Have you ever wanted to visit a place that has extreme temperatures? Have you ever wanted to visit a city that hides in the middle of nowhere? Have you always wanted to leave the continental United States, without leaving America? Don’t go to Hawaii! Come to Fairbanks Alaska, the Golden Heart City.
We have an Alaskan themed tiny museum built on top of the hill surrounded by the local college, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In it is a room where you can hear the sounds that Aurora Borealis make translated into an audible range from a the sensors to a musical instrument. It is also possible to feel the energy of the earthquakes that happen in Alaska in real time.
Pioneer Park is 44 acres of fun mixed with a historical theme park. Pioneer Park is a great place for anyone of any age to go. It has everything from fun historical placards to multiple themed playgrounds, and many great Alaska local shops. It even has a mini train that runs all the way around the border that anyone can ride. The park was originally named Alaska Land, since it is a park themed on the history of people pioneering Alaska during the Alaskan Gold Rush. However, in recent years, its name was changed to Pioneer Park.
There are a lot of small businesses in the Golden Heart City since big chains don’t want to freeze their branches. Fairbanks locals love their small businesses; it’s like a big support group.
Face painting, balloons, and science classes, Alaska Phoenix Productions makes the young and the young at heart smile like never before. Alaska Phoenix Productions was started by Bridgit Lawson, the wife of a soldier that decided to call Alaska home. Alaska Phoenix has been painting faces and arms all over Fairbanks, from Pioneer Park to GameStop Midnight Releases. You may or may not be planning a party while you visit, but if you see Bridgit Lawson’s sign, stop by, she’ll be sure to make you smile.
Camp Li-Wa, which means Living Water, hides in a small niche of wooded area on Chena Hot Springs Road. All year round people come by for retreats and for horseback riding lessons, but during the summer, Camp Li-Wa is full of life, and noise. For eight weeks, children come for weeklong summer camps and enjoy horses, the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, the sound of praise songs, the hilarity of their counselors in skits, and the deliciousness of camp food (which is much better than your average camp food).
Loose Moose Café was recently opened on the main thoroughfare of Airport Way and serves delicious wild game burgers and hot dogs. Wild game includes local reindeer (sorry Santa), elk, buffalo, and caribou meat. The same company that supplies the wild game also supplies homemade sauces and spices that can get anyone’s taste buds drooling.
A well-loved bookstore, Gulliver’s New and Used Books has its own café complete with both indoor/ outdoor dining area and a free- reservable cozy conference room. Gulliver’s Bookstore is conveniently located near the college, a few churches, an outdoor wear store, a gas station and a locally owned pizzeria.
Who needs a zoo when wildlife is walking around outside your front door? All you have to door is look out the window of any car or building and you’ll see the famous raven, but some of the locals call them dumpster chickens. You can also see fox and moose running around, and if you drive a little out of town you’ll see caribou walking around digging through foliage or snow for food. It is even possible that you could see a bear walking around or rubbing his back on a tree. If you don’t want to leave town to see the wildlife, head on out to Creamer’s Field, a small reserve next to an old dairy. It is free to get in, and has well groomed trails. The sights are beautiful and, at a bare minimum, the birds that call Creamer’s Field home are handsome.
Most locals will return a smile and point you in the right direction. Don’t worry about the guns that are easily spotted in gun racks in their trucks, that’s for the wildlife. And don’t worry about crime, North Pole is 10 miles away and Santa always keeps track of his list.
Even downtown has a relaxed air about it. The further away from town, the more free-spirited but independent the locals are. Unless you don’t mind some hustle and bustle of the summer tourist season (May to August), come during the winter (September to April) when you’ll get to see what real Alaskans are like. We’re like Randy in “A Christmas Story” all winter, fully bundled up for the cold temperatures. But if you do like some bustle come in June for the Midnight Sun Run and in August for the County Fair. Fairbanks is also a military town, puzzle piece style next to Fort Wainright, so most everyone is either 5 minutes late or five minutes early (most soldiers are early, where as their wives are late).
Come by anytime! Alaska always has room for visitors. Come see the sights of the Last Frontier.