Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Palmer, AK

  • Published 2022/08/05

Palmer is a charming farm city in Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna County and Mat-Su Valley.

With its vast natural areas, Palmer offers visitors breathtaking sceneries featuring Alaska’s famous frontier.

At the same time, Palmer is a vibrant city that thrives mainly on agriculture.

Oddly, Palmer is famous throughout Alaska for its 20-hour daytime, especially during summer.

This phenomenon makes Palmer a fascinating travel destination.

Adding more fascination to this city are its 90-pound cabbages and other oversized vegetables you won’t find anywhere else.

Of course, since this city is in Alaska, expect countless outdoor activities and majestic views to keep you busy.

This city offers visitors a combination of relaxation and outdoor adventure amid its picturesque landscape.

Discover the best things to do in Palmer, Alaska.

Check Out Independence Mine State Historical Park

Daytime view of Independence Mine State Historical Park

Rob Crandall /

Independence Mine State Historical Park offers visitors an opportunity to learn how the people in Palmer, particularly miners, lived back in the day.

This famous historical attraction in Palmer contains extensive gold mines, which once thrived back in the day.

Numerous historical buildings, including the Mine Manager’s House, offer a fascinating historical experience.

Wooden ruins at Independence Mine State Historical Park

Rob Crandall /

At the same time, it has a museum and visitor center where you’ll find various galleries and exhibits.

Take a self-guided tour or join other tourists through group tours in exploring the Independence Mine State Historical Park.

Old building at Independence Mine State Historical Park

Alisa Metzler /

Visit the Palmer Museum of History and Art

Head to the Palmer Museum of History and Art to start your adventure.

There’s no better way to know Palmer than visiting its museum filled with fascinating backstories and details of its past.

Visiting this museum housed in a classic log cabin building is a worthwhile way to spend a day.

This museum serves as a cultural and historical hub featuring Alaska’s diverse and rich heritage.

Since 1972, it has collected, preserved, and promoted local history to visitors and youngsters eager to learn about Palmer’s history.

You’ll come across various exhibits and galleries featuring artifacts, artworks, photos, documents, and other items detailing Palmer’s past.

Spend the afternoon at Palmer Museum of History and Art!

Explore the Colony House Museum

This historical attraction in Palmer features a fantastic portrayal of how colonist families lived back in the day.

Currently, the Palmer Historical Society run the Colony House Museum, offering visitors a wonderful historical experience to learn.

Historically, this museum in downtown Palmer served as the original colony house constructed in 1935.

It underwent restoration for many years with the help of the Palmer Historical Society to preserve its original structure and historical value.

Initially, the Matanuska colonists occupied the house, while Oscar and Irene Beylund took over its ownership in the 1930s.

There are various ways to enjoy visiting this historical attraction in Palmer.

You can take photos of the house’s beautiful structure or see numerous original decorations and furnishings.

The Colony House Museum also hosts numerous events and activities throughout the year, particularly Colony Days every June and Colony Christmas.

Have a Picnic at the Matanuska River Park

Head to the Matanuska River Park for a low-cost and fun activity in Palmer.

This community park features picnic pavilions, a campsite, hiking trails, a children’s playground, and a lush green landscape.

It’s the perfect place in Palmer to relax and enjoy the scenic view of the surroundings.

If you want more action, take a hike through its 2.5-kilometer trail that circumvents the park.

In addition, the trail connects various outdoor attractions in the city, such as athletic fields, riversides, and campgrounds.

However, the best way to enjoy Matanuska River Park is to spend quality time with your loved ones or travel companions while enjoying a picnic on a lovely day.

Feed Reindeer at the Reindeer Farm

A person posing with a reindeer at Reindeer Farm

Jacob Boomsma /

As its name suggests, Reindeer Farm features hundreds of reindeer bred for various purposes, including tourist entertainment.

Visiting this famous place offers you, especially kids, a fantastic day out with various activities.

You’ll experience hand-feeding reindeer and enjoy dozens of farm games with your family.

The best thing about visiting Reindeer Farm is getting up close with these gentle animals famous during Christmas.

Aside from reindeer, the farm also takes care of elk, bison, moose, and yak, which are equally fascinating.

Overall, Reindeer Farm’s offerings and pristine natural surroundings make this place a must-visit attraction in Palmer.

Walk the Crevasse-Moraine Trailhead

This popular trail in Palmer is a haven for trail runners, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers.

Crevasse-Moraine Trailhead features a rolling forest that once served as the city’s landfill.

The trail now features a thickly forested area, and a local favorite for off-road sports.

At the same time, bald eagles frequently perch on cottonwoods nearby, giving you a chance for birdwatching.

The trail is relatively easy for beginners in off-road mountain biking, trail running, and cross-country skiing.

Just head to the Crevasse-Moraine Trailhead if you want to work up a sweat and test your mountain biking or skiing skills.

Experience Farm Life at Sunderland Ranch

Sunderland Ranch is a charming place in Palmer where visitors get an opportunity to escape the city life and experience day-to-day ranch activities.

This ranch, also a tourist attraction in Palmer, features dozens of fun and relaxing activities for the whole family.

It has numerous facilities for camping, horseback riding, farm games, and an events center.

The best part of visiting the Sunderland Ranch is the stunning scenery of the mountains nearby.

Drop by the Palmer Visitor Information Center

Far view of the Palmer Visitor Information Center

stellamc /

Before exploring Palmer’s famous attractions, you might want to drop by the city’s visitor information center.

The Palmer Visitor Information Center is not your typical visitor’s center.

