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Alaska has always been high on my list of places to visit. And a few weeks ago I got the chance to go! One of my best friends was getting married in Fairbanks, Alaska and asked me to be a bridesmaid. We all flew out a few days before the wedding to experience and explore Alaska. This trip really sparked my desire to travel more and explore the world.
Fairbanks, Alaska is absolutely beautiful and I love all the outdoor activities. The overcast and rainy weather didn’t stop us from getting outdoors and adventuring. It actually made the hiking nicer, because we all probably would’ve been miserable had it been hot.
See the vlog from my trip to Fairbanks, Alaska here!
When to Visit Fairbanks:
This depends on what you want to do. Summer is a great time to visit Fairbanks (or Alaska in general) because it’s warmer and there’s more daylight. Being light most of the day totally plays tricks on you, but it’s pretty cool. I kept thinking it was five pm but really it was almost midnight.
If you want to see Aurora Borealis (the Northern lights) you won’t be able to see them during the summer months. I guess a few people saw them from the plane as they were landing in Fairbanks in the middle of the night. But obviously the darker winter months, October to April, will be better for seeing them. Our cab driver told us that March was a great time to visit because it’s starting to warm up and you can still see the Northern lights. Certain activities like dog sledding are also only available in the winter months.
Where to Stay in Fairbanks:
Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks by Hilton: We stayed at the Hilton and it was really nice. The hotel is beautiful, our room was large and the bed was really comfortable. They offered a complimentary breakfast but we never took advantage of it because stayed up too late and slept in. I had to sign a notice to not leave money or anything valuable in our room and that the hotel provided a safe in the lobby which worried me so we just kept our Do Not Disturb sign on the door the entire trip. They do offer a free shuttle to and from the airport but they weren’t running it the weekend we were there. A cab ride to the airport is about $25.
Rivers Edge Resort: I had initially booked us a lakeside cottage but it was a little out of our budget. It looks beautiful, each cottage is detached and has their own private deck with a view of the Chena River.
Springhill Suites Fairbanks by Marriott: There’s also a Marriott in Fairbanks but it was full so I’m not sure how the price would compare to the other hotels.
Bridgewater Hotel: We met some friends here one morning to carpool out to Denali. It’s a really cute hotel in downtown Fairbanks. But I did overhear some people talking about items from their rooms going missing.
AirBNB: Several of my friends opted to stay at AirBNB’s which is a great, affordable option. One couple had a room in someone’s house which I think would be a little weird. We stayed out until almost three am most nights and I would feel guilty coming home late to someones house. I wouldn’t want to worry about that while on vacation.
More resorts to stay at are listed on the Alaska.org website here, I selected the ones which we considered staying at and the one we actually stayed at.
How to Get Around Fairbanks:
You can get around by taxi pretty easily but it adds up quickly, especially if you are planning on leaving downtown Fairbanks. My friend lives about a half hour outside of downtown Fairbanks so a cab ride is about $50-60 to or from the hotel. We also drove to a lot of places to hike and explore, so a car was necessary. Initially we planned to carpool with others but we hated relying on people for rides and felt like we were mooching.
Where to Eat in Fairbanks:
Shogun’s Hibachi: We went to dinner here one night and it was really fun! They cook all the food in front of you and the cooks were hilarious. The chefs were hilarious and the food was great!
Alaska Salmon Bake Restaurant at Pioneer Park: Everyone ate dinner here the night we were flying up so unfortunately we didn’t get to go. But apparently we missed out because they said the food was absolutely amazing!
The Pump House: Fine dining with outside deck and great brunch.
Chena’s Alaskan Grill: Fine dining with outside deck, this restaurant is located by the Rivers Edge Resort.
49th State Brewing Company: This is actually outside of Fairbanks, but worth the trip! The food and beer are great, and well deserved after hiking in Denali National Park. There’s also a replica of the Christopher McCandless bus outside.
Banks Alehouse: Sports bar and restaurant
Silver Gulch Restaurant: “America’s Northern Most Brewing Company” – pub and restaurant.
Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine: I’m not personally a fan of Thai food but my friend says it’s amazing! And it has 4 stars on Yelp.
Fuji Japanese: Sushi – I don’t personally eat much sushi because I’m allergic to shellfish (and found out eating sushi). So we never tried this place but my friend recommended it to everyone before we left for Alaska.
Things to Do in Fairbanks:
Antique car museum: Our cab drive told us this is a must see place when visiting Fairbanks. It’s on our list for next time since we didn’t have the time to go this trip!
Running Reindeer Ranch: Take a walk with the reindeer at running reindeer ranch! Make a reservation as this is their home.
Museum of the North: The same cab driver also told us that the Museum of the North, located on the UAF campus, is a really fascinating place to visit. Again we didn’t have time but we’re definitely adding it to the list for next time! For more information about the exhibits, hours, prices, etc. visit the Museum of the North site here!
Morris Thompson Cultural Center: Home of the Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tanana Chiefs Conference, and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center – these three organizations work together to educate residents and visitors about the history of Fairbanks.
Dog sledding: Learn about dog sledding, its history, and how to be a musher. Take the dogs out for a day trip or an overnight camping trip. Definitely research what exactly you want to do, but here are a few options to start: Black Spruce Dog Sledding, Sirius Sled Dogs, Paws For Adventure.
Northern Alaska Tour Company: Take a sight-seeing excursion of Fairbanks by ground or air.
Chena Hot Springs: The hot springs are a great place to relax and visit. There are a variety of activities, but we only visited the hot springs. Note: to swim in the outdoor natural adult lake, you must be 18+.
Riverboat Discovery: Take a boat tour to see and discover the history of Interior Alaska.
Pioneer Air Museum: Discover the history of aviation in Alaska at the Pioneer Air Museum.
Denali ATV Tour: Choose from a variety of different guided ATV tours near Denali National Park. A great and fun way to experience the wilderness of Alaska.
North Pole & Santa Claus House: Located 15 miles SE of Fairbanks, Santa Claus House is a popular tourist destination.
Hiking in Fairbanks:
Denali National Park: Home to North America’s tallest peak, Mt. McKinley. While we didn’t hike Mt. McKinley, I wish we would have had more time to explore and hike the trails.
Angel Rocks: Definitely go on your way to the Chena Hot Springs, as it’s on the way there. You have the option to take the 3.5 mile loop or hike 8.3 miles (one way) to the Chena Hot Springs.
Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary: These walking/hiking trails wind through a 75 acre forest with a variety of wildlife in the sanctuary.
Creamers Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge: Great for bird watching and wildlife viewing. Originally a dairy farm, the grain and fields provided the optimal habitat for waterfowl. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages the 2,000+ acre refuge and offers a network of nature trails and viewing platforms and towers.
So, who’s going back with me?!