Photo Credit: TN
25 Things To Do When Visiting Fairbanks, Alaska
Summer, winter, spring or fall, there’s a wide variety of things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska. The town is bustling at all times of the year, which tends to surprise visitors.
Winter activities are unique, with dog sledding being one of the top adventures tourists like to take. Alaska is known for its lack of night in the summer, leading to long day trips to places like the Arctic Circle down Dalton Highway.
This list is only 25 of the hundreds of things to do when visiting Fairbanks, Alaska. So, plan on visiting the area more than once.
Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor's Center
The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor’s Center should be every Fairbanks tourist’s first stop. The information offered here is a great way to set up the trip to Fairbanks. Brochures, history and hands-on experiences make this place unique.
The local guides to help guests learn about the area, answer questions and even plan guests itineraries while in Fairbanks.
Take the train to Denali
Take a gorgeous four-hour trip on the Alaska Railroad to the town of Denali, located in the Denali National Park.
Spend a night in the mountain town before heading back home on the train in the morning. See moose, wolves and Dall sheep on the scenic route.
It isn’t advisable to hike a glacier without a guide. The ice moves and can trap people in its grips, crushing or freezing its unlucky victim. Guides know the crevasses and can keep naïve tourists safe. The beauty inside of a glacier is unmatched to any sight anywhere else.
After preparation and an avalanche safety course, tourists can get dropped by helicopter, instead of a ski lift. Snowboard or ski in the best powder around.
Arctic Circle tour
Take a bus down the infamous Dalton highway with Northern Alaska Tour Company. This unpaved road is the location where Ice Road Truckers is filmed. It can take up to eight hours to reach the start of the Arctic Circle.
Take pictures and get a certificate for completing this long journey. Sled down to the Yukon River at sunset to highlight the accomplishment of crossing the Arctic Circle.
Anytime between late August and mid-May, the northern lights can be visible. The easiest way to miss it is to have your eyes closed. Many plan nights around seeing the lights, but they can actually be seen almost anywhere in Alaska on a clear night (and with proper solar wind activity).
Remind yourself to check the sky anytime you are awake after 10 pm. Use a tripod or set your phone up to take a picture on a timer to get the best shots of the lights. There are classes at Borealis Basecamp and Northern Alaska Tour Company.
Museum of the North
Arrive to see 2,000 years of Alaskan art. From Ulu handles to oil painted masterpieces, both functional and decorative art is collected in these walls. Stop by, “The Place Where You Go to Listen,” a small room with lights and a unique sound.
The sound comes from the earth and is ever-changing depending on the weather, time of day and even natural phenomenon, like the multitude of earthquakes in Alaska.
Visit the Crepery downtown and see your crepes being made. Both savory and sweet crepes are offered and most guests get something savory and then share something sweet.
The Ice Museum is also at Chena Hot Springs. The museum temperature is set to zero to keep the sculptures from melting. Tours with funny guides and glowing martinis give the added touch needed to bear the cold to see award-winning ice sculptures.
If you’re staying downtown, Venue should be your home base. Grab a coffee and catch up on some work in the mornings. Shop the 40 local artists in the onsite boutique shop and learn about caribou through the annual show, Educating Through Art. In the evenings, come by for wine tasting, intimate concerts and more.
Stay at Pike's Waterfront Lodge
Stay at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge and visit the Aurora Conservatory. Remember to request a northern facing room to get a peek at the Auroras. You can also ask for a wake-up call when the auroras are out.
There’s a lot to do at this boutique hotel including a movie theater, an aromatherapy sauna, library with wellness books and a nightly ice cream social.
Chena Hot Springs
Take a soak in the Chena Hot Springs and ease sore muscles a full day of adventure. See the frost build up on everyone’s eyelashes on the really cold days. Just an hour outside of Fairbanks, the nighttime soaks are the best.
There are tons of places that offer snow machining in Fairbanks. Borealis Basecamp has a few options, including a day-long tour to the White Mountains. Gear is offered at the activity center and guides cook a hot lunch for their guests.
Sleep in a geodesic igloo
The Borealis Basecamp offers an all-inclusive Alaskan experience. Meals are thoughtfully prepared, activities are led by knowledgeable guides, and the studious service make this resort worth spending a few nights of your vacation on.
Ice Sculpture Competition
Head downtown and visit the ice sculpture competition. Teams from all over the world come to this month’s long event to create some of the most intricate sculptures… out of ice.
Watch as they use chainsaws, chisels and a plethora of other tools to chisel their way to the winner’s circle.
Get your sled dog education at Paws for Adventure in Fairbanks. Learn the basics of mushing and lead your own team of dogs on an adventure.
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum is a must-see! It combines automobiles and fashion from 1900 to 1938. With both Alaskan and American automobiles, the museum takes you through the journey from technical to luxury builds. See the TikTok famous snowcat and a long, luxurious Lincoln.
All but three of the vehicles run too, so be prepared to see one of them outside driving around the lot, or giving rides to customers.
Eat at Pikes Landing
Enjoy the seasons of Alaska, both through the food and through the ambiance of Pike’s Landing. Chef Jeffery ‘L is for Love’ Brooks will wow your tastebuds with his slow smoked salmon, desserts made from scratch and an endless supply of Alaskan seafood.
Come in the summer and enjoy time on the riverside patio. Visit in the winter for a long dinner with a view of the Northern lights.
Sunbathe at midnight
Fairbanks has over 22 hours of sunlight in the middle of summer. So, it’s realistic to say one can actually tan after midnight. Plus, the sun never really gets too far away before rising again which means, for weeks, it doesn’t ever get fully dark.
Sleep in at Sophie Station Suites
Staying at Sophie Station Suites is like staying at a downtown Denver condo. Service, amenities and all the things to make guests feel at home. A fully equipped kitchen allows guests to cook full meals. Extra blankets are ready for impromptu living room forts. Chocolatey desserts delivered straight to the room from Zach’s.
Some suites even include an in-room jacuzzi. Ask the front desk to borrow headlamps, then hit the nearby trails before sunrise.
Denali Air Adventure
Take a flight with Northern Alaska Tour Company. This two hour flight will take passengers to view Denali up close. Guests will see glaciers and other natural phenomenon as well along the way.
Hang with reindeer
Reindeer are domesticated caribou and are gentle, sweet animals. Tourists love to feed, pet walk and learn all about reindeer. There are plenty of guides that offer this fun activity.
Snowshoes distribute one’s weight over a wider area. Walking in deeper snow is much easier in snowshoes and gives tourists the ability to take trails not accessible by foot.
Cross country skiing
Much easier than downhill skiing but still a good cardio workout, cross country skiing is common in Alaska.
See the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks for trail information.
See Santa at the North Pole
Visit the North Pole, just 30 minutes outside of town. This Christmas themed town has candy cane poles, a Christmasy senior living and fire station and a huge Santa Claus.
Santa stands almost 50 feet tall outside his workshop, The Santa Claus House.