This tiny village at the mouth of Glacier Bay may not be the Shangri-La it was a couple of decades ago, but it remains a remarkable little community on the edge of the one of Alaska's great wonders.
While you no longer have to bring a sleeping bag -- there are several top-notch lodges and inns -- it can still seem like you've found an undiscovered slice of Alaska, depending on when you visit.
A town of log cabins and wood-frame buildings, it is well maintained (certainly, compared to some other Southeast communities) and doesn't have that rain-drenched, ready-to-dissolve-back-into-the-muskeg look. It has one of the few truly sandy beaches in the region and numerous hiking, biking, and walking opportunities.
However, its isolation from the mainstream of Alaska comes at a cost that is just that -- cost. It is not cheap to get to Gustavus, nor is it cheap to stay here, and most of the excursions you can take out of the town in the park are on the expensive side.
Town Without a Downtown -- The town looks like the country. Houses, cabins, and a few businesses are spread far apart along gravel roads. Services are limited. On Dock Road, the Bear Track Mercantile sells necessities. Gustavus also has a gas station and a liquor store. Bring whatever else you will want with you, and reserve all accommodations in advance. The local government, founded in 2004, imposes a 2% sales tax on goods and a 4% tax on accommodations.