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Fairbanks was originally founded in the early 1900’s. Originally a trading post serving stern-wheeler riverboats and early gold prospectors. Prospectors found gold here in the early 1900s and miners are still pulling riches from the ground. There are a number of tours exploring Fairbanks’ gold mining history to take advantage of.
Fairbanks, Alaska's second largest city is located within the heart of the Alaskan Interior and just over 100 miles from the Arctic Circle. It is approximately an 8 hour drive from Anchorage.Cruise passengers who take a pre or post cruise package will find easy access to the great outdoors and spectacular views of wildlife. Fairbanks has plenty to offer including small-town hospitality and a pioneer spirit. Fairbanks is the hub for Alaska’s Interior and Arctic and offers first-class accommodations, restaurants, museums, some of Alaska’s top-rated visitor attractions. Cruise passengers will find upscale galleries and specialty stores, as well as historic sites, and access to the Alaskan wilderness. Activities, dining, shopping, lodging, services and means of transportation provide countless options for our visitors. Fairbanks offers you the amenities and adventure in a style that is truly Authentic Alaska.

No matter the season, there’s always something going on in Fairbanks! During the winter months, Fairbanks comes alive with cultural activities such as theater, concerts and gallery openings. Additionally, Fairbanks location, darkness and clear skies make it a perfect location for viewing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Fairbanks also offers world-class cross country skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding, skijoring, dog mushing, snow machining and backcountry skiing. Premier ice climbing can also be found within a short driving distance. Yo may try the hot springs if its your thing.

March in Fairbanks signals the return of the light (12 hours by the equinox) as well as Fairbanks Winter Carnival! This is the time to take in idyllic winter weather, ice carving championships, amateur dog mushing races before the snow melts and the buds on the trees pop out.

The long days of summer (reaching just over 21 hours during late June) inspire visitors to explore Fairbanks. View Fairbanks and the surrounding area by riverboat, hot air balloon, train, or bus. Visit a botanical garden. Pan for gold. If you’re here for the summer solstice (June 21st), enjoy our solstice carnival downtown, take in a baseball game under the midnight sun or participate in the Midnight Sun Run (with or without funny costume). If you’re here during our Golden Days celebration the third week of July “try your luck” (betting on) a Rubber Duck during our Rubber Duckie Race held in the Chena River. Watch or participate in a unique regatta of floating vessels created from various bits of trash and held together by duct tape. Oh, and don’t miss the parade that meanders along the river and downtown streets! If you’re here in early August, be sure to visit the Tanana Valley State Fair, complete with amusement rides, booths, a petting zoo, incredible food (that can only be found at the Fair) and of course, some of the largest cabbages you’ll ever lay eyes on.

The truly lucky visitors are able to to take in Fairbanks during the autumn months. The intense gold color of birch leaves paired with the bluebird skies above take one’s breath away. This is a fantastic time to explore the backcountry around Fairbanks, hiking, picking berries and hunting moose or other wild game. For the stout of heart, the annual Equinox Marathon, over 26 miles of incredible scenery (as well as a vertical rise of approx. 2,000 feet) is held in late September.


Next to the log cabin visitor centre is the Golden Heart Plaza, a pleasant riverside park that is truly the centre of the city. In the middle of the plaza is an impressive bronze statue, The Unknown First Family, which was dedicated in 1986 and depicts an Athabascan family braving the elements.
Head west along 1st Ave to view old Fairbanks, the city of log cabins. Within a half mile are a half-dozen log homes and several historical buildings, including St Matthew's Episcopal Church, a log church that was built in 1905 and rebuilt in 1948 after it burned down. The Immaculate Conception Church, just across the Chena River Bridge from Golden Heart Plaza, was built in 1904 and moved to its present location in 1911. The church is a national historic monument and features beautiful stained-glass windows.

Northern Lights:
For many visitors, Fairbanks' primary pulling power lies in a natural phenomenon: the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights. As solar winds flow across the earth's upper atmosphere, they hit gas molecules, which light up much like the high-vacuum electrical discharge of a neon sign. What you end up with is a solar-powered light show of waving, diaphanous light streaming across the night sky. In the dead of winter, the aurora often fills the sky for hours. Other nights, 'the event', as many call it, lasts less than 10 minutes.This polar phenomenon has been seen as far south as Mexico, but Fairbanks is the undisputed aurora capital. The best viewing is from September to April, and it's worth a trip to the outlying hills, away from the city lights. The UAF campus is also a good spot to view the lights, and you'll find a permanent aurora exhibit in the University of Alaska Museum.

