Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Alaska Fairbanks

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Introduction

sea plane Fairbanks

sea plane Fairbanks

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Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city and the largest in its interior region. Fairbanks developed as a city in the early 1900s when an Italian prospector struck gold in the area. It continues to live off the gold nearby, mined by the Fort Knox Gold Mine, the largest in Alaska. Tourism has also developed as a major industry, as the city has developed as the hub of Alaska's interior. The city is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the state's oldest college.

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Sights and Activities

  • University of Alaska Museum of the North - 15 May-15 Sep 9AM-7PM with shorter hours during the rest of the year. An excellent collection of exhibits about the nature, history and cultures of Alaska; the displays on the Northern Lights are particularly trippy. $5, $3 for youths age 7 - 17, children 6 and under are free.
  • Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge - Located in the northern part of town off of College Road, Creamer's Field Wildlife Refuge is a former dairy that is now a migratory stopover point for countless numbers of Canada geese, sandhill cranes, ducks, and other bird species. Numerous trails lead through the refuge and there is a visitor center located within the old farmhouse.
  • Pioneer Park is an historic themed park.
  • Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, can be observed during from about September until the beginning of April.
  • Winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dog mushing and ice fishing.
  • Ice Alaska. Where the World Ice Art championships take place every year usually around February end or early March. Ice sculptors from all over the world come here and sculpt stunning ice sculptures. These sculptures are worth visiting both during day and night (due to the glow from ice).

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Events and Festivals

  • Fairbanks Golden Days is usually held towards the end of July.
  • The Rubber Duckie Race, held just after the Golden Days, sees 6,000 rubber ducks race down the Chena River.
  • The Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival is held in August.
  • The Midnight Sun Festival celebrates the longest day of the year; Midnight Sun Baseball Game is played at 10:30 pm without any artificial lighting.
  • Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race
  • The World Ice Art Championships sees competitors from around the world show off their ice carving skills. Held in March.
  • The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in July.
  • The Festival of Native Arts in March runs for three days, featuring traditional Alaska Native singing, dancing and crafts displays.

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

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Weather

Fairbanks' short summers last from late May to early September with temperatures mostly around 20 °C or a little higher, but occasionally hitting well over 30 °C (record is 37 °C. Nights are around 10 °C around this time. Winters last from December to March with average daytime temperatures around -15 °C while nights are between -25 °C and -30 °C although below -50 °C has been recorded. Most of the rain falls during the warmer summer months, while winters see an average of about 175 centimetres of snow.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-18.7 °C-13.8 °C-4.6 °C5 °C15.2 °C21.2 °C22.4 °C19.1 °C12.7 °C0 °C-11.7 °C-16.8 °C
Avg Min-28.1 °C-25.8 °C-18.7 °C-6.4 °C3.3 °C9.7 °C11.4 °C8.4 °C2.3 °C-7.7 °C-20.9 °C-26 °C
Rainfall11.9 mm10.2 mm9.4 mm8.1 mm15.5 mm34.8 mm47.5 mm49.8 mm24.1 mm22.9 mm20.3 mm21.6 mm
Rain Days3.82.832.73.87.18.78.55.66.665.7

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Getting There

By Plane

There are regular direct flights to Fairbanks International Airport from Anchorage and Barrow and seasonally there are also direct flights from Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Salt Lake City, Denver, Dawson City, and Seattle. Daily jet service is available from a few US cities and there are scheduled or charter service to Europe and Asia. Japan Airlines offers seasonal flights to Fukuoka, Nagoya and Tokyo, and Frankfurt-based Condor Airlines offers weekly direct flights during summer. Several small airlines serve tiny settlements in the arctic.

By Train

In the summer months, Princess Tours runs a service between Fairbanks and Anchorage called the Denali Star Train. The trip takes roughly 12 hours and passes through the Denali National Park. Rates vary seasonally, ranging from $155 one-way in the shoulder seasons to $194 in the peak season. The Alaska Railroad connects Fairbanks also to Whittier and Seward, pas Anchorage.

By Car

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.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

Bus service, although infrequent, provides transportation throughout the downtown area. Fares are $1.50, or $3 for a day pass.

