Epic Things To Do In Fairbanks in the Winter
Special Correspondent Juno Kim lists why you should visit the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks, Alaska, during the wintertime. Follow along to check off the boxes–and make your plans!
We love Fairbanks, especially in winter. It’s the gateway to the Arctic, and you can catch the winter-long northern lights display. How we travel has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and in some way, it has provided us more opportunities to visit in-state destinations.
We (safely) visited Fairbanks several times over the last couple of years and compiled suggested activities for your winter trip to Fairbanks.
Pack your parka and plan your next Fairbanks adventure with these things to do in Fairbanks in winter!
World Ice Art Championships
Ice Alaska might be the biggest reason to visit Fairbanks in winter. Forget the ordinary ice sculptures you see at weddings. The artistic expression, size, and scope of these ice sculptures are hard to explain without seeing them in person. Ice Alaska is usually a huge international event, but it has been downsized in the last couple of years due to the pandemic. We’re hoping to see international artists return soon.
This year’s Ice Alaska exhibition is open this week at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds.
Make sure to visit the sculptures at night! The lighting really enhances the experience. Your tickets are valid all day, so you can return in the evening if you visit during the day.
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Visit Fairbanks Museums & Cultural Centers
Museums are a go-to option for extra cold days, and Fairbanks has quite a few museums and cultural centers to visit. When the temperature plummets to -40, staying indoors is a good idea. Although the museums in Fairbanks are so good, I recommend visiting even on good weather days.
Some of our favorite museums and perhaps the most unique in Fairbanks are the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and the Museum of the North with their fantastic new whale skeleton exhibit, and the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center (free of charge).
Local Cafes and Eateries
Who would’ve thought there’s a whole array of international dining choices in the far north city of Fairbanks, Alaska? Between visiting museums, running around to see ice sculptures, shopping for local goods, and hunting northern lights, I was busy tasting my way around the different restaurants and cafes in Fairbanks. One of the best bagels in the state, an award-winning tea blender, gluten-free bake goods, and some of the best Thai food in the country are all found in Fairbanks.
Winter Outdoor Activities in Fairbanks
There’s no bad weather if you’re properly prepared. Don’t be afraid to head outside in Fairbanks! The temperature might be too low for you (-40 is, in fact, really cold), but you can layer and bundle up.
Because the temperatures are so low and winter is long, the landscape around Fairbanks is magical. The snow-covered downtown, hoarfrost shining like diamonds, the frozen Chena River, it’s really beautiful.
Winter Fat Biking
Fat tire biking in Fairbanks isn’t just for summer visitors. Fairbanks offers numerous winter biking trails, and the staff at Beaver Sports will help you get fit properly on a fat bike for a reasonable price. The best thing is there are miles of trails right behind their shop.
The trail provides a gorgeous ride through the woods not far from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
If you are new to winter fat biking, check out our article Winter Fat Biking in Fairbanks to learn all the details on how to have a fantastic wintertime fat bike adventure in Fairbanks.
Dog Sledding Tours
Dog mushing in Fairbanks is an adventure you will never forget. Whether you want to experience a dog sled ride or be a spectator, Fairbanks has plenty of opportunities all winter long.
Hop on a dog sled to feel the history of Alaska.
Mush, you huskies!
Chasing The Northern Lights
Of course, the northern lights are the jewel of Fairbanks. Bundle up and head outside to catch one of the most wonderful natural phenomena.
Weather is one of the most critical factors in northern light viewing, and Fairbanks is an excellent place to try because of potential clear skies.
Fairbanks is located in the interior of Alaska, far away from coastal areas. It’s also north of Anchorage, and the Aurora will be visible on nights when it’s too low in Anchorage or other locations south.
I was lucky to see the northern lights every visit to Fairbanks, and I can’t wait to return to see the dancing lights.
Cozy Up In Your Hotel Room
And after you complete our list of suggested activities for your winter trip to Fairbanks. Why not cozy up with a hot cup of tea in one of Fairbanks finest hotels?
Fairbanks has excellent accommodation options, such as the Fountainhead Hotels. Sophie Station and Wedgewood Resort are open year-round. I love these hotels because the rooms are so big it’s like staying in an apartment.
There are proper bedrooms, a kitchen and dining area, and a living room. I loved making hot tea after a night of northern lights hunting or watching the morning’s orange glow slowly illuminate.
Alaska summer vacation ideas: Kenai Peninsula for an Alaska Safari
Fairbanks is a fantastic place to visit during winter and has many unique adventure opportunities. We hope this post inspires you to plan a visit to Fairbanks in winter!
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