Unexpected Fun Things to Do in Fairbanks, Alaska

Northern lights, reindeer, and antique cars. They’re just a few of the things waiting for you in Fairbanks, Alaska. Everyone’s expectations are a little different when planning a trip to Alaska, but Fairbanks has some fun surprises waiting.

Go Cruising

Spring and summer are about sunshine in Fairbanks, and that means getting outside. And a riverboat cruise is one of many ways for you to do it. Along with some stunning scenery, while you’re cruising you’ll catch a sea plane in action. The riverboat also passes by the home and dog kennels of the late four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher, so you get a peek of what a day in the life is like for these incredible racers.

Try Gold Panning

If you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, you can experience the gold rush first hand by giving gold panning at Gold Daughters a go. Patience is key. It’s harder than it looks, but once you get a feel for it, you develop a rhythm of sorts. $20 and they guarantee you’ll find gold.

Walk with Reindeer

Now that you have gold fever, you’ll have lots energy to go for a walk. But in Fairbanks you don’t walk alone, you walk with reindeer. It’s kind of like walking a dog, but the gee whiz factor is a little higher. This is Running Reindeer Ranch. The lead reindeer is sometimes on leash, but the others just kind of follow along, wandering on and off the path when the mood strikes them. It’s an easy walk, more of a stroll actually, so any age or fitness level can do it.

Admire Antique Automobiles

Car buffs will want to save some time for the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. It’s home to nearly 100 rare automobiles, all produced prior to World War II. It’s also chock full of vintage clothing, historic photos and videos.

See the Northern Lights

Fairbanks experiences 24 hours of sunlight, May 17 to July 27. That’s seventy days of straight sun. It’s part of what’s called Midnight Sun Season.

But on the flip side, Fairbanks also boasts some of best aurora borealis viewing opportunities in the world. The viewing season runs from August 21 to April 21.  Located about a 45-minute drive from downtown Fairbanks, Borealis Basecamp’s location makes it ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. Strategically places shiny white domes mean you can watch the skies erupt from bed.

For more on Fairbanks, watch Dana’s segment on San Francisco’s KRON4 television.

Dana’s trip was hosted by Explore Fairbanks, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.

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