Six reasons to visit Dawson City this summer

Each summer this northern gem of a town pulses with seasonal magic and 24-hour fun: music festivals, old-world charm, the midnight sun and not a traffic light in sight.

Dawson City, Photo by Masterfile

Dawson City, Photo by Masterfile

Home of the historic Klondike gold rush, this tiny town (fewer than 1,500 residents) nearly triples in size with artists and travellers come summer. It’s nestled between the mountain ranges of Tombstone National Park and the banks of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, and the picturesque views alone are worth their weight in gold.

1. Best bet 

Play the odds at Canada’s oldest, quaintest one-room gambling hall, Diamond Tooth Gerties. If you’re not a card shark, stay for the thrice-nightly entertainment: an old-timey cancan show featuring cabaret-singing Gertie herself. Hoots and hollers fully encouraged. 4th & Queen St.

2. Cult cocktail 

Take a seat at the Sourdough Saloon and join the ranks of the adventurous few who have sipped a Sourtoe Cocktail. The infamous bevvie comes with only one rule, no matter your choice of liquor: The toe (an actual preserved human toe) must touch your lips while you drink. Too much to swallow? There’s always tequila. 1026 2nd Ave.

Dawson City Music Festival, Photo by Aaron Woroniuk

Dawson City Music Festival, Photo by Aaron Woroniuk

3. High note

Now in its 35th year, the Dawson City Music Festival is a must-do. Pack a blanket and a few snacks to enjoy the intimate daytime workshops and rockin’ concerts by night. The best part about the small-town setting? Grab a pre-fest brekkie at Klondike Kate’s and you’ll likely be chowing down next to your fave Canadian acts. 3rd Ave. & King St.

4. Historic hot spots

Tag along on a Parks Canada Walking Tour for a Dawson City history lesson. Or map out your own stroll to commemorate some cherished authors. Stop by the Robert Service heritage cabin, Berton House and the Jack London museum.

5. Native heritage 

On the banks of the Yukon, the architecture of the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre was designed to resemble salmon-drying racks and traditional winter shelters. Check out the gift shop for artisanal treasures like intricate bead and leather work and carvings by the local Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in population. 1131 Front St.

6. View from the top

Hit Cheechakos’ Bake Shop for a cup of Midnight Sun coffee and a sandwich — you’re sure to want the snack on the 40-minute hike up to the Midnight Dome lookout. Time your visit right and you’ll be treated to the beautiful sight of Dawson City and the mighty Klondike and Yukon Rivers for 24 straight hours of sunlight. 902 C Front St.

Cheechakos' Bake Shop, Photo by Iwona Erskine-Kellie

Cheechakos’ Bake Shop, Photo by Iwona Erskine-Kellie