It takes a little effort to get to Nome, which is one of the reasons it’s fun to talk with locals about why they live here. Some of them admit you have to be just a little bit peculiar to stay in this rough and remote city year-round. The area is rich with culture and with history, but is not the easiest place to live. How and locals survive here and why they stay gives perspective on what makes this town tick.
Here are a few places to meet locals and hear their fascinating stories.
Alaska Native cultures have long honored and respected the contributions of Elders. Nome’s XYZ Center provides a place where Elders gather for meals, make arts and crafts, exercise, or use the sauna. Visitors are welcome to stop by, have lunch with Elders to share stories, and check out the native arts and crafts sold here. Call ahead if you’re planning on staying for the meal (Noon, Monday-Friday, year-round). Seniors are free; other diners pay a nominal fee. Bonus! Fridays typically feature local foods like salmon or blueberries. 1st and Division Streets.
Restaurants, coffee shops and bars are plentiful along Front Street. Stop in for a drink and you’ll find a mix of Nome residents, from folks out for a casual dinner to fishermen or miners sharing adventure stories. Each place has its own vibe – from the classic “Board of Trade Saloon” (the oldest watering hole in town) to the Bering Sea Bar & Grill (where you can find everything from buffalo wings to sushi). Live music, trivia nights, and more await!
It seems like there’s always something going on in Nome, whether it’s a film festival, running race or uniquely-Nome event like the Bering Sea Golf Classic (on ice) or the 4th of July bank robbery. Check at the Nome Visitors Center for the scoop on upcoming events.
On your flight in/at the airport
To get to Nome, you’ve got to fly or take a boat. These days, most folks fly. There’s a good chance of meeting local residents on your flight into town, or at the airport once you land. Ask where they like to take family and friends who come to visit, and what events are coming up. You’re sure to get some local perspective on all things Nome.
Visit the Nome Rec Center
The Nome Rec Center is where locals go for pick-up basketball, yoga, dancing, bowling in the winter, and more. Join in the fun, meet some new people and get your workout all at once. Open daily in winter. Open M-F in summer. Nominal fee.
Take in a local arts and crafts local fairs.
When you go to craft fair and buy a souvenir from a local crafter, you get much more than the artwork itself. You get the story behind the item. You see the hands of the artists. You understand the work and the vision that went into the piece. This insight gives tremendous value to whatever you purchase, be it a new qiviut scarf, ivory scrimshaw, or landscape painting.
Stroll along Nome Beach.
Nome’s beaches became famous worldwide during the gold rush years, when a miner discovered pay dirt (or “pay sand”) within their grains. “Nome’s golden beaches” drew thousands of hopeful prospectors almost overnight. Today there are still prospectors along Nome beach, and you can find them working the sands underwater with their offshore dredges. Locals are also drawn to Nome beach, to gather driftwood, sea glass and watch the sunset. The Bering Sea vista offers dramatic views, and is sometimes even warm enough for locals to attempt a breath-taking dip in the water.