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Eat

  • Alaska Salmon Bake, 2300 Airport Way (at Pioneer Park). Summer only, 5PM-9:30PM, seven nights a week. Alaska Salmon Bake is the mother of all cheesy tourist stops and is heavily trafficked by tour buses filled with foreigners and senior citizens, but for the hungry budget traveler the salmon bake probably provides the best value in Fairbanks. This all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of grilled salmon, cod, prime rib, lemonade, and blueberry dessert can be had for $36 per person (2018 price), which by Alaska standards is a bargain.
  • Alaska Coffee Roasting Co, 4001 Geist Rd. This small coffee shop, which also offers a small variety of food items, is frequented by locals, college kids, and tourists alike. They roast their own coffee and offer specialties such as wood oven baked pizza.
  • Bun on the Run, 3480 College Rd (parking lot of Beaver Sports), ☎ +1 907 479-2867. Bakery and sandwich shop with outdoor seating. Everything is home-style. Summer only.
  • Cookie Jar, 1006 Cadillac Ct.
  • Ivory Jacks, 2581 Goldstream Rd, ☎ +1 907-455-6665. Ivory Jacks offers casual meals to fine dining. Located just north of town in Goldstream Valley. There is an open mic every Saturday at 10PM where performers get to take a free CD home of their performance.
  • Lane's Quickie Tacos, 3412 College Rd #1, Fairbanks (Upstairs from the Marlin), ☎ +1 907 378-2812. Run by two friendly guys, they serve a simple menu of four different types of tacos and a special fifth one that frequently changes. Very good food. Casual, basic accommodations.
  • The Lemongrass, 388 Old Chena Pump Rd, ☎ +1 907 456-2200. Good Asian food from pad Thai to BBQ beef. Great atmosphere as well.
  • Lin's Asian Bistro, 1900 Airport Way, ☎ +1 907 479-8866. Slightly upscale Chinese dining, with an emphasis on presentation and a contemporary re-interpretation of American-Chinese cuisine.
  • Loose Moose Cafe, 3450 Airport Way. Has huge burgers made from Buffalo meat and a do it yourself topping bar. Frozen meat is also for sale here.
  • Pad Thai, 3400 College Rd.
  • Pikes Landing Riverfront Dining & Sports Bar, 4438 Airport Way, ☎ +1 907 479-6500. 11AM to midnight. Great outdoor deck, fine dining indoors
  • The Pumphouse, 796 Chena Pump Rd. Has some menu items with game meats.
  • Siam Dishes, 338 Old Steese Hwy.
  • Wok N' Roll Express, 3535 College Rd, ☎ +1 907 455-4848. Chinese takeout. Not the best in town, but conveniently located by UAF; the noodle soups are good.
  • Wolf Run, 3360 Wolf Run.

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Drink

One traditional Fairbanks cruise is known as "The Bar Float". The Chena river runs right through the center of town, with several of the bars that may be accessed right from the river. You can start at the put in near Pioneer Park, where Peger Road crosses the Chena River. There, they also rent canoes and kayaks. From here, you can float downriver past the bars known as The Boatel, Chena's, Pikes Landing, and finally taking out at The Pumphouse.

  • The Blue Loon, 2999 Parks Hwy, ☎ +1 907 457-5666. Theatre and Club in the Gold Hill area. Hosts several outdoor live events in the summer. Bar and grill.
  • College Coffeehouse, 3677 College Rd Unit 4, ☎ +1 907 374-0468, fax: +1 907 374-4442. Coffee and snacks served in an environment perfectly suited for broke college students. Great for studying, chatting, or listening to the frequent musical guests. Internet access (wireless & LAN) is available, with fifteen minutes free with any purchase, and prices of $2 per fifteen minutes thereafter.
  • Lavelle's Taphouse, 414 2nd Ave (Look for the large Elbow Room sign on 2nd. Lavelle's is next door.), ☎ +1 907-888-2220. 3pm-11pm most days. For the beer geek, Lavelle's is a please place to be, with 36 rotating taps, including wine and cider. This bar doesn't serve food, but frequently has food trucks outside in the summer, and outside food is welcome. It caters to a diverse crowd.
  • The Marlin, 3412 College Rd, ☎ +1 907 479-4646. The late-night college bar for the UAF area. Just down the hill from campus. Subterranean. Funky. Legendary. Hangover Lounge Tuesdays. Open Mic Wednesdays. Live Music Thursday-Saturday.

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Sleep

  • Pike's Waterfront Lodge, 1850 Hoselton Rd, ☎ +1 907 456-4500, fax: +1 907 456-4515. Rates vary wildly depending on specials, day of week and time of year. Great art collection, free wireless, free airport pickup, fridges and microwaves in all rooms. 208 rooms. Has cabins.
  • Super 8 Motel, 1909 Airport Rd, ☎ +1 907 451-8888, fax: +1 907 451-6690. Very much like every other Super 8 Motel in America. Rates average about $130 per night in the summer, and about $70 per night in the winter.
  • Comfort Inn, 1908 Chena Landings Loop, ☎ +1 907 479-8080, fax: +1 907 479-8063. Another national chain, this hotel offers an indoor pool and free breakfast. Rates around $160 per night in the summer, $80 per night in winter.
  • Gables Inn & Suites, 4312 Birch Ln, ☎ +1 907 479-0751.
  • Regency Fairbanks Hotel, 95 Tenth Ave, ☎ +1 907 459-2700.
  • Windy Creek Cabin, e-mail: windycreekcabin@gmail.com. This is an affordable, nice place to stay, it's about 10 miles north of UAF. The cabin has a lot of privacy, a full kitchen, dishes, linens, bathroom/shower, wifi, deck with a grill and is a great alternative to a hotel and a good place for families.
  • 9th Ave Hostel, 905 9th Ave, ☎ +1 907 458-0095. Close to Downtown Fairbanks. Dorm beds and tent space available. Free WiFi, computer terminals, coffee, and bicycle rentals. $30.
  • Billies Hostel, 2895 Mack Blvd, ☎ +1 907 479-2034. Clean, spacious and friendly. Only downside is the distance from the center of town. Close to the rail and airport though. Good Internet access with free wireless and a few desktops scattered about. Each bed is assigned a daily chore. $30.

View our map of accommodation in Fairbanks or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 64.835054
  • Longitude: -147.646528

Accommodation in Fairbanks

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This is version 28. Last edited at 16:25 on Feb 27, 19 by bigleap.abg. 10 articles link to this page.

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