Fairbanks is known as "the Golden Heart of Alaska," some say because of the discovery of gold there in 1902, some due to its location in the heart of Alaska, and still others claim the name for the character of the city’s inhabitants. A trip to the Golden Heart will allow you to decide for yourself.
Fairbanks is 358 miles north of Anchorage, and retains much more of a frontier feel than its sister city. It is a focal point for surrounding villages scattered throughout the nearby wilderness, as well as the hub for Prudhoe Bay and other North Slope towns.
Being so close to the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks weather swings between both extremes. The shortest winter day offers less than three hours of sunlight, and winter temperatures can drop to 65 degrees below zero. But summer days seem endless, and the temperature can rise all the way to 90.
Fairbanks is best known as being the gateway to Denali National Park, but it is much more than just a "base camp." The old El Dorado Gold Mine displays the pride of Alaska's mining history, and allows to visitors to pan for gold, which you can keep if you strike it rich! For those looking for a more rustic experience, the Ester Gold Camp offers a little more authenticity. Summer is a great time to visit if you're looking for some water adventures; Fairbanks hosts numerous rafting and canoeing opportunities, whether you're looking for a guided experience or want to go exploring on your own. Fishermen will be happy to know that there are equally numerous opportunities near Fairbanks as well.
If visiting in the winter, Fairbanks is surrounded by three main hot springs that offer respite from the cold. But for those who don't mind the cold, mushing experiences are available through some Fairbanks outfitters, or try one of the beautiful cross-country ski trails. Moose Mountain Ski Resort is also 20 minutes from the city. Winter in Fairbanks also features the Ice Carving Championships, the Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race, and the Nenana Ice Classic.
If you're looking for the urban experience, Fairbanks has an active downtown with a variety of restaurants, hotels, museums, and entertainment.