Top Daytime Activities Between Aurora Shows
Hey there! I’m Solar Storm Zhang and Alaska is just one adventure after the other! You have arrived in Fairbanks and are staying for the recommended 3-5 nights to see the Northern Lights. Your nights are planned, but what should you do during the day? We have gathered a list of the Top Ten Things to do in Fairbanks While Waiting for the Aurora! You can call yourself a true sourdough—one who is from Alaska—if you are able to make time to complete every experience on the list. So what are we waiting for? Let’s plan a fun-filled winter trip!
1. Get the whole picture at the Visitor’s Center!
Explore Fairbanks is one of the premier Visitors Bureaus in Alaska and should be your first stop when visiting Fairbanks any time of year! Located in the downtown district in the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, the knowledgeable staff are ready to answer any question you may have about Fairbanks, the Northern Lights, and the many tours and activities you can experience. Pick up a few interesting brochures and maps—and don’t forget to ask for your Aurora Certificate once you’ve seen the lights!
2. Take in the Culture at Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center
While you are at the Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center checking out Explore Fairbanks be sure to take a look at the rest of the building. In Fairbanks, we are lucky enough to have one building that houses rich cultural experiences for Visitors. The world-class exhibits feature educational displays of Interior Alaska through the seasons. The Alaskan Native Gift Shop, operated by the Tanana Chiefs Conference sells beautiful hand-made clothing and art—authentic to the region the artist lives! Very often you can find elders who will be happy to share their culture with you. If you have more time available, you can reserve an appointment to make your own Alaskan Native jewelry and take it home with you! If you are visiting in mid-March, don’t forget about the annual Festival of Native Arts!
3. Shop for the right Alaskan gear!
If you are seeking the Aurora, then chances are you will be seeking them in some cold temperatures. Fairbanks has some of the best local outdoor gear shops that will supply you with all you need to keep warm during those clear and crispy nights under the stars. The staff members of stores such as Beaver Sports, Big Rays, and The Prospector are outdoor enthusiasts themselves and are not afraid to tell you about their stories about what gear has worked for them.
4. Two words: Sled Dogs…
If a fun and thrilling Alaskan adventure is what you are after, it doesn’t get much more Alaskan than dog sledding! The Fairbanks area touts the highest concentration of dog kennels in Alaska, and several of them offer great dog sledding tours. You can learn about these incredible athletes and their owners that have such deep care and love for them—many of them Iditarod and Yukon Quest finishers. You may get a little dog hair on you because most sled dog tours include a kennel tour where you can visit and pet these energetic dogs. Finally, load into the sled and enjoy the rush of being pulled by a team of dogs—the ultimate in green travel! Experience such tours at Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service, Chena Outdoor Collective, Just Short of Magic, Arctic Dog Adventure Company, or Paws for Adventure!
5. Go for a Glide on our local trails with skis!
Mike Hajdukavich, owner of Trax Outdoor Center, will be the first to tell you enthusiastically that Fairbanks is one of the cross-country ski capitals of the world. Located at the foot of Birch Hill recreation area, the folks at Trax rent skis to Visitors and hold regular ski classes for the less-confident skier.
Perhaps you are after a bit more adventure? Northbound Ski Tours offers their guests a unique taste of ski trails that are less traveled. The guided tours on their trails are some of the best places to see fantastic scenery and listen to the quiet stillness of the backcountry.
6. For the indoor-enthusiast: Museums!
Maybe you or members of your party would like to experience something more…warm and indoors? Fairbanks boasts amazing opportunities for the museum lover—from the always impressive University of Alaska Museum of the North, to the hometown favorite Fairbanks Community Museum, to the eclectic and charming Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, there is something to please everyone!
7. A stroll down Memory Lane at Pioneer Park
Speaking of museums, Pioneer Park houses various small year-round museums rich in local flavor such as the Bear Gallery, the Pioneer Museum, and the Alaska Aviation Museum. However, Pioneer Park is not just a home to these museums. This historically themed community park should be its own stop on our list of Alaskan experiences as they host several community events every year. Visit with the locals at holiday bazaars, Folk Festivals, and much more! During the winter months, the park is beautifully decorated with fun animated characters and festive lights. Go for a charming stroll through Gold Rush Town!
Pioneer Park can be a very exciting place in the winter– you can attend an event, a play or musical, or even a holiday bazaar. However it can also be a very relaxing stroll through the nice quiet winter-scapes.
8. See towering colorful ice sculptures at the World Ice Art Championships
Every February and March, Fairbanks has the honor of being the host city for the internationally acclaimed World Ice Art Championships. Representatives from nine countries and several U.S. states compete for world-wide recognition as champion ice sculptors. Here in Fairbanks, we get to tour the finished projects—glorious spectacles of glass-like sculptures lit by colorful lights! Truly spectacular!
9. Gone (Ice) Fishin’
A winter vacation to Fairbanks is not quite complete without the stories that you will share with friends and family about the fish you caught at 15 degrees below zero—we don’t need to tell the about the heated shed! Check out different tour companies such as Alaska Fishing and Raft Adventures or Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service.
10. Drive up the Dalton
North of Fairbanks is the vast and relatively untouched expanse known as the Arctic. With seemingly endless rolling hills and an equally endless sky, treks along the Dalton Highway can truly be the extraordinary facet to the Alaskan winter vacation. If Alaska were a hit song, the Arctic would be the mind-blowing guitar solo! While it is certainly possible to travel the Dalton Highway yourself in a personal vehicle or approved rental car (check your contract if you can take the car on UN-paved roads)—we recommend using a tour guide. Tour professionals offer a degree of safety and experience—so you can relax and enjoy the ride while learning from their knowledge! Check out Alaska-Wildlife-Guides or Northern Alaska Tour Company for some amazing tour options!
While we hope that you are able to see the Northern Lights—and your odds are great in the Fairbanks Area—we also hope that you take advantage of the many other activities in Fairbanks that can make your Alaskan winter vacation special. For more information on comprehensive itinerary options, be sure to learn about the many different Aurora Seekers Partners on this website!
-Solar Storm Zhang
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