Fairbanks is the largest city in the interior of Alaska, and the second most populous in the state. For most tourists, it’s the handiest place from where to catch the Northern Lights during winter. But the city does have a lot more to recommend it. Founded in 1901 as a small trading post, the inrush of gold prospectors rapidly expanded the settlement. The population boomed again after the construction of the Ladd Army Airfield starting in 1939. In August 14, 1967, terrific amounts of rain flooded the city overnight, leading to the creation of the Moose Creek Dam and it’s spillway.
Tourism-wise, when visitors aren’t being enchanted by the Aurora Borealis in winter, they’re out enjoying the many excellent ski trails (some of which are open even during the summer), or checking out the winter ice carving festival. During summertime, places to visit are less typical, and more cultural. The Riverboat Discovery tour is a popular way to get to know the area both geographically and culturally. There are multiple wildlife and nature refuges, and you can arrange for day trips explorations from Fairbanks. The University of Alaska has an incredible natural science exhibit. And of course, the fishing in the Chena River is excellent.
There’s not much to do shopping-wise, or even nightlife, though there are a few decent pubs and bars in downtown Fairbanks. It’s cold after all. But the food can be surprisingly hearty and filling. Most cuisines are well represented. Naturally, before you visit, keep in mind that depending on the season, extraordinarily long days and extraordinarily long nights are the norm, and that many establishments have opening hours that fluctuate wildly throughout the year.
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