We rode the Alaska Railroad for three different legs of our journey: Anchorage to Talkeetna, Talkeetna to Denali, and Denali to Fairbanks. All three legs were relaxing and enjoyable, and very scenic.
We chose to go the cheapest route- adventure class. The seats were still spacious and the cars were nice. We were encouraged to get out of our seats, walk around, and move about the cars. Plus there was a solarium ion the top level of one of the cars where people could sit and take in the panoramic views.
This was a great way to see lots of Alaska in comfort!
If you are traveling through Fairbanks, add the Cultural Center to your list of places to stop (ideally first). The center has all of the brochures you could ever ask for, and friendly people on staff to assist you in planning your trip. As a bonus, they have a beautiful exhibit featuring Native Alaskan culture, art, and history.
If you are in Fairbanks, go! This museum features an Alaska history section which is incredibly well done and informative. The exhibit combines artwork, history, timelines, and movies about Alaska through time. There are also dinosaur bones and gorgeous animal exhibits.
There are also some art exhibits that are worth wandering through.
The museum costs $10, and if you go, be sure to give yourself a couple of hours to explore.
If you are visiting Fairbanks, go to the Museum of the North, and then head to the Large Animal Research Station down the road (we drove, but I am told that there is a free shuttle between the two if you ask).
The tour is pretty short, but you get to get up close with muskox, caribou, and reindeer, and hear a nice little talk about each. When we were visiting, there we a few newborn animals, which was a real treat to see!
Alright, I was skeptical of this place...but as someone in town touring Fairbanks for the day, I felt I should go. We had a fun little walk around the park; I especially enjoyed the small log cabins that had historic descriptions. My dad gave a rave review of the aeronautic museum, though I didn't pay the $2 to go inside.
If you find yourself in Fairbanks with a couple of hours to kill, stop by the park and wander around.
Before venturing to Fairbanks, I had heard a lot about Chena...hot springs, ice sculptures, dog sleds, green houses, etc. As we drove out the road to get to Chena, I was worried that we were wandering into a tourist trap. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what we found when we got there, and would recommend the trip for anyone who is visiting Fairbanks.
The 56 mile drive out of Fairbanks took about an hour to make, but it was quiet, relaxing, and scenic. We even saw a couple of moose along the way.
$10 gets you a "swim pass"- you are free to go in the indoor hot tub and pool and the outdoor hot springs. We spent all of our time in the hot springs, which are surrounded by giant boulders and lots of trees.
We were recently in Fairbanks for a day, and had time to check out the Pipeline from the viewing spot along the Steese Highway. When we got back into the car, and looked at a tourist map, there was a point on the map that appeared nearby, and said BEER. Intrigued, we went! We found ourselves at Silver Gulch Brewery, and had beer (Scorched Earth-seasonal) and an appetizer (onion rings). Both were great.
The food, drinks, and atmosphere of Silver Gulch are worth the short trip out of town!
I had a nice summertime dinner at The Pump House last week. We were able to sit in the glass enclosed patio that overlooks the river, and it was very pleasant. As far as restaurant views in Fairbanks go, this is one of the best!
My food (a steak dinner) was pretty good, though for the price did not meet my expectations.
I would return for drinks and appetizers on a nice evening, just to hang out on the patio!
Our stay at the Westmark consisted of a combination of good, bad, and ugly....
The Bad and the Ugly
We got in to Fairbanks late- around 9 p.m. When we got up to our room, only one of the two key cards worked. My mom and I remained in the room while my dad went left the room to check the key cards again. He found that at that point he could not get into the room with either card. No big deal...except that we couldn't get out of the room either! (And no, we did not deadbolt ourselves in!). Somehow the card reader had malfunctioned and we were stuck inside of the room. It took around 45 minutes before they could pry the door open and get us out. Yikes.
The manager was apologetic after this incident occurred, and agreed to upgrade our room to a suite and comp us for one of the two nights we were staying. This took some of the sting away, and we felt it was fair compensation for that ordeal.