Buxom Red Onion Madams in come-hither costumes call out from their perches, while waitresses in corsets and petticoats serve food and drinks: there’s no place in Alaska quite like the Red Onion Saloon, a bar, restaurant & museum set in what was once a real bordello… The atmosphere is lively and the tours are bawdy, fun, and flirtatious—how else to run a tour of a brothel museum? Plus, their bar and restaurant is one of the most happening places in Skagway…just like it was in 1898!
Tours of the Red Onion Saloon are offered mostly though cruise lines, but walk-in visitors can get a quickie (“$5 for fifteen minutes, just like in 1898”). Learn about the lives of the “goodtime girls” during the Klondike Gold Rush, and take a guided tour accompanied by one of the madams (who have names like Dee Flowers and Annie Whichway). You’ll explore the historic brothel including a 10x10 crib room, the madam’s room and what is now called the wallpaper room, all containing period artifacts, most notably a stunning original silver dress found in the floorboards. All the madam-guides are raucously entertaining & have the stories to match. You might even get a glimpse of the brothel’s resident ghost, Lydia…
Red Onion also offers a city tour called the Ghost & Goodtime Girls Walking Tour during which you’ll wander the streets, back alleys & old red light districts of Skagway, learning about historic characters like Soapy Smith, Skookum Jim, and Klondike Kate. Of course, your guide will be a well-dressed and good-humored madam, and you’ll end with champagne and a tour of the brothel museum.
If you aren’t up for a tour, you can still stop in at the bar and restaurant. The popular Red Onion is known for its nachos and pizza, has one of the state’s largest selections of Alaska Brewery beers on tap and is a great place to catch live music. Make sure you check out the oil paintings of madams over the bar. These are references to the “dolls” of earlier times as the brothel ran on what is known as the “doll system”. Each girl had a doll carved in her likeness, which rested above the bar. If the doll was on its back, the girl was with a customer. When she tossed $5 down a copper tube from her room to the bar, the bartender placed her doll upright, signaling she was ready for business.
So stop by for one of Alaska’s most unique tours, or just grab a bite to eat & a cold beer.
- Brothel tours and unique city tours
- Historic elements of the Gold Rush in the museum and bar
- Entertaining, raucous tour guides or “madams”
- Tasty pub food and large assortment of beers on tap
- Mix it up with locals at this popular watering hole
April - September