With its mix of charming historic buildings and bright new ones designed to appear historic, the former gold rush town of Dawson City feels like a place where you might once have been able to watch a gunfight in front of the local saloon.
Part of Canada's Yukon Territory, Dawson is often found on Alaska cruisetours offered by lines like Holland America and Princess. In its heyday, it overflowed with 40,000 residents. Today, that number hovers around 1,300, fluctuating throughout the year as seasonal workers -- often college-age young adults -- come and go, living in tents and working multiple jobs in exchange for the freedom of summer living in the Yukon. Locals are friendly, and the close-knit small-town mentality means there's relatively little crime. Plus, given the municipality's small size, it's totally walkable, and it's nearly impossible for visitors to get lost.
Although the town is tiny, it's self-sufficient, encompassing a bank, post office, hospital, hardware store, grocery stores and markets, restaurants, clothing stores, cafes, a theater, a visitor's center, hotels, plenty of shops where artists sell their wares and even a ferry service. For any external needs, residents will make the six-hour drive to Whitehorse, the Yukon's capital city.
When the Yukon and Klondike Rivers flooded in 1979, it devastated Dawson, prompting the construction of a dike that runs along Front Street, the only paved thoroughfare in the no-traffic-light town, which spans an area of just 8 x 10 blocks. The dike provides a path that's lovely for walking or jogging while enjoying gorgeous views of paddlewheelers in front of mountainous backdrops that will take your breath away.