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Drinking The Sour Toe Cocktail And Sleeping At The Downtown Hotel

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A trip to the Yukon wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Dawson City. In its hey day the town was home to over 40,000 people and was the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush. With eight National Historic Sites in city limits, a postcard perfect town facade and a chance to pan for Gold I think I am bound to have a blast in this Northern City. Don’t forget it is home to the Dawson City Music Festival, the Sour Toe Cocktail and the 22+ hours of daylight each day during the Summer. Now the only question I have is why haven’t I been before and where will I call home during my stay? My choice is the Downtown Hotel with a lineage that goes all the way back to the Gold Rush. If those walls could talk…

The Downtown Hotel Dawson City Yukon

To get to Dawson City from Whitehorse you must either drive approximately 6 hours or fly via Air North for about 1 1/4 hours. We chose to drive. We put on a good music playlist, filled up our coffee mugs and set off. ROAD TRIP TIP: cell coverage is rare along the highway so make sure you download your playlist. Also, most of the small towns you drive through have cell service so if you need to make a call check in at each town.

We pit stopped at Moose Creek Lodge. Bathroom break and a great place to grab a bite to eat. It was a Bacon Cheddar Burger and a bowl of soup for me. Quite delicious actually and cheap.

Pit stop in the GMC Yukon at Moose Creek Lodge

Moose Creek Lodge is a great place to pit stop from Whitehorse to Dawson City

Burger and soup at Moose Creek Lodge

Back on the road we go and in no time at all, we have arrived. First impressions of Dawson City and the Downtown Hotel is that I am impressed. It is a small town for sure but it looks exactly as I expected. It looks like a postcard. Buildings have those false fronts that give the impression of size and everything looks to be painted with a fresh coat of paint. Did I forget to say colourful?

First order of business is to check into the Downtown Hotel and drop off my bags.

Side view of the Downtown Hotel, home of the Sour Toe Cocktail

The rooms are pretty standard. Very clean and with all the amenities I expect like a flat screen TV, coffee maker and a mini fridge to keep personal items cold if needed. I was fortunate that my room had an air conditioner as the sun shines 22 hours a day and this room would have been a bit warmer without it. WiFi is included and it was fairly decent. Not fast enough to download huge files but good enough to check emails and upload photos to Facebook to make your friends jealous.

a look in my room at the Downtown Hotel

Amenities in my room

The best part of the Downtown Hotel though is that it is home to the Sourdough Saloon, the only place in the world where you can try the Sour Toe Cocktail. You may have heard that the Sour Toe was stolen, but don’t fret it has been returned and is in its rightful place in your cocktail.

Inside the Sourdough Saloon

Sour Toe Cocktail

Now don’t just think you can walk into the Sourdough Saloon and order a Sour Toe Cocktail. There is a time and a process to follow.

Step #1 It is first come first serve. It doesn’t matter who you are there are no reservations. The first in line is the first to be served.

Step #2 Wait your turn and pick your spirit. While you are waiting patiently in line pick your spirit that the Sour Toe will be put into. I chose the Yukon Jack Whisky.

Lineup for the Sour Toe Cocktail

Step #3 When it is your turn sit down and do exactly as you are told

Photographing the Sour Toe

Step #4 Give your camera to a friend to capture your Sour Toe Cocktail memory. Here is mine.

Congratulate yourself as you are one of a lucky 74,000 + people that have done the Sour Toe Cocktail, ever!

After a night exploring Dawson City you will wake up pretty hungry, at least I did. The Downtown Hotel serves up a pretty good breakfast and it was where I fuelled up each morning.

Scrambled Hash at the Downtown Hotel Dawson City

If you are planning a visit to Dawson City then you couldn’t do better than calling the Downtown Hotel your home away from home. Besides you can stumble up to your room after you’ve drunk the Sour Toe Cocktail if you’ve had a full day and calling it quits. If not it is just a stumble to Bombay Peggy’s or Diamond Gerties if you are up for a raunchy revue styled show.

Either way, Dawson City is a fun place to check out.

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to Travel Yukon for their support in making this trip possible, along with Aeroplan for providing 25,000 miles that I used to redeem for flights from Toronto to Whitehorse. My views and opinions are 100% my own

About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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