Things to Remember
-The weather can be unpredictable! Some days the high is negative 30, some days it can be a warm 25 degrees so check the weather often and pack accordingly!
-Depending on the time of year you go there might not be much sunlight. We went in January and the sun rose at 10:30am and set at 3:30pm, but even then the sun doesn’t get far over the horizon so it still isn’t super sunny.
-They get about 4 feet of snow annually but because it’s so cold the snow and ice just stays, so their roads always have some snow/ice on them in the winter so please be careful while driving! You can always check with your car rental service about studded tires, 4 wheel drive etc.
We rented with Alaska 4×4 Rentals because we wanted to be sure we had studded tires, AWD and the remote start is a great bonus too. There is also the typical Hertz etc which were a little cheaper but with Alaska winters being iffy at times we felt safer having a more equipped car.
Places to Stay
We loved this Airbnb right by the airport. It was really convenient for our late night flights plus they have a hot tub!
I decided to book a dry cabin for part of the time because I knew my husband would think it was super cool. Most of the airbnbs outside of downtown are dry or partially dry cabins but don’t let this scare you! It was honestly a way better experience than I thought, granted our ended up being partially dry as we had running water in the house plus a shower but the outhouse was outside. It wasn’t too cold when we were there but I could see that being a hard trip when it’s -30 outside haha.
Chena Hot Springs– We stayed here the last two nights of our trip, mostly to see the Northern Lights. Next time I would only stay one night but it was still a good time.
Pike’s Waterfront Lodge– We didn’t end up staying here but it was highly recommended. It’s close to the airport and downtown and they usually have a lot of activities going on, plus it’s on the river.
Things to Do:
Running Reindeer Ranch– The coolest experience ever! The lady that runs it is so sweet and knowledgeable. Her daughter raised money to get the first reindeer when she was in school and it turned into a bigger thing than they had planned on but they love it. The reindeer are honestly like big dogs and chase each other around you. Make sure to dress warm though!
Dog Sledding- A bucket list item I can cross off my list now! We went with Just Short of Magic and had a great time. The team we went with, his specific racing company is called Smokin Aces and they run the Iditarod and many others throughout the year. It was really fun to talk with him about the dogs and the racing life.
See the Northern Lights- Of course the best part of Alaska in the winter! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see them as much as we had hoped. We saw them briefly with our eyes at Chena Hot Springs but through my camera we could see them a lot better which was so cool! Other great places to look for them are:
Go snowboarding- Because of the pandemic the main big resort near Fairbanks was closed so we decided to go to Ski Land Ski Resort. Honestly my husband thought it was the coolest resort, it had such an old ski hill vibe and was really cheap and fun.
Cross Country Skiing- We tried this for the first time at Chena Hot Springs. It’s a little hard to get used to at first but a fun way to see the sights and get a workout in!
Snowshoe Hiking- Also a fun way to see everything without struggling to walk in the snow. You can usually rent snowshoes and skis for pretty cheap.
Ice Museum- The Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs was very cool. We got to see one of the artists carving the ice glasses they give you at the bar and you can get an appletini in the ice glass!
Chena Hot Springs– A must visit to see the Northern Lights (they are 1.5 hours outside of downtown fairbanks) and to experience the amazing hot springs of course. They also have dog sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice museum, aurora tours and a ton of others in the summertime. It’s a little run down for the price but a great option if you are wanting to hang out in one place for a while but still do a lot.
Where to Eat
Crepery- Literally the best crepes we’ve ever had! We went three times. They were so good and they also offered mimosas and bloody marys.
The Cookie Jar- The cutest small town cafe/bakery. Their breakfast was great (they serve it all day) and their cinnamon rolls were literally bigger than my head!
Pump House- Best choice for seafood! The price is a little high but the food was still decent.
Chena Hot Springs- Their restaurant is the only place to eat anywhere near the hotel so we had dinner and brunch here. Honestly dinner was great but we were super disappointed with breakfast, but maybe it was just an off day.
Hoodoo Brewing Company- They have three different food trucks that rotate throughout the week. Good prices and good food to go along with the beer!
We didn’t get a chance to eat at these but they were highly recommended as well:
Lulu’s bread and bagels
The hungry robot