Strange but true: Residents of Talkeetna, Alaska officially elected a cat mayor multiple times during elections in the 2010s. The successful campaign by the kittie’s supporters should tell you everything you need to know about this quirky town approximately halfway between Anchorage and Denali National Park.
Until his death a few years back, Mayor Stubbs reigned over a community of 876 that carries a distinct hippie vibe. Climbers gather on outdoor restaurant patios to gorge on caribou burgers offered up by servers with multiple piercings. Locals lazily sip coffee and watch passers-by stroll through the small business district. Tourists snap photos of the wooden moose statues and pop into kitchsy gift shops.
It was a big news story when Mayor Stubbs passed away. The feline succumbed to old age at the ripe old age of 20, after several years of being in power. Stubbs is missed.
20+ years. Several uncontested elections. Thousands of naps. We had a good run. #RIPStubbs
— Mayor Stubbs, a cat. (@MayorStubbs) July 23, 2017
Things To See and Do in Talkeetna, Alaska
What will you see in Talkeetna? The moose are everywhere. There are the wooden moose that sit in front of nearly every business.
The moose all seem to have different stories. This one is a takeoff on the Swedish dala horse.
And then there’s the moose sign you can stick your head in. Don’t be bashful about being a tourist here, because this town constantly has tourists passing through. You’ll fit right in!
Some of the gift shops give bears equal billing with the moose.
Talkeetna has a couple of restaurants that have been featured on Man vs. Food, a personal favorite show. I stopped by the West Rib Pub and ordered the caribou chili. Aside from being a little cold, it didn’t taste much different than regular chili. But at least I get a new animal to add to my culinary resume.
This is the kind of town that has a food truck specifically dedicated to spinach bread.
And a spot along the river called Mexican Moose that serves up burritos.
A lot of Denali climbers use Talkeetna as their homebase prior to climbing, which means you can meet some really interesting people at the coffee shop or restaurant. The local cemetery has a monument to those who have lost their lives trying to summit Mt. Denali (McKinley.)
Talkeetna is the homebase of flightseeing companies that will give you an aerial tour of Alaska in a small bush plane. Flightseeing (and visiting a glacier inside Denali National Park!) was one of the coolest things I did in Alaska. If you’ve got the budget for it, I highly recommend taking a flightseeing excursion!
Where to Stay in Talkeetna
Gorgeous Cabin Life. Susitna River Cabins.
Hostel-Style Rooms. Talkeetna Roadhouse.
Budget. Talkeetna International Hostel. (Read our review. Note: Hostel closed for 2020 season.)
If you’re doing an Alaska adventure, take the time to detour to Talkeetna on your way to Denali. And explore the hotspots formerly frequented by Mayor Stubbs, like Nagley’s General Store. I did not have the pleasure of meeting hizzonor. But I won’t question his authority, considering this cat had more Facebook friends than me.