48 Hours in Whitehorse

by Edward Wilkinson-Latham

Travel Editor

SHARP Magazine

Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon, is to most outsiders a terra incognita where grizzly men with grubby beards howl like wolves and forget themselves in the unforgiving landscape. Built during the Klondike Gold Rush, today it’s one of the largest northern cities in the world and the last place to soak up some modern luxury before venturing into the wilderness.

ARRIVING

Whitehorse International Airport has scheduled service to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Fairbanks, Toronto and Frankfurt, Germany (twice weekly in summer months for the armies of fleece-clad German über-types). Try the Edgewater Hotel, a vintage boutique hotel overlooking the Yukon River, which has more polish than the other downtown inns. 101 Main Street. www.edgewaterhotelwhitehorse.com

OUT AND ABOUT

The downtown core is made up of renovated gold rush-era buildings and modern governmental architecture and is easy to explore on foot. Beyond downtown it’s wise to rent a car, but in the summer parking can be a challenge due to the herds of RVs driven by modern-day nomads with cargo vests and sun visors who descend en masse every year.

Budget Rent-A-Car 4178 4th Avenue, (867) 667-6200

National Car and Truck Rental 213 Range Rd (867) 456-2277

CanaDream Inc 17 Burns Road (867) 668-3610

LUNCH

Eating in Whitehorse is an informal affair and a good way to meet locals. The Klondike Rib and Salmon BBQ serves up tasty dishes to satisfy prospectors and tourists both. The fish and chips is renowned, and for the more adventurous there are northern specialties like caribou, bison and muskox burgers. 2116 2nd Ave. Monday-Sunday11am-9pm (867) 667-7554

GOLD RUSH HISTORY

The MacBride Museum is a large log cabin covering half a city block and full of memorabilia from the gold rush era. Notable are the multimedia displays and early photographs of fragrant-looking gold prospectors in their underwear. 1124 First Ave. Summer Hours (May 15 to August 31): Monday-Sunday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (867) 667-2709 Adults:$7, Children $3.50 www.macbridemuseum.com

GETTING THE GEAR

Whitehorse is an ideal place to kit yourself out in country attire and all manner of adventure and outdoorsy props. Coast Mountain Sports is the best place to do this. 208 Main St. Monday-Thursday 9:30am-6pm, Friday-Sunday 9:30-7pm (867) 667-4074 www.coastmountain.com

EVENING DRINK

The Yukon Mining Co. is a pub located in the High Country Inn and has lots of Western atmosphere. Between drinks you can go out on the deck and try your hand at gold panning. 4041 4th Ave. Monday-Sunday 11am-midnight. (867) 667-4471 www.highcountryinn.yk.ca

TAKE THE TOUR

In the summer months, Gray Line offers an epic 6 1/2-hour historic bus tour of the city and surrounding area, culminating with a boat cruise down the Schwatka River through Miles Canyon. Tickets from the Westmark Hotel, 201 Wood Street. 1800 478-6388 Monday-Sunday Adults: $68. Children $34 www.grayline.com

DINNER

Giorgio’s Cuccina serves excellent homemade pasta, thin crust pizza, game meats and a selection of local seafood such as halibut, salmon, king crab and Arctic char. The Romanesque décor and Mediterranean cuisine draw in the crowds, as does the open kitchen where your meal is lovingly prepared before your eyes. 206 Jarvis St. Monday-Sunday 11:30am-2pm, 4:30pm-11pm (867) 668-4050 www.giorgioscuccina.com

LATE NIGHT WHITEHORSE

From May to September the best show in town lifts its crinolines for another summer season. Frantic Frollies is a show that combines live music, singing, dancing, cancan, clowning around and some good old-fashioned burlesque. A whooping music hall-style hootenanny of a hoedown guaranteed, nightly. Westmark Hotel, 201 Wood Street. (867) 393-9700 Adults $24. Children 11 and under $10. www.franticfollies.com

TAKE THE PLUNGE

If you have a car and a pair of bathing trunks, take a drive north on the Alaska highway to Takhini Hot Springs and relax in the invigorating 40ºC (104ºF) mineral waters. Monday-Sunday 8am-10pm. (867) 456-8000 www.takhinihotsprings.yk.ca

LUNCH

The Backerei Kaffee Haus is a funky, modern hangout serving a fusion of Austrian baking and European cuisine. A large menu composed of organic ingredients makes for an abundance of lip-smacking delights. They also serve fresh roasted fair trade coffee. 100 Main St. Monday-Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday 8am-5pm (867) 633-6291

HOWLIN’ LIKE A WOLF

An alternative to the usual walk in the woods is the Hike ‘n Howl. Spend the day with off-duty sled dogs, hiking and running through the wilderness while hoping they won’t eat you. Muktuk Kennels, (867) 668-3647, www.muktuk.com.

DINNER

The Cellar Steakhouse & Wine Bar is a plush dining room in the Edgewater Hotel, where no part of the wilderness has entered except via the plate. In addition to tapas and mussels, they serve some of the finest local game meats and a good selection of wine. 101 Main Street. Open Tuesday - Saturday from 6:00 pm (867) 667-2572 www.edgewaterhotelwhitehorse.com/cellar.html

MIDNIGHT DRIVE

If you’re the kind of fellow who likes to putt a few while away, then slip on your plus 4s and totter off to the Mountain View Golf Club. The 18-hole par 72 course along the banks of the Yukon River has a fully equipped pro shop, and in June you can golf under the midnight sun. 250 Skookum Dr. Monday-Sunday 6:30am- Late. 867-633-6020 www.mountainviewgolf.ca

EWL©