Difference between revisions of "Fairbanks"
Revision as of 05:32, 27 May 2012
Fairbanks  is a town in Interior Alaska, 1488 miles (2395 km) from the start of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC. It is the second-largest city in Alaska and, being a junction of several major highways, will be a likely stop of most visitors to the state.
Fairbanks proper may be like a lot of towns in the lower 48. There's a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot and a McDonald's. Don't let this fool you, The greater Fairbanks area are true to their roots. There are plenty of Alaskan originals here.
If you are driving up from Anchorage, the George Parks Highway is a beautiful trip. Plan plenty of time in your schedule for sight-seeing, meals and photographs. During the summer, when the roads are clear, the trip can easily be made in 7 or 8 hours, with stops for snacks and bathroom breaks - depending on road construction and motorhome-convoy-slowdowns. You will pass through Denali National Park on your way which is a popular attraction. However, if you plan to stay the night have reservations well in advance. By "lower-48" standards, accommodation near the park is either "4-star" or "rustic". Both can be pricey, but worth every penny, especially if you spend a day in the park.
Though many think Denali Park is the highlight of the trip there are long stretches of breath-taking beauty. It is not uncommon to see moose, caribou, dall sheep, bear, and other wildlife along the road - have your camera ready. There are plenty of gas stations scattered along the route, but as expected, the prices are much higher than in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Fill up before you leave.
There are several good places to eat along the way as well. Most places will have specialties like reindeer or buffalo on the menu as well as more traditional fare.
All in all, you should make the drive at least once. It's worth it.
During the summer the Alaska Railroad provides daily service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping in Denali National Park and other spots along the way. Trains depart Fairbanks at 8:15AM, and arrive from Anchorage at 8:15PM. Fares vary throughout the season, with rates between $167 and $210 for a one-way ticket between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Rail tickets can be booked at Alaska Railroads website .
By far, the easiest way to get around Fairbanks is by car. Major car rental companies are located at the airport.
Multiple taxi companies provide transportation throughout the city.
Bus service, although infrequent, provides transportation throughout the downtown area. Fares are $1.50, or $3 for a day pass. 
Pioneer Park is a must it is awesome and it is free.
If you are visiting Fairbanks mid-May through the end of September, there are several tours that allow tourists to learn the history and culture of Fairbanks. The tours described below are the most popular and advised tours to take while visiting Fairbanks. All major lodges in the area can set you up on a number of local tours.
Riverboat Discovery is arguably the best tour you can take while staying in Fairbanks. This tour departs twice a day and lasts three and a half hours. You have the ability to go at 8:45AM or 2PM. While enjoying a beautiful day on the Chena River, you will have the opportunity to see and learn a lot about Alaskan Native culture and Fairbanks. This tour demonstrates a bush pilot airplane taking off from the Chena River. The tour stops for an hour at the Chena Indian Village where passengers are taken through a tour by Alaskan Native guides. The riverboat also stops at an Athabascan fishing village where passengers see how fish are cut and prepared. One of the most exciting aspects of this tour is that you are able to witness "Nuchalawoya," an Athabascan Indian term meaning "the wedding of two rivers"--in this case the Chena and Tanana Rivers. 
El Dorado Gold Mine is another tour run by the same family who operates the Riverboat Discovery. This tour runs twice a day at 9:45AM and 3PM. However, on Saturdays it only runs at 3PM. This tour is located about twenty minutes outside of Fairbanks and takes you on a two-hour tour of Alaska's gold mining history. The tour begins on a train where you go through a permafrost tunnel. While in the tunnel you are shown how gold miners used to mine underground. Following this, you will learn how miners historically panned for gold and how current gold miners operate. You will also have the opportunity to talk with Alaskan miners. Each person on the tour gets to pan for actual gold! Everyone finds gold and the staff at the El Dorado Gold Mine will weigh it for you to see how much you actually found. 
Fairbanks City Tour is available through Princess Tours, or any of the major lodges in the area. This tour runs everyday at 8:30AM and lasts for three hours. This tour takes you to downtown Fairbanks where you are able to tour Golden Heart Park and the Visitor's Center. While on this tour, you also get to view the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that was built in the 1970's and continues to transport oil to this day. The Fairbanks City Tour takes its passengers to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum and Botanical Gardens. 
