- For other places with the same name, see Fairbanks (disambiguation).
Fairbanks is a town in interior Alaska. With 30,000 inhabitants, and a total of 100,000 in Fairbanks North Star Borough, it is Alaska's second-largest city. A junction of several major highways, will be a likely stop of most visitors to the state.
Fairbanks proper may be like a smaller version of a large American city. There's a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot and a McDonald's. Don't let this fool you: The greater Fairbanks area is true to its roots. There are plenty of Alaskan originals here.
|Daily highs (°F)||1||10||25||45||61||72||73||66||55||32||11||5|
|Nightly lows (°F)||-17||-13||-2||21||38||49||52||46||35||17||-6||-13|
Data from NOAA (1981-2010)
Fairbanks' climate is subarctic bordering on continental, with frigid winters from October to March or April, short spring and fall seasons, and mild summers from roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day. July is the mildest month, with average highs of 73 Fahrenheit and average lows of 52; January is the coldest month, with average highs barely above 0 and average lows of -18. Being located in a valley and far from any large body of water, Fairbanks has little seasonal lag in both winter and summer.
- Fairbanks International Airport (FAI IATA), 6450 Airport Way. Serves both remote destinations in Alaska's interior and international cities. Direct flights are available from both Anchorage and Utqiaġvik (Barrow). Direct flights are also sometimes served from Vancouver and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air and Ravn Alaska serve Fairbanks year round and are the primary air carriers. Delta Air Lines operates in Fairbanks though their service is seasonal. Frontier Airlines provides seasonal direct flights from Denver.
If you are driving up from Anchorage, the George Parks Highway is a beautiful trip. Plan plenty of time in your schedule for sight-seeing, meals and photographs. During the summer, when the roads are clear, the trip can easily be made in 7 or 8 hours, with stops for snacks and bathroom breaks - depending on road construction and motorhome-convoy-slowdowns. You will pass through Denali National Park on your way which is a popular attraction. However, if you plan to stay the night have reservations well in advance. By "lower-48" standards, accommodation near the park is either "4-star" or "rustic". Both can be pricey, but worth every penny, especially if you spend a day in the park.
Though many think Denali Park is the highlight of the trip there are long stretches of breath-taking beauty. It is not uncommon to see moose, caribou, dall sheep, bear, and other wildlife along the road - have your camera ready. There are plenty of gas stations scattered along the route, but as expected, the prices are much higher than in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Fill up before you leave.
There are several good places to eat along the way as well. Most places will have specialties like reindeer or buffalo on the menu as well as more traditional fare.
All in all, you should make the drive at least once. It's worth it.
During the summer the Alaska Railroad provides daily service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping in Denali National Park and other spots along the way. Trains depart Anchorage at 8:15AM, arriving in Fairbanks at 8PM. Winter services are limited to one service on Saturdays. Fares vary throughout the season, with rates between $167 and $210 for a one-way ticket.
By far, the easiest way to get around Fairbanks is by car. Major car rental companies are located at the airport.
Multiple taxi companies provide transportation throughout the city.
Bus service, although infrequent, provides transportation throughout the downtown area. Fares are $1.50, or $3 for a day pass.
- Creamer's Field. Located in the northern part of town off of College Road, Creamer's Field Wildlife Refuge is a former dairy that is now a migratory stopover point for countless numbers of Canada geese, sandhill cranes, ducks, and other bird species. Numerous trails lead through the refuge and there is a visitor center located within the old farmhouse.
- University of Alaska Museum (University of Alaska campus). 15 May-15 Sep 9AM-7PM with shorter hours during the rest of the year. An excellent collection of exhibits about the nature, history and cultures of Alaska; the displays on the Northern Lights are particularly trippy. $5, $3 for youths age 7 - 17, children 6 and under are free.
- Ice Alaska. Where the World Ice Art championships take place every year usually around February end or early March. Ice sculptors from all over the world come here and sculpt stunning ice sculptures. These sculptures are worth visiting both during day and night (due to the glow from ice).
If you are visiting Fairbanks mid-May through the end of September, there are several tours that allow tourists to learn the history and culture of Fairbanks. The tours described below are the most popular and advised tours to take while visiting Fairbanks. All major lodges in the area can set you up on a number of local tours.
