19 Best Things to Do in Fairbanks, Alaska: What to See, Where to Stay and Where to Eat

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As its name implies, Fairbanks is the Golden Heart of Alaska. If you’re wondering what fun and interesting things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska, you’re in the right place.


After four plus years of calling Fairbanks home, I know a thing or two about the Last Frontier. 

Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel.

Located just 196 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks, Alaska can be considered the Scandinavia of America. Mother Nature has been very generous with Fairbanks both on ground-level and in the air.  

From snow capped mountains and untouched vegetation, you will be met with a scenic views of the magnificent mountain ranges, pristine lakes, and on a good day, the surreal Northern Lights. 

Fairbanks offers a perfect combination of arctic wildlife and the interesting history of Alaska’s natives, settlers, and its gold rush heydays.

My goal is to help you make the most of your stay with interesting things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska. And when you’re done reading this article, check out my ultimate Alaska packing list (perfect for solo travelers and cruise) for your Alaska travel essentials that many people wished they read.


Best Things to Do in Fairbanks

EXPLORE LIFE IN ALASKA THROUGH MUSEUMS

Fairbanks has some of the most informative museums about Alaska, providing you with information about its geology, wildlife, and deep-rooted history.

1. The University of Alaska Museum of the North 

The University of Alaska Museum of the North is housed in an impressive work of art and features award-winning exhibits that take you down memory lane from the time before our Forefathers. 

The university’s research laboratories supply a continuous flow of information into the museum just like a reactant is continuously streamed into a reactor.

Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel.

On one side, you will discover the origins of Alaska’s wildlife beginning with dinosaurs; on the other side, you will learn brand new information about Native Americans and Alaskan Natives in the area. 

This University of Alaska Museum of the North offers some of the best insights into arctic life. I was buried in my books when I attended the University of Alaska – Fairbanks for my Master’s program and regret not fully visiting the museum.

Cost: University of Alaska students get in free. Visitors 5-14 years pay $8. Adults and children aged 15+ pay $14.
Location: 1962 Yukon Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99775
More information: Official website


2. Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center

Continuing with the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska, you must visit Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center that illustrates a realistic overview of the Alaskan way of life and their traditions. The museum is particularly praised for its visual exhibitions such as short films and documentaries.

I called Alaska home for many years. This is your local’s guide for the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska for first time visitors and return guests.
Yup, that’s me goofing around until I realized what this really was.

I’m not a huge museum or history snob and I found the visitors center interesting and enriching. Don’t know what an outhouse is? There’s one right outside the visitor’s center 😉

Cost: Free (optional paid activities)
Location: 101 Dunkel St, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Official website


3. Fairbanks Ice Museum

Fairbanks Ice Museum is the ultimate introduction to Alaskan Art with its extensive collection of delicately-made ice sculptures. The museum is just a few minutes away from two of my favorite Fairbanks restaurants: Thai House and The Crepery, but I digress. 

You can also visit the Aurora Ice Museum located just outside of Fairbanks at Chena Hot Springs described as a more exciting experience than the Fairbanks Ice Museum.

The famous Chena Hot Springs Resort at Fairbanks, Alaska.

Note that the road leading to the Aurora Ice Museum gets very sleek during the winter and thaw months even with winter tires and 4-wheel drive (speaking from experience) to Chena Hot Springs. 

But if you’re short on time or worried about the winter driving condition, the Fairbanks Ice Museum remains a great option.

Cost: $15
Location: 500 2nd Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Details & Reviews


4. Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

If you are into collections of motors and automobiles, you will be deeply satisfied at Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum that boasts a large collection of vintage vehicles dating back to the 19th century.

Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. A round up of the best free and fun things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on a budget that many people often overlook.

Cost: $5 – $10 which includes complementary self-guided audio tours
Location: 212 Wedgewood Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Details & Reviews



SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHS (AURORA BOREALIS)

5. Chase the Aurora Borealis

Whatever your interests are, you can’t deny your excitement about one thing common to every destination in the far north: Aurora Borealis. This natural phenomenon colors the sky with glowing lights, but it is not always so easy to spot them.

