The Golden Heart city of Fairbanks, Alaska: a river runs through it

In Alaska Travelgram, Fairbanks by scott

11 Best Things to Do in Fairbanks: Our Guide to the Golden Heart City 

Are you headed to Fairbanks, aka “The Golden Heart City?”  There’s a big place in my heart for our neighbors to the north. Try one or all of these amazing things to do right in Fairbanks.

Best Activities, Attractions & Tours in Fairbanks

Fully experience and appreciate the most memorable spots Fairbanks offers on your next adventure.

1. Visit the Morris Thompson Visitor Center

My selfie (above) standing over the Chena River is close to the Morris Thompson Visitor Center. Stop by and check out “what’s on” in Fairbanks and take a stroll through the beautiful 4-season exhibit of life in the north.

Located at 101 Dunkel Street, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 (907) 459-3700

2. Enjoy a Cup of the Best Coffee in Fairbanks

BEST COFFEE: Waking up is hard to do. Not really, but I loved that song by Neil Sadaka. HA. McCafferty’s at 408 Cushman Street has the best coffee. Don’t miss it. I always buy a pound of their coffee to take home with me!

Located at 408 N Cushman St, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 (907) 456-6853

bird watching in fairbanks at creamers field
Bird Watching at Creamer’s Field: Checking out the cranes, geese and ducks in the field.

3. Wildlife Viewing at Creamer’s Field and Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary

EXPLORE OPEN SPACES: You don’t have to go far to see wild things in Fairbanks. Start at Creamer’s Field off College Road for epic bird watching. Watch for the migrating sandhill cranes, swans, geese—and more. You can pull off of College Rd. into the parking lot and see all of the birds. It’s fantastic.

Located at 1300 College Rd, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 (907) 459-7307

Adjacent to Creamer’s Field is Wander Lake in the Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary. Walking around the lake after dinner is a wonderful way to seal the day!

wander lake at wedgewood wildlife sanctuary
Fairbanks Golden Hour at Wander Lake in the Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary

4. Stay at the Bear Lodge and Save with Alaska Resident discounts

We stayed next door to the refuge at Bear Lodge. It’s part of the Wedgewood Resort complex. For the best deal, ask for the Alaska Resident discount!

Located at 325 Wedgewood Dr, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701  (907) 452-1442

Expert opinion: Where should I go this weekend for fun? Sitka, Kennicott Mine, Snug Harbor Outpost, Hope, Alaska.

A Bowhead Whale skeleton greets visitors to the Museum of the North.

5. University of Alaska Museum of the North – A Must See

DISCOVER: The University of Alaska’s Museum of the North is a must-see when you visit Fairbanks. You cannot miss the skeleton of a giant bowhead Whale when you enter. In addition to the “Alaska Gallery”, there are modern works of art by local artists and the famous “Place Where I go to Listen.” Go there…and see all of earth’s natural forces put to music. By John Luther Adams. Fabulous! 

Located at 1962 Yukon Drive, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 (907) 474-7505

Curator Willy Vinton shows off a 1932 Packard at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum.

6. Vist a Truly Unique Antique Auto Museum

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum is another must-see item for visitors. Seven Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum cars cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The museum concentrates on pre-WWII-era cars with an Alaska connection. Special shout-out for displaying period fashions alongside the cars! 

Located at 212 Wedgewood Drive, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 (907) 450-2100

The Riverboat Discovery on the Chena River.

7. Take a Memorable Riverboat Discovery Tour

RIVERBOAT DISCOVERY: Have you taken the cruise on the Chena River? The Binkley family has been cruising Alaska’s rivers for over 100 years. On the fun cruise, you’ll see a Bush Plane demonstration, visit the home of four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher and get off to visit the “Chena Village Living Museum.”

Located at 1975 Discovery Drive, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 1 (866) 479-6673

8. Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Fairbanks

LOOK UP—it’s the AURORA BOREALIS. Fairbanks is “Northern Lights Central” during the winter. Already, there are reports of northern lights in the autumn skies. There are lots of ways to see the lights, including just standing around downtown. But you have better luck when you go with a guide.

I met Aaron Lojewski of Fairbanks Aurora Tours when I was on a tour bus he was driving. Aaron does a great job tracking down the lights.

Located in Fairbanks, Alaska (907) 978-1766

We’ve visited Coldfoot several times during the winter to see the aurora borealis. Take the “Arctic Circle Fly/Drive” with Northern Alaska Tour Company. Co-owner Brett Carlson says, “Coldfoot is where the northern lights are born.” I’ve never been disappointed—and the Coldfoot Cafe has great food! The northern lights viewing is nearby in Wiseman, Alaska. The on-site expert, Jack Reakoff, is a real citizen scientist, by the way. He knows all about the lights—in addition to setting your camera up so you can snap photos! 

Located at 3820 University Ave S, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 (907) 474-8600

things to do in fairbanks alaska dog mushing tour
Dog Mushing Tours in Fairbanks, Alaska

9. Take a Dog Mushing Tour near Fairbanks – Bucket List Worthy

MUSH YOU HUSKIES. Fairbanks has gone to the dogs, literally.  Get an up-close look at the world of dog-mushing at the Last Frontier Mushing Co-op. Then, go for a ride in a sled! Amanda Brooks and her crew have a nice set-up about 30 miles outside Fairbanks on Chena Hot Springs Rd. 

Located at 265 Gettinger Rd. Fairbanks, AK 99712 907-388-7666

Hoodoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks
Me and HooDoo Brewing’s Brewmeister, Bobby Wilken. #Prost

10. Grab a Cold Beer & Some Serious Eats at the Hoodoo Brewing Company

ENJOY. I’m partial to one particular brew pub in Fairbanks: Hoodoo Brewing Company. Brewmeister Bobby Wilken takes his beer seriously. you’ll love it. Extra bonus: there’s a different food truck every day! Earlier this week, I opted for a delicious “Margarita Pizza” from Hungry Robot. My favorite beer? That would be the IPA!!

located at 1951 Fox Ave, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 (907) 459-BEER

11. Dine in Style at Lavelle’s Bistro

My favorite dinner place in Fairbanks is Lavelle’s Bistro, in the lobby of the Spring Hill Suites downtown. They have a great wine list—and an excellent bar menu if the dining room is full (that’s usually the case). This is the place to come for King Crab legs, rack of lamb, Lollipop Pork Chop, or several other fabulous dishes.

Located at 575 First Ave. Fairbanks, Alaska 99701 (907)-450-0555

rent a car at the fairbanks airport

Getting there—getting around. I flew Alaska Airlines without issue. Once on the ground, I picked up a car from Avis…located right by baggage claim. They gave me a snappy, stylish Toyota Corolla (above).

As you can see, there’s plenty going on in Fairbanks. It’s why they call it the Golden Heart City! 

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