The Chena Riverwalk makes for a relaxing self-paced stroll along the Chena River and through the most scenic parks and plazas of historic downtown. It’s best when flowers are in full bloom (July-August). The path stretches approximately 3.5 miles between Pioneer Park and Airport Way, with longer options available. Or—park at Immaculate Conception Church or in the Downtown Transportation Center for a shorter jaunt.
If you start at Pioneer Park and head east, your first mile will include the Carlson Center, Fairbanks Curling Club, and Growden Park. This athletic complex and convention center is a popular place for community activities and major events.
Keep walking, and you’ll soon come across the local dog park, which is a great place to meet Fairbanksans and see all the breeds (big and small) that have come to make their home in Alaska. To score instant friends—bring a few dog biscuits along in your pocket. Most drive-thrus in town keep treats at the ready, because of the high rate of dog ownership in Fairbanks.
Not far up the path, you’ll find the Riverfront Theatre, home of performances by the Fairbanks Drama Association.
Continue on past historic homes and churches on 1st Avenue, until you reach Golden Heart Plaza. A time capsule made from a piece of the Trans-Alaska pipeline is buried here, to be opened on January 3rd, 2059 to celebrate the centennial of statehood. The capsule contains over 200 items. Above ground, you will see the Unknown First Family statue, the milepost marking the end of the Alaska Highway, and the headquarters of the Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile international sled dog race.
Want to peek at the northern lights? If you’re visiting in summer, the public art installation outside the Rabinowitz Courthouse may be the closest you can come to the real thing.
Just up the riverwalk from the courthouse is Griffin Park, with the WWII Lend-Lease Monument and an open field popular for picnics and ultimate frisbee. The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center lies adjacent to the park, with public restrooms. You’ll also see the antler arch, created by 100+ moose and caribou antlers collected from the Interior. Stand underneath and wave to family and friends back home on a webcam hosted by morristhompsoncenter.org.
Keep walking, and you’ll pass the Chena Bingo Hall, David Salmon Tribal Hall, and Chief Peter John Tribal Building, which make up the headquarters for Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC). TCC is a nonprofit organization made up of representatives from member tribes that acts as a service provider for native communities throughout the Interior. They have health clinics and programs that address public safety, education, and employment. Their services cover an area just slightly smaller than the size of Texas.