But, guess what? Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. Nevertheless, your chances are quite high with experienced tour companies and a little bit of luck. These companies know the best weather conditions and times of the day to view the clearest of Northern Lights. 

Sean Kurdziolek portrait of the Northern Lights.
Sean Kurdziolek Portraits

Like to do it solo? Use the Explore Fairbanks Aurora Tracker or the University of Alaska Aurora Tracker (my personal favorite) to see a forecast of the Northern Lights. A KP Index forecast of 4 and above gives you a great shot of seeing the aurora.

And at a KP Index of 7, the aurora would be hard to miss even on well-lit streets.

Just keep in mind that these trackers do not give you a predicted time on when the aurora will come out to play, so be on high alert. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to alerting people when the aurora is out.

An awe inspiring view of the Northern Lights shot in Fairbanks. Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on a budget. Make sure you cross off #5 from your bucket list.
That’s me with the magnificent aurora borealis!

Sean Kurdziolek Portraits and Gallery also shares live videos of the Northern Lights right on his Facebook page. The community brings people from all over the world to experience the Northern Lights in action from the comfort of their warm beds. What Sean does is surreal and so are his aurora portraits and tours.

To help you prepare, book your tour online, at the agency offices in downtown Fairbanks, or schedule a tour/workshop/portrait session with Fairbanks’ best photographer, like I did, to capture stunning imagery of you and your loved ones with the aurora.

Cost: Free – $$$. Varies with tour company and aurora photographer
Location: Sean Kurdziolek Portraits and Gallery – 3375 Badger Rd #4, North Pole, AK 99705
More information: Details & Reviews



GET LOST IN NATURE

No matter what time of the year you visit Fairbanks, nature is always mesmerizing in so many ways. Arctic wildlife and flora can never disappoint.

6. Running Reindeer Ranch 

First things first, you cannot leave Alaska without seeing reindeers. The best destination in Alaska for that is the Running Reindeer Ranch located on the property of University of Alaska – Fairbanks.
 

Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel.

The experienced guides make sure you get the best of reindeers without disturbing them and harming yourself. Observing them in their natural habitat is priceless!

Cost: Adults: $40 to $100 
Location: 1470 Ivans Alley, Fairbanks, AK 99709
More information: Details & Reviews


7. Georgeson Botanical Garden

A few short miles from the Running Reindeer Ranch towards the university, you’ll find the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

I called Alaska home for many years. This is your local’s guide for the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska for first time visitors and return guests.

Although this botanical garden is not the largest I’ve been to, the position atop a hill, stunning views for weddings and engagement shoots, and key role in the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Alaska earns this garden a spot on this list.

This five acre garden is home to many plant science research programs centered around subarctic horticulture. The Georgeson Botanical Garden is probably one of the places I visited the most during the summer.

Cost: Adults: Free (donation box on site) 
Location: 2178 W Tanana Dr, Fairbanks, AK 99709
More information: Official website


8. Chena River State Recreation Area

Chena River State Recreational Area is a bit further off the beaten path, but worth the long drive. With its crystal clear lakes and indigenous trees, this national park is like the giant backyard of Alaska.

Chena River State Recreation Area. I called Alaska home for many years. This is your local’s guide for the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska for first time visitors and return guests.

Cost: Free
Location: 3700 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709
More information: Official website


9. Angel Rock Trail 

For more adventurous souls, we recommend the Angel Rock Trail, which is suitable for all fitness levels with clearly-marked trails and breath-taking views. The circular route should take 2-3 hours to complete.
 

Angel Rocks Trail. An awe inspiring view of the Northern Lights shot in Fairbanks. Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on a budget. Make sure you cross off #5 from your bucket list.

Ahem! Yes, that’s me again. It was a pretty easy hike. Just make sure you spray on your mosquito repellant. The mosquitoes in Fairbanks are huge and ferocious. More must-haves in this Alaska packing list.

