F is for Fairbanks, Alaska

“Meet an Eskimo and Build an Igloo.”

(For a backstory on the Land of Nod series, click here!)

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about Fairbanks before writing this post but NOW. I. AM. HOOKED!  I had no idea there was so much to do there. When I envisioned myself going to Alaska, I figured it would be on a cruise from Anchorage. Well, forget that! Read on my friend.

Fairbanks is the second largest city in Alaska and is a former gold rush town…where you can still pan for gold!

Getting there:

Buckle up, it’s going to take awhile. There aren’t many flights into Fairbanks so your best bet is into Anchorage. Direct flights out of NYC airports take around 8 hours and from LAX you’re looking at 5 hours. Once you land you have a few options:

Fly – once in Anchorage you can hop on a puddle jumper for a quick 1 hour flight.

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Rent a Car – this is probably the most logical choice. It will take roughly 6 hours to get to Fairbanks, however, you’re going to want to make some stops along the way!

Train – if you want to sit back and watch the scenery then the Alaskan Railway may be just the ticket (pun intended)! But be aware, it will take 11 hours to get to Fairbanks this way and it will cost you!

Adult – $294

Child (2-11 years old) – $125

Infant (under 2) – Free

But look at those views!

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Things to do:

Aurora Lights

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There are so many ways you can see these spectacular lights! Arrange to view them from a heated “aurorium” cabin, dome or lodge, on an overnight sled dog expedition, by snow cat tour, while ice-fishing, on a snowmobile adventure, on a flight above the Arctic Circle…the list goes on!

Dog Mushing – learn about this fascinating world and the pups in front of the sled. You can tour facilities and take a ride for yourself through a number of different companies.

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Hot Springs – let’s give a round of applause to the gold miners who used these mineral-rich springs to ease their aches and pains. Relax your body and senses in the Chena Hot Springs, Manley Hot Springs or Tolovana Hot Springs.

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Gold Tours – Interested in panning for your own gold? Stop by Denali National Park where you can learn the best way to find your pot of gold while enjoying the beautiful views of the back country.

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Festivals:

Fairbanks does not have a shortage of festivals!

Midnight Sun Festival – Takes place the Saturday closest to June 21st – the summer solstice.

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The historic Midnight Sun Festival is Alaska’s largest single-day event which celebrates sunshine in the Golden Heart City. The free 12-hour street fair is marked by 30,000 attendees perusing hundreds of exhibitors offering Alaskan merchandise, delicious food and services. In addition, there are three stages with over 30 live music performances as well as gold panning, break dancing, a climbing wall, pony rides and so much more!

Festival of Native Arts – takes place the beginning of March at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks Campus. See art demonstrations, cultural films and traditional songs and dances (and occasionally join in too). The festival is also a venue to purchase authentic arts and crafts directly from Alaska Native artisans

 

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Christmas in Ice – occurs the end of November to the beginning of January. The six week event features a variety of ice sculpting competitions where huge blocks of ice are carved into holiday-themed ice sculptures. A quintessentially family-friendly event, Christmas in Ice also has a frosty playground crafted out if ice equipped with a fantastic ice maze, ice twirlers and ice slides.

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Other considerations:

  • Alaska time is considered four hours behind than the East coast.
  • Alaska’s Midnight Sun Season takes place from May 17 to July 27 where the sun never seems to set. You could wake up in the middle of the night to the sun shining brightly and people going about their day as if it’s mid-afternoon.
  • Some argue the best time to visit Alaska is between May 10 and September 15. However, before and after those days, you can get better deals on tours and hotels.
  • Daytime highs range from 60°F – 80°F. Nighttime lows are cooler with temperatures dropping into the 40’s – 50’s. May and September are about 5°- 10° cooler.

Bottom line, pack lots of layers!

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