Fairbanks, Alaska: Overview and Things to Do

Situated less than 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, the Fairbanks region provides some of Alaska’s top tourist attractions and natural marvels. Not only is the city home to the grand University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, but also a variety of cultural attractions and museums. There are numerous state parks in the area that allow for a wild experience and year-round outdoor enjoyment, while distinctive cultural attractions provide a plethora of family-friendly activities.

Fairbanks Alaska Cruise Wilderness
The rugged wilderness of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Located 358 miles north of Anchorage and at the end of the Alaska Highway, Fairbanks is home to over 100,000 locals, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Alaska. The region is also known as a great place to catch the aurora borealis, the longest lasting sunrises and sunsets, and the famous midnight sun. Known as the Golden Heart of Alaska, this is the perfect place if you’ve dreamed of a beautiful getaway. That’s why thousands of travelers visit the area yearly via cruise and land tour packages that also include Denali National Park.


Alaska may be famous for its harsh winter weather, but the locals make it a priority to revel in the fabulous summer weather. The Fairbanks area has temperatures ranging from 65 degrees below zero in the winter to 90 degrees in the summer.

Thankfully, the Alaska cruise season runs from May to September, offering travelers a variety of unique experiences during that four-month timeframe. Guests sailing from May to early June will benefit from smaller crowds. Those sailing from mid-June to early August will get to enjoy the busiest time, but also the warmest weather. May to mid-August is also when visitors will get to experience 24 hours of daylight.

Travelers visiting from mid-August until the end of September have the best chance to see the northern lights, so make sure you book your cruise depending on what you might be looking to experience.

Fairbanks Alaska Cruise Northern Lights
The aurora borealis lights up the night sky in Fairbanks, Alaska.

READ MORE: When is the Best Time To Cruise Alaska?

Things To Do In Fairbanks, Alaska

No matter when you visit, there’s always something to see and do no matter what your interests are. If you’re looking to meet friendly locals, a trip to HooDoo Brewing Company is a must, you can also stop by the farmers market or even the Midnight Sun Festival which takes in June.

Another must-visit is the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Centre. There, visitors are able to pick up brochures, maps, use the free WiFi, and inquire about daily lodging availability and the various tours. The facility also houses a free 9,000-square foot exhibit hall which features amazing displays and information about the local wildlife, landscape, and cultural history.

The Running Reindeer Ranch is another must-visit, offering everything from guided tours of the Boreal Forest and lodging to reindeer yoga. However, if antique cars are more your thing, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum is the perfect place to stop by, offering guided tours of the 70 historic automobiles and post-Gold Rush heritage exhibits.

If you happen to be visiting during the tail end of the Alaska cruise season, there is a really good chance you’ll get to experience the Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. The best way to see them is by booking a tour with one of the local tour companies. They’ll know the best place and time to see this jaw-dropping natural wonder.

Fairbanks Alaska Cruise Fountainhead Auto Museum
The Fountainhead Auto Museum features nearly 100 restored and preserved vehicles and more than 600 vintage fashions from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. (Photo via Fountainhead Auto Museum/Facebook)

Perfect for outdoors lovers, Fairbanks is also home to the Chena River State Recreation area, a 254,080-acre state park centered on the Chena River. Visitors are able to book a spot at one of the campgrounds, enjoy the hiking trails, ride through on ATVs, and even do a little dog sledding.

If you’re looking for another fun activity, The Palace Theatre is the perfect place, offering musical-comedy revues about frontier life and the history of the Fairbanks area. Whether it’s at the beginning or end of your Alaska cruise, we highly recommend adding an extra day or two to really experience more of what Fairbanks, Alaska has to offer.

READ MORE: Skagway, Alaska Cruise Port Guide

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