Known as the land of Northern Lights, Fairbanks is the place to view the Aurora Borealis. It is the only settlement amongst hundreds of miles deserted area. Being a small town, everyone knows each other, the people of the town include – college students, military personnel, sled-dog breeders, environmentalists, bush pilots, etc. The city connects to some important routes, Canada towards the east, towards the north is the Arctic, Denali in the south, and you will find that the time spent here is the most exciting time that you can think of spending.
Let's explore Fairbanks points of interest and 15 best things to do in Fairbanks:
1. First Stop-Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center
The first place to stop for picking up maps and information related to things to do in Fairbanks, in addition to this you can view the exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the native Alaskans. Enjoy a free film showcasing Alaska’s nature and its history. Visit the famous Antler Arch, which was made out of more than a 100 caribou and moose antlers. The museum is located near the banks of River Chena, and is a must visit to get a fair knowledge of Alaskan culture and history. The friendly staff will give you any additional information that you need about the place.
Admission: The admission and parking facilities are free for visitors.
2. A tour to Aurora Borealis
Popularly known as Northern Lights, it is a major attraction at Fairbanks. This region falls under the ‘Aurora Oval’ and is flocked by tourists between September to April to view this natural phenomenon. You can either opt to drive down or book a tour package to experience nature’s light show. There are lodges available for tourists to stay over for the night. You can view this phenomenon from the warmth of ‘aurorium,’ a dome, lodge, cabin, from a dog sled expedition. An evening trip to the historic Wiseman is also a great way to enjoy the Northern Lights. There are simple, clean accommodations available at the town of Coldfoot.
Admission: Evening Tours between 9 P.M. – 4 A.M., Average Cost per person - $75 to $85.
3. Adventure trip at Chena River
The Chena River State Recreation Area is an excellent spot if you enjoy camping, fishing, kayaking or hiking. This place is popular with the locals in the winter months for ski touring and snow machining, otherwise known as snowmobiling. The 254,080-acre area offers, camping grounds, cabins for public usage, and pavilions and picnic areas for families. The Chena River State Recreation Area is situated about 30 miles from Fairbanks, and is open throughout the summer, though some trails are closed during winter months.
The well-marked trails are ideal for biking and hiking, though bikers need to bring their own bikes as there is none available for hire.
Admission: No entrance fee, Camping costs- $10 to $45 per night, Parking - $5 to $10 per vehicle.
4. Enhance your Knowledge at University of Alaska Museum Fairbanks
It is the only museum in the state focusing on teaching and research. It houses more than 1.4 million artifacts spanning more than 2000 years. They include sculptures, paintings, and ancient ivory carvings. The specimens also include a 36,000-year-old mummified bison by the name of Blue Babe, and it has the state’s largest display of Alaskan gold. An unusual exhibit, "The Place Where You Go to Listen," displays a sound and light installation which is controlled by real-time positions of the sun and the moon. The museum store exhibits an array of artwork, crafts, and jewelry.
The museum offers a wealth of information about animals, inhabitants, Alaskan art and history.
Admission: $12 for 15 years and above and $7 for ages 5-14.
5. Experimental Agriculture at Georgeson Botanical Garden
Georgeson Botanical Garden belongs to School of Natural Resources and Extension at the University of Alaska. The creator of this nationally recognized garden was Christian Georgeson who developed it in an early 20th century. It is one of the several experimental agricultural stations in Alaska. The purpose of this garden was to learn about the types of crops would grow in the Alaskan climate, and to teach the locals its techniques.
The garden till date continues to work by doing plant trials and research. It contributes to the local community with annual events like Dead End Poets Society. The garden also has a giant hedge maze, and at one such dead ends, visitors can find poems written by local students.
Admission: Free Timing- 8 A.M. - 8 P.M.
6. Enjoy a refreshing beer at HooDoo Brewing Company
This brewery is the first in Alaska to use solar power for its operation. Bobby Milken, a Fairbanks resident, started HooDoo Brewing Company offering beers in classic English, Belgian, German, and American styles. The concept here is an open taproom allowing the visitors to see the process and enjoy a glass of their favorite brew. The brewery also offers a wide variety of seasonal releases on tap.
Locals and visitors compliment the brewery for its outstanding beer, food trucks and lively atmosphere, and the beer flight in the tasting room is highly recommended.