- Riverboat Discovery. Arguably the best tour you can take while staying in Fairbanks. This tour departs twice a day and lasts three and a half hours. You have the ability to go at 8:45AM or 2PM. While enjoying a beautiful day on the Chena River, you will have the opportunity to see and learn a lot about Alaskan Native culture and Fairbanks. This tour demonstrates a bush pilot airplane taking off from the Chena River. The tour stops for an hour at the Chena Indian Village where passengers are taken through a tour by Alaskan Native guides. The riverboat also stops at an Athabascan fishing village where passengers see how fish are cut and prepared. One of the most exciting aspects of this tour is that you are able to witness "Nuchalawoya," an Athabascan Indian term meaning "the wedding of two rivers"-in this case the Chena and Tanana Rivers.
- El Dorado Gold Mine. Another tour run by the same family who operates the Riverboat Discovery. This tour runs twice a day at 9:45AM and 3PM. However, on Saturdays it only runs at 3PM. This tour is located about twenty minutes outside of Fairbanks and takes you on a two-hour tour of Alaska's gold mining history. The tour begins on a train where you go through a permafrost tunnel. While in the tunnel you are shown how gold miners used to mine underground. Following this, you will learn how miners historically panned for gold and how current gold miners operate. You will also have the opportunity to talk with Alaskan miners. Each person on the tour gets to pan for actual gold! Everyone finds gold and the staff at the El Dorado Gold Mine will weigh it for you to see how much you actually found.
- Fairbanks City Tour. Available through Princess Tours, or any of the major lodges in the area. This tour runs everyday at 8:30AM and lasts for three hours. This tour takes you to downtown Fairbanks where you are able to tour Golden Heart Park and the Visitor's Center. While on this tour, you also get to view the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that was built in the 1970s and continues to transport oil to this day. The Fairbanks City Tour takes its passengers to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum and Botanical Gardens.
- Midnight Sun Baseball Game. Held every summer on Summer Solstice. The Alaska Goldpanners are the farthest north semi-professional baseball team. What makes this event so special is that the sun barely goes down in Fairbanks on Summer Solstice. The game begins at 10:30PM and last the whole nine innings without getting dark. Throughout its one hundred years of existence the Midnight Sun Game has never had to turn on artificial baseball lights.
- Fairbanks Golden Days. A week long event that was created to celebrate the discovery of gold in Fairbanks in 1902. The event is usually held toward the end of July. Throughout the week people are able to participate in several activities. However, the highlight of the week is the Golden Days Parade. This parade showcases marching bands, antique cars, clowns, jugglers, and several decorated floats. Enjoy watching the parade as it goes through the heart of Fairbanks. During this week make sure you wear a Golden Days pin or take the risk of getting "arrested" and put in the Golden Days jail!
- Rubber Duckie Race. Following the Golden Days Parade is the annual Rubber Duckie Race. Every year at this time 6,000 plastic yellow rubber duckies race the Chena River to win cash and prizes worth up to $30,000.
- The Red-Green Regatta. Another event, associated with golden days. Picture 40+ homemade "boats" floating down the Chena River all created using liberal amounts of duct tape and imagination.
- Yukon Quest dog race. This race, held in March, starts (or finishes, depending on the year) downtown. Additional mushing races also start downtown in March. Also in March, across the river from Pioneer Park there's an international ice carving competition with all sorts of beautiful artwork created which (usually) lasts until April.
- Pioneer Park. Definitely something that all tourists should visit while staying in Fairbanks. Pioneer Park includes several gift shops, the Alaska Civic Center, an aviators museum, a native village, fishwheel, President Harding's rail car, mining tunnel, miniature golf course, playgrounds, merry-go-rounds, Pioneer Museum, and the S.S. Nenana which is an old sternwheeler that used to travel Alaskan rivers. Pioneer Park is set up like an old Gold Rush Town, which makes the activities and surroundings very fun.
