Everything You Need to Do in Fairbanks, Alaska
Once I got over the initial shock of the sky never actually getting dark while I visited, I fell in love with Alaska. It took 37 hours of flying and layovers to get there from Minneapolis (see this post), but it was so worth it. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, I took a deep breath of the forest air and it felt like I was back in the mountains. I needed to get out of the city and just enjoy the smell of pine and fresh air. I was pleasantly surprised with all of the restaurants and things to do in Fairbanks on this trip! It’s in a great location too– two hours from Denali National Park and near other state parks and hot springs. I did not get the chance to do Denali on this trip, but I’m confident that I’ll be back with Collin someday to explore.
Where to Stay
Fortunately, I was able to stay with my cousin, but if I were to stay in an Airbnb, these are some AMAZING ones that I found:
- Cabin in the Woods
- Secluded entire cabin
- Fairbanks Hideaway
- Expedition Wall Tent (SO cool)
- Gorgeous home along the Chena River
What to Do
On our first full day, we stopped by Pioneer Park. This park was described to me as an “amusement park without rides.” The park is free and it has museums, shops, play grounds, a few restaurants, and a train ride. The museums would not interest kids– there were mostly just elderly people walking around the museums, but there were a few large playgrounds for kids. A few of the museums were not open or cost a few dollars, but we were content to just walk around that day. The Fairbanks farmer’s market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday. Since we were there early in the season, there wasn’t much for produce, but there were all sorts of crafts, art, plants, and food. While we walked around the market, I ate a banana Nutella crepe from the Crêpery, which also has a restaurant in downtown Fairbanks that we walked by one day. The Chena river cuts through Fairbanks, and there is a nice trail that ran alongside the river, starting at Pioneer Park and ending downtown. We walked up and down this trail a few times because the weather was so nice. My favorite thing that we did while in Alaska was the Chena Hot Spring Resort. It’s about 60 miles from Fairbanks. It’s a gorgeous drive through a state park with plenty of places to turn off for hiking, camping, etc. The hot spring cost $15 per person to enter and it was phenomenal. It was an amazing 106 degrees, adults only, and surrounded by trees and mountains. There was also an indoor pool and hot tubs included in the admission price for kids. The resort has cabins to stay in and all sorts of other activities. We ate at the restaurant at the lodge after soaking in the hot spring. There is also an ice museum (known for their appletinis served in ice martini glasses), dog sledding, horseback riding, bike rentals, and snow mobiling, depending on the season. It’s also the PERFECT place to see the Northern Lights September-April.
What to Eat
One of my favorite places that we ate was the Alaska Salmon Bake. This is an outdoor buffet of all-you-can-eat salmon. The buffet is roughly $35 per person, which also includes a salad bar, sides, and drinks. Friar Tuck’s was a delicious sandwich/hoagie place, and the Cookie Jar had a great breakfast. The Cookie Jar was a homestyle, comfort food restaurant. I tried to eat as much crab and clam chowder as possible while visiting Alaska no matter where we went. We also went to Bank’s Alehouse, which had great fish and chips. One place that we did not get the chance to visit was the Pump House, which I hear is quintessantial Fairbanks restaurant. We loved checking out the Hoodoo Brewery, Ursa Major Distillery (not to be confused with Ursa Minor in Duluth, MN), and Hoarfrost Distillery. All of those places had great drinks and were cool spaces to sit around and spend time in. Hoodoo’s beer was on every menu of every restaurant that we went to. If you end up stopping by the Ursa major Distillery, I recommend trying their version of a classic daiquiri. In my opinion, Ursa Major had better cocktails, while Hoarfrost had a slightly better atmosphere. Coming from Minneapolis, I was still shocked to see any cocktails under $10 though. Hands-down, best coffee in town? The Cafe @ Venue. There are several little drive through coffeeshops in various parking lots (like Sunrise Coffee and Bagels for example), which have good lattes and breakfast foods and such. But if you are looking for a nice cappuccino or black coffee… Venue is your place. I have yet to visit Anchorage… but I was impressed with Fairbanks. I’m excited to bring Collin out to Alaska soon to do some hiking, camping, and perhaps some dog sledding. <3
What to Listen to
My playlist wasn’t very “Alaska-themed” but here it is: