Visit Alaska's second-largest city for a bounty of winter sports, a celebrated research museum, and delicious food and beer.
One hundred and ten years ago, as news of gold strikes in Alaska’s Tanana Valley began to spread, a trickle of prospectors grew to a throng. Fairbanks, the town that sprang up to supply these fortune seekers, is now the state’s second-largest city, home to exciting ice hockey, an acclaimed research museum, and a lively craft beer scene.
Area code is 907.
TO DO and SEE
Alaska Nanooks ice hockey These top-tier college athletes get no relief from the cold as they take to the ice to vie for the Division I title. Between plays, visit the Penalty Box Beer Garden for a lager. 2010 Second Ave., 474-6665, alaskananooks.com . Museum of the North Artist Glen Simpson harvests materials from local forests to create masks inspired by Native Alaskan designs, as demonstrated in the special exhibit Art in the Making. 907 Yukon Dr., 474-7505, uaf.edu/museum . UAF Trail System A six-mile loop passes a large-animal research station, where musk oxen, caribou, and reindeer roam. After a snowfall, rent cross-country skis to glide through a picturesque birch forest. Find the trailhead at Ballaine Lake on Farmers Loop Road. uaf.edu/trails .
Alaska Raw Fur Company Get a glimpse of the trapping tradition while browsing through wolverine pelts and beaver fur mittens. 4106 Boat St., 479-2462, foreveralaska.com . Great Alaskan Bowl Company See workers craft household items from Alaskan birch using machinery designed more than a century ago. The handmade bowls, wooden utensils, and butcher blocks are all for sale. 4630 Old Airport Way, 474-9663, woodbowl.com . Gulliver’s Books Hear regional authors give readings on dog mushing and natural history. Pause at the café upstairs to sip strong coffee while perusing books. 3525 College Rd., 474-9574, gullivers-books.com .
Ivory Jacks Mingle with locals at the bar, then feast on beer-battered halibut in one of the state’s largest log structures, tucked away just north of town. Expect to see moose and possibly the northern lights on the way there. 2581 Goldstream Rd., 455-6665, ivoryjacks.alaskansavvy.com . Lavelle’s Bistro This North American–style bistro cellars 5,000 bottles of wine and serves up lobster cakes, seared sesame-crusted ahi, and Alaskan king crab legs. 575 First Ave., 450-0555, lavellesbistro.com . Silver Gulch Brewing & Bottling Company The brunch here includes a house-smoked pork chop with caramelized apples and cilantro-wasabi coleslaw. 2195 Old Steese Hwy., 452-2739, silvergulch.com .
Photography courtesy of UAMN, Patricia Fisher/Fisher Photography
This article was first published in September 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.