Cost: Free or hike all the way to Chena Hot Springs for a dip $15
Location: 15450 Chena Hot Springs Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99712
More information: Details & Reviews


10. Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

It’s not everyday that man and animals share the same space in nature. The Creamer’s Field Refuge provides a large area of lush vegetation, wetlands, and ponds for migratory birds like waterfowl to stopover along their migratory route.

Popularly known as Alaska’s Gold Rush town, Fairbanks, Alaska is only 196 miles from the Arctic Circle. Keep reading to discover the best and most exciting things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on your visit to this Northern Lights haven.
That’s Creamer’s Dairy behind me

Originally created by the Creamers as a dairy farm in 1928, Creamer’s Field now serve as a beautiful space for wildlife viewing, research, and nature education (source). And in 1977, Creamers Fields was admitted to the National Register of Historic Places!

I’ve gone there to watch the Northern Lights, for a relaxing walk, and even a photoshoot. There are many trails for hiking and running and you’ll discover ponds and wetlands as you go deeper into the Field. Spring is the best time to see the migratory birds and watch change colors.

Cost: Free
Location: 1300 College Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Official website


11. The Arctic Circle

Although the Arctic Circle Monument Sign is about 5 hours away from Fairbanks, this monument is located right on the Arctic Circle.

Getting there is an easy drive in the summer but check the weather condition ahead of time since Fairbanks has very short summer months. And don’t forget to fill up your tank for the ~10 roundtrip. Gas stations are few and far between and cost a lot!

Arctic Circle and Northern Lights Tour from Fairbanks

Truth is, there is not much to see when you get to the arctic circle but it’s an activity that many people desire to cross off their bucket list. Some rental companies prohibit driving their cars to certain areas because of the road conditions. 

However, there are tours available. The Arctic Circle and Northern Lights Tour from Fairbanks has great reviews and combines the best of the Arctic Circle with the aurora borealis.

Cost: Free on your own or paid tour
Location: 160 miles northeast of Fairbanks at the end of the Steese Highway
More information: Details & Reviews


12. Chena Hot Springs

This hot spring and resort is a great spot to get a detox in nature while enjoying the warmth of the spring.

A short one-hour drive from the city center, Chena Hot springs is especially relaxing in the winter with stunning views of your snow-covered surrounding. With the Aurora Ice Museum located on site, you can quickly check off two activities from your bucket list.

Chena Hot Springs Day Trip

Be careful driving on the Steese highway in the winter and at night. The road gets sleek even with all-wheel drive cars and snow tires. Opt for a tour if you must.

Cost: $15 cover charge (extra to see the Aurora Ice Museum), tour packages available
Location: 17600 Chena Hot Springs Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99712
More information: Details and Reviews


13. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Popularly known as “Last Great Race on Earth,” the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race covers about 1,000 miles of the “roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer.” (source)

Sled Dogs Running the Iditarod. Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel.

This dog sled races happens in early March each year. and it pays tribute to the heroes (dog mushers and dogs) who delivered life-saving Diphtheria serum to Nome during an epidemic.

I highly recommend watching part of this race if you’re in Fairbanks or along the trail path in March. It’s all outdoors so dress warm!

Cost: Free or $$$$ for Iditarod tours
Location: Race path runs from Anchorage (central Alaska) to Nome (western Bering Sea coast) and the route alternatives each year. Check the official for the checkpoint nearest to you.
More information: Official website


Other things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska and nearby areas:

14. See The Antler Arch

The name explains itself: It is an arch made of hundreds of moose and caribou antlers. You can visit this iconic structure while just outside of the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center.

Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel.
Don’t mind my funny face!

The Antler Arch and surrounding area is full of information about the hunting traditions in Alaska. It’s definitely a unique structure.