Pioneer Park:
It may sound a little hokey, but this 44-acre pioneer theme park is actually quite fun. Formerly Alaskaland, it features historical displays including a century-old carousel that still offers rides, and Gold Rush Town, a street of relocated log cabins which include the Palace Theater and Saloon, site of night-time entertainment and the best salmon bake.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline:
Built during the oil-flush days of the 1970s, the 800-mile (1288km) Trans-Alaska Pipeline joins Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean coast with Valdez, the northern-most ice-free port in the US. The closest spot to view the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, where over one million barrels of oil flow daily on their way to Valdez, is at the Alyeska Pipeline Visitor Center, 8mi (12.9km) north of the city on the Steese Hwy. The Center, basically a gift shop selling pipeline T-shirts, is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The outdoor displays are interesting, and the pipeline is so close they had to hang a sign on it asking people not climb on it.

University of Alaska Museum:
This excellent museum is UAF's main tourist attraction and sits overlooking the Tanana Valley. The most famous exhibits are Blue Babe, a fully restored 36,000-year-old bison that was found preserved intact thanks to the permafrost, and the awesome gold nugget display. This rich, interdisciplinary on-campus museum, long one of Alaska's best, will open a spectacular new expansion in 2005 that promises to make a stir well beyond the state. First, the old part of the museum: Alaska's best natural history collection and its most scholarly, with information presented at advanced as well as elementary levels. Some of the objects have a real wow factor, such as Blue Babe, the mummified steppe bison; a 5,400-pound copper nugget; and the state's largest collection of gold. There is an audio tour guide, or in the summer you can join free 20-minute talks offered through the day on the university's specialties. All this will remain, and it already provided enough to keep your interest for much of a day. Now the new part: a swooping combination of grand, graceful shapes, designed by Joan Soranno, a disciple of Frank Gehry, it is reminiscent of moving icebergs, or perhaps of the Northern Lights. Inside, the towering new gallery will be devoted to art. The museum director, herself an art historian, has planned something new and innovative here, with thematic presentation of western art alongside Native and archeological objects, interactive exhibits, sound, crafts, and much more. Completion of the $33 million project will happen at some time during the season, but the exact date is not yet known. The museum is currently undergoing an impressive expansion due for completion in 2005. www.uaf.edu/museum/

Chena Hot Springs Resort:
At the end of Chena Hot Springs Rd is the Chena Hot Springs Resort. The springs themselves were discovered by gold miners in 1905, and by 1912 they were the premier place to soak for the happy residents of boom town Fairbanks. They still are. The busiest season for this resort, by far, is winter, and often during midweek in the summer you can score on some impressive 'slow season discounts.
The Chena springs are at the centre of a 40 sq mile geothermal area and produce a steady stream of water that's so hot, it must be cooled before you can even think about putting a toe in. The most popular activity is hot-tub soaking, done both outdoors and indoors. Other activities include mountain biking, hiking, horse riding and fishing the local streams for grayling. The resort also has a fine restaurant and a bar that is decorated in Yukon Quest memorabilia.

Denali National Park:
Situated on the northern and southern flanks of the Alaska Range, 237mi (382km) from Anchorage, Denali is the nation's premier subarctic national park, encompassing 6 million acres (2,400,000ha). Making its presence felt here at a towering 20,320ft (6096m) is Mt Kinley, undoubtedly the main attraction of the park and something to behold on a clear day. The park offers camping, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and white-water rafting. It all comes at a slight price though, since nearly a million visitors queue up for permits and the shuttle buses during the summer months. Try to go in early June or late September to avoid the crowds, and remember, they all disappear once you get into the back country. There is camping within the park as well as other accommodation. Buses service the park from Fairbanks, but a better, if pricey, introduction to this natural spectacle is offered from the glass dome-topped cars of the Alaska Railroad, with trains departing daily from Fairbanks and travelling south to Anchorage.

Fairbanks Golf & Country Club:
If you ever get the urge to tee up in the wee hours, Fairbanks is the place to be. In June and July, the Fairbanks Golf & Country Club is open 24 hours a day. The club officials claim that the nine-hole course is the 'Farthest North Golf Course in the World' and, built in 1946, it's definitely one of the oldest in Alaska. Due to that northerly latitude, golf obsessives are able to play around the clock - even when the sun sets for a few hours, dusk not darkness replaces daylight. The course features three par-three holes, three par-four holes and three par-five holes; a clubhouse, a driving range and a pro shop with club rentals.

Malamute Saloon:
Rowdy saloons that are throwbacks from the mining days are this area's specialty. The Malamute Saloon, 7mi west of Fairbanks in Ester, offers honky-tonk music, skits, vaudeville and a ritual reading of Robert Service poetry. The bar is a classic, and the show is perhaps one of the best locally produced acts in Alaska. They'll have you laughing in the sawdust by the end of the evening. There's free bus transportation from Fairbanks that stops at major hotels, including the Bridgewater. Or you can make it an evening by booking a room or a tent site at Ester Gold Camp.

