15 Best Things to Do in Palmer, Alaska
By VacationIdea Staff on May 30, 2023 - Updated
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The quiet farm town of Palmer is situated in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley, offering breathtaking views of the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountain ranges.
It’s the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation, housing a number of unique attractions such as Musk Ox Farm and Reindeer Farm.
1. Reindeer Farm
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There’s no better way to spend a day with the kids in Palmer than at the Reindeer Farm. The experience is a unique one that will let you get up close and personal with reindeer and other farm animals. Their special backyard tour is hosted by the owner of the farm and will give you more time with the animals while also getting amazing views of the surroundings and learn about the history of the farm. Kids will love bottle-feeding reindeer calves and spending some one on one time with a moose. The tour combines walking through the farm as well as an ATV or truck ride up the Butte. Visitors seven years or older can enjoy going on a horseback trail ride through the trees and up the hills while seeing Pioneer Peak, Knik Glacier, and other landmarks.
5561 Bodenburg Loop, Palmer, Alaska 99645, Phone: 907-745-4000
2. Independence Mine State Historical Park
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Gold mining is an important part of Alaska’s history, and Independence Mine State Historical Park is one such area that thrived with those who seeked the glittering nuggets. At its peak, the mine was home to over 200 workers who recovered over 140,000 ounces of gold before it was shut down as World War II loomed. Visitors can explore the wondrous area by walking or hiking the 1½ miles of paved walkways and enjoying the rugged environment and mine on a self-guided tour. It’s a spectacular setting that will take you through panoramic views and alpine lakes, so be sure to bring your camera with you.
3. Bodenburg Butte
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Bodenburg Butte is an isolated mountaintop that can be found at the bottom of the Matanuska Valley. Locals and visitors are invited to take a day trip to the stunning surrounding, which takes around one to two hours and is three miles round trip. A majority of the trail is overlaid with gravel, making it easy to navigate, and takes you through the thick forest, open fields, and rocky flats. It’s best to do the hike between May and November when the weather is amazing, as the incline could be more difficult during the winter. Some of the sites you’ll see on the trail include Pioneer Peak, Lazy Mountain, and the Knik Glacier.
4. Musk Ox Farm
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The Musk Ox Farm began in late 1940s when the gorgeous animal was on the verge of extinction. John Teal searched for ways for the native people to peacefully live with these animals, and eventually opened up the state’s very first domestic ox farm with the assistance of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the University of Alaska. Visitors are welcome to explore the farm and get up close with these amazing animals; there are 45-minute long guided tours that will teach you about the area’s history while being able to see calves, seasoned old bulls, and everything in between. Other aspects include engaging exhibits and a gift shop filled with hand-combed qiviut fiber, yarn, and garments.
12850 E Archie Rd, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-745-4151
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5. Palmer Visitor Information Center
© Palmer Visitor Information Center
The Palmer Visitor Information Center is a great place to learn about the history of Palmer while also exploring the several things you can see and do in the area. It should be one of the initial stops during your vacation there, so you get an idea of how to spend your time. There are several experienced professionals who can suggest excursion ideas based on what you like to do and the amount of time you have. There is an on-site museum filled with exhibits and artifacts which relay Palmer’s history; you may also take a number of complimentary maps and pamphlets for a self-guided tour of various sites and attractions.
723-799 S Valley Way, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-746-7668
6. Lazy Mountain
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Contrary to its name, Lazy Mountain is for anyone but the lazy. Climbing its summit can prove to be rather difficult as you navigate through steep, slick, and sometimes muddy terrain. It will take you approximately half a day to hike either of the two trails available, and many visitors choose to stay overnight by obtaining a permit. Lazy Mountain is approximately 3,720 feet high and takes you to the front range of the Chugach Mountains. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be awarded with stunning views of the surroundings as well as a chance to enjoy a picnic on the provided tables or to go berry picking.
7. Pioneer Falls
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The state of Alaska is so vast that there are many waterfalls which are yet to be identified, and up till recently, Pioneer Falls was one of them. Due to its slow climb in popularity, the area is rather remote but an extremely gorgeous way to view one of the area’s hidden natural beauties. You can access the gorgeous waterfalls on a paved road, and it is a fairly short hike from the gravel parking area. On foot, it’s almost impossible to view the full extent of the waterfall and from any given angle, you’ll only get to see a portion of it. If you’re in the area and looking to spend the day in a serene outdoor atmosphere, then a visit to Pioneer Falls is the perfect thing to do.
