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The Unconventional Guide to Alaska: Best Bars

by ATJ Posted in Off the Clock |

Alaska is a state of vast wilderness and wide open spaces. It has the largest land area of any state in the US, a whopping 432 times the size of the smallest, Rhode Island, but also one of the smallest populations. This might lead one to believe that the people who live there are hermitic types who prefer be left alone. In fact, few things could be further from the truth. Alaskans love to be social. They love to drink good beer, eat good food, and spend time in the company of others. This means that when you travel to Alaska, you don’t have to give up on finding nightlife to fill your evenings. Following are a collection of some of the best bars the state has to offer. Now get out there and meet some locals!

Chilkoot Charlie’s

Chilkoot Charlie’s, aka ‘Koots’ to the locals, is the epitome of a rocking good time in Anchorage. With ten bars, sawdust floors, multiple dance floors, and walls covered in Alaska-themed memorabilia, Koots gets it just right. Perhaps the best thing about this bar is how eclectic the entertainment is. They’ve hosted everyone from The Beach Boys to Metallica. Overall, a great place to go to let your hair down and have some fun.

Aurora Ice Museum’s Ice Bar

Aurora Ice Sculpture Igloo Bar Alaska

Jousting Ice Sculptures at Aurora Ice Museum courtesy of funnypolynomial.

Perhaps winning the award for “Most Unique Bar” is the Aurora Ice Museum which is located just outside of Fairbanks at the Chena Hot Springs Resort. This “largest year-round ice environment in the world” was created from tons of ice and snow. Relax at the resort or explore the Museum gallery that features amazing ice sculptures, forts, an igloo, and art while all the while the Ice Museum’s colored chandeliers project an Aurora Borealis light show all around. The bar itself features classic cocktails served in glassware carved from ice. You can’t get a drink that’s more refreshing than that. You can kick back by the ice fireplace—what?!—and take in the spectacular and one-of-a-kind ambience of an igloo bar.

Howling Dog Saloon

Alaska Bar Howling Dog Saloon

Photo courtesy of McBlobb.

For anyone who likes to dance or loves getting wrapped up in bar games like pool or foosball, Howling Dog Saloon just outside of Fairbanks in the tiny burgh of Fox is a must-visit destination. Though it’s not open in the wintertime, summer visitors will get a kick out of the interesting ambience—it’s decorated with bras and undergarments hanging from the rafters—and the laidback, anything goes attitude of the locals.

The Pitch & Roll on the Ferry Vessel Tustumena

Alaska Ferry Bar Pitch and Roll Tustumena

Sunset on the Tustumena courtesy of jkbrooks85.

If you’re considering a ferry ride out through the Aleutian Islands or from Kodiak to Homer, odds are that you’ll book your passage on the Tustumena ferry. You’re in luck, though, because it also has one of the best bars to be found in the area. Called the Pitch & Roll because the waters the ferry navigates through are notoriously choppy, a trip to the Pitch & Roll should only be attempted by those who have already found their sea legs. The drinks are cheap and the company is eclectic, so don’t be afraid to belly up to the bar and order a pint or two.

The Board of Trade Saloon

No “best of” list would be complete without a mention of The Board of Trade Saloon in Nome. The oldest bar in the city, stepping into Board of Trade feels akin to walking into a scene right out of the Old West. In a town that’s known for being a bit rough around the edges, this tavern is a real oasis of good cheer and friendliness. Be ready to meet just about anyone, from whale hunters to colorful locals. The Board of Trade is a great spot to sit back and listen to tales being spun and yarns being told.

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