The city of Fairbanks is an ideal base for those seeking an authentic taste of life in Alaska. From there you can embark on wilderness tours in winter that include everything from dog sledding and ice fishing to viewing the aurora borealis. Several state parks in the area offer fun outdoor adventures year-round, as well as summer festivals for families. Whether you have just one day for Fairbanks activities or a long weekend, there are plenty of things to do:
1. Chena River State Recreation Area
This nearly 400-square-mile recreational area is located along the Chena River and offers authentic Alaskan outdoor adventures year-round. You can see an abundance of wildlife here including beavers, eagles, moose, wolves, and sometimes grizzly bears. Enjoy summer hikes in Fairbanks, catch-and-release fishing, rock climbing and camping. Fairbanks winter activities include skiing, dog sledding, snowmobiling and more. Adults will love soaking in Chena Hot Springs to soothe sore muscles after an active day. Red Squirrel, Rosehip, and Tors Trail Campground Areas offer overnight stays. Address: 3700 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709. Phone: (907) 451-2705.
2. Pioneer Park
For families who arrive in Fairbanks during the summer, you’ll definitely want to visit Pioneer Park. It’s a theme park with historical features, offering kids a fun-filled day out. There are 15 educational and cultural attractions, including four museums, a mini golf course, playground, a carousel, and Mining Valley, a mock gold rush town. Families can attend performances at the Palace Theater and dine at the Alaskan Salmon Bake. Gazebo Nights is a concert series that adds music during the summer. Pioneer park is free to visitors and open year round, although many attractions are closed during winter. This offers a full day of Fairbanks summer activities for families. Address: 2300 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701. Phone: (907) 459-1087.
3. Fairbanks Autumn/Winter City Tour
This half-day tour is a must if you really want to experience Alaska’s culture and history. The tour includes the Santa Clause House in North Pole, Alaska, which all kids love, the Alyeska Pipeline Viewing Point where visitors learn about the amazing engineering feat of building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. You’ll also go to the Morris Thompson Cultural Museum, with an array of fascinating exhibits. Mon-Sat the tour visits the Museum of the North, and on Sundays it goes to the Antique Auto Museum, which everyone loves. This offers a half day of Fairbanks activities for families year-round. Book through 1st Alaska Tours at https://1stalaskatours.com or phone (907) 590-5900.
4. Guided Fishing Excursion in Fairbanks (Full-Day)
If you feel like casting your rod for Arctic grayling, northern pike and other fish, this full day of fishing won’t disappoint. You’ll have your own guide who knows all the best spots along the Chena River. As a bonus you will learn special techniques and how to use both fly and spinning rods. Spend the day relaxing in the beautiful Alaskan outdoors and enjoy a tasty lunch on shore. This is a full day of Fairbanks activities year-round. Book through 1st Alaska Tours at https://1stalaskatours.com or phone (907) 590-5900.
5. Running Reindeer Ranch
Running Reindeer Ranch is located in the boreal forest of Goldstream Valley, north of Fairbanks. This is a private family ranch that allows visitors to mingle with reindeer, take photos and even pet them. Adding to the excitement, the owners have a lot to say about each member of their herd. It’s cold during winter, so make sure you are dressed warmly. Once you’re finished mingling with the reindeer, you are welcome to enter the Farmhouse for homemade cookies, and a drink. This is a daytime Fairbanks activity for families year-round. Address: 1470 Ivans Alley, Fairbanks, AK 99709. Phone: (907) 455-4998.
6. Face the Outdoors: Aurora Viewing in Private Log Home
When visiting Alaska you shouldn’t miss the aurora borealis. Instead of being out on a cold winter night, why not enjoy the experience in the comfort of a private cedar log house located in Alaska’s interior? Groups of no more than 10 are transported from the crowds of Fairbanks to witness this amazing natural phenomena under the dark skies of Delta Junction. This is an extended stay Fairbanks winter activity for groups. Address: 763 Warren Way Suite 1586, Delta Junction, AK 99737. Phone: (907) 590-1567
7. Dog Sledding & Mushing Experience
Enjoy the thrill of traveling on a dogsled like a native Alaskan. You and your party will hold on tightly while being towed by a mushing team of Alaskan Huskies on five miles of snowy trails 20 minutes from Fairbanks in North Pole, Alaska. You can make voice commands from the rear of the sled and take photos afterward while petting the Huskies. This Fairbanks winter activity varies from 30 minutes to 4 hours. Book through Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service at 3355 Repp Rd., North Pole, AK 99705. Phone: (907) 378-1851.
8. Santa Claus House in the North Pole
Santa Claus House is in North Pole, Alaska, a charming town just outside Fairbanks, “Where it’s Christmas Every Day” and where Santa and Mrs. Claus live. The streets are lined with jumbo candy canes and other Christmas decorations. Meet Santa inside his house and shop for holiday gifts. This is a daytime Fairbanks activity year-round for families. Address: 101 St. Nicholas Dr. North Pole, Alaska 99705. Phone: (907) 488-2200 and Toll Free: (800) 588-4078.
9. Ice Fishing Expedition in Heated Cabin with Fish Cookout
This experience is unlike any other fishing trip you’ve ever been on. You’ll be taken to a nice warm cabin located in a remote area a short distance from Fairbanks. Your guide will get your fishing gear all set up while giving you tips to make sure you actually catch some fish. You’ll also enjoy hot chocolate and a fish cookout that includes reindeer sausage. This is a half-day Fairbanks winter activity. Book through Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service at 3355 Repp Rd., North Pole, AK 99705. Phone: (907) 378-1851.
10. Borealis Basecamp Igloo Experience
Where else but Borealis Basecamp can you spend the night in an authentic Alaskan igloo? These igloos have plenty of room inside for relaxing while viewing the aurora borealis. Beds are comfy cozy with luxurious bedding for a night of snuggling while gazing up at a star-filled Arctic ski through a huge 12-foot clear ceiling that lets in plenty of light during the day. Guests can dine at Latitude 65, an onsite restaurant. Packages and activities are available from 1 to 4 nights winter only. Address: 2640 Himalaya Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99712. Phone: (907) 885-2845.