8. Arkose Brewery
© Arkose Brewery
The Arkose Brewery in Palmer, Alaska has been brewing refreshing and unique craft beers since 2011. They use quality ingredients and traditional methods in their concoctions and now have one of the most extensive beer portfolios in the area. You can take a tour of the brewery and learn all about the operations and their behind the scenes magic. They even host a lecture with the brewery’s co-founder and head brewer that will detail the science behind brewing, the ingredients used, and many other aspects. Visit their on-site taproom for a refreshing glass of beer; if you’re there on a Thursday you’ll be able to enjoy the once-only Small Batch Thursdays special.
650 E Steel Loop, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-746-2337
9. Colony House Museum
© Palmer Historical Society Alaska
Owned and operated by the Palmer Historical Society, the Colony House Museum was originally the home of Oscar and Irene Beylund. It is an amazing site to see and visitors will be able to visualize how an average colonist family’s home was long ago. Not only will you be able to take in the architecture of the gorgeous structure, you’ll also get an opportunity to see several decor pieces and artifacts that were originally the property of the Beylunds. They host various special activities and events at the museum throughout the year, including their popular Colony Christmas in December and their Colony Days celebrations in June.
316 E Elmwood Ave, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-745-1935
10. Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours
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With amazing tours executed by locals who know every nook and cranny of Alaska’s backcountry, Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours is a great choice in guide while you’re there. There are so many different aspects of Alaska that can’t be experienced anywhere else, and this tour company allows you to choose what you want to do and how you want to do it, whether it be hiking, via ATV, or on a snowmobile. You will be able to climb the state’s majestic mountains, breath in the fresh air as you see the breathtaking glaciers, and come face-to-face with the area’s unique wildlife.
3901 S Lindsey Cir, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 800-478-2506
11. Knik Glacier Tours
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Found on the northern edge of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains, Knik Glacier is a breathtaking icy desert that is surrounded by waterfalls, hanging glaciers, and snow-covered peaks. It’s amazing how unique and truly diverse the ecosystem is, and you’ll able to take it all in in an incomparable experience with Knik Glacier Tours. The tour company has over 25 years of experience, providing both half-day and full-day tours that are safe, fun, and exciting for the entire family. You’ll be able to sail down one of Alaska’s greatest rivers of ice with this amazing tour experience.
26326 Buckshot Ln, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-745-1577
12. Noisy Goose Cafe
© Noisy Goose Cafe
Head to the Noisy Goose Cafe for a combination of traditional home-style meals along with a dose of fun. The laid-back restaurant serves a varied menu all day long, allowing you to have prime rib for breakfast or an omelet for dinner. There is so much to choose from that even diners with the most particular palate will find something that they love. Some of the popular choices include the spicy chicken spud, the prime rib salad, and the homemade meatloaf dinner that is oven roasted and covered with brown gravy. Be sure to leave space for a waffle sundae, an old-fashioned milkshake, or a cinnamon apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream.
1890 Glenn Hwy, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-746-4600
13. Turkey Red
© Turkey Red
Turkey Red is a locally owned and operated restaurant that concocts delicious meals using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible. Many of their suppliers are regional businesses and local farms, with over a quarter of the produce grown right in Palmer. A major focus of the restaurant is to serve wholesome foods which are superior in flavor while being high in nutritional value. Their menu has breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, all of which is made from scratch, and includes popular favorites such as their quiche of the day, eggplant sauté, and the portobello and ham penne pasta. Stop by in the evening for a warming cup of tea or coffee from their wide array of choices.
550 S Alaska St, Palmer, AK 99645, Phone: 907-746-5544
14. Palmer Golf Course
© Palmer Golf Course
Palmer Golf Course is an eighteen-hole public golf course in Palmer, Alaska featuring more than 7,000 yards of golf from its longest tees. Designed by William Overdorf and opened in 1990, the course provides a par of 72 for both local and visiting golfers. Set just off of the Inner Springs Loop, this links-style course known for its scenery also boasts views of the Knik Glacier, the Matanuska River and the Chugach Mountains. Palmer Golf Course hosts several golf tournaments during the summer season and includes both a full pro shop and a snack bar for guests.
1000 Lepak Ave, Palmer, AK 99645, 907-745-4653