Visiting Dawson City On A Trip To Alaska

Dawson City is a super unique, quirky, and fun town! We pulled in at about 7 pm on our road trip to Alaska and headed to check into our campground which was right in the city – which meant we could walk to anywhere we wanted to go in the city.

Dawson City main street

We made dinner and headed out to the Ice Cream shop. The shop closed at 9 pm, and we barely made it in time. The kids enjoyed their ice cream while we looked over the Yukon River.

After that, we walked back to the campground, and it really seemed like there were no people out and about. It was a little creepy at first. And I think the fact that it was still super bright out at 9:30 p.m. added to that!

At this point, the kids just stayed back at the RV, and we headed out with Jake and Megan to check out the bar scene in Dawson City. At first, we weren’t sure if anywhere was open. But we saw a bunch of people coming out of Gerties, so we stopped to ask, and they said they were open until 1 am, and the other bar in town was open until 2 am.


Taking a picture with the dancers at Gerties in Dawson City

We opted to stop in at Gerties and check it out. You needed to buy a pass to get into Gerties. It was $20 Canadian, and they told us it was good for the year. We were happy to pay for it since we also knew we could watch their famous CanCan show!

We got a few drinks, grabbed a table, and waited for the show to start. The show consisted of the main lady singing various songs, and once in a while, a guy would join her or do some songs on his own as well.

The CanCan girls also came out multiple times to perform. The show was entertaining and made you think about what it must have been like when the golddiggers would come into town after weeks of digging to enjoy a show like this.

I think the show lasted about 40 minutes or so, and at the end, all the performers came out so you could take pictures with them.

Once the show was done, we played a little blackjack before heading in for the night. The crazy thing was that when we walked out at 11:50 pm, it was still bright outside! We visited Dawson City at the beginning of June, and the sun was setting at 12:30 and rising again at about 3:30 am!

Cheechakos Bakeshop

Cannon in front of Cheechakos Bake Shop in Dawson City

The next day, we got up and got moving by 10 a.m. so we could head to the Cheechakos Bakeshop. The other day, we saw a sign on the bakery door that said they were closed since they had sold out, so we figured we needed to get there early.

It was a good thing we did, as they were almost out of their pecan sticky buns and scones when we got there!

We got a few sticky buns, scones, and a breakfast sandwich and sat at the outdoor picnic tables.

Information Center

Craig and Knox working on the Xplorers Book in Dawson City

After that, we went to the information center to get some tips on things to do for the day. The city information desk and the Parks Canada desk were there.

The city information people gave us a bunch of information, maps, and tips on what to do. The one that immediately stuck out to us was panning for gold! They let us borrow six pans and gave us directions on where to go.

It was also recommended by the Parks Canada people that we download their app and follow their tour on the road we would take to get back to where we panned for gold.

All of this was free, so we knew we wanted to do it!

Parks Canada also gave us recommendations on different paid tours and things we could do. Even though we had a Parks Canada pass, there was an entry fee or tour fee for everything they did.

However, they did have a free self-guided tour booklet you could take to walk around down and do your tour.

They also had the Explorer books for the kids to take and work on. The kids got through some of the books, but not all of them since not everything was open yet.

There was also a movie playing in the visitor center about the steam boats that would pass through, so we stopped to watch that before heading out to explore.

Self-Guided Walking Tour

We started doing the self-guided walking tour but quickly learned it wasn’t going to work for the kids. We didn’t disagree – a lot of the information was just about what the building used to be and who owned it.

I am guessing that if you took their paid guided tour, they would also include a lot of great stories and information.

We decided to stop with the tour and instead headed back to the RV to get the trucks and head out on some gold panning adventures.

National Park Gold Panning Tour

Panning for gold in Dawson City

Be sure to download the app before you go – you won’t have coverage on the road.

The tour took us down a dirt road, where we made 10 different stops. At each stop, they shared information about what had happened in each spot, including information about the First Nation people.

Some were just pull-offs where we read from the app, while others were walking trails with displays or bigger stops.

There was one where you pulled into a parking lot and went out on a nature trail (be sure to have your bear spray). Throughout the trail, there were signs with information on them or old mining equipment that you could play with.