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game is held every summer on Summer Solstice. The Alaska Goldpanners are the farthest north semi-professional baseball team. What makes this event so special is that the sun barely goes down in Fairbanks on Summer Solstice. The game begins at 10:30PM and last the whole nine innings without getting dark. Throughout its one hundred years of existence the Midnight Sun Game has never had to turn on artificial baseball lights.
Fairbanks Golden Days is a week long event that was created to celebrate the discovery of gold in Fairbanks in 1902. The event is usually held toward the end of July. Throughout the week people are able to participate in several activities. However, the highlight of the week is the Golden Days Parade. This parade showcases marching bands, antique cars, clowns, jugglers, and several decorated floats. Enjoy watching the parade as it goes through the heart of Fairbanks. During this week make sure you wear a Golden Days pin or take the risk of getting "arrested" and put in the Golden Days jail!
Following the Golden Days Parade is the annual Rubber Duckie Race. Every year at this time 6,000 plastic yellow rubber duckies race the Chena River to win cash and prizes worth up to $30,000.
Another event, associated with golden days, is a "must see": The Red-Green Regatta. Picture 40+ homemade "boats" floating down the Chena River all created using liberal amounts of duct tape and imagination.
During March, the Yukon Quest dog race starts (or finishes, depending on the year) downtown. Additional mushing races also start downtown in March. Also in March, across the river from Pioneer Park there's an international ice carving competition with all sorts of beautiful artwork created which (usually) lasts until April.
Pioneer Park is definitely something that all tourists should visit while staying in Fairbanks. Pioneer Park includes several gift shops, the Alaska Civic Center, an aviators museum, a native village, fishwheel, President Harding's rail car, mining tunnel, miniature golf course, playgrounds, merry-go-rounds, Pioneer Museum, and the S.S. Nenana which is an old sternwheeler that used to travel Alaskan rivers. Pioneer Park is set up like an old Gold Rush Town, which makes the activities and surroundings very fun.
Chena Hot Springs Resort is located sixty miles outside of Fairbanks. Along your way out to Chena Hot Springs you have a very good chance of seeing moose and other wildlife. Once you arrive at the resort you have a variety of things you can do. The swimming area includes an indoor pool, three indoor hot tubs, an outdoor rock pool, and two outdoor hot tubs all using water from the hot springs. Enjoy relaxing in the rock pool under 24-hour daylight! Another must do while visiting Chena Hot Springs is the Aurora Ice Museum. The Aurora Ice Museum is the largest year-round ice environment. Everything in the museum is made of ice including a bar, polar bear beds, full-size game of chess, and an ice tower. If you're interested in hiking while staying at Chena Hot Springs, you must hike Angel Rock.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was built in 1975 and was constructed to carry oil from the oil port in Prudhoe Bay down to Valdez, Alaska the northernmost ice-free port, covering 800 miles of land. The pipeline has transmitted more than 15 billion barrels of oil since 1975 and continues to carry on average 735,000 barrels of oil every day. This represents approx 3.5% of the United States daily oil consumption. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is one of the largest pipelines in the world.
Dog Sledding - Fairbanks has lots of dog sledding operators and its a popular winter activity for tourists. Most of the operators have variety of options like 30 minutes, 4-5 hours or even days. Some of the operators are:
See Northern Lights - Fairbanks is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. The northern lights are best seen between September and Mid-April on cold clear nights.
Arctic Circle Tour - (NATC) 3820 University Ave S, +1 800-208-0200
Visit North Pole, with a car, meet Santa Claus. Mail postcard and letters from the North Pole post office, but select the special slot or box for special Santa cancellation.
Flight see - Alaska has few roads. Getting around is about flying. Sure, it isn't cheap. Sample flights include village mail runs, Arctic Circle flights, Barrow or Deadhorse, and numerous other small villages. Some people hitch plane rides from the general aviation side of the airport as well as the float plane base. Bush pilots are for hire.
For those who have been camping extensively, one of the first things to look for in Fairbanks is a shower. Practically every laundromat in town also offers showers for between $3 and $7. Most will provide a towel and liquid soap, but be prepared for a quick cleaning as nearly all will utilize timers that turn the water off after only a few minutes.
Fairbanks also has an abundance of good Thai restaurants. Ask a local, and they'll point you the right way. A couple are: