Updated: May 23, 2020
Our top recommendations for things to do in and around Fairbanks, Alaska during winter:
Drive your own dog team at Arctic Dog Adventure Co. (of course!)
Visit the UAF Large Animal Research Station to see Musk Oxen and Reindeer and take an educational tour to learn about these amazing Arctic animals.
Visit the University of Alaska Museum of the North
Eat Thai food — Fairbanks loves Thai food! We LOVE Lemongrass -- Their pad thai and curries are amaaaazing and they serve as much Alaskan Grown produce and products as possible. Good place for AK salmon and AK grown veggies.
Stop at a drive though espresso stand. If you keep your eyes peeled you will see they are located on almost every major corner!
Snowmachining/ice fishing with Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service.
Aurora photography lessons with Aurora Bear Photography.
Go for a guided cross country ski with North Bound Alaska Ski Tours. They have user friendly skis with special bindings that allow for regular winter boots. No ski experience necessary!
Local favorite: Attend an Ice Dogs hockey game or a UAF Nanooks hockey game.
Go watch the locals at HooDoo Brewing (and try some beers). Always a good food truck there as well.
We recommend Hoarfrost Distillery for amazing cocktails. Check their schedule for partnership evenings with local food makers like Just the Tips Boreal Infused Eats + Tea. Black Spruce Brewing, our other local brewery, is just down the street. Hungry Robot Pizza is usually there as well.
On your way out to North Pole & the Santa Claus House, be sure to stop by Arctic Harvest Distillery, a farm-to-bottle distillery. During winter, the outer edges of their fields are available for walking and skiing and sometimes they offer luminary night walks (especially around Winter Solstice).
Drive to Wickersham Dome, the gateway to the White Mountains National Recreation Area for a walk/snowshoe or amazing northern lights viewing. (Ask us about our cabin overnights & multi day trips in the Whites if you'd like to go deeper into the mountains).
Drive to Hilltop Gas Station for their famous pie. Take it to go because their coffee tastes like salt due to recent water issues. The pie is still great. Pick up an "I Brake For Pie" bumper sticker at this last gas station on the road north for 300 miles. As seen on "Ice Road Truckers."
Downhill tubing at Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Hill (Fort Wainwright)
Drive to Chena Hot Springs and take a soak. Best done on a clear night after a busy day outdoors. Eat at the restaurant — the resort is powered by geothermal energy and the salad is grown fresh in their greenhouse! Chena Hot Springs receives mixed reviews. If you've been to other hot springs virtually anywhere else in the world, you will not be impressed. It's still really nice to soak in after a chilly winter day & the food at the restaurant is good. I think it's worth the drive, but recommend shower shoes.
Best gift shops in Fairbanks are the Knotty Shop out in Salcha and the Great Alaska Bowl Company in town by the airport. The Knotty Shop is my favorite, with agreat mix of Made in Alaska products (#buythebear) and Alaskan-designed-but-made-in-China items like magnets and stuffed animals. Be sure to check their hours before driving out — they also open by appointment if you can’t make their regular hours. The Bowl Company has incredibly beautiful hand turned AK birch bowls and carry only Made in Alaska or USA products. Pick out some Alaska jams, jellies, salmon jerky and chocolate to add to a wood bowl -- they will prettily gift wrap it for you for free.
Santa Claus House in North Pole— send a postcard to a kid; it will be postmarked as being from the North Pole! They also have a local fudge & espresso shop inside the building.
Skip the Starbucks. Alaskans are well known for their love of coffee and we have a few local roasters and coffee houses that we like. LuLu's Bread & Bagels and Alaska Roasting Coffee Co. are recommended for breakfast & lunch. Try the Lox bagel at LuLu's or a Flatbread at AK Coffee Roasting Co.
You can't visit Fairbanks (or Alaska) without going to a drive-through espresso stand! We have one on practically every corner. Our favorite local stands are Mocha Dan's on corner of Steese/Farmers Loop (on the way to/from Arctic Dog & their breakfast burrito is one of my favorite things in the world) or on Geist by the University and Sunshine Espresso (Old Steese/College or College/University are convenient locations).