Dredge 4

Dredge 4 in Dawson City

This stop was one of the old-school dredges that used to work their way through the rivers here, looking for gold. The Canada Parks Department restored it, and they offer tours of the Dredges.

They were open yet – but were planning to be open around June 10th – I am sure this varies each year.

Instead, we stopped to take it from the outside and do some geocaching, which they mentioned on the Parks Canada app we were listening to. They gave clues as well as where to find it. The kids enjoyed this.

The app also had a virtual tour of the Dredge that they did with a drone, which was cool to watch.

Claim #6 Gold Panning

Melia panning for gold in Dawson City

This is one of the few free places to pan for gold. If you find something, you can keep it, too!

We had fun trying our hand at it, and think we came away with a few specs of gold!

You can just get your feet wet and go into the water or just put your pan it from the shore area – though it was a lot easier if you got into the water a little bit.

They give you a pan but not a shovel, so if you really want to try your hand at Gold Panning, I would recommend bringing a shovel, too.

It took us 26 minutes to drive back to the gold panning spot, plus the time we spent at each stop.

Midnight Sun Dome

Midnight Sun Dome view point in Dawson City

Once we were done with the gold panning, we headed back and drove up to the Dome to see some of Dawson City from up high! This is also the place to come to watch the Midnight Sun on June 21st.

When we were out walking around, we saw what looked like a really cool place to eat. Megan looked it up, and it was ranked one of the best new restaurants in Canada! From 4-7 p.m., they just served cocktails and charcuterie, but that worked for us.

We knew the kids wouldn’t enjoy that as much so we brought them back to the RV to make dinner and got them some snacks and ice cream before the adults headed out to try the restaurant.

Bonton & Company Restaurant

Our food and drinks at Bonton & Company in Dawson City.

We started with their basic charcuterie board and some cocktails. Everything was delicious! They also had a pulled pork type of meat you could get with bread, so we did one of those and their cheese board.

It was delicious, and there was plenty of food for Craig and me to eat for our dinner. The cocktails were also yummy.

Bombay Peggies

Bombay Peggies in Dawson City

The City Visitor Center had told us that Bombay Peggies was a great place to stop for a great Martini, so we made our way over there to try it out. They had a lot of fun and unique flavors, and they were good!

Sourtoe Shot

Sour Toe Shot in Dawson City

Yup, you read that right, a toe shot. There is a tradition in Dawson City to do a shot with a frozen freeze-dried toe in it! Ha! There is a toe captain and he holds the toe in front of you and gives you the rules.

It is something like: You can’t eat the toe, but your lips must touch it.

We had to try it. We filled out our form and selected our whiskey to do the shot with – we all went with the traditional Yukon Jack whiskey and waited for our turn.

I ended up going first. The Toe Captain was a character, and the Whiskey Shot wasn’t too bad at all. I just didn’t think about the toe hitting my lips!!

When you are done, the toe captain gives you a certificate to certify that you did the toe shot and that the toe did indeed touch your lips.

We also heard that the bar owner passed away at 89, and he had them take all his fingers and toes so they could continue with the tradition. Hmm, yeah, let’s just not think about that!

You can come here just to take the shot, or you can order food and drinks as well. Just pay attention to what time the toe captain is around – they only do the toe shots during certain hours, and when we were there, I knew they were closed on Mondays.

The Pit

Multiple locals told us to go to the local dive bar, The Pit. We walked in, and it was exactly that. We mingled with locals and tourists and traded travel stories until we headed back around Midnight.

And yes, you guessed it, the sun was still out. It is such a weird thing how different everything feels when the sun is out, even if you don’t expect it to be!

Dawson City was an experience, and I am glad we decided to head up here to see it. The easier and fastest route would have been to skip it, but I am here to tell you if you can do it!

Where We Stayed

Gold Rush Campground in Dawson City.

Gold Rush Campground. This was a great location since we were located right in the town so we could walk anywhere we wanted to go in the town.

The people running it were super nice and helpful as well. The campground itself was basically a parking lot. But there were pretty mountain views around us.

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Dawson City in Yukon, Canada is such a unique and fun place to visit. Don't miss it when you are on your way to Alaska! Gold panning, sour toe shot, ice cream, yummy food and great shows!

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