Known as the gateway to the Arctic, Fairbanks is the only major city in Alaska’s interior and is also one of the best spots to view the northern lights. With only one day, you’ll want to take advantage of tours that include multiple activities to pack in as many sights as possible. Here’s how to make the most of one day in Fairbanks.
Delve into Alaska’s past and its present with a sightseeing tour of Fairbank’s top history and cultural sights: Start with the Fairbanks Community Museum or the University of Alaska Museum of the North for a crash course in Alaskan history. Then move on to the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum, the Pioneer Air Museum, or the Large Animal Research Station. A guided tour can take you to many of these sights without the hassle of navigating the city, so that you can see as much as possible in a short period of time.
Located just an hour’s drive from Fairbanks, White Mountains National Recreation Area offers stunning scenery, nearly endless trails, and plenty of gold-panning opportunities. Opt for a guided hike to Wickersham Dome, which offers incredible panoramas of the White Mountains and the Brooks Range on a clear day. Other options vary by season and include river-rafting trips, guided fly-fishing experiences, ice-fishing tours, and dog-mushing adventures.
A visit to the steamy thermal pools at Chena Hot Springs is a must. Due to its unique location, clear skies, and low light pollution, the area is one of the best places in Alaska to see the northern lights, and many tours from Fairbanks combine a visit to the springs with a northern lights viewing experience. You also won’t want to miss the curious ice sculptures in the Aurora Ice Museum or the Ice Bar’s signature cocktail, an appletini served in a glass carved entirely out of ice.