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Aurora Borealis Tours picture in Fairbanks
Chris McLennan / Alaska.org

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  • Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Tours Type
  • More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.8
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    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

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The aurora borealis – commonly called the northern lights – are one of the most popular attractions in Fairbanks. The region is situated under the "aurora oval", and from late September to early April, visitors flock to the region to view the spectacular light show. The city lights of Fairbanks tend to wash out the northern lights, so most tours head north on the Dalton Highway into the countryside for optimal viewing.  

A number of tour companies, including Ben Boyd's Alaskan Northern Lights Tour and Northern Alaska Tour Company, offer a variety of experiences, from an eight-hour evening viewing tour to a flightseeing and driving tour package that heads to the Arctic Circle. Those who prefer to plan their own trip can drive north to the Aurora Borealis Lodge to take a self-guided driving tour or even book a room for several nights of viewing.

Many recent winter visitors raved about Ben Boyd's Alaska Northern Lights Tour, complimenting his patience for aurora hunting. Many guests enjoyed Boyd's stories and cultural activities like hoop dancing as much as they loved seeing the stunning light show. Other recent Fairbanks visitors took the Arctic Circle fly/drive tour with the Northern Alaska Tour Company and praised the flight experience, as well as the return educational bus trip back to Fairbanks.

Although tours are available beginning in late August, it's best to wait until mid-September or later for optimal viewing conditions. Most tour companies will pick up guests from any Fairbanks hotel or accommodation as part of the package price. Evening tours run from 9 p.m. to about 4 a.m. and average $75 to $85 per person, while more extensive tours like the Northern Alaska fly/drive Arctic Circle viewing tour begins at $269 per person. Self-guided driving tours at the Aurora Borealis Lodge cost $25 for adults and $15 for kids 6 to 15, while the premier guided tour starts at $75 per person, including pick-up and return from area lodging. For additional information on viewing the northern lights or local tour companies, visit the Explore Fairbanks' Aurora Viewing page.

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#1 Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center is a great first stop to pick up maps and information on things to do in Fairbanks. In addition to exhibits on the ... Read more » Angie Cerny / Explore Fairbanks

#2 Aurora Borealis Tours The aurora borealis – commonly called the northern lights – are one of the most popular attractions in Fairbanks. The region is situated under the "aurora oval", and from late September to ... Read more » Chris McLennan / Alaska.org

#3 Chena River State Recreation Area The Chena River State Recreation Area, which sits just east of Fairbanks, is a popular spot in the summer for hiking, kayaking, fishing and camping. In the winter months, locals ... Read more » Explore Fairbanks / FCVB

#4 Georgeson Botanical Garden The Georgeson Botanical Garden is part of the School of Natural Resources and Extension at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The nationally recognized garden was created by Christian Georgeson in ... Read more » Courtesy of Georgeson Botanical Garden

#5 University of Alaska Museum of the North Located on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, this museum is the state's only research and teaching museum. Housing more than 1.4 million artifacts and specimens ... Read more » Brian Adams / Alaska.org

#6 HooDoo Brewing Company You won't find unusual flavors at this local Fairbanks brewery. Bobby Milken, born and raised in Fairbanks, started HooDoo Brewing Company to offer beers in classic English, German, Belgian ... Read more » Courtesy HooDoo Brewing Company

#7 Running Reindeer Ranch This family-owned farm sits just north of Fairbanks in the boreal forest of the Goldstream Valley. Here, visitors are invited to take a guided nature walk through the forest with ... Read more » Sherman Hogue / Explore Fairbanks

#8 Pioneer Park Part-theme park and part-historic park, the 44-acre Pioneer Park – built in honor of the 100th-anniversary celebration of Alaska's purchase from Russia – showcases the history of Fairbanks through several museums ... Read more » Nicholas Jacobs / FCVB

#9 Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum You don't have to be an automobile buff to enjoy the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. The museum showcases more than 85 cars made prior to World War II, each ... Read more » Sherman Hogue / Explore Fairbanks

#10 Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station Looking for a place to buy some qiviut? Prounounced kin-ee-ut, qiviut is the Inuit word for the soft underwool produced by musk oxen, prized for its insulating warmth. The Robert ... Read more » brytta / Getty Images

Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center picture in Fairbanks
Aurora Borealis Tours picture in Fairbanks
Chena River State Recreation Area picture in Fairbanks
Georgeson Botanical Garden picture in Fairbanks
University of Alaska Museum of the North picture in Fairbanks
HooDoo Brewing Company picture in Fairbanks
Running Reindeer Ranch picture in Fairbanks
Pioneer Park picture in Fairbanks
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum picture in Fairbanks
Musk Ox picture in Fairbanks
Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center picture in Fairbanks
Aurora Borealis Tours picture in Fairbanks
Chena River State Recreation Area picture in Fairbanks
Georgeson Botanical Garden picture in Fairbanks
University of Alaska Museum of the North picture in Fairbanks
HooDoo Brewing Company picture in Fairbanks
Running Reindeer Ranch picture in Fairbanks
Pioneer Park picture in Fairbanks
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum picture in Fairbanks
Musk Ox picture in Fairbanks

The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center features free exhibits, stage shows and a staffed visitor center for local information. Angie Cerny / Explore Fairbanks

Local guides take visitors about 25 miles north of Fairbanks for the best views of the aurora borealis, visible from late September through early April. Chris McLennan / Alaska.org

Outdoor enthusiasts love hiking and camping in the Chena River State Recreation Area. Explore Fairbanks / FCVB

Free to the public, the Georgeson Botanical Garden is a lovely place for a summer stroll. Courtesy of Georgeson Botanical Garden

The University of Alaska Museum of the North houses more than 1.4 million artifacts and a vast collection of indigenous art. Brian Adams / Alaska.org

The solar-powered HooDoo Brewing Company is the place to be for happy hour. Courtesy HooDoo Brewing Company

The guided forest walk with a reindeer at Running Reindeer Ranch is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, according to recent visitors. Sherman Hogue / Explore Fairbanks

Pioneer Park is a favorite outing for families and history buffs. Nicholas Jacobs / FCVB

In addition to featuring several rare antique cars, the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum displays period clothing to accompany each vehicle. Sherman Hogue / Explore Fairbanks

Visitors to the Robert G. White Large Animal Research Station are always captivated by the baby musk oxen, coveted for their insulating fibers. brytta / Getty Images

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