Cost: Free
Location: 101 Dunkel St, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Official website


15. Visit Pioneer Park

With its colorful gold rush town and pioneer log cabins, a museum, mining valley, train station, and the imposing sternwheeler Riverboat Nenana aka Queen of the Yukon, visiting Pioneer Park is like stepping into a movie set. 


This theme-village tells the story of the Alaskan people, the residents of Fairbanks and Native American villages of Alaska, so you can have a better visual of what it was like to live here in the old times. 

You’ll also discover log cabins from influential people of the time that survived the historic Fairbanks flood of 1967.

A round up of the best free and fun things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on a budget that many people often overlook.
(So much to see at Pioneer Park)

And for the foodies, Salmon Bake open buffet happens in the park Memorial Day Weekend through sometime in September. This is a haven for fresh seafood lovers. Salmon and crab are always on the menu.

Cost: Free
Location: 2300 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Official website


16. Santa Claus House

It is always Christmas in North Pole, Alaska at the Santa Claus House. I took my sister in October last year and she had a blast. Santa and Mrs. Claus are on duty all year round.

Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel. Santa Claus House.
Santa Claus House during off-Christmas season. The house gets decorated during the holiday season and looks like a winter wonderland.

You’ll find a lot of gifts and Alaska collectibles at the Santa Claus House. As you would expect, the items here come at a premium. But you can get a photo with Santa for free. Many tour buses make a stop at this spot, a short 15 minutes drive from Fairbanks.

Cost: Free
Location: 101 St Nicholas Dr, North Pole, AK 99705
More information: Official website


17. Denali National Park

If you need a little more excitement outside the city limits of Fairbanks, you can get on a same-day train from Fairbanks with Alaska Railroad straight to Denali National Park.

Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel. Alaska Railroad Aurora Winter

Alternatively, if you feel like your time in Fairbanks have come to an end, you can get on the same train all the way to Anchorage. Get your ticket ahead of time since they tend to sell out fast during peak season.

Popularly known as Alaska’s Gold Rush town, Fairbanks, Alaska is only 196 miles from the Arctic Circle. Keep reading to discover the best and most exciting things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on your visit to this Northern Lights haven.
Shot this right outside the Fairbanks train depot. I went on a roundtrip from Fairbanks to Denali. It was so much fun. I suggest spending at least a couple days at Denali National Park.

Cost: $$$
Location: 1031 Alaska Railroad Depot Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99701
More information: Details & Reviews


18. Explore Gold Rush Town

Go down memory lane learning about Fairbanks’ gold rush history with Gold Dredge 8. This fun walking tour starts sometime in May through mid-September (temperatures hover around 50ºF by September). Try your hand at gold panning and take home the gold you pan.

A round up of the best free and fun things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on a budget that many people often overlook. Gold Dredge 8 Tour

Cost: $45
Location: 1803 Old Steese Hwy N, Fairbanks, AK 99712
More information: Details & Reviews


19. Fairbanks Ice Sculpture Festival

The World Ice Art Championships happens in Fairbanks each year. What started in 1990 as a way to continue the ice-sculpting traditions of interior Alaska has now become an international phenomenon featuring over 100 ice artists from around the world.

February is one of the coldest months in Fairbanks so dress warm. And keep warm in the heated on-site tents. Fairbanks Ice Sculpture Festival runs mid-February to late March.

Cost: Day Pass – $16, Youth Pass – $8, Children under 6 – Free
Location: Fairbanks Ice Sculpture Festival (2019 location) – 1800 College Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99709
More information: Official website



More Best of Fairbanks, Alaska

Best Places to Stay in Fairbanks 


For the size of the Fairbanks International Airport, I’m rather impressed that most of these hotels even offer airport pickup. Definitely jump on this opportunity during the winter months.

Believe me, you don’t want to deal with waiting for your rental to warm up in the middle of February at subzero degree temperature. Been there, done that, not fun. 

I usually take an Uber, Lyft, or Fairbanks Taxi Cab home! If you arrive at the airport at wee hours of the morning, it might be hard getting an Uber. I’ve waited 35 plus minutes for one and ended up calling the local taxi company.

