Many people only dream about visiting Fairbanks, so I always feel lucky when I visit and so should you. For me, this part of Alaska is about unparalleled wildlife, unbridled nature, and some foodie experiences for the ages. I love the “Golden Heart of Alaska,” a place where cruise-ship visitors can’t reach, where the midnight sun shines, and where the auroras light up the winter sky.
There’s truly nowhere like Fairbanks, the only city in the state’s interior. With three days, you've got just enough time to sink into the best of the best in this former mining town turned cultural melting pot. Here’s what to do.
Summers are nearly perfect here—don’t assume it’s always cold.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Chena Hot Springs Resort.
Get a deeper look into “Last Frontier” on a tour, to include info about the city’s native Alaskan heritage and its gold-mining and oil history and visiting its museums. Then, grab lunch downtown—there are many options, from Thai to Japanese to French. Sniff out Soba for authentic Moldovan fare.
Chena Hot Springs Resort—about an hour drive from Fairbanks—is a top visitor experience year-round. Relax in the geothermal indoor pool or outdoor wading lake, tour a husky kennel, visit the Aurora Ice Museum, and even saddle up to its ice bar. Don't miss the onsite Chena Hot Springs Restaurant, where everything is “greenhouse to table.”
Chena is also a good spot for witnessing the aurora, and many tours make this a twofer. Once night falls, you’ll be taken to a spot on the outskirts of the resort where you’ll sip warm beverages until those magnificent ribbons appear.
After a sweet or savory breakfast at The Crepery downtown, it’s time to experience the Alaska state sport: dog sledding. Most tours offer history and get you mushing—even if there’s no snow. You’ll likely get some one-on-one time with the friendly pups too.
In winter, end your trip with a culinary-meets-cultural experience: ice fishing. Your guide will set you up in a warming hut, get you working your auger, and with any luck, you’ll be reeling in salmon, trout, and more. Your guide will even cook up your catch. In milder weather, try a Chena River fishing excursion.