North Pole:
Back in the 1940s, some locals were kicking around names for their crossroad hamlet southeast of Fairbanks, and decided Mosquito Junction just didn't have legs. Bless their kitsch hearts, they settled on 'North Pole'. While the name hasn't brought in any Fortune 500 companies, and despite the fact that the real pole lay many miles away, a steady stream of camera-toting tourists has been wandering through ever since. The funky little town (population 1600) keeps up the Christmas theme with a Whoville dedication - holiday decorations and trimmings are up even when it's 80°F (26°C) in July. The town really comes alive in December, of course, when radio stations from around the world call City Hall asking the usual inane yuletide questions. And at the North Pole Post Office, 325 S Santa Claus Lane, more than 400,000 pieces of mail arrive annually simply addressed to 'Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska. The town is about 15 minutes south of Fairbanks and can be reached on the MACS Green Line or via the free Santa Claus House Shuttle that picks up from major hotels and RV parks. Gimmicky? Sure, but if you have nothing else to do on an afternoon in Fairbanks, why not?

Gold Dredge Number 8:
Authenticity makes this is the area's best historic gold-mining site. The centerpiece is a 1928 gold dredge, similar to machines in Dawson City and Nome, standing five decks tall on a barge in a pond it created. When it operated, huge scoops would dig from one end, the mechanism inside would digest the gold from the gravel, and then it would dump the spoils out the back -- in this way, the pond and the dredge it supports crept 3 1/2 miles across the frozen ground north of Fairbanks. Many sterile areas you see in this area were created by these earth-eaters, for nothing grows on their tailings for decades after. The tour company that bought the historic site added to the dredge with museums housed in relocated gold camp buildings, showing the harsh, colorless life lived by the miners. A 90-minute tour starts with a film, then a half hour on the dredge, and finally a chance to pan for gold yourself, with success assured. It's a fascinating machine, but, as noted above, the price is high for what is essentially a single-subject museum. www.golddredgeno8.com/

Fairbanks Ice Museum:
Constantly maintained at 20-degree temperatures to preserve some incredible ice sculptures. 

Riverboat Discovery:
A cruise along the Chena & Tanana Rivers. Visitors have a choice between a morning 8:45am cruise or afternoon 2:00pm cruise. A three and half-hour cruise along the Chena and Tanana Rivers on a sternwheeler riverboat.

Arctic Circle Fly/Drive Adventure:
An 11-hour guided tour by land and air across the Arctic Circle.

El Dorado Gold Mine Tour:
A two-hour exploration of Alaska gold mining with a short train ride. This tour even includes a chance to pan for gold.

Fairbanks Historical City Tour:
A three and half-hour historical tour of Fairbanks via motorcoach.

The Riverboat Discovery The Discovery belongs to the pioneering Binkley family, which has been in the riverboat business since the Klondike gold rush and have run this attraction since 1950. The Discovery is a real sternwheeler, a 156-foot steel vessel carrying 700 passengers on as many as three trips a day. There's nothing intimate or spontaneous about the 3 1/2-hour ride, which mostly carries package-tour passengers off fleets of buses, but the Binkleys still provide a diverting outing that doesn't feel cheap or phony. After loading at a landing with shops off Dale Road, near the airport, the boat cruises down the Chena and up the Tanana past demonstrations on shore -- among others, a bush plane taking off and landing, fish cutting at a Native fish camp, and a musher's dog yard (in recent years, it was four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher's yard, and she'd often show off the dogs herself). Finally, the vessel pulls up at the bank for an hour-long tour of a mock Athabascan village. www.riverboatdiscovery.com

Winter sports enthusiasts are overwhelmed for choice in Fairbanks. There are plenty of well-kept cross-country skiing trails, and some downhill and snowboarding options not too far away. Snowshoeing has become a popular pursuit in its own right, as well as a way to get around. Snowmachines are also both a transportation method and a sporting activity. Even walking a dog takes on a particular Interior slant, with locals adding cross-country skis to the mix, and calling it skijoring. Of course, dog mushing is huge, as is ice fishing. There is also ample opportunity to rent equipment for the more prosaic ice skating and ice hockey.

Fishing is popular in winter (with an ice auger and some patience) and during the warmer months (with strong insect repellent). Note, you are more likely to catch an Arctic grayling than a salmon in these parts. Fairbanks is close to a wide range of canoeing spots, and although there isn't hiking on the urban doorstep, there are some good walks close by, accessible by road. Golf, birdwatching and gold panning are also easy to arrange.

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