- Chena Hot Springs Resort. Located sixty miles outside of Fairbanks. Along your way out to Chena Hot Springs you have a very good chance of seeing moose and other wildlife. Once you arrive at the resort you have a variety of things you can do. The swimming area includes an indoor pool, three indoor hot tubs, an outdoor rock pool, and two outdoor hot tubs all using water from the hot springs. Enjoy relaxing in the rock pool under 24-hour daylight! Another must do while visiting Chena Hot Springs is the Aurora Ice Museum. The Aurora Ice Museum is the largest year-round ice environment. Everything in the museum is made of ice including a bar, polar bear beds, full-size game of chess, and an ice tower. The resort has a hotel and campground. Camping, cabin rentals, and fantastic hiking opportunities are available throughout the Chena River State recreation area. This area is heavily used by mushers to practice dogsledding in the winter months.
- The Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Built in 1975 and was constructed to carry oil from the oil port in Prudhoe Bay down to Valdez, Alaska the northernmost ice-free port, covering 800 miles of land. The pipeline has transmitted more than 15 billion barrels of oil since 1975 and continues to carry on average 735,000 barrels of oil every day. This represents approx 3.5% of the United States daily oil consumption. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is one of the largest pipelines in the world.
- Dog Sledding. Fairbanks has lots of dog sledding operators and its a popular winter activity for tourists. Most of the operators have variety of options like 30 minutes, 4-5 hours or even days.
- Northern Lights. Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the northern lights. The northern lights are best seen between September and Mid-April on cold clear nights.
- Arctic Circle Tour (NATC), 3820 University Ave S, ☎ .
- Flight see. Alaska has few roads. Getting around is about flying. Sure, it isn't cheap. Sample flights include village mail runs, Arctic Circle flights, Barrow or Deadhorse, and numerous other small villages. Some people hitch plane rides from the general aviation side of the airport as well as the float plane base. Bush pilots are for hire.
For those who have been camping extensively, one of the first things to look for in Fairbanks is a shower. Practically every laundromat in town also offers showers for between $3 and $7. Most will provide a towel and liquid soap, but be prepared for a quick cleaning as nearly all will utilize timers that turn the water off after only a few minutes.
- The Red Fox (on 2nd street next to Soapy Smith's). Has a large collection of furs and leathers. And it has the smell.
- Pro Music in Fairbanks Alaska, 300 Front St, ☎ , toll-free: . The city's largest music store.
- Alaskaland Salmon Bake, 2300 Airport Way (in Alaskaland). Summer only, 5PM-9:30PM, seven nights a week. Alaskaland is the mother of all cheesy tourist stops and is heavily trafficked by tour buses filled with foreigners and senior citizens, but for the hungry budget traveler the salmon bake probably provides the best value in Fairbanks. This all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of grilled salmon, halibut, ribs, lemonade, and blueberry dessert can be had for $31 per person (2008 price), which by Alaska standards is a bargain.
- Alaska Coffee Roasting Co, 4001 Geist Rd. Alaska Coffee Roasting Co is a small coffee shop, offering a small variety of food items as well. Is frequented by locals, college kids, and tourists alike. Alaska Coffee Roasting Co roasts their own coffee and offers specialties such as wood oven baked pizza.
- Loose Moose Cafe, 3450 Airport Way. Has huge burgers made from Buffalo meat and a do it yourself topping bar. Frozen meat is also for sale here.
- The Pumphouse, 796 Chena Pump Rd. Has some menu items with game meats.
- Wolf Run, 3360 Wolf Run.
- Cookie Jar, 1006 Cadillac Ct.
- Ivory Jacks, 2581 Goldstream Rd, ☎ . Ivory Jacks offers casual meals to fine dining. Located just north of town in Goldstream Valley. There is an open mic every Saturday at 10PM where performers get to take a free CD home of their performance.
- The Lemongrass, 388 Old Chena Pump Rd, ☎ . Best Asian food in City - from Pad Thai to BBQ Beef. Great atmosphere and food.
- Pad Thai, 3400 College Rd.
- Siam Dishes, 338 Old Steese Hwy.
- Lin's Asian Bistro, 1900 Airport Way, ☎ . Slightly upscale Chinese dining, with an emphasis on presentation and a contemporary re-interpretation of American-Chinese cuisine.
- Wok N' Roll Express, 3535 College Rd, ☎ . Chinese takeout. Not the best in town, but conveniently located by UAF; the noodle soups are good.
