Find a community steeped in history and packed with things to do when you visit Dawson City, located at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike rivers. For thousands of years the Hän-speaking Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in lived in a vast area extending from the Yukon River valley to neighboring mountains. At the heart of their home was a fish camp adjacent to present day Dawson City. When prospectors struck gold on a nearby tributary later named Bonanza Creek, the boom town built for the influx of miners displaced the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and established Dawson City.
Today, there are a lot of things to do in Dawson City and its best to spend a few nights and days in the community to see them all. But we know some travelers are on a schedule and are just passing through, so here are a few activities to fill the day.
Dawson City Visitor Information Centre
Be sure to first stop by the visitor center so you can get all the options for things to do in Dawson City and plan the day. A replica of the 1897 Commercial Co. store houses the center. The staff at the center will be able to tell you about any upcoming events, give you the ferry schedule, and update you on road conditions. Pick up a map of the city at the center or take a one-hour guided walking tour offered by the center.
Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre
Learn more about the first people of the Klondike just across the street from the visitor center at the cultural center.
In 1998, 100 years after the gold rush, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in negotiated the return of self-governance. The traditional fish camp was designated a heritage site and National Historic Site of Canada. The cultural center has exhibits showcasing the accomplishments of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in community, hands-on programs, films, and cultural events.
Not only will you learn important history and contemporary culture, you can also gain fun knowledge like how to say “hello” in Hän.
If you’re looking for things to do in Dawson City don’t forget about one of the area’s first attractions!
Visitors can go gold panning with a guaranteed chance of success at Claim 33 Gold Panning and Mining Museum. The yard at the claim is full of old mining equipment, staff will teach you how to pan, and you can even buy a bag of “paydirt” to take home for your friends to pan. Visit an active mine and try your hand at panning with the Goldbottom Mine tour. Try your luck panning at Free Claim #6. The Klondike Visitors Association maintains the site and allows anyone to freely pan for gold, but you’ll need to bring your own pan and know-how.
Klondike Institute of Art and Culture
Get a taste of the local art scene and even learn for yourself at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture. The institute is an organization dedicated to creating a thriving art culture in the Yukon. It offers art courses, presentations, festivals, and exhibitions. Be sure to visit the website for a list of exhibitions and calendar of events.
Shop and Dine
Before you leave, be sure to share your adventures with friends and family back home by bringing them souvenirs from the Yukon. The Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre has a gift shop stocked with a large selection of hand-made beaded footwear and other first nation inspired gifts. During your walk about town, visit Maximilian’s Gold Rush Emporium and pick up some books or send a postcard to let loved ones know they’re on your mind.
Of course all this adventuring will leave you famished. So, stop for a bite to eat at Klondike Kate’s Restaurant, which is housed in an authentic gold-rush era building and features fare made with locally sourced ingredients. Then you’ll need to quench your thirst. If you’re feeling adventurous, stop at the Sourdough Saloon in the Downtown Hotel and join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club by taking a shot with a real human toe at the bottom of the glass.
Plan to Return
Checking off this list will make for an action-packed day, but it barely scratches the surface of things to do in Dawson City. So, be sure to plan a return trip and take the time to really enjoy the area’s history, culture, and beauty.