World's Greatest Places 2021
Mount Foraker and adjacent snow-capped mountains in Denali National Park as seen from Talkeetna, Alaska.
Christy Stobbs—Alamy
July 20, 2021 6:35 AM EDT

Midway along the Alaska Railroad’s 470-mile journey from Seward to Fairbanks, Talkeetna has long served as a quaint and convenient stopover on the way to Denali National Park. But a cosmopolitan vibe lurks beneath its edifices dating from 1916, evidenced by storefronts offering artisanal eats, like the newly opened Mimi’s Haus of Cheese, along with gourmet coffee, craft beer and legal cannabis. A tethered helium-balloon attraction arriving this summer will take tourists 250 ft. into the air, affording unfettered views of North America’s tallest peak amid the Alaska Range. Upon their return to earth, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is jazzing up the overnight experience with the addition of 60 new high-end rooms. —Brad Japhe

Correction July 26

The original version of this story misstated the age of Talkeetna’s buildings. They date from 1916, not from the 1890s. The original version of this story also misstated the type of balloon that serves as a tourist attraction there. It is a tethered helium balloon, not a hot-air balloon. A photo caption in the original version of this story misstated the mountain seen in the image. It is Mount Foraker, not Mount Denali.

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