Memorial Day - Labor Day
Experience the Alaska of 100 years ago! Pioneer Park is an historic village that features original buildings moved from downtown Fairbanks, as well as museums and a Gold Rush town street. But it’s also a theme park with a carousel and train that runs the perimeter, shops, and restaurants. Stay a few hours or spend a full day; Pioneer Park offers fun for the whole family.
Alaska’s road to modernization a century ago was a dramatic journey, and the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum explores that journey in fun, vivid detail. On the grounds of Wedgewood Resort—a member of the city’s premier, locally owned hotel group—the museum showcases dozens of historically significant pre-World War II automobiles, and offers visitors a trip back to Alaska’s rugged and exciting formative years.
You can’t miss it—the museum looks like a round golden airplane hangar with a model aircraft from Air North mounted on beams outside in a simulated take-off. Inside, you’ll find a few of the earliest aircraft in the state from the 1930s and 1940s used in military, commercial, and bush flights. All this is interpreted for visitors by local experts, who have lived and breathed the aviation industry for decades in Fairbanks, and shared it here since the museum opened its doors in 1992.
From Alaska native art to polar dinosaurs, you'll find something interesting on exhibit here. Head to the centerpiece of this museum, the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, to see the full spectrum of Alaskan art, from ancient Eskimo ivory carvings to contemporary paintings and sculptures.
Mid-May to September
Devoted to all things ice, this museum will put you in a winter mood no matter what the summer temperatures are like. You'll see several large ice displays, a freezer you can go in to feel like it's 20 degrees below zero, a huge-screen slide show with the annual World Ice Art championships, and freezers with huge ice tableaux.
The gold rush that started Fairbanks relied heavily on an early railroad to quickly and efficiently move people and valuable goods along a string of mines and supporting communities. The Tanana Valley Railroad Museum illustrates the role of this railroad in Fairbanks’ first industry through historical exhibits, interpretive train rides, and on-site restoration.
Reaching deep into a sleeve of hot kettle corn for the kernels at the bottom amid a pop-up city of white tent tops is an easy recipe for a classic afternoon in Fairbanks. Farmers markets double as open-air social halls to run into friends and neighbors while shopping, and also play host to cooking demonstrations, competitions (like the purple vegetable contest), and live music.
Each year, the streets of downtown Fairbanks burst with a 12-hour, family-friendly street fair packed with live music, performances and hundreds of booths selling food, crafts, official festival t-shirts, and handmade souvenirs. Activities include face painting, gold panning, an annual BBQ cook-off, sled dog puppies, and a skate park. This popular block party reflects the importance of summer solstice to Interior Alaskans.
The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO) were formed over fifty years ago to spread knowledge and awareness of traditional skills and games to visitors and residents of Alaska. Each summer, the top athletes from the circumpolar north (including teams from Greenland and Russia) gather in Fairbanks to compete in tests of strength, endurance, balance, and tolerance for pain. World Eskimo-Indian Olympics usually runs from July 16th-19th at the Carlson Center.
For an authentic Alaskan celebration, head to Fairbanks in the third week of July. That’s when residents cut loose in honor of their Gold Rush history, during a five-day festival they call Golden Days. Bank managers dress up as sourdough miners, waitress don “fluzie” outfits, and most of the city turns out for races, parades, and great food. It’s a great time to meet locals—who are in a festive, social mood—and to be swept up in a big Alaskan event.
Very few art festivals in the country are as boldly multi-disciplinary as the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival with classes in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, literary arts, culinary arts, and healing arts. Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival hosts a thousand people, from beginners to advanced practitioners, register each year to explore their inner artist.
Come visit and you might see up to 15 different kinds of mammals—from beavers to red foxes, flying squirrels, snowshoe hares, and even moose—and several species of birds. Throughout the Sanctuary’s trail system there are 14 interpretive signs, so you can learn how the birds, fish, frogs, and mammals survive in interior Alaska’s tough climate.
You may think of reindeer as flying creatures of the imagination, but here in Alaska they’re very real. And this unique tour gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with these magnificent animals. Walk among them and pet them—it’s truly a moment made for Instagram.
Daily tours at the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station (LARS) at University of Alaska Fairbanks provide visitors with the chance to view muskoxen and reindeer while learning about ongoing research studying the adaptations enabling these arctic animals to survive and thrive in extremely cold temperatures.
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.
The Cold Climate Housing Research Center serves the need for safe, affordable, sustainable housing in Alaska. This need is particularly strong in rural Alaska, where shipping in modern building supplies by air can be cost prohibitive. Many families are forced to live in housing that is drafty, inefficient, or even shifting dangerously on a thawing permafrost foundation. Building and insulation methods that work in the lower 48 don’t always swing it up here. That’s where the scientists, architects, and researchers of the Cold Climate Housing Research Center come in.
Bobby Wilken, Owner and Brewmaster, walks visitors behind the counter and through the process from raw grains (stacked in the back corner) to finished beer, which takes three weeks from start to completion. Visitors get a close-up view of the mill, production vessels, and stainless steel storage and fermentation tanks through which the beer must pass. Bobby, an approachable and passionate businessman, breaks down the significance of each step along the way.
This is the site of the original airfield in Fairbanks, from which the first airplane to leave the ground in Alaska took flight in 1913. Today, residents often use the grassy open areas to fly kites, exercise their dogs, or have a picnic. School children walk between the library and elementary school that border the park to the east and west. Wildlife sightings are always a possibility, particularly for birds and moose.
Once a month, residents turn out for city-wide gallery openings featuring work by local artists in watercolor, acrylic, oil, sculpture, pen and ink, photography, and mixed media. The art scene in Fairbanks is rich relative to the city’s size, and at no point does it shine through more vividly than on First Fridays.
June 1st - Labor Day: 8am-8pm (daily)
Ever wondered what would happen if your garden had non-stop sunlight during the growing season? This is your chance to see what’s possible as you view everything from 50-pound cabbages to pansies the size of small children.