Fairbanks, Alaska is the state’s largest interior city, located directly in the Aurora oval and just south of the Arctic Circle. There are many Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska, that you can try and enjoy.
It’s also a military town, convenient to get to, and well-positioned for anyone secretly wishing to see the northern lights or road trip to some of Alaska’s most magical winter locations.
Here are the Top 7 Great Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska:
- 1 Joining in Tours of Gold Panning and Gold Rush History
- 2 Following the Northern Lights.
- 3 Discovering The World Championships of Ice Art
- 4 Taking a boat in the Chena River, Riverboat, and Fishing
- 5 Sledding with Dogs
- 6 Enjoying the Summer Festivals and the Midnight Sun
- 7 Exploring Wildlife in Fairbanks, Alaska
Joining in Tours of Gold Panning and Gold Rush History
Fairbanks was founded as a result of the gold rush that swept through the Tanana Valley. So joining in tours of Gold Panning and Gold Rush History is one of the Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska. The city is impressed with its gold rush history, which can be learned at the authentic Gold Dredge 8.
Travel to the discovery of gold in Interior Alaska on an open-air train car while listening to the day’s lore and legend. Gold Dredge 8, which is mentioned on the National Register of Historic Places, is a mechanical marvel, a massive machine that “walked” across the land, scooping up pay dirt. By learning to pan for gold, you can scoop up your own pay dirt.
Gold Daughters, Gold Dredge 8, and Chena Outdoor Collective all provide panning experiences that include guaranteed gold as well as the excitement of a potential nugget. If you try your luck, you’ll get gold fever and a sense of what it was like to be an early leader in this remote environment.
Following the Northern Lights.
The main reason for visiting Fairbanks in the winter was to witness the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. Fairbanks is located in the aurora oval, as are Finnish Lapland, Iceland, and parts of Canada, and has a better position for viewing the lights than Anchorage or, in particular, Juneau. This is one of Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska you must do.
Even if the activity is low, you have a greater chance of seeing the lights if you stay within the Aurora oval rather than outside of it. Check out the aurora forecast to see it perfectly. So, how exactly do you see the northern lights? Dark skies, Clear skies, and a lot of activity are required.
On a scale of 1 to 9, the KP index measures the strength of the auroras. Even if there are only two or three, you can still see a faint glow if you’re within the aurora oval. However, if you’re lucky enough to see a KP 4 as well as a 5, you’ll see the sky dance!
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Discovering The World Championships of Ice Art
Fairbanks organizes the World Ice Art Championships each winter from mid-February to mid-March. Taking a tour to go there is one of the Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska.
The World Ice Art Championships are brilliantly organized. There’s a section where you can participate with the ice by playing chess and cornhole, in addition to ice slides for kids. Bring your own sled.
But wait, there’s more! The competitive ice sculptures are spread throughout a lovely forest. There was everything from Disney-esque scenes to public statements about peace and acceptance of one another. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It was definitely worth the $16 entry fee! Pro tip: Visit at night to view the sculptures illuminated.
Taking a boat in the Chena River, Riverboat, and Fishing
The Chena River winds through Fairbanks, providing opportunities for a stroll or paddle. Take a self-guided tour of the 3.5-mile Chena Riverwalk, which passes through museums, parks, and historic districts. Local canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals are also available for a relaxing paddle along the Chena’s twists and turns.
From mid-May to mid-September, the Riverboat Discovery provides a historic way to experience the Chena as a passenger on an authentic sternwheeler. The 3.5-hour tour includes informative stops about bush pilots, dog mushing, and Alaska Native culture. You’ll also travel to the conflation of the Chena and Tanana rivers, where the currents collide spectacularly.
Fairbanks and its surrounding rivers and lakes are also excellent fishing destinations. Both novice and experienced anglers will enjoy a trip with Why Knot Adventures. You’ll catch and release trout, burbot, arctic char, and other species.
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Sledding with Dogs
In the early days of Alaska, dog teams were essential for winter travel, and the mushing tradition is still alive and well. Get on a sled and experience the thrill of working dogs eager to hit the trails. Tour guides are energetic dog mushing enthusiasts who enjoy the lifestyle and sport of dog mushing. This is absolutely on the list of Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska, which you can’t miss out on!
Black Spruce Dog Sledding is located about 45 minutes from Fairbanks but also offers tours ranging from one to three hours in length. The dogs will pull you on a five-passenger utility terrain vehicle in the summer. In the winter, take scenic trails thru a closely packed black spruce forest. Take a ride or even try your hand at continuing to drive the sled!
A little closer to town, you can learn about dog mushing in a historic setting: the kennel of iconic musher Susan Butcher. Trail Breaker Kennel offers tours all year, with custom tours accessible in the winter.
Rod’s Alaska Guide Service offers dog sledding tours through the Alaska wilderness from November to March, ranging from a 12-hour ride to 5-hour tours that can be mixed with aurora viewing, ice fishing, or both! Rod’s team includes many people who have completed the Iditarod as well as Yukon Quest, so you’ll gain a better understanding of this distinctive sport.
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Enjoying the Summer Festivals and the Midnight Sun
Fairbanks, located in Alaska’s interior, experiences hotter, more “summer-like” weather than other Alaska locations. After a long winter, summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate the long hours of daylight! Midnight Sun ATV Tours offers an incredible ride to accomplish this. This is one of the best Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska, you must try it. Their evening tour does not really return until around 11:30 p.m., and it is still light out at that hour until mid-August.
Under the long days, flowers and vegetables grow to epic proportions! Many of these wonders can be found in the Georgeson Botanical Garden or at area farmers’ markets, especially in late summer. The garden, which is located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is a delightful sanctuary of alpine flowers, shrubs, trees, and herbs. Explore farmer’s markets for fresh vegetables, reindeer sausage, locally made art, and jaw-droppingly large produce.
If you’re in town for the summer solstice, you won’t be able to avoid the daylight or the massive Midnight Sun Festival, which draws crowds of up to 30,000 people. The 12-hour festival features performances, live music, and hundreds of food but also souvenirs. Play gold panning, pet sled dog puppies, as well as cheer on the BBQ cook-off.
Exploring Wildlife in Fairbanks, Alaska
Fairbanks, Alaska, has a plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities. Discover its wildlife is one of the top Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska. The University of Alaska’s Large Animal Research Station (LARS) offers daily tours of muskoxen and reindeer all year. Learn about reindeer from the ranch’s knowledgeable and passionate owners. A one-hour tour allows you to walk, pet, and photograph a tiny reindeer herd.
Chena Outdoor Collective, located just outside of Fairbanks in the community of Two Rivers, also provides reindeer encounters. On a 45-minute tour, interact with the reindeer, or take the longer Taste of Two Rivers tour, which includes gold panning, the reindeer visit, and a husky dog sled demonstration. Do you want more reindeer time? Choose a reindeer hike!
Overall, the destinations for us were not Fairbanks itself, but rather all of the fantastic things that we could easily obtain by flying there. There are numerous Things To Do In Fairbanks Alaska. It’s also an excellent location for viewing the aurora borealis, with numerous services as well as options for tours, car rentals, and other exciting activities.