Fairbanks Alaska offers visitors small-town hospitality and a pioneer spirit that will make your stay one to remember. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city with a population of 32,000 and a Borough population of almost 100,000, including the nearby military bases. Fairbanks is often called the “Golden Heart City” or the “Golden Heart of Alaska” because of both its gold rush history and its warm welcome it gives visitors.
Fairbanks is the hub for Alaska’s Interior and Arctic and is known for its first-class accommodations and restaurants, museums, concerts, historic sites, Alaska Native culture, and access to the Alaskan wilderness. It is also famous for its incredible long summer days, where the sun never seems to set. In June Fairbanks sees over 21 hours of sunlight. Of course, in the winter, the opposite is true, and there are very long, dark days. In December, there will be less than 4 hours of daylight in Fairbanks.
In 1901 Captain E.T. Barnette disembarked from the steamship, Lavelle Young, and set up a temporary trading post on the banks of the Chena River. His temporary post became permanent the following year when Felix Pedro discovered gold in the nearby hills. The Gold Rush was on and Fairbanks was flooded with miners from all over the world determined to strike it rich.
In 1903 Fairbanks was incorporated as a City and was named after Indiana Senator Charles Fairbanks, who later became Vice President. Now, “discovery day” is commemorated each year with a celebration in July called Golden Days. Locals dress in period costumes and there is even a roaming jail that may arrest you if you’re not wearing a Golden Days pin or a garter! There is still active mining in the area and glimpses of the past can be seen along the Steese Highway in the tailing piles leftover by the gold dredges.
Fairbanks, AK is also the home of several world class attractions. The Riverboat Discovery is consistently rated one of the top boat tours in the State and Gold Dredge 8 is also a visitor favorite. The Antique Auto Museum at the Wedgewood Resort has an amazing collection of vintage automobiles, historical photos and period costumes. Finally, don’t miss The University of Alaska Fairbanks ‘Museum of the North’ as it is one of the best museums in the State.
Fairbanks not only has plenty of things to do in the summer months, but during the winter it is one of the best places in the world to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). It is near the Arctic Circle, which makes the Northern Lights visible from September to April.
The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center is at 101 Dunkel Street in historic downtown Fairbanks. It is home to Explore Fairbanks the organization that oversees the Visitor Center. The 9,000 square-feet of interpretive space features exhibits on the land, the seasons and the peoples of Interior Alaska and the Arctic. The MTCVC is open seven days a week from 8am to 9pm in summer and 8am to 5pm in the winter. Free Wi-fi for visitors. 907-456-5774 or 800-327-5774 www.explorefairbanks.com
Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center. Information on accessing public lands in Alaska state and federal parks, forests and refuges. 101 Dunkel Street. Located in the Morris Thomson Cultural & Visitors Center. It offers scheduled films and special events & programs throughout the year. A variety of educational programs are available. Summer hours daily 9 to 5 from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Call 907 459-3730 www.alaskacenters.gov/fairbanks.cfm
When you visit Fairbanks, you won’t have any difficulty in filling your time. You could spend a week here and still never get bored.
Day 1 – An excellent start to your time in Fairbanks is to stop at one of TripAdvisor’s top-rated attractions, the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center (MTCVC) located in downtown Fairbanks. The Center focuses on the cultural and historical aspects of life in Alaska using film, books and exhibits. A well informed and friendly staff can help you plan your trip in Fairbanks and area. The MTCVC is also a great access point to miles of walking trails, including a lovely walk along the Chena River. The downtown area is easily walkable and has many good restaurants and interesting shops to explore.
An excellent afternoon plan is to spend time with the Binkley Family on their world class tour, the Riverboat Discovery. It is a fascinating tour into the history of the Riverboats and their impact on the Fairbanks area.
Day 2 – Begin with a visit to TripAdvisor’s # 1 rated attraction in Fairbanks, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. This is far more than just a place for old cars! It is a fantastic collection of photos, period costumes as well as some amazing automobiles. Another excellent tour that explores Fairbanks gold rush past is Gold Dredge 8. You’ll ride a narrow-gauge train to a historical Gold Camp that includes a Gold Dredge, old mining equipment and an opportunity to pan for gold; and keep what you find.
Day 3 – A trip to Fairbanks isn’t complete without a visit to Alaska’s theme park, Pioneer Park. Built to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Alaska’s purchase from Russia. The 44-acre Park was opened in 1967 and has been a Fairbanks meeting place ever since. It is home to museums, shops, dining and a variety of fun activities such as mini-golf and the Palace Theatre Show. There are fast food vendors, restaurants and the Alaska Salmon Bake which has been serving up delicious Alaskan Salmon for over 40 years.
If you’re looking for a lovely, quiet place for a walk, be sure to check out Creamers Field or the Georgeson Botanical Gardens. The Botanical provides valuable horticultural information to people living and growing plants in this subarctic region.
Day 4 – If your trip to the northern parts of Alaska won’t be complete without a trip to the Arctic, we recommend taking a tour with Northern Alaska Tour Company. You can choose from one to multiple day itineraries from Fairbanks to the Arctic in large and small passenger vans and small planes. Their guests rave about the experience whether it be in summer or winter.
