Are you planning a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska?
Awesome! There are so many fun things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska! In this post we are going to explore some great ideas to add to your Alaska itinerary so you will know what to do in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Let’s check out all the things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska!
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Where is Fairbanks
Fairbanks, Alaska is located in the interior region of Alaska. It is near the Chena River. It is just over two hours to Denali National Park.
Fairbanks has about 31,142 people and is the third largest city in Alaska behind Anchorage and Juneau.
Fairbanks to Anchorage is about a six hour drive.
It is 198 miles to the Arctic Circle; however, you can reach the Arctic Circle Trading Post in about an hour and a half.
How to Get to Fairbanks Alaska
Fairbanks has an international airport. This is a great way to get to Fairbanks. It is a small airport and easy to get from point A to point B.
Another way to get to Fairbanks is by train. In the summer the Alaskan Railroad has daily routes from Anchorage to Fairbanks with stops in Talkeetna and Denali. It is a 12 hour train ride.
When is the Best Time to Visit Fairbanks Alaska?
This post is all about things to do in Fairbanks in summer. We loved visiting during the summer solstice. However, we did ask a local and they said March was a great time to visit.
How Many Days Do I Need in Fairbanks Alaska?
We spent 3 days in the Fairbanks area (that does not include our time in Denali). I think 3-4 days is a good amount of time to explore.
Pioneer Park was one of the first attractions we noticed when we drove into Fairbanks. It looks like a huge wooden fort. We were very curious about what it was and decided to check it out.
We found that Pioneer Park is a historic site, a playground, and concert hall. There is also an outdoor restaurant available in the summer.
Hours and Admission
There is no admission fee to enter Pioneer Park. During the summer season the park is open from 12:00pm – 8:00 pm.
Alaska Salmon Bake
The Alaska Salmon Bake is one of the best restaurants in Fairbanks. It is expensive but so worth it, especially if you want to experience some of the popular foods Alaska has to offer.
You can order family style meals which include fried chicken, fried halibut, fried cod, salmon, prime rib, caesar salad, bread, fries, and drinks. You can even order a side of crab legs. There are also more kid friendly items such as chicken and fries, mozzarella cheese sticks, and more.
The portions are huge and the food is delicious. The restaurant is located outside. All of the food is cooked fresh on outdoor grills.
You can dine outside or in the dining hall.
5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Come hungry! This meal provides so much food you will be waddling out of the park. It is delicious too!
There are two play areas. They are both fun. Our kids loved running around and playing. They are Alaska themed with “bear” and “moose” swings. They also have a carousel ($3).
Located throughout pioneer park are free museums. There are exhibits that display the pioneers of Alaska. The history is fascinating and fun to check out.
The Harding Car was the train that President Warren G Harding rode when he visited Alaska in 1923. He was the first president to visit Alaska. He drove the golden spike into the completed Alaskan railroad.
Pioneer Air Museum
Admission: $5 adult or $10 for a group (12 and under are free)
This museum is located in a large gold dome. The airplanes inside are from the years 1913 -1948.
In the middle of Pioneer Park is a large ship. This large wooden ship operated on the Yukon and Tanana Rivers from 1933 to 1954. She was known as the “Lady of the River”
Admission: Free with a suggested fee of $5
The museum highlights all of the historic events that have taken place in Alaska. We were able to check it out and they have some great exhibits.
The Kitty Hensley House and the Wickersham House are both worth checking out.
Tanana Valley Railroad Museum
This museum houses the oldest steam locomotive in Alaska.
During the summer live concerts are available to watch at the Gazebo. The Palace Theater offers a nightly show at 8:15 pm (this is an additional cost)
If you want to rent canoes, kayaks, or bikes head over to Canoe Alaska. They can set you up. You will typically depart from Pioneer Park and head to the Pump House located on the Chena River.
Fairbanks Ice Museum
The Fairbanks Ice Museum is located downtown. This is a small but fun museum to check out.
10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Our kids loved going to the ice museum. The temperature ranges from 4 – 25 degrees. There are coats you can wear if you are cold. There is a slide you can sled down. It is fast and fun! Our kids did this multiple times! There are also ice sculptures to check out. An ice sculptor is onsite and will do a demonstration for you as well.
During the winter months they said that 10 city blocks are made into a winter wonderland with ice slides and obstacles.
Discovery Boat Tour
The Riverboat Discovery Tour is located in Fairbanks, on the Chena River.
This is a fun tour that is interactive. The river boat tour includes demonstrations from a world renowned dog sled training facility, a pilot taking off and landing his plane alongside the boat, as well as an entire Native American Village to explore.
The boat departs at 2:00 pm daily
We loved this boat tour. There is delicious food on board including free donuts and salmon dip. We also loved all the demonstrations and learning about Alaskan culture. It was fun to actually get off of the boat and explore the Native American Village. It was a fantastic experience. The tour is about a 3.5 hour tour. The kids were entertained the entire time.
