They say that breaking up is hard to do, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face in Fairbanks.
The sun is out late. There are no bugs. But wear your XtraTufs if you plan on venturing off the pavement. It was a big snow year—and it’s melting with a vengeance!
Where to go:
North to the Arctic Circle. Northern Alaska Tour Company offers an “Arctic Circle Fly/Drive” package which includes a drive north from Fairbanks to the Yukon River, to the Arctic Circle and up to the community of Coldfoot. Coldfoot is at the base of the Brooks Range and is home to the world’s northernmost truck stop, the Coldfoot Cafe. The burgers are g-r-e-a-t. After your all-day drive, head over to the airport and fly home!
In the summer, there are tours that go all the way to Prudhoe Bay so you can dive in the Arctic Ocean. Or, you know….dip your toe in. HAHA
East to Chena Hot Springs. This is a fun daytrip—60 miles from downtown. Owner Bernie Karl has quite a compound at the end of the road. First, there are the hot springs themselves. Buy a day pass and soak in the therapeutic waters. Then, check out the ice museum…where you can enjoy the signature “appletini” at the ice bar. In an ice glass.
Champion ice carvers Steve and Heather Brice have made the museum a frozen showcase for their work, including a pair of life-size jousting knights!
Get a tour of the alternative energy projects that Bernie has engineered. Chena Hot Springs generates its own power to raise its own vegetables year-round in greenhouses—as well as heating the entire hotel and complex. It’s quite a story.
Drive south to Denali National Park or to the ice caves at Castner Glacier. Jennie Flaming wrote about these adventures HERE .
The birdbrains are flocking to Creamer’s Field, on College Road. Migratory birds are touching down between the icebergs. You’ll see beautiful swans, geese and ducks in the field.
Museum of the North: On the University of Alaska campus, the museum is a MUST-SEE while you’re in Fairbanks
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. I can’t get enough of the place. My friend Willy Vinson runs the place—and he’s got stories to tell about all of the cars. The museum specializes in pre-WWII cars with an Alaska connection.
Coffee and tea:
McAfferty’s. My favorite coffee shop in Fairbanks, at 408 Cushman St. Delicious coffee by the cup. Plus, they roast the beans right there. I always grab a pound to take home. Two thumbs up. Closed Sundays.
The Venue. Nice snacks plus g-r-e-a-t coffee, which I discovered since McAfferty’s is closed on Sundays! 514 2nd Ave.
Sipping Streams. Whoa. Something completely different: TEA. Owner Jenny Tse is PASSIONATE about tea—and she’s on a mission to tell the world, starting in Fairbanks. I had a cup of the “Yukon Quest” tea. “This high energy tea is perfect for the Yukon Quest Musher or anyone who needs natural energy for 1,000 miles,” writes Jenny.
There are many different types of tea from which to choose, along with some tasty treats! Located in the Chena Pump Plaza at 374 Old Chena Pump Rd.
Fairbanks has several goood microbreweries: Silver Gulch, Black Spruce Brewing, Lat 65 and, of course, HooDoo Brewing. My favorite is HooDoo, especially since you can hang out outside next to the fire pits. There’s always a good food truck parked outside. Two thumbs up—especially for the “IPA”!
STAY TUNED: Bike rentals and hiking trails are coming up around Fairbanks. Right now….pretty slushy. I dug some postholes while trying to walk around the lake near Wedgewood Resort.
Where to stay:
Wedgewood Resort and Bear Lodge. This is where I stayed—right next to the nature preserve, Creamer’s Field, twice-weekly Farmer’s Market (Wed. + Sun. in the summer) and the antique car museum. Book directly and save 10 percent !
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