Known to be one of the best museums in Alaska both for autos as well as regional history and vintage clothes. This unexpected gem at Wedgewood Resort features a remarkable collection of antique cars and historic fashions, plus entertaining displays on Alaska motoring history. There are also over 150 historic costumes exhibited alongside these automotive works of art. This nationally acclaimed auto museum has earned top ratings from TripAdvisor, MSNBC.com, and Lonely Planet.
is a 44 acre theme park that commemorates early Alaskan history with a number of interesting attractions. Entrance to the Park is free, however, some attractions charge a fee. Attractions include: Gold Rush Town, the SS Nenana, Pioneer Air Museum, and much much more.
Ride an original narrow-gauge train and learn about the various types of mining equipment ranging from the old style to the most modern. Guests also get to pan for gold and keep the gold you find. There is an excellent Gift Shop where you can find unique souvenirs of your visit.
This local tour company offers sightseeing excursions throughout Alaska’s Arctic, with a fleet of first-class touring vans, 25-passenger coaches and flight seeing aircraft. One day and multi-day excursions are available both during summer and winter.
This is the only research and teaching museum in Alaska. Its artifacts represent thousands of years of cultural traditions in the North. World-class exhibit of Alaska art in The Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery. They also have the state’s largest public display of gold and ‘Blue Babe’ a 36,000-year-old mummified steppe bison. Exhibits include a suspended 43 ft Bowhead Whale skeleton, which is the only one in the Americas.
Come get lost in the world of dogs, just outside of Fairbanks, half-way to Chena Hot Springs, The Last Frontier Mushing Co-op offers experiences that capture the breathtaking beauty of Alaska, through both the landscape & Alaska’s rich heritage. They offer day mushing tours or a magical private Aurora tour for an unobstructed view of the Northern Lights in Winter.
17 miles east of Fairbanks The recreation area is managed as two units, the Lake Park and the River Park. Each has two campground loops, 86 campsites, some pull throughs for RV’s, with water, bathrooms, dump station. Each park also has a boat launch and extensive picnic areas, which include covered pavilions. Chena Lake also has a designated swimming area and boat dock.
Come visit the refrigerated viewing gallery that houses some incredible, larger than life art, carved out of ice. Featured artists work on new artwork and demonstrate their process with live narration. Open from May to September in the Historic Lacey Street Theater in Downtown Fairbanks.
Only 15 minutes south of Fairbanks in North Pole Alaska is Santa Claus House. One of Alaska’s most famous gift shops. Find amazing Christmas displays year-round and check out the Antler Academy where you can meet real live reindeer.
This resort offers residential-style 1 & 2 bedroom suites and is perfect for both nightly visits and extended stays. Located minutes from downtown Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Bear Lodge at Wedgewood Resort offers large guests rooms in quiet surroundings from mid-May to mid-September. Enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the beautifully landscaped flower gardens or get away from it all and head to the Fitness Center. There is complimentary Wi-fi and 24 hour courtesy van to the airport or Alaska Railroad Depot.
Well known to locals and visitors for providing outstanding guest service, spacious suites, 24-hour fitness room, ideal location and a fantastic restaurant. As part of Fairbanks’ locally owned hotel group, Fountainhead Hotels, Sophie Station Suites is typically geared toward business travelers given its high-tech perks and easy access to the airport. But families might get even more out of the 148 suite hotel, which has made a name for itself by looking out for the little details, from fresh flower arrangements and beautifully landscaped gardens to fantastic meals in Zach’s Restaurant.
Located on the banks of the Chena River, Fairbanks Princess Lodge is the choice of experienced travelers to Fairbanks. The Edgewater Dining Room and Trackers Bar & Grill have great food. Gift shop, espresso bar & fitness center, free wireless internet access, and a seasonal tour desk.
The Westmark sets the standard for elegance, style and service in the Golden Heart City. With a convenient downtown location, 400 guest rooms, complimentary wireless internet and guest computers area available. Enjoy the best steaks in Fairbanks at the Red Lantern Steak & Spirits.
61 miles east of Fairbanks, come experience this northern insitution. Accommodations at Chena Hot Springs vary from new bedroom units to rustic cabins, RV parking and tent sites The main lodge features fine dining, a full-service coffee shop and lounge. The facilities include several indoor and outdoor tubs and Jacuzzis, including the outdoor Rock Lake – an artificial lake surrounded by boulders, perfect for soaking in the Northern Lights in the Winter.
This part of Alaska is renowned for it’s Northern Lights viewing, as it is far from the city lights of Fairbanks and close to the Arctic circle. The resort offers many all inclusive winter Northern Lights tours that include a few nights of accommodation and the chance to see the beautiful Aurora Borealis.
Fairbanks Alaska Map
We have two maps of Fairbanks Alaska. One shows all of Fairbanks and the other is a downtown Fairbanks map.
Fairbanks Alaska FAQS
What is Fairbanks Alaska Known for?
Fairbanks is known for is long summer days. It will see up to 21 hours of daylight in June and July, here in the land of the midnight sun. It’s also known for its incredible views of the Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) during the long winter days. The Aurora can best be viewed between October and April in this far north city.
Is Fairbanks Alaska worth visiting?
Absolutely Fairbanks it is worth visiting. Local attractions include: