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Travel Tip For Today

Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Alaska

Upon arrival in Fairbanks, stop at the Visitors Center at 550 First Street and take one of their hour-long walking tours, or pick up a do-it-yourself walking tour brochure and walk around for an hour in the historic part of town.

Accommodations

Free camping is avaliable at Chena River State Recreation Site, on University Avenue near the Chena River bridge or, for self-contained RVs, in Alaskaland. Tanana Valley Campground 1800 College Road Fairbanks, Alaska 99709-4176, (907) 456-7956 summer (907) 452-3750 winter, a fee campground, is centrally located on College Road.

For a roof over your head, the local B&B is Fairbanks Bed and Breakfast, P.O. Box 74573, Fairbanks, AK 99707, Tel. 907-452-4967, moderately priced. Cripple Creek Resort, just south of town, with shared baths, also has moderate rates.

Wedgewood Resort, 212 Wedgewood Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99701, Tel. 907-452-1442, is in a higher price range, kids free, continental breakfast included. This is a great place for families to clean up and let the kids swim. It has a pool, hot tub and sauna, a big playground nearby, and a laundry. Accommodations are in one and two bedroom apartments, all with color cable TV.

The Regency Fairbanks, 95 10th Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701, Tel. 907-452-3200, is an elegant small hotel in a convenient location. It's an expensive lodging choice. However, they also serve excellent meals, including a high quality, all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast and an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar lunch, both good bargains, especially if you take "all-you-can-eat" seriously.

Fairbanks Youth Hostel, 3412 College Road, Fairbanks AK 99709 Tel: (907) 479-0099

Food

The Pump House, Tel. 907-479-8452, offering fine quality dinners in an historic setting on the Chena River, makes a great spot to while away a summer evening, watching the boats go by.

But the best places for dinner during a short stay in Fairbanks are Alaskaland, Cripple Creek Resort and Gold Dredge No. 8 listed below as Sightseeing Highlights.

Sightseeing Highlights


  • Univ. of Alaska Museum - On campus, open daily, this small museum has excellent Alaska exhibits. Be sure to see the movie of the Aurora Borealis, as well as the remains of a 35,000-year-old bison. There is a small entrance fee. Tel. 908-974-7505.
  • Across from the museum is a vantage point from which to view the Alaska Range, with a map naming each of the peaks.
  • Alaskaland -This is Alaska's only pioneer theme park. It has no rides, just lots of exhibits. In the evening there is an all-you-can-eat salmon bake, followed by a comedy revue. Admission to the park is free; shows are inexpensive.
  • River Excursions - Alaskan sternwheelers leave daily at 2:00 pm for a 4-hour trip down the Tanana and Chena Rivers. Departures are from Discovery Landing, near Fairbanks International Airport. For complete information, contact Riverboat Discovery, 1975 Discovery Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99709, Tel. 907-479-6673.
  • Cripple Creek Resort - A few miles south of town in Ester, P.O. Box 101, Ester, AK 99725, Tel. 907-479-2500. A theatre, a restaurant and a saloon are housed in old mining buildings. The resort features lots of atmosphere and a very good all-you-can-eat dinner, moderately priced. Nightly multi-media shows, with spectacular northern lights photography set to music, are staged by Photosymphony in the firehouse theatre. Later in the evening, there is a great comedy revue at the Malamute Saloon.
  • Gold Dredge No. 8 - North of town in Fox, Alaska, this place offers a fascinating tour of an old gold dredge and a chance to pan for gold yourself. Excellent evening meals are served a la carte. The tour is inexpensive, meals moderate. On your way out, notice the Alaska oil pipeline on your right...you can't miss it. Stop the car at the visitors' parking area and read about the development of this incredible-and controversial-engineering achievement.

If you're a family vacationer, my kids inform me that Alaskaland, Cripple Creek Resort and panning for gold at Gold Dredge No. 8 are among their favorite places in Alaska.

Nightlife

A university town, Fairbanks has a lively nightclub scene. The Pump House, a local spot, features live entertainment, but no dancing. There are pool tables and a great view overlooking the river.

The Roof is a disco with a live band in the Entertainment Center on Airport Way at Marker, near Alaskaland. Also in the complex are bowling and skating. Nearby, a multi-screen theatre shows all the latest movies.

North Country Inn, a 15-minute drive north (as far as you can drive in Alaska by paved road, about 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle).

A look at the map will show you that the tour routes describe only the southeastern quarter of Alaska. A second look will show you why: there are virtually no other roads. It is impossible to reach the eastern part of the state by road, even in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The only road into the northern half of the state, the rugged, unpaved James Dalton Highway, follows the Alaska Pipeline for 500 miles to Prudhoe Bay on the frozen northern coast; however, beyond the Brooks Range, the last half of the road is closed to the public. There are no towns or service stations along the Dalton Highway, and an expedition on this road as far as the Brooks Range would prove so demanding and time-consuming that your trip would soon cease to feel like a vacation.

If the inaccessibility of Alaska's far frontiers tantalizes you, there is one way to sample it within a reasonable vacation time frame. Fly. That's how residents of northern and eastern Alaska get around, and you can too. From Fairbanks, you can easily fly all the way to Barrow-the northernmost point in Alaska.

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