Aurora Borealis Tours#2 in Best Things To Do in Fairbanks
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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 natural history of the region and the cultural history of Alaska natives, the center offers a free film on Alaska's history and nature. What's more, on the first Friday of every month, the center hosts a free reception featuring the work of an Alaskan artist from the interior region. This is also where you'll find the city's famous Antler Arch, a piece constructed with more than 100 moose and caribou antlers collected from all over interior Alaska.
Most recent visitors said this free museum was an ideal first stop for learning about Alaskan life, with a good mix of history and culture. Many found the central downtown location convenient, and families particularly enjoyed the interactive displays for kids. Some visitors were disappointed that the informative movie only runs once per day, but all travelers complimented the friendly and knowledgeable staff.
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