Fairbanks is the second-largest city in Alaska and the largest city in the Interior, the vast, sparsely inhabited inland region of the state. Founded in the early 1900’s as a gold mining boomtown, Fairbanks has since become a major service center for the Alaskan oil industry as well as a transit point for individuals traveling in and out of the state. It is also home to a large number of tourist attractions relating to its unique history and the natural wonders of Alaska.
If you’re planning on visiting Fairbanks, you’ll want to make the most of your trip by visiting its premier attractions. Here are some of the places you can visit and events you can take part in during your vacation in Fairbanks.
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
Due to Alaska’s remote location, many comforts that other Americans take for granted, such as automobiles, came to the state much later. The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum commemorates this history through exhibits featuring classic, pre-World War II automobiles as well as examining Alaska’s frontier history. The museum offers a unique look at the struggles Alaskans have faced over the decades to survive and thrive in one of the world’s toughest climates.
Pioneer Park is a historic village featuring original buildings from Fairbanks’ founding as well as museums, a theme park, restaurants, and a train that encircles the park. It’s a great place for a family-friendly outing in the spring and summer.
As one of the most northern locations in the world, it’s no surprise that Alaska has a lot of ice. The Ice Museum is dedicated to ice sculptures from artists all over Alaska and Canada and also features a walk-in freezer simulating what it’s like to be outside when the temperature is 20 degrees below zero.
UA Museum of the North
Situated at the University of Alaska, the UA Museum of the North covers the extensive history of Alaska, from native peoples who’ve lived there for thousands of years to European exploration and colonization to the Klondike Gold Rush and more. Visitors can enjoy exhibits on everything from Alaskan wildlife to native art.
Tanana Valley Railroad Museum
This museum is dedicated to the Tanana Valley Railroad, one of the first railroads built in Alaska and a crucial factor in shipping men and material to Fairbanks during the gold rush of the 1900’s. It features interactive exhibits as well as the original steam locomotive that was shipped to the railroad in 1905.
Pioneer Air Museum
Air travel holds a special significance in Alaska because it is often the only way to travel between different places in the state, particularly in rural towns that lack road or rail connections. The Pioneer Air Museum is dedicated to the history of Alaskan aviation and features many exhibits, hands-on demonstrations, and restored aircraft from the early days of commercial air travel.
Golden Days is a five-day-long festival in the third week of July that pays tribute to Fairbanks’ origins as a gold mining boomtown. Started in 1952, the celebration includes costume contests, musical performances, foot races, BBQ cook-offs, and the largest parade in Alaska.
Midnight Sun Festival
Due to Alaska’s northerly location, during part of the summer, the sun does not set, a phenomenon known as the “midnight sun.” Fairbanks celebrates this with the Midnight Sun Festival, a 12-hour festival taking place on June 21, the summer solstice. The Midnight Sun Festival includes gold panning, face painting, a skate park, and a BBQ cook-off.
Fountainhead Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary
Alaska is known for its varied and unique wildlife, and the Fountainhead Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the premier wildlife watching spots in Fairbanks. The sanctuary features over 15 different species of mammal and over 100 different species of bird across its extensive network of trails, and during aurora season in the fall and winter, it’s an ideal place to witness the Northern Lights.
Running Reindeer Ranch
Most people associated reindeer with Santa Claus, but in Alaska, reindeer are common and a delight to see. The Running Reindeer Ranch is a popular destination for those interested in reindeer, allowing you to pet them and learn more about them.
HooDoo Brewing Company
HooDoo is one of Alaska’s most popular breweries, and the HooDoo Brewing Company offers free tours on Saturday, showcasing their unique brewing methods. Visitors are also treated to free samples.
Georgeson Botanical Garden
This is one of Alaska’s premier botanical gardens, allowing you to observe oversized fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of flowers and trees. The Georgeson Botanical Garden also specializes in unique Alaskan flora, featuring a selection of plants that have adapted to its rough and cold climate.
Fairbanks has become one of the top tourist destinations in Alaska due to both its unique attractions and the proximity of nearby attractions, such as the Dalton Highway and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Despite Alaska’s popular image as a cold and foreboding place, Fairbanks has something to offer every kind of traveler, whether they’re interested in history, science, nature, adventure, or just having fun at one of the city’s numerous festivals.