your visit to Skagway.

Explore the area's history

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You likely read about the Klondike Gold Rush and Alaska's early settlers back in grade school. Think of this as a long overdue field trip:

  • The Arctic Brotherhood Hall is perhaps the most photographed building in Alaska. The facade, which dates from 1900, has been called a prime example of Victorian Rustic Architecture. The outside façade of the Arctic Brotherhood Hall underwent a restoration during the winter of 2004‐2005. All of the 8,883 pieces of driftwood on the front of the building were removed; some 60 percent (5,300) of the boards were able to be preserved and maintained over 100 years later. The building is currently the home of the Visitor Information Center.
Since 1923, the colorful vaudevillian musical
Andrew Cremata / Courtesy of Skagway Convention & Visitors BureauSince 1923, the colorful vaudevillian musical "The Days of '98 Show" has recounted the tale of Alaska's most notorious outlaw.
  • The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is a collection of sites throughout Skagway and the surrounding area. The National Park Service Visitor Center at 2nd Avenue and Broadway in Skagway is a place to begin your exploration of the area’s rich Gold Rush heritage. A variety of programs and services are offered, including hourly showings of historic films, Ranger presentations on a variety of topics, guided walking tours of the Skagway Historic District and special evening presentations. Ask a Park Ranger for details.
  • Skagway’s most treasured artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and historical records of the past century are in the Skagway Museum, renowned for its fine Alaska Native heritage collection of baskets, beadwork and carvings and for its Gold Rush collection of artifacts and tools used by the gold seekers. McCabe College, built in 1899 of native granite, was Alaska’s first institution of higher education. It has served as a school, courthouse, jail and marshal’s office for Skagway, the first incorporated city in Alaska.
  • Since 1923, The Days of '98 Show has stupefied and bedazzled audiences with the tale of Soapy Smith, Alaska's most notorious outlaw. Soapy reigned over Skagway during the wildest days of the Klondike Gold Rush, and this colorful vaudevillian musical recounts his incredible story. The one‐hour show features can‐can dancers, ragtime music, riotous humor, and the great conman himself, Soapy Smith! The theater is located at 6th and Broadway.

 

Follow the White Pass Railway to the Yukon from Skagway on a day trip.
David Schroeder / Creative Commons BY NC NDFollow the White Pass Railway to the Yukon from Skagway on a day trip. 

Ride through the heart of nature

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Sometimes you just want to relax and take it all in. So here's an option if you can devote a full morning and afternoon to it:

  • One of the last remaining narrow‐gauge trains, the White Pass and Yukon Route, dubbed the “Scenic Railway of the World,” offers an unforgettable ride through the coastal mountains and a unique way to view the history of the region. Completed in 1900, the railroad provided an easier route to the Klondike and spelled the death of the White Pass and Chilkoot trails. In the 1940s, the railroad served as the main supply line for the construction of the Alaska Highway, built to defend Alaska from invasion during World War II. Aside from history, many today ride the railway for its breathtaking views of soaring, glacier‐cloaked peaks, countless waterfalls and pristine alpine lakes.

 

Grizzly Falls Ziplining Expedition features 11 ziplines, the longest measuring 750 feet .
Courtesy of Skagway Convention & Visitors BureauGrizzly Falls Ziplining Expedition features 11 ziplines, the longest measuring 750 feet .

Hear that sound? It's the call of adventure

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Skagway’s history and spectacular natural setting combine to create unparalleled sightseeing and recreational opportunities. Adventurers can select from a variety of commercial tours in and around Skagway.

  • Grizzly Falls Ziplining Expedition in Skagway is a fast, fun and exhilarating adventure sure to excite nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike. Get a running start on solid ground and take flight into the treetops of the Alaskan rainforest. You’ll soar through a course of 11 ziplines, the longest measuring 750 feet — that’s longer than two football fields combined! But this is more than just any zip course. The company  will bring you directly above glacially fed waterfalls, so close you'll actually feel the mist as you zoom by!
  • Or try Ocean Raft Alaska's adventure boat ride through Lynn Canal exploring hidden coves, waterfalls, beaches and wildlife! This fun‐filled, two‐hour adventure tour makes multiple stops for photo opps and wildlife sightings. Climb aboard the same type of boat used by U.S. Navy Seals and Coast Guard rescue teams. With its deep V hull surrounded by inflatable tubes, this boat is designed to deliver a comfortable ride in any ocean condition. You'll be provided with a comfortable exposure suit that will keep you warm and dry throughout your journey. You'll straddle their custom shock‐ absorbing seats as you race by the steep rock walls of this spectacular fjord.

Shop till you drop

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Skagway is a browser’s paradise, an ideal place to sit, shop, look and linger. Visitors frequently comment that shopping in Skagway is the best in Alaska, thanks to the quality, variety and value of the items you will find in the town's centrally located shopping district. Walk down the street and you’ll find storefronts everywhere displaying jewelry, unique Alaskan crafts, northern outerwear and more. 

  • The Made In Skagway program is dedicated to promoting the arts and crafts in Skagway and to give greater visibility to the talented individuals who have made Skagway a successful artistic community. The many different forms include candle making, skin care products, culinary treats, wood carving, ivory carving, painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, jewelry making, corset design, quilting, silk scarves, glass fusion, bead making, stained glass, and fine furniture and cabinetry. 

How about you?

How about you? What was the highlight of your visit to Skagway?

Day Tripping: Other articles in our series

Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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