This frustration led to me saving the taxi number on my phone (Fairbanks Taxi Cab: 907-455-0000).

Click here to get $10 off your Lyft ride.
Click here to get a free ride with Uber.



Best Places to Eat in Fairbanks 

Finally, we’ve gotten to one of my favorite past times in Fairbanks. The best places to eat in Fairbanks! 

#1 Thai House Restaurant

The best Thai food I’ve ever had is hands down from the Thai House Fairbanks. No other Thai restaurant comes close to what the folks at Thai House offer. And I’ve tried countless Thai restaurants just to quench my hunger for the Thai House. 

In a few short days, I’ll be heading back to Fairbanks and you bet Thai House is on the menu, no pun intended. My two favorite dishes are the Penang Curry and Beef Mussamum.

Cost: $
Location: 412 5th Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99701


#2 The Crepery

Oh Lord, I can’t begin to tell you how phenomenal the crepes from The Crepery are. I’m guilty of letting my mind wander at the thought of the decadence of their menu. Blame it on my two study abroad summers in France! 

 The Crepery Fairbanks
Left: Brie-walnut-honey crepe. Right: Crab Melt crepe. I had both of these. Super filling!

The day I kissed Fairbanks goodbye, I stopped time at The Crepery one last for my dose of crepes. The folks were so nice that they said my meal was on the house for being a loyal customer all these years. 

My favorite crepes as the Brie, Walnut, and Honey, the Crabe Melt, and the Smoked Salmon, and Cuban crepes. They also have vegetarian options.

Cost: $
Location: 523 2nd Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99701


#3 Shogun Japanese Restaurant

If you love hibachi or simply never tried Japanese food, you’ll savor each bite of your generous portion meal at Shoguns. 

Although the price is a little higher than Thai House and The Crepery, this is a must for visitors to Fairbanks. Anything on their menu is fair game.

Cost: $$
Location: 4005 Geist Rd #3552, Fairbanks, AK 99709


Other great places to eat in Fairbanks, Alaska:

  • Wolf Run Restaurant
  • Lavelle’s Bistro – Housed in SpringHill Suites Hotel and dubbed one of the best spots in Fairbanks. Great food and upscale experience with a menu option to match.
  • Simply Thai
  • The Cookie Jar Restaurant – The ultimate breakfast and brunch spot!
  • HooDoo Brewing Company – a beer lover’s dream come true!
  • Frostbite Foods
  • The Pump House Restaurant – scenic views of the Chena River right on the deck with amazing food and decent prices. Make a reservation or be prepared to wait!
  • Pike’s Landing – A hot spot for all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch!

Too tired or too cold to head out to eat? Try Door Dash meal service delivery. Click here to find out if DoorDash is available for your restaurant of choice.



Typical Costs

Accommodation can be pricey in general in Alaska and Fairbanks is no exception. In the thick of winter aka our coldest months, hostels and accommodations are super affordable.

Where to stay in Fairbanks, Alaska
Super cozy wood cabin on Airbnb!

But when April and May come around, expect to pay a premium (no joke) on the same accommodation. Book AHEAD of time as it’s not unheard of for everything to be fully booked even Airbnb (click here to get $40 off your stay). I’ve had family pay a hotel premium for a motel just because that was the only hotel available. 

Hostel: $40 – 80 per night
A standard Bed & Breakfast Room: $85 – $150 per night
A standard hotel room: $150 – $175 per night
A luxury hotel room: $250-300 per night
Coming as a group? Get an Airbnb!

Pike's Waterfront Lodge

Dining:
Breakfast: $10-15 per person
Meal at a standard restaurant: $20-25
Meal at a fine-dining restaurant: $40 
Beer: $5-6 


Transportation:
A Full Tank of gas: ~$50 
Small Car rental: $35/day in winter (significantly higher in the summer due to tourist season)


Gas is also a premium here. The cost can go upwards of $3-4 dollars in the summer depending on the oil market too. If visiting Fairbanks in the winter months, always ask if your rental company has a car with autostart and maybe even heated seats. 

