When thinking of hot vacation spots, you may not think to look north — especially not to the outer rim of the Arctic. But all year long, Alaska affords adventures for every type of weather, and every type of person. While Juneau may be the capital, Fairbanks is Alaska’s Golden Heart, with plenty of unique adventures and R&R for the traveler. From dog sledding to the Aurora Borealis, here's what to do, see and eat in Fairbanks.
The Northern Lights
The Aurora Borealis is one of the best reasons to make a pilgrimage this far north. Nothing is more captivating or spellbinding than watching the ghostly Northern Lights shine and twist overhead. And there is arguably no better place better situated for viewing than Fairbanks. Located in a ring-shaped area around the Earth called the “aurora oval,” Fairbanksans have found plenty of ways to show off the lights: from overnight dog sled or snow cat trips to aerial tours and heated cabins designed for the optimal viewing experience. Pro tip: the Northern Lights are most prevalent between August and April, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Eat Like a Local
For a truly Alaskan dining experience, look no further than the Pump House. This upscale restaurant serves “Alaskan style” cuisine with herbs grown in the garden out back, salmon flown in from downstate, and their very own 21-day-aged prime beef. They also fly up fresh oysters from Seattle and some of the best wines from the Pacific Northwest. Beer drinkers have no fear: there are plenty of Alaska microbrews to keep you satiated. Done up like an old-time gold mining outpost replete with pressed tin ceilings, pool tables, and moose heads, relax in the summer sun on their patio, and watch as the Discovery riverboat chugs by. You'll also see float planes skid to a stop carrying the day’s shipment of Alaskan salmon, which could soon be on your plate. How's that for farm to table?
The Aurora Ice Museum is an amazing combination of art, imagination, and brr-ight ideas. Home to the World Ice Art Championships, it's a place for the artists to showcase their works year-round. And why wouldn't it be housed inside a giant igloo? Once the famous Aurora Ice Hotel, the museum now features an extensive gallery and an ice bar. Be sure to check out the chandeliers made of intricately hand-carved crystals that are illuminated to resemble the Northern Lights. There are life-sized chess sets, a huge fireplace (iceplace?), and even an ice outhouse, that's thankfully permanently out of order.
Bouchard's International Dog Mushing and Sled Museum
Revive your inner love of Balto and check out this museum dedicated to dog mushing. An intimate look at the history and sport of sled dogs with personalized tours from the owner himself, the museum is by far one of the most unique and personal experiences you can have in Alaska.
You've visited the museum, mow it’s time to live the experience. Meet and play with your sled team, while learning how to command, harness, and steer the dogs. An age-old Alaskan tradition in the flesh, the experience is good for a family day trip, but if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the overnight trip out into the wild.