Admission: Free tours on Saturdays at 4 p.m., the brewery is open from Tuesday – Friday- 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m
7. Walk through the boreal forest at Running Reindeer Ranch
The Running Reindeer Ranch is situated in the boreal forest of the Goldstream Valley. It is a family run ranch. Visitors are offered a guided nature walk through the woods. The family's pet reindeer is taken along for the walk. You will learn about the natural history of the forest, along with the animal's habits and personality. At the end of your tour, you can head to the farmhouse and continue your reindeer education. You will be served with homemade cookies and lemonade. Visitors call it a highly informative and fantastic experience for the entire family.
Admission: Rates change seasonally. Starts at $55 per adult and $35 per child between ages 3-12. Children below 3 years can visit for free but must carry in a backpack carrier.
8. Browse through the Pioneer Park
The 44-acre park is divided into a theme park and historical park. It was built in honor of Alaska's purchase from Russia showcasing its 100th-anniversary. The history of Fairbanks is featured through several museums, including the Alaska Native Museum, Tanana Valley Railroad Museum, and Pioneer Museum. Replicas of the steamboat and two historic houses give you a glimpse of the bygone era. The park has several restaurants and shops, and also includes kid-friendly activities like- mini-golf, train ride, and playground.
Admission: Free except for a nominal charge for the attractions. Overnight parking charges for RV parking is $12.
9. Luxuriate at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
The museum has a vintage display of more than 85 cars all made before the World War II. Each car holds a particular historical significance or technological innovations of the bygone days. What makes this museum even more unique is, the accompanying displays of clothing’s belonging to the same era, making it more appealing to a variety of audience. Automobile enthusiasts will be impressed with the rare exhibits of early vehicles while others can enjoy the movies and pictures of the 20th century.
Admission: Tickets costs $10 for 13 and above and $5 for children between the ages 6 to 12; kids below 5 years get free admissions. A free, hour-and-a-half-long self-guided audio tour is also available.
10. Visit Musk Oxen and many others at the Animal Research Station
The Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station sells qiviut, which is the Inuit word for soft underwool produced by musk oxen. It is highly preferred due to its insulating qualities. The center, which is located at the University of Alaska, maintains musk oxen and reindeer for research purposes and funds the station through the sale of qiviut. Guided walking tours are offered throughout the year, but by reservation only during the winter season.
Enjoy the experience of meeting musk ox, reindeer, caribou, and also their babies.
Admission: $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and military personnel, and $6 for students. Free for kids below 5 years.
11. Experience freezing temperatures at the Ice Museum
The Ice Museum at the Chena hot springs resort will put you in a winter mood no matter what the summer temperatures are like. A patented absorption chiller keeps the museum icy cold during summer. Dedicated to sculptures made of ice, you can see several huge ice sculptures on display. Walk in to experience freezer-like feel at this below 20 degrees museum. A huge-screen slideshow displays the Annual World Ice Art Championships, and freezers with huge ice tableaux.
12. Have a ball at the Midnight Sun Festival
If you are in Alaska during the Summer Solstice, you will forget your weariness and jump into the fun-filled festivities. With the sun’s presence in the sky, the Alaskans look forward to a night of music, dancing, cheer, and joy. The festival is visited by over 30,000 people every year it the place to be and participate in activities like- face painting, BBQ cook-off, gold panning, sled dog puppies, and a skate park.
13. Learn to Mush at Black Spruce
"Winter & Spring Tours" at Black Spruce give you the chance to try sitting and driving a dog sled! You need to wear your warmest clothes, and they supply the necessary outdoor gear y such as parkas, mittens, and boots. Once you meet the dogs and learn about the Alaskan Husky, you will be taught to harness then, and then you'll learn how to mush!
14. Experience unique sports at World Eskimo-Indian Olympics
These Olympics were started over fifty years to create knowledge and awareness of traditional skills and games of Alaska. During each summer, top athletes from the circumpolar north, Greenland Russia, gather here to test their strength, endurance, balance, and pain tolerance. The games are based on skills which were prized by Native cultures for thousands of years.
15. Dive deep into the Permafrost Tunnel
The 360 feet long tunnel is rich with frozen fossils of all kinds, animal and plant remain, layers of frozen silt, gravel, sand, and bedrock. It is a research facility which was constructed and operated by the US Army. It was built between 1963 - 1969, offering a unique research platform for studying frozen environment which is over 40,000 years old.
Now the entrance to the tunnel is marked with an unassuming red and access is tightly controlled.