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Exploring the Local Towns Around Glacier Bay National Park: Accommodations, Dining, and Local Cuisine

Glacier Bay National Park, a stunning expanse of wilderness located in Alaska, is known for its majestic glaciers, abundant wildlife, and pristine natural beauty. While the park itself is remote and largely uninhabited, there are several nearby towns and communities where visitors can find accommodations, dine, and experience local Alaskan cuisine. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended stay, here's a guide to the hubs bordering Glacier Bay, with suggestions on where to eat and what local dishes to indulge in.

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Written byAria Singh
Published onDecember 13, 2023

Exploring the Local Towns Around Glacier Bay National Park: Accommodations, Dining, and Local Cuisine

Glacier Bay National Park, a stunning expanse of wilderness located in Alaska, is known for its majestic glaciers, abundant wildlife, and pristine natural beauty. While the park itself is remote and largely uninhabited, there are several nearby towns and communities where visitors can find accommodations, dine, and experience local Alaskan cuisine. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended stay, here's a guide to the hubs bordering Glacier Bay, with suggestions on where to eat and what local dishes to indulge in.

Gustavus: Gateway to Glacier Bay

The most prominent town and the primary gateway to Glacier Bay National Park is Gustavus, a small community with around 450 residents. Situated about ten miles from the park, this town offers a range of lodging such as the Glacier Bay Lodge, as well as B&Bs, and small inns that cater to park visitors.

Hotels and B&Bs in Gustavus

  • Glacier Bay Lodge: The only accommodation within the park boundaries itself, providing visitors with rustic yet comfortable rooms and panoramic views.
  • Annie Mae Lodge: A homey option featuring Alaskan hospitality and charming decor.
  • Bear Track Inn: A premium log cabin experience with stunning architectural design and upscale amenities.

Restaurants and Local Eats

When it comes to dining, Gustavus isn't lacking in places that serve fresh, locally-sourced seafood and other Alaskan specialties. Here are some establishments worth trying:

  • Glacier Bay Country Inn: Known for its gourmet dining experience with dishes prepared from fresh local ingredients.
  • Gustavus Inn at Glacier Bay: Offers a field-to-table experience featuring organic vegetables from their garden and fresh-caught fish.

Famous Dishes to Try

Alaskan cuisine is heavily focused on seafood, and while in Gustavus, trying the local salmon, halibut, and crab is a must. Other famous dishes include:

  • Alaskan King Crab: Often simply steamed and served with melted butter to highlight its natural flavor.
  • Grilled Salmon: Typically seasoned with simple ingredients like salt, pepper, and lemon to emphasize the fish's freshness.
  • Halibut Fish and Chips: A hearty dish where the locally caught halibut shines.

Hoonah: The Largest Tlingit Community

Approximately 30 miles southeast of Gustavus, Hoonah is a mainly Tlingit community and a secondary access point to the park via water. It’s larger than Gustavus and offers its own variety of accommodations, restaurants, and a unique insight into the indigenous Tlingit culture.

Hotels in Hoonah

  • Icy Strait Lodge: A comfortable and inviting lodge that is conveniently located.
  • Hoonah Travel Adventures: Not only provides adventure services but also offers lodging options.

Dining in Hoonah

Hoonah has several restaurants that serve traditional American fare and some local delicacies as well:

  • Chipper Fish: Offers a delectable range of fish-based dishes, including halibut and salmon.
  • Office Bar: While primarily a local watering hole, it serves up some solid eats too.

Famous Dishes to Try

In addition to seafood, traditional Tlingit dishes could be found, such as:

  • Herring Eggs: Often eaten with seaweed, this is a traditional Tlingit delicacy.
  • Smoked Salmon: Prepared in various ways, smoked salmon is an integral part of Tlingit cuisine.

Additional Resources for Planning Your Visit

When planning your trip to Glacier Bay National Park and the surrounding towns, here are some helpful websites to check out:

  • National Park Service (NPS) - Glacier Bay National Park official website: nps.gov/glba
  • Gustavus Visitors Association: A comprehensive resource for accommodations and activities in Gustavus: gustavusak.com
  • Travel Alaska: The official State of Alaska vacation and travel information site: travelalaska.com

By exploring these nearby towns, you'll not only discover places to stay and eat, but you'll also encounter the vibrant cultures and local flavors that make the Glacier Bay region truly unique. From fresh seafood to Tlingit traditional foods, the area surrounding Glacier Bay National Park promises to be as much a treat for the palate as the park is for the eyes.

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