Fairbanks, the one true metropolis in inside Alaska, sits on the crossroads for adventurers heading to all kinds of locations—it’s a straight shot north to the Arctic, east to Canada, and south to Denali Nationwide Park and Protect. However the metropolis is far more than only a staging level, and should you’re contemplating an Alaskan journey, it’s price spending an extended weekend right here. Whereas it’s an intriguing place year-round, the winter is a very particular time in Fairbanks: It’s the perfect season to witness one among nature’s nice wonders, the aurora borealis or northern lights, unfurl streamers of sunshine over the town.
Fairbanks sits instantly beneath the Auroral Oval, a band that hugs the northernmost a part of the globe and denotes the place auroral exercise is most probably to happen. From September to April, it’s a super location for seeing the northern lights. In keeping with the native tourism board, the sunshine show is seen a median of 240 nights per 12 months in Fairbanks.
Whereas nights are certainly lengthy in Fairbanks in the course of the winter months (on the shortest day of the 12 months, there are simply 3 hours and 41 minutes of daylight), auroral exercise is usually finest seen after midnight. So what are you going to do with the remainder of your day? We’ve received a couple of concepts.
The place to Keep
Borealis Basecamp: No doubt, one of many coolest locations to remain close to Fairbanks is Borealis Basecamp, the place 15 clear-roofed igloos have been custom-built and positioned to maximise your possibilities of catching stellar views of the northern lights. In the course of the day, employees lead company on quintessential Alaska adventures like canine sledding, snowmachining (snowmobiling to Decrease 48ers), snowshoeing, and extra.
Chena Hot Springs Resort: One other standard possibility is the Chena Sizzling Springs Resort. It’s slightly over an hour’s drive from downtown Fairbanks and distant sufficient that you simply received’t have to fret about gentle air pollution interfering together with your view of the aurora. It’s additionally a favourite spot for locals, who make the journey right here to look at the northern lights whereas soaking within the resort’s pure sizzling springs.
What to Do
University of Alaska Museum of the North: This is among the finest museums within the forty ninth state, and it options displays on every little thing from Alaskan wildlife to Indigenous art work to a mummified bison from the Ice Age (critically). You may as well see the well-known Into the Wild bus on show within the constructing’s atrium. In 2020, the state airlifted the Nineteen Forties bus—the place Christopher McCandless lived and mysteriously died in 1992—from its spot in Denali Nationwide Park and Protect and introduced it to Fairbanks. Museum employees, engineers, and conservators at the moment are working to revive the bus.
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum: Seven of the roughly 100 vintage (pre-WWII) automobiles at Fountainhead Vintage Auto Museum don’t exist wherever else on this planet. All collectively, the gathering represents among the rarest, most traditionally vital, and (on the time they have been constructed) most technologically superior vehicles ever crafted. It’s shocking that this museum is positioned in Fairbanks, particularly when you think about that when a few of these vehicles have been constructed, roads barely existed in Alaska. All of the extra motive to see it if you’re on the town.
Soak in Sizzling Springs: If there’s one factor that may lure you into donning a swimsuit on a day with subzero temperatures, it’s the data that it’s solely a brief stroll from the locker room to a 106-degree, spring-fed soaking pool. For that motive, the Chena Hot Springs Resort is must-see attraction even should you’re not staying on the lodge. Past the new springs, different actions embody snowmobile excursions, ice fishing, canine sled excursions, and a tour of the Aurora Ice Museum, which concludes with an appletini served in an ice chalice (Truthful warning: They’re potent).
Hike with Reindeer: On Bramble, on Forest, on Rocket and Peanut! Oh, these aren’t the reindeer you’re acquainted with? Nicely, they’re just some members of the herd that lives at Running Reindeer Ranch. Proprietor Jane Atkinson will let you know getting a pet reindeer is simply what occurs if you stay in Alaska and inform your child they’ll’t get a pony. On most days within the winter, you’ll be able to take a brief hike with the domesticated reindeer (also called caribou in North America) via the boreal forest on the ranch and watch them seek for tasty lichen. The hike wraps up with sizzling chocolate and cookies.
Go Canine Mushing: Last Frontier Mushing Co-op presents an all-inclusive three-hour experience that features canine mushing alongside backcountry trails, watching the aurora dance overhead, and warming up with Alaskan snacks and sizzling chocolate inside a Mongolian yurt. The place else are you able to do all that in sooner or later?
Take an Aurora In a single day Tour: If you wish to actually dive into canine sledding, Arctic Dog Adventure Co. combines overland canine sled journey with excellent aurora viewing. Join one among their in a single day excursions, and also you’ll journey by canine sled via the backcountry and spend the evening in a comfortable mountain cabin. It’s a novel technique to expertise genuine Alaskan wilderness.
Go to the Arctic Circle: From Fairbanks it’s about 200 miles up the Dalton Freeway to the Arctic Circle, a spot that the tourism board estimates lower than two p.c of all vacationers to Alaska get to see. Whereas it’s attainable to drive your self, we wouldn’t advocate it—various highway situations make it an extended, troublesome journey. As an alternative, e-book a “flightseeing” tour with Northern Alaska Tour Company. The five-hour Arctic Circle Air Adventure takes you up over the gorgeous Yukon River Valley and steers via the formidable Brooks Vary earlier than touching down in Coldfoot, AK for a fast land tour. When you’re again in Fairbanks, you’ll get a certificates testifying to your Arctic journey—important for bragging rights if you return residence.
The place to Eat and Drink
Fairbanks isn’t essentially identified for its meals (it’s exhausting getting contemporary elements this far north), however there are a handful of go-to spots for an excellent meal.
One native favourite is Lemongrass. Don’t let its strip mall location idiot you—this restaurant slings among the finest northern Thai meals within the state, if not the nation. Within the temper for pizza? Take a look at East Ramp Wood-Fired Pizza. In case you couldn’t guess, it’s positioned close to the japanese fringe of the Fairbanks airport, so you’ll be able to watch bush planes take off whilst you wait to your meals and beer.
Lavelle’s Bistro is a perennial favourite for an Alaskan model of upscale eating (assume honey apple halibut and 25-ingredient meatloaf). Hilltop Restaurant & Marketplace admittedly doesn’t seem like a lot (it’s the primary place to seize a chunk coming south on the Dalton Freeway from the Arctic), nevertheless it presents stable comfort-food breakfast choices and a very stunning variety of pie flavors.
For libations, you’re in luck: Fairbanks is residence to a surprisingly dynamic beer scene. Swing by Silver Gulch Brewery, the northernmost brewery in america, for true-to-style lagers and ales, HooDoo Brewing for its large beer backyard and stellar barleywines, and Black Spruce Brewing for a daring and creative faucet checklist. Midnite Mine can also be a crowd-pleaser—the basement is an old-school Alaska dive bar, and upstairs is among the latest breweries on the town. And for cocktails, you’ll be able to’t go mistaken with a go to to The Library Bar & Bites, Goldie’s AK, or Ursa Major Distilling.
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