It has numerous sections that keep visitors busy and entertained before exploring Palmer.

It has beautiful gardens, exhibits, a video-playing lobby, and vast information about Palmer’s history.

Don’t forget to drop by Palmer Visitor Information Center to make your visit to this city much more convenient.

Dine at the Noisy Goose

Since 1985, the Noisy Goose regularly serves Palmer’s locals with mouthwatering classic American cuisines.

Bill and Glenda Nafus own this restaurant.

The Noisy Goose has become a highly recommended place to enjoy delicious food after a whole day exploring Palmer’s attractions.

Amid the restaurant’s cozy and upscale setting, it also serves affordable and delicious meals.

If you’re looking for a restaurant in Palmer to bring your family or buddies to a lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with this local favorite.

Experienced chefs use locally sourced ingredients to prepare and cook the meals.

Don’t miss the burgers, sandwiches, pasta, appetizers, and refreshing drinks.

Greet Herds of Oxen at the Musk Ox Farm

Aerial view of Musk Ox Farm

Jacob Boomsma /

This famous ox farm in Palmer has opened since the 1940s, featuring these gentle beasts saved from imminent extinction.

The Musk Ox Farm is a sanctuary for herds of oxen and a pioneer in domestic ox farming.

With the help of the University of Alaska and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the farm continues to care for the oxen herds.

Visiting this magnificent place offers you a unique experience where you can get up close and even feed an ox yourself.

Oxen at Musk Ox Farm

Jacob Boomsma /

At the same time, you can join 45-minute guided tours throughout the farm to learn about its history, how they breed oxen, and other fascinating things.

In addition, the Musk Ox Farm features fascinating exhibits and a charming gift shop that is worth checking out.

Explore Palmer Rail Trail

Head to the Palmer Rail Trail for a less complicated outdoor adventure in Palmer.

Also known as the Palmer-Moose Creek Railroad Trail, it is famous for a pleasant trek taking you to scenic railway beds and gorgeous forested areas.

A relaxing hike along this trail in Palmer gives you a comfortable experience.

At the same time, you’ll discover some of the city’s rarely visited scenic views.

If you want to spend your entire day hiking, you can walk the roughly 13-mile-trail that winds throughout the city.

Horseback riding is also an excellent way to explore this famous trail in Palmer.

During winter, Palmer Rail Trail has become a famous cross-country skiing destination.

Play at the Palmer Golf Course

The Palmer Golf Course combines a top-notch golf course and a breathtaking view of Palmer’s natural beauty.

This golf course is a fascinating place to visit, especially if you’re an avid golfer.

Experience its lush and appealing course that gives you a stunning view of the Mat-Su Valley, Matanuska River, Knik Glacier, and the Pioneer Peak mountain.

It is also a famous destination not just for locals but also for golfers from Anchorage.

It features an 18-hole par 72 championship course spanning 7,300 yards.

Gold Digest has named the Palmer Golf Coursei nto its Top Five “Best of the State” editions.

Don’t forget to bring your golf gear when visiting Palmer because you won’t avoid spending time at this beautiful golf course.

Unwind at the Palmer Bar and Grill

Before returning home from Palmer, make one last stop at the Palmer Bar and Grill.

The Palmer Bar and Grill is a famous watering hole where locals gather to unwind or party, depending on their mood.

It has a vibrant atmosphere, perfect for some unwinding while sipping its best cocktails and other drinks.

Locals and tourists love to spend their afternoons or evenings at this bar to mingle and have fun.

At the same time, many love to visit this bar to relax and enjoy their free time after work.

Since Palmer’s weather remains cold throughout the year, most drinks served at this bar are likely strong enough to warm everyone’s spirits.

Before going home from Palmer, reward yourself with a shot or two.

Climb the Lazy Mountain

Daytime view of the gorgeous Lazy Mountain

Jacob Player /

The Lazy Mountain is an excellent outdoor destination in Palmer for those who want to conquer its summit.

Climbing this mountain offers outdoor enthusiasts and mountain climbers a decent challenge.

You’ll find yourself navigating through slick, steep terrain, frequently muddy because of Palmer’s gloomy weather.

It takes about half a day to climb the summit of Lazy Mountain, rising about 3,720 feet above the ground.

Most climbers who reach Lazy Mountain’s summit usually spend the night there to enjoy its stunning views, including the Chugach Mountains nearby.

If you’re interested in climbing the Lazy Mountain, start at the base across Matanuska River near the city’s downtown area.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Walk the Bodenburg Butte Hiking Trail

Since your visit to Palmer features many outdoor activities, you should visit Bodenburg Butte Hiking Trail.

You can find the trail in Butte, Alaska, 11 minutes from Palmer.

For an easy hike and memorable sightseeing, head to the Bodenburg Butte Hiking Trail.

This excellent trail near Palmer offers hikers a magnificent 360-degree view of Matanuska Valley just outside the city.

It features a short 1.5-kilometer trail taking you to an elevated area of roughly 750 feet to see the gorgeous view of Matanuska Valley.

Although the hiking trail enjoys a rating of easy, it takes a lot of steps to reach the top.

However, it has stairs, making your climb much easier.

Final Thoughts

This Alaskan city is an attractive place to learn and explore, especially its natural beauty and history.

Its tranquil atmosphere and fresh air soothe those who yearn for a retreat from their stressful city life.

Palmer has a lot to offer visitors who want to explore this city.

Consider this Alaskan city as your next travel destination.

Don’t forget to pin or bookmark this post about the best things to do in Palmer for a handy itinerary.

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