- Pikes Landing Riverfront Dining & Sports Bar, 4438 Airport Way, ☎ . 11AM to midnight. Great outdoor deck, fine dining indoors
One traditional Fairbanks cruise is known as "The Bar Float". The Chena river runs right through the center of town, with several of the bars that may be accessed right from the river. You can start at the put in near Pioneer Park, where Peger Road crosses the Chena River. There, they also rent canoes and kayaks. From here, you can float downriver past the bars known as The Boatel, Chena's, Pikes Landing, and finally taking out at The Pumphouse. The chena is an easy-going river, but there's plenty of motorboat, canoe, jetski, and even airplane traffic during the summer so, as always, have a designated driver to keep it safe.
- College Coffeehouse, 3677 College Rd Unit 4, ☎ , fax: . Coffee and snacks served in an environment perfectly suited for broke college students. Great for studying, chatting, or listening to the frequent musical guests. Internet access (wireless & LAN) is available, with fifteen minutes free with any purchase, and prices of $2 per fifteen minutes thereafter.
- The Marlin, 3412 College Rd, ☎ . The late-night college bar for the UAF area. Just down the hill from campus. Subterranean. Funky. Legendary. Hangover Lounge Tuesdays. Open Mic Wednesdays. Live Music Thursday-Saturday.
- The Blue Loon, 2999 Parks Hwy, ☎ . Theatre and Club in the Gold Hill area. Hosts several outdoor live events in the summer. Bar and grill.
- Bun on the Run, 3480 College Rd (parking lot of Beaver Sports), ☎ . Bakery and Sandwich shop with outdoor seating. Homemade everything at an affordable price, has been a local favorite for 25 years. Summer only.
- Pike's Waterfront Lodge, 1850 Hoselton Rd, ☎ , fax: . Rates vary wildly depending on specials, day of week and time of year. Great art collection, free wireless, free airport pickup, fridges and microwaves in all rooms. 208 rooms. Has cabins.
- Super 8 Motel, 1909 Airport Rd, ☎ , fax: . Very much like every other Super 8 Motel in America. Rates average about $130 per night in the summer, and about $70 per night in the winter.
- Comfort Inn, 1908 Chena Landings Loop, ☎ , fax: . Another national chain, this hotel offers an indoor pool and free breakfast. Rates around $160 per night in the summer, $80 per night in winter.
- 7 Gables Inn & Suites, 4312 Birch Ln, ☎ .
- Regency Fairbanks Hotel, 95 Tenth Ave, ☎ .
- Windy Creek Cabin, e-mail: email@example.com. This is an affordable, nice place to stay, it's about 10 miles north of UAF. The cabin has a lot of privacy, a full kitchen, dishes, linens, bathroom/shower, wifi, deck with a grill and is a great alternative to a hotel and a good place for families.
- 1 9th Ave Hostel, 905 9th Ave, ☎ . Close to Downtown Fairbanks. Dorm beds and tent space available. Free WiFi, computer terminals, coffee, and bicycle rentals. $30.
- 2 Billies Hostel, 2895 Mack Blvd, ☎ . Clean, spacious and friendly. Only downside is the distance from the center of town. Close to the rail and airport though. Good Internet access with free wireless and a few desktops scattered about. Each bed is assigned a daily chore. $30.
Unlike Anchorage, Fairbanks has had somewhat of a bad reputation for crime, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. While crime rates have improved since then and downtown Fairbanks is well policed, it is wise to avoid the area around South Cushman street after dark. It is the poorest and most dangerous area of Fairbanks, has high rates of drug activity, prostitution, sexual assaults and muggings, and suffers urban blight - but attacks on tourists are very rare and there's little reason for tourists to be in this area, anyway. Other constant problems in Fairbanks are break-ins in parked vehicles, house robberies, and petty theft. Don't leave valuables visible in your car, lock your car and house doors, and you should be fine.
- Denali National Park. 120 miles (193 km) south of Fairbanks on the George Parks Highway, Denali is vast wilderness preserve that is the home of North America's tallest mountain, the 20,320-foot (6394-m) Denali.
- Dalton Highway
- North Pole is famous for being the town that celebrates Christmas 365 days a year. Meet Santa Claus, mail postcard and letters from the North Pole post office, but select the special slot or box for special Santa cancellation.
|Routes through Fairbanks|
|Dalton Hwy ←||N S||→ North Pole → Delta Junction|
|End ←||N S||→ Denali N.P. → Anchorage (via )|