Fairbanks Basecamp: 5-day Family with Kids Under 5

5 Days





Why This Trip?

Immerse your family in Fairbanks' history and natural beauty with activities tailored for young children. Start with interactive exhibits at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum and a visit to Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. Experience dog mushing and a Riverboat Discovery Tour on the Chena River. Explore Fairbanks' Gold Rush heritage at Gold Dredge 8 and meet reindeer at Running Reindeer Ranch. Conclude with a day trip to Denali National Park, enjoying short trails and shuttle bus tours suitable for young children.

This itinerary offers educational experiences and outdoor adventures, perfect for a memorable Alaska vacation with young kids.


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Day 1

Arrive & Overnight in Fairbanks

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Arrive in Fairbanks, Alaska’s second-largest city, and check into a family-friendly accommodation. You’ll find an abundance of options, including B&Bs, wilderness lodges, and hotels. Here are some ideas for your first day:

  • Visit the Fairbanks Children’s Museum to enjoy interactive exhibits tailored to young children.

  • Take a walk at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge, where kids can observe ducks, geese, and other birds.

  • Visit Pioneer Park, a historic village that features original buildings moved from downtown Fairbanks, as well as museums and a Gold Rush town street. It’s also a theme park with a carousel and a train that runs past shops and restaurants.

Day 2

Dog Mushing in Fairbanks

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Head to a reputable dog mushing facility that offers summer tours, where you’ll meet and pet the friendly, enthusiastic sled dogs. Enjoy a short dog-sled ride on a cart or ATV while a musher guides and narrates the experience. This activity gives kids a taste of the thrill of dog mushing, even in the summer months. End your day with a walk along the Chena River.

Day 3

Fairbanks Riverboat Fun

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Begin your day on the Chena River with the family-friendly Riverboat Discovery Tour, which is perfect for kids under 5. This 3.5-hour tour on an authentic sternwheeler offers engaging stops where children can learn about dog mushing, bush pilots, and Alaska Native culture. The tour’s interactive nature and visual stimulation make it ideal for young minds. The tour blends educational entertainment with outdoor exposure, providing an enriching and enjoyable experience for both kids and adults while exploring the Chena River’s scenic beauty and history.

Bonus: It’s free for children 2 and under. After your tour, enjoy a picnic lunch at Pioneer Park, which offers play areas and a playground perfect for little ones.

Day 4

Day in Fairbanks

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Explore the rich history of the Gold Rush at the interactive Gold Dredge 8 Gold Panning Tour. This interactive, educational experience includes both guided narration about Gold Rush history and a chance to try gold panning with real gold ore. Visitors can also enjoy a narrow-gauge train ride that takes them through the historic gold mining area, providing a unique perspective of the landscape and enhancing the overall immersion into Alaska’s Gold Rush history.

Then take the kiddos to see some wildlife at Running Reindeer Ranch. Children under 5 can meet and pet friendly reindeer in a serene setting, fostering a connection with nature. This unique experience introduces kids to reindeer in a gentle, hands-on way, making it a memorable and educational outing.

Day 5

Day in Denali National Park

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Visiting Denali National Park on a day trip from Fairbanks with young kids can be challenging, but it’s possible. From Fairbanks, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive to the Denali National Park Visitor Center, so plan for an early departure and pack essentials like snacks, water, and comfort items for the kids. Arrive at the visitor center and explore the interactive exhibits, which are both educational and engaging for young children. Walk the short, easy trails nearby, like the Horseshoe Lake Trail or the McKinley Station Trail, so kids can stretch their legs and enjoy the outdoors. Consider joining a shuttle bus tour that offers short routes, which gives kids the opportunity to see some of the park’s stunning landscapes without having to endure a full-day bus ride. The shuttle buses offer narrated tours with informative commentary suitable for all ages. Denali National Park does not allow private vehicles beyond Mile 15, so this is your only option to really explore the park.