Fairbanks Travel Guide

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Free Things To Do in Fairbanks

If you have extra time, Georgeson Botanical Garden is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Fairbanks
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    #1 in Fairbanks
    1.6 miles to city center
    Museums, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    1.6 miles to city center
    Museums, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #3
    Chena River State Recreation Area
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    #3 in Fairbanks
    42.9 miles to city center
    Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    42.9 miles to city center
    Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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 head to this area for ski touring and snow machining – the local term for snowmobiling. The 254,080-acre preserve also offers several developed campgrounds and public-use cabins, as well as picnic areas and pavilions for family gatherings.

    Although recent visitors said this recreation area is a little off-the-beaten-path, most agreed this park is designed for family fun, with beaches, pavilions and a safely enclosed swimming lake perfect for children. Reviewers also appreciated the well-marked trails for hiking and biking (you'll need to bring your own bike as there are no bike rentals on-site), while others touted the water activities like kayaking and paddle boating (paddle boats, row boats, canoes and kayaks can be rented at Lake Park, which sits within the recreation area). To see a list of available trails, consult this brochure created by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. 

  • #4
    Georgeson Botanical Garden
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    #4 in Fairbanks
    4.5 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    4.5 miles to city center
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    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 the early 20th century – one of several experimental agricultural stations in the state – to learn what crops would grow best in the Alaskan climate and to share information and techniques with local residents. The garden continues this work today through plant trials and research, but it also contributes to the community with creative annual events like the Dead End Poets Society. The garden boasts a giant hedge maze and at one of the many dead ends, visitors will find poems written by local students.

    Although many visitors noted that recent budget cuts resulted in many overgrown beds, most still said it was worth a visit for a peaceful walk among the native Alaskan plants. Some families also complimented the childrens garden and outdoor labyrinth, as well as the raised viewing area facing the Alaska Range. 

  • #6
    HooDoo Brewing Company
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    #6 in Fairbanks
    2 miles to city center
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    2 miles to city center
    Tours, Wineries/Breweries, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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 and American styles. The open-concept taproom allows visitors to see the process while enjoying a glass or growler of their favorite brew. The brewery – the first in Alaska to harness solar power for its operation – offers free tours on Saturdays. Known for its Kölsch and American IPA, the brewery also features a variety of seasonal releases on tap.

    Locals and visitors alike call this brewery a hidden gem and complimented the outstanding beer, lively atmosphere and rotation of food trucks. Some visitors said that its location is a bit off-the-beaten-path in an industrial area near a railyard, while others noted that the service was fast and friendly even though the brewery is always busy. Most recommended the beer flight in the tasting room. 

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