Northern lights, reindeer, and antique cars — Those are just a few of the things waiting for you in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Travel enthusiast Dana Rebmann takes us on a tour.
Dana says Fairbanks has some fun surprises waiting and getting there during the summer is easier than in the past because United is offering nonstop, seasonal flights from SFO.
Summer is about sunshine in Fairbanks, and that means getting outside. There are plenty of ways for you to do it.
Along with some stunning scenery, while you’re cruising on a riverboat, passengers can watch a seaplane in action. The riverboat also cruise by the home and dog kennels of the late four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher, so you get a peek of what a day in the life is like. ($69.95) Reservations required.
If you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty, you can experience the gold rush first hand by giving gold panning at Gold Daughters a go. Patience is key. It’s harder than it looks, but once you get a feel for it, you develop a rhythm of sorts.
Dana found a few shiny specks. $20 and they guarantee you’ll find gold. No reservations are needed.
Now that you have gold fever, you’ll have lots of energy to go for a walk, with reindeer. It’s kind of like walking a dog, but the gee-whiz factor is a little higher.
Running Reindeer Ranch is very popular. The lead reindeer is typically on a leash, but the others just kind of follow along, wandering on and off the path when the mood strikes them. It’s an easy walk, more of a stroll actually, so anyone can do it.
Car buffs will want to save some time for the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. It’s home to nearly 100 rare automobiles, all produced prior to World War II.
It’s also chock full of vintage clothing, historic photos and videos. Dana found a film of San Francisco that was made in 1906, days before the earthquake that destroyed so much of the city. The video lasts seven minutes.
Dana watched it three times. With horse-drawn wagons, streetcars, cars, pedestrians. It’s chaos, but it’s controlled the chaos.
Fairbanks experiences 24 hours of sunlight from May 17 to July 27. That’s seventy days of straight sun. It’s part of what’s called Midnight Sun Season. But it also boasts some of best aurora borealis viewing opportunities in the world.
The viewing season runs from late August to late April (August 21 to April 21). Dana took pictures last September at Borealis Basecamp.
Located about a 45-minute drive from downtown Fairbanks, its remote location makes it ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. Thanks to the Camp’s shiny white domes, you can even watch from bed. ($389 a night, 2-night minimum.)
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