Car Rental Fairbanks

Autostart will make sure visit during the frigid months more pleasant rather than cussing under your breath as you run outside to start your car 10-15 minutes before you head out to explore the town.

If you’re not familiar with driving in winter conditions, accept an upgrade to an SUV or car with winter tires. And remember to drive carefully and slower than usual. Or alternatively, use Uber or Lyft to get around town.



Fairbanks Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit (When to Visit)

Alaskan summers are very short, usually between June and August. Yup, the weather remains chilly throughout the month of May. You can get by with sweaters and a light rain coat. And the chill returns at the end of August/early September. It’s not unusual to see a snowcapped town in early October. 

For this reason, the peak tourist reason are the months of June through August for lovers of the Midnight Sun and around February through March for Northern Lights chasers.

This is the high season due to ideal weather conditions, not to mention the midnight sun that keeps the city in the light all day long. The obvious drawback to summer vacation in Fairbanks is the increased prices as well as the crowd.

Surprisingly, prices remain relatively low during the winter months with a small spike during spring break month of March. I highly recommend you book your accommodation and tours well in advance of your travel.

Pike's Waterfront Lodge

Although cold and heavy snow can be intimidating, it creates a perfect environment for winter sports and viewing Northern Lights.

If you insist on mild weather, visiting in May and September is the smart choice. Both months will see the weather warm enough to enjoy outdoors, yet it will be not half as crowded as the summer months.


Weather in Fairbanks

Fairbanks is part of the Subarctic climate zone. The highest temperature recorded in summer is in July around 73 F, while it comes down to -15 F in January. The annual snow is 61 inches, which is more than twice the US average.

A round up of the best free and fun things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on a budget that many people often overlook.
Shot this at -22ºF!

On the other hand, the annual rain is 12 inches, which is less than half of the US average. The city has an average of 155 sunny days per year.


How to Save Money in Fairbanks, Alaska

There are many ways for you to save money while traveling.

  • If you don’t want to pay huge amounts of money for accommodation, consider bringing your tent. There are many campsites in and around Fairbanks where you could stay for as little as $10 per night. These places will be packed on the weekends and during the summer, so you must book in advance.
  • Some camping grounds to consider are Chena River Wayside, Rivers Edge RV Park & Campground, Riverview RV Park, Ice Art Park and Tanana Valley Campground and RV Park. I’m not an avid camper but I would not recommend camping in the winter. Get an Airbnb, a dry cabin (a cabin without running water) or couch surf if you must.
  • If you are two or more persons, you can always rent a car in Fairbanks and split the costs.
  • Visiting in the offseason can help you book certain hotels and tours at a lower price. Besides, car rental prices will be significantly cheaper if you visit outside the peak season.

Safety in Fairbanks, Alaska

  • Fairbanks is a safe and quiet town. I stayed alone on a quiet street for three years and never had any reasons to watch my back (but I did).
  • As with any town, there are always some bad apples. Our biggest concerns are petty thefts, auto thefts, and burglary. Exercise routine precautions such as keeping your car locked.
  • Alaska is the wild wild west and Fairbanks is its Last Frontier. And as such, this is wildlife country. I’ve spotted moose in my yard, street, and even place of work. Keep you distance; admire them from afar. I’ve never seen a bear in town but they do exist on hunting grounds.

Culture & Customs

Language

Although English is the spoken language in Fairbanks, there are about 20 native Alaskan languages.

These native languages include Aleut, Alutiiq, Central Yup’ik, St Lawrence Island Yup’ik, Inupiaq, Tlingit, Ahtna, Dena’ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Upper Kuskokwim, Koyukon, Lower Tanana, Tanacross, Upper Tanana, Gwich’in, Han, Haida, and Tsimshian.