Gold Dredge #8
Gold Dredge 8 is a two hour tour that takes you into the heart of the gold mining fields.
Gold Dredge 8 is owned by the Riverboat Discovery. However, they are not located at the same location.
The tour begins at 10:00 am
This tour includes gold panning, a train ride, and a mining museum.
Explore the Chena River
The Chena River is beautiful. Taking a walk along the river, going on a kayak/rafting tour, or even jet skiing are options in Fairbanks.
The Pump House
There are some amazing restaurants located along the river. The Pump House is located right along the river and has spectacular views. You will need to get a reservation.
Midnight Sun Festival
Check Out the Totem Poles
If you head to the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, there are some impressive totem poles. This is an outdoor exhibit that is free of charge.
Day Trips From Fairbanks
Visit The North Pole
Want to visit Santa? You better head 20 minutes from Fairbanks to North Pole, Alaska.
Santa Claus House
North Pole is a fun Christmas town. Even the McDonalds has red and white striped poles. The Santa Claus House is where you will find Santa and Mrs. Claus. This Christmas store has some fun items especially if you love buying Christmas ornaments as souvenirs.
Located next to the Santa Claus House is the Antler Academy. You can visit Santa’s reindeer.
Tours are available on the top of each hour.
Trans Alaska Pipeline
The Trans Alaska Pipeline is over 800 miles long. It is an oil transportation system. It is an impressive site.
There are several spots to view the pipeline, but Alaska.org recommends traveling a little over an hour and half from Fairbanks to get a great view.
Visit Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs is just over an hour drive from Fairbanks. It is a beautiful drive. Because there are so many activities to do at Chena Hot Springs, it is a great day trip from Fairbanks.
The highlight of Chena Hot Springs is of course the hot springs.
You have to be 18 years old to enjoy the outdoor hot springs. This was a bummer for us because we have four kids.
My husband and I took turns enjoying the hot springs. It is not as fun when you can not enjoy the activity together. We didn’t feel like the water was too much warmer than a hot tub. However, there are certain sections that were hotter.
There is another indoor pool that kids are allowed in. I thought the indoor area was dirty and did not enjoy it. It was a little sad that my kids could not enjoy the outdoor pool.
I do want to mention that the website makes Chena Hot Springs seem like a luxury resort but in reality it is more of a campground with amenities.
Activities at Chena Hot Springs
There is an Aurora Ice Museum, ATV Rides, kennel tour and dog sled ride, and horseback riding at Chena Hot Springs.
We wanted to check out the ice museum but it was closed the day we went. The prices are very reasonable for the activities that are offered.
Visit Denali National Park
One highlight of our trip to Alaska was visiting Denali National Park. Denali is a great day trip from Fairbanks. It is located about two hours from Fairbanks. We rented a car but shuttle services are also available.
There is a $15 per person entry fee for those over the age of 15. If you have a national park pass you are good to go.
You will need to plan ahead if you decide to visit Denali National Park. Only the first 15 miles into the park are accessible by car. If you want to journey farther you will need to book a bus tour.
The bus tour is 8 hours. We thought this would be too long for our kids so we opted to do everything accessible by car. It took us a complete day to see and do everything. We started with the visitor center, hiked, and checked out a dog sled team.
Hiking at Denali National Park
We love hiking. There are some amazing hikes at Denali. Our favorite hike was the Horseshoe Lake Trail. It was absolutely beautiful.
Fun Activities Near Denali
Denali National Park is an amazing day trip from Fairbanks!
Arctic Circle From Fairbanks
Fairbanks is a great place to start your tour of the Arctic Circle. If you want to experience Earth’s most northern point of latitude where it is entirely day or night (depending on the time of year) this is a must!
The Arctic Circle Trading Post is less than an hour and a half from Fairbanks. There are some great tours that begin in Fairbanks and include exploring the famous Dalton Highway, and observing wildlife along the Yukon River. Touring the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks needs to be on your Fairbanks itinerary.
Places to Stay in Fairbanks Alaska
HotelsThere are a few hotel options in Fairbanks. We love staying at Marriott. Spring Hills Suites is located downtown and is in the heart of town. It is the perfect location if you plan to visit during the Midnight Sun Festival because you can walk right out of your hotel room and enjoy the festivities.
VRBOHome rentals are available in Fairbanks if you are looking for a little more space.
Rent an RVIf you want to do some camping and traveling around renting, an RV is a great option. RVshare is a great company.
Things To Do in Fairbanks Alaska
Hopefully, this post gave you a few ideas of all the fun things to do in Fairbanks. We loved our time in Alaska. Fairbanks has a lot to offer. Good luck planning your Alaska itinerary!
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