Are you planning a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska? Looking for the best things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska?
Awesome! There are so many fun things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska! In this post, we are going to explore some great Fairbanks activities to add to your Alaska itinerary so you will know what to do in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Let's check out all the best 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 June, July, August, and maybe September. Basically, all summer long. 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.
Let's explore all the best things to do in Fairbanks Alaska!
1. Pioneer Park
Pioneer Park was one of the first Fairbanks attractions we noticed when we drove into town. 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, playground, and concert hall. There is also an outdoor restaurant available in the summer.
It is one of the best things to do in Fairbanks during the summer months because it offers a lot of entertainment and fun activities in Fairbanks Alaska.
Hours and Admission
There is no admission fee to enter Pioneer Park. During the summer season, the park is open from 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
2. 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! This is a must-do thing to do in Fairbanks!
3. Pioneer Park PlayGround
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).
If you are wondering what fun things to do in Fairbanks with kids, this is it.
4. Historic Museums
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.
Let's explore a few of the activities in Fairbanks and museums at Pioneer Park.
5. Harding Car
History of the Harding Car
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.
This is a historical fun thing to do in Fairbanks. It will not take very long to walk through the train.
6. 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. This is a fun thing to do in Fairbanks if you have plane lovers in your group.
7. SS Nenana
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”
This is a favorite Fairbank attraction for many locals in the area as it has such historic importance to the area.
8. Pioneer Museum
Admission: Free with a suggested fee of $5
Pioneer Museum Highlights
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. We love learning a little about the history of Fairbanks Alaska.
9. Historic Houses
Historical Fairbanks Experience
The Kitty Hensley House and the Wickersham House are both worth checking out. This is one of the places to visit in Fairbanks Alaska if you love historical travel experiences.
11. Tanana Valley Railroad Museum
This museum houses the oldest steam locomotive in Alaska. This is really one of the best things to do in Fairbanks Alaska if you have a train lover in your group.
12. Concerts at Pioneer Park
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)
This is one of the best things to do in Fairbanks in July, as more concerts are offered during the summer months.
13. Canoe Alaska
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.
You can also boat downtown on the Chena River and then bike back. This is one of the best things to do in Fairbanks in the summer. It is a fun adventure your family will love!
14. 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.
This is one of the best things to do in Fairbanks with kids!
15. 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 onboard including free donuts and salmon dip. We also loved all the demonstrations and learning about the 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.
Of all the things to do in Fairbanks, this goes on the is to top things to do in Fairbanks list!
15. 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. It is a fun thing to do in Fairbanks to get the true Alaskan experience.
16. 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. There are many tour companies that rent kayaks and rafts.
You can easily spend an afternoon paddling down the river.
17. 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. It is one of the best places to go in Fairbanks Alaska.
18. Midnight Sun Festival
The Midnight Sun Festival is one of the biggest events of the year in Fairbanks. It occurs during the summer solstice which is the longest day of the year. It is usually around June 21st.
Things to Do in Fairbanks Alaska
There are booths, competitions, and food trucks that line downtown, Fairbanks. We happened to be in town during this event and we had a great time. Taking a tour of the city is a fun way to enjoy the festival and see what Fairbanks has to offer.
If you are in town, this is one of the best things to do in Fairbanks Alaska.
19. 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.
Free Things to Do in Fairbanks Alaska
This is a fun free thing to do in Fairbanks Alaska. How cool is it to see a totem pole right….in Alaska…..totally worth the experience!
Day Trips From Fairbanks Alaska
There are a lot of fun things to do near Fairbanks. Planning a day trip is a perfect way to explore more of the interior region of Alaska! Let's explore a few of your options for day trips from Fairbanks, Alaska.
20. 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 Mcdonald's 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. This is one of the best things to do in Fairbanks Alaska with kids.
21. Trans Alaska Pipeline
The Trans Alaska Pipeline is over 800 miles long. It is an oil transportation system. It is an impressive sight.
There are several spots to view the pipeline, but Alaska.org recommends traveling a little over an hour and a half from Fairbanks to get a great view.
This would be an interesting thing to do near Fairbanks Alaska if you have the time.
22. 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.
23. The Ice Museum 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 at Chena Hot Springs. The ice museum was created from 1000 tons of snow. There are ice sculptures and displays to check out.
Other 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.
24. 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.
25. Talkeetna Alaska Near Denali
If you are interested in river rafting, zip-lining, or flying to see Denali, these activities are available in Talkeetna Alaska. My husband took a flightseeing tour that landed on a glacier. He loved it!
Denali National Park is an amazing day trip from Fairbanks!
26. 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!
Arctic Circle Trading Post
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.
I would highly recommend adding this to your Fairbanks itinerary if your trip is during a time you can see the Aurora Borealis. This could be the best thing to do in Fairbanks, hands down!
Places to Stay in Fairbanks Alaska
Now that you know what to do in Fairbanks, Alaska, let's plan where the best place to stay is.
There 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.
Home rentals are available in Fairbanks if you are looking for a little more space.
Rent an RV
If you want to do some camping and traveling around renting, an RV is a great option. RVshare is a great company.
Best Things To Do in Fairbanks Alaska
Hopefully, this post gave you a few ideas of all the fun things to do in Fairbanks Alaska. We loved our time in Alaska. Fairbanks has a lot to offer. My top recommendations of the best things to do in Fairbanks from this list are:
- Discovery River Boat Tour ( So Amazing!)
- Pioneer Park
- Salmon Bake
- Float the Chena River
- See a Totem Pole
My top day trips from Fairbanks are:
- Denali National Park
- Arctic Circle Tour
Good luck planning your time in Fairbanks Alaska!
More Adventures in Alaska
We did an amazing road trip in Alaska. We started with all the fun things to do in Fairbanks, including a Riverboat tour, and a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa. Then headed to Denali National Park. We stopped in Talkeetna and took a flightseeing tour that actually landed on Mt. Denali. We also spent some time in Anchorage. We took a beautiful drive from Anchorage to Seward making Seward the final destination. It was incredible and we loved visiting. We love Alaska and highly recommend planning a trip! You might enjoy this Alaska itinerary. If you need help packing for Alaska, I have you covered there as well.
If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community. You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip. I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me. It is a great group to join!