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When the Sun Goes Down: Nightlife in Alaska

by ATJ Posted in Off the Clock |
Nightlife in Alaska

Photo used under Creative Commons license by dgsherwin

Alaska is famous for its natural beauty and wildlife, but you may be surprised at just how much there is to see and do when the sun goes down – yes, even in the backcountry. Whether you’re finishing up a rafting trip or have spent all day booking tours for clients, here are five great ways to relax in Alaska after your shift is done.

1. Stay Up Late for the Northern Nights

Pink Floyd planetarium light shows have nothing on the Northern Lights. Sure, you’ll have to stay up late – the lights are most likely to pop out between 11:30PM and 3:30AM – but that’s what days off are for! While your chances of spotting this spectacular light show are best in the dead of winter, any clear night anytime between September and mid-April is likely to give you a show.

While you have a shot at spotting the aurora from anywhere in the state, your best shot will be in Fairbanks, which is under the aurora oval. If you’re planning a date, start your night with a table at Northern Latitudes in the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and either book a tour or rent a car for a drive into the countryside, where you won’t have as much diluting light.

2. Grab a Drink, Alaska Style

Of course, nothing beats a good pint or a glass of wine when you’re looking to unwind after a long day at work. Chilkhoot Charlie’s is a great option, with live bands and DJs almost every night, and Tap Root provides enough microbrews to satisfy any connoisseur.

In Fairbanks, the Pump House Saloon is a great place to eat and drink, as are Tubby’s BBQ, Grill and Sports Bar and Silver Gulch Brewing. And don’t forget to stop by Mecca Bar, which has kept its doors open since 1946.

Ketchikan and Juneau feature a number of saloons and great hotel lounges, while Skagway takes the lead in brewing companies. In Denali, be sure to check out the Base Camp Bar & Grill for a pint to beat the cold.

3. Take in a Show

Alaska has more than its fair share of culture to offer. The Palace Theatre and Saloon in Fairbanks features everything from honky-tonk to cancan, while the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre will give you a northern take on the bard. In Anchorage, head to Cyrano’s Theatre Company for wacky interpretive shows you’ll only find here.

Of course, throughout Alaska there are almost more movie theatres than there are people in town, including the ever-popular Beartooth Theatre Pub in Anchorage, where you can order food and drinks right at your seat.

4. Cut Loose on the Dance Floor

Nothing puts an end to stress quite like a good shimmy across the dance floor. Anchorage’s Chilkoot Charlie is rustic and fun, while nearby Platinum Jaxx is a little more upscale. For a bit of both, try the Anchor Pub and Club.

The Blue Loon in Fairbanks features dancing and live music (sometimes they get pretty big names!) most nights of the year. Marlin is a good bet for live bands in a dive bar atmosphere, and Kodiak Jack’s will bring out the country dancer in you. Alternatively, if square dancing is your thing, you’ll find frequent events in Kenai, Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage.

5. Board a Dinner Cruise

There are few better ways to see Alaska than from the deck of a boat, especially at night with delicious food to warm your belly. A dinner cruise combines beauty, nourishment and entertainment – a great way to spend your post-work hours. Cruises are available in Kenai for a stunning tour around the fjords. In Fairbanks, the Sternwheeler Tanana Chief offers both a historical and a sophisticated experience, hearkening back to the boat’s early days in 1898. Cruises are also available in Prince William Sound and Resurrection Bay.

When you’re looking to let your hair down in Alaska, you’ll find more than enough venues to satisfy. So swap those skis for a good pair of dance shoes, and get dancing!

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