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3 Days in Fairbanks for Families

Organisiert von Jacqueline Kehoea travel writer whose heart was left in Alaska years ago.

Most people consider Alaska the “trip of a lifetime,” and even fewer make it to Fairbanks—so lucky you. The only city in Alaska’s interior, this city is unlike anywhere else in the country. In the land of the midnight sun, the adventures are wilder, more in tune with nature, and still fun for the whole family.

While you could spend weeks experiencing Fairbanks, three days is a good start to get a feel for the heart of Alaska. If you’re open to adventure, here’s what to look forward to.

Summer weather in Fairbanks is practically perfect, but there won’t be auroras.

If you only have time for one thing, make it dogsledding (even in summer).

Day 1

Welcome to Fairbanks. You’ve made it to Alaska’s interior. Start with crepes from the Crepery downtown, and then take the trail along the Chena River behind the Visitors Center (pop in for an introduction to Fairbanks history). For ease, hop on a guided tour, which hits the best spots, touches on the city’s Indigenous heritage, and gives recommendations.

For your first Alaskan adventure take an all-terrain vehicle to the Alaskan countryside outside of Fairbanks. You'll get those backcountry views without having to hike 10-plus miles into the wilderness. And in summer, you'll have plenty of daylight late into the night.

Day 2

Today head towards the Arctic Circle, north of Fairbanks, on a tour. There’s so much you can do—ride the famous Dalton Highway (one of the most isolated roads in the country), go snowmobiling in the tundra, spot wildlife on the Yukon River—and that’s just a few ideas.

Tonight, look for the northern lights. They can appear from August to April, and most tours offer a warm-up stop with hot drinks while you wait for those dancing ribbons to light up the sky. You’ll need a relatively clear night to see them; leave your next night free to double your chances.

Day 3

Take it easy this morning—walk around downtown, pop by Marlos Bakery, or visit the Fairbanks Children's Museum. West of downtown you’ll find the free Pioneer Park, Tanana Valley Railroad Museum, and Chena Riverwalk. The University of Alaska Museum of the North, with top-notch wildlife exhibits, is good, too.

Fit in one last adventure. Take the kids dog sledding—it is the Alaska state sport—and you'll meet friendly, hard-working dogs and get pulled through the snow (in summer, they use all-terrain vehicles). Or, go ice fishing with a guide who cooks up your catch for dinner for a memorable last meal.

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