University of Alaska Museum of the North#5 in Best Things To Do in Fairbanks
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, the collections include Alaskan art spanning more than 2,000 years, featuring paintings, sculpture and ancient ivory carvings. Specimens include a 36,000-year-old mummified bison named Blue Babe and the state's largest public display of Alaskan gold. A special exhibit, "The Place Where You Go to Listen," features a sound and light installation controlled by the real-time positions of the sun and moon. Special lectures and family programs are also offered throughout the year, and the museum store features an array of artwork, jewelry and crafts.
Locals and visitors alike said this facility offered a wealth of information on the inhabitants, animals and history of the northern parts of Alaska, along with a second floor devoted to Alaskan art. Most were impressed with the unique building, the friendly staff and the small cafe, and some noted that local hotels offer shuttle service to the museum. Others recommended adding the "Dynamic Aurora" movie experience, saying it was worth the extra $5.
You'll find the museum on the UAF campus – about 6 miles northwest of downtown. If you don't have your own set of wheels, MACS Transit's blue line makes a stop here. The museum is open daily in the summer (June 1 to August 31) from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and in the winter (September 1 to May 31) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission costs $12 for adults (15 and older) and $7 for youth (5 to 14) Visit the property's website for directions or to see a schedule of special events and programs.
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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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