Talkeetna  is a wonderful walk-around town, with most of the action within a couple of blocks of Nagley’s Store  and the Fairview Inn. This is one of the few Alaskan towns that still looks the way people imagine Alaskan towns should look, with rustic log buildings lining Main Street and a local population that encompasses grizzled redneck miners and back-to-the-earth tree huggers. Local bumper stickers proclaim “Talkeetna, where the road ends and life begins.” If you ever saw Northern Exposure on TV, this is the place it must have been modeled on.
For a graphic and detailed look at the history of the town and its connection to The Mountain, check out the excellent Talkeetna Historical Museum (907/733-2487, www.talkeetnahistoricalsociety.org , daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. mid-May–Sept., or by appointment the rest of the year, $3 adults, children under 16 free). Take a left after Nagley’s Store, which you can read all about in the museum; the museum is a half-block down the side street on the right in a red schoolhouse built in 1936.
Inside are all sorts of local artifacts—including a horsehide coat from the 1890s—but more interesting is the old railroad section house out back, which now houses an enormous relief map of Denali  surrounded by photos and the stories of climbers, including several famous adventurers who lost their lives on this treacherous peak.
Other exhibits show the gear climbers use, such as the required “clean mountain cans” for transporting human waste. Return at 1 p.m. for a Park Service ranger talk on climbing Mt. McKinley.
The Park Service’s log Talkeetna Ranger Station (B St., 907/733-2231, www.nps.gov/dena , daily 8 a.m.–6 p.m. mid-Apr.–early Sept., Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. early Sept.–mid-Apr.) is a pleasant place to watch a video or look over the mountaineering books. Park rangers give natural history talks daily in the summer at 7 p.m.
You might also glance inside the Museum of Northern Adventure (Main St., 907/733-3999, $2 adults, $1 seniors and children), a combination gift shop and private collection with 24 north country dioramas.
The Sheldon Community Arts Hangar (downtown behind the post office, $8 adults, $6 children) hosts plays and other events throughout the summer, including showings of a video on the life of legendary bush pilot Don Sheldon, who used this building as his airplane hangar.
At the intersection of the Parks Highway and Talkeetna Spur Road is Talkeetna/Denali Visitors Center (907/733-2688 or 800/660-2688, www.talkeetnadenali.com , daily 9 a.m.–7 p.m. mid-May–mid-Sept.), covering the area from Willow  (south) to Healy (north); look for the giant bear out front.
The visitors center is owned by Talkeetna Aero Services, but the always-helpful staff will book flights with any local air taxi, provide current weather conditions on Denali, set up fishing expeditions or guided hikes, book rooms at hotels and B&Bs, or just supply brochures and information on the area. They also have a tiny downtown visitors center (daily 9 a.m.–8 p.m. May–Sept.) next to Nagley’s Store .