The second-largest city in Alaska, Fairbanks is full of interesting attractions and memorable experiences. While you could easily spend weeks exploring all this city has to offer, it’s not always possible to have unlimited time. To help you plan a long weekend, here is a suggested itinerary for three days Fairbanks.
Day 1: Explore the attractions at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is home to an array of worthwhile attractions, especially for those interested in learning about nature and culture. First there is the Georgeson Botanical Garden. North America's northernmost botanical garden, the attraction focuses on researching and showcasing high-latitude flora. Walking around the Georgeson Botanical Garden you'll be immersed in a world of colorful flowers, aromatic herbs, fresh vegetables and sweet fruits, all separated into specific themed gardens like the Dye Garden, Family Food Garden and Dorothy Truran Memorial Herb Garden. There are also peaceful ponds for quiet reflection.
Also make sure to visit the University of Alaska Museum of the North, where you can peruse 1.4 million artifacts and specimens relating to Alaska's natural, artistic and cultural heritage. Some items you’ll find include ivory carvings, Native tools, a 36,000-year-old mummified steppe bison and beadwork handicrafts from the mid-1800s. There are also educational films to help give you a narrated visual.
Near to the campus you can visit the Large Animal Research Station to learn about animals the live in the high-latitude north. Originally started in 1979 in an attempt to repopulate Alaska with muskoxen, the attraction now also has reindeer and caribou. It's a great place to see local wildlife up-close in a peaceful setting and learn about these beautiful creatures.
Day 2: Get to know Alaska’s rich history at Pioneer Park
Opened in 1967 as part of the Alaska 67 Centennial Exposition, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase, Pioneer Park is Alaska's only historical theme park. Within the park's 44 acres (109 hectares) you’ll find an array of attractions, restaurants, museums, shops and art spaces.
Learn about Eskimos and Indigenous cultures at the Alaska Native Museum; view aircrafts and aviation memorabilia at the Pioneer Air Museum; enjoy fresh local salmon at Salmon Bake; or take in a live performance about Fairbanks at the Palace Theatre. There are more than 30 attractions in all, so you can easily spend all day roaming around here.
Day 3: Immerse yourself in the Alaskan outdoors
No trip to Alaska would be complete without exploring the beauty of its wilderness. Luckily, there are many opportunities to do this when in Fairbanks. One popular stop is the Chena River Recreation Area and Chena Hot Springs, which encompasses 254,080 acres (102,823 hectares) of beautiful scenery and outdoor recreation. Hiking trails abound, as do opportunities for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, ATVing, camping, climbing, photographing wildlife, skiing, snowmobiling and, of course, relaxing in the park's steaming namesake hot springs.
Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge is another place that’s great for enjoying the outdoors in Fairbanks. Located at the site of the historic Creamer’s Dairy, this 2,000-acre (809-hectare) refuge is full of field, forest and wetland hiking trails as well as opportunities to see migratory birds like ducks, geese, swans, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, pintails and golden plovers. You might even see some larger wildlife like moose.
Fairbanks is also a great home base for taking a day tour to the Arctic Circle, the Earth’s northernmost circle of latitude. Here you can enjoy raw natural beauty as well as experience authentic Eskimo culture. Interestingly, depending on when you visit you'll experience 24 hours of day or night.