A visit to Fairbanks is truly a visit to the heart of Alaska. Fairbanks is the largest city in what we refer to as the interior region of Alaska. Statewide, only Juneau and Anchorage boast larger populations. It’s the central location for surrounding Alaskan villages—a major city that can still claim an “old Alaska” feel.
At 1st Alaska Outdoor School, we offer Fairbanks City Tours as a way for visitors to get to the core of Alaskan culture and tradition. A visit to Fairbanks is a great way to immerse yourself in Alaska’s past and to discover everything it has to offer in the present and future.
When you imagine a visitor center, you probably think of stacks of brochures, a few maps, maybe an information desk for personalized assistance. The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center is so much more. You can gather all the information you need, but you’ll also have the chance to experience Alaska native art, including music, stories, and dance. The highlight of the center is the collection of life-sized dioramas. Guests can experience replications of a Summer fish camp, a Fall hunting camp, and a Winter view of the Northern Lights from the inside of an Alaskan cabin.
On a visit to Fairbanks, tourists will also come across some gold! Don’t get too excited, it’s not often that someone strikes it rich. But the gold mining industry around Fairbanks sure is active, from the multi-million dollar Fort Knox Gold Mine facility to small, independent gold mining operations dotting the land. Of course, visitors aren’t allowed to mine gold on private land, but there are public areas where recreational mining is welcomed. Most of the gold in Alaska comes in the form of fine flakes or dust left behind by glaciations.
Don’t forget about Pioneer Park, a mind-blowing destination that could take days to explore. It’s a 44-acre city park that was opened in 1967 to celebrate the centennial of the Alaska purchase. Pioneer Park, once known as Alaskaland, has 35 authentic, restored buildings from early Fairbanks. It features an old sternwheeler and a rail car that once carried president Warren G. Harding through Alaska. That’s just the very tip of the iceberg.
Our Fairbanks tours also explore two examples of traditional Alaskan craftsmanship. The Great Alaskan Bowl Company is a traditional birch bowl manufacturer that still uses the machinery designed over 100 years ago. Their operations are environmentally sustainable, and they invite guests to participate in the classic tradition of birch bowl making.
Finally, there’s the downtown ice museum, which explores the fine art that embraces the colder weather of the region.
If you’re interested in exploring Fairbanks in a way that lets you participate and understand real Alaskan culture and tradition, contact the 1st Alaska Outdoor School today.