After calling the Last Frontier home for several years, these are my top recommendations on the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska for first time visitors. #5, #15, #16 are my ultimate favorites.
My friend, Dawn (she’s an Inupiaq) and I rocking handmade Alaskan Atikluks!

Currency

Because we are tucked away on the western end of Canada, some people wonder if we are part of the US. Just like New York, Alaska is one of the 54 states of the US. The US Dollar is the official and only currency we use in Alaska.

Tipping

Tipping is a common practice, although not obligatory. It is usually customary to leave a 10-20% tip at restaurants for excellent service. The same ratio goes for bartenders, tour guides or any other employee in the hospitality sector.

Wildlife

The arctic wildlife is extremely alluring if observed from a safe distance. National Parks around Fairbanks are home to bears, moose, caribou, bald eagles, and wolves. Besides the regular national parks, there are also wildlife conservation centers where rescued animals are looked after.


Getting Around Fairbanks

Although renting a car is the easiest way to travel around, the city also offers some public transportation options.

  • Special cabs called Alaska Cabs are always operating
  • Uber and Lfyt are alive and well in Fairbanks
  • Traveling via train is possible between Fairbanks and Anchorage through Denali National Park

For detailed information about public transportation, visit this website.


Entry & Exit Requirements

You need a US Visa to enter Alaska, as it is a state of the US. The only exception is Canada since Canadian citizens can travel to the US without a visa.

Not sure what to pack for your upcoming trip to Fairbanks? I’ve created the ultimate packing list and a free, downloadable checklist for you to ensure that you have everything you need for your trip to Alaska.


In summary, the best things to do and see in Fairbanks, Alaska in the summer or winter are:

  • The University of Alaska Museum of the North 
  • Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center
  • Fairbanks Ice Museum
  • Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
  • Chase the Aurora Borealis
  • Running Reindeer Ranch 
  • Georgeson Botanical Garden
  • Chena River State Recreational Area
  • Angel Rock Trail 
  • See The Antler Arch
  • Visit Pioneer Park
  • The Arctic Circle
  • Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge
  • Santa Claus House
  • Fairbanks to Denali National Park with Alaska Railroad
  • Chena Hot Springs
  • Fairbanks gold rush town walking tour 
  • Fairbanks Ice Sculpture Festival (Mid-February to late March)
  • The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (Early March)

Aurora Borealis


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

What can you do in Fairbanks, Alaska?

Some of the most popular things to do in Fairbanks are watching the Aurora Borealis, visiting Running Reindeer Ranch, Pioneer Park, Morris Thompson Cultural Center, the Santa Claus House, go for a deep at Chena Hot Springs and more. See the list above for interesting things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks Alaska?

As a matter of fact, Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights because of its unique location inside the Auroral Oval. I had this image taken right here in Fairbanks. 

Can you drive to the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks?

Yes, you can drive from to the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks. Be aware that some car rental companies prohibit driving their cars on that route. This is one of the most popular Arctic Circle tours that will take you on a roundtrip to the Arctic Circle.

Is there Uber in Fairbanks, Alaska?

After years of waiting, Uber and Lyft are now available in Fairbanks, Alaska.


I hope you found this comprehensive post on the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska informative and helpful as you explore the possibilities of visiting Fairbanks.

Feel free to drop a comment below if you have any questions. I read them all and personally respond to every comment.

Interested in more travel posts? Check out these popular posts:


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Everything you need to know about the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska from visiting Pioneer Park, the best time to see the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the Museum of the North, Santa Claus House, Running Reindeer Ranch and the best places to stay from Wedgewood Resort to Pike's Landing hotel.
Popularly known as Alaska’s Gold Rush town, Fairbanks, Alaska is only 196 miles from the Arctic Circle. Keep reading to discover the best and most exciting things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska on your visit to this Northern Lights haven.

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2 Comments

    • Louisa
      Author
      September 26, 2019 / 3:54 pm

      Always a pleasure, Amy. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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