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Updated: 3/12/2021 | Alaska Travel Guide to Anchorage and Fairbanks

Alaska Travel Guide: Anchorage and FairbanksSnowmobile tour in Girdwood Alaska

Disclaimer: While we received free tours and experiences from Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alyeska Resorts and Glacier City Snowmobile Tours to review in our Alaska Travel Guide, all opinions and thoughts are our own and 100% honest.

My girlfriend and I took a 7 day trip to chase the Northern Lights in Alaska. We had just enough time to visit Anchorage and Fairbanks during the Winter season.

Our Alaskan adventure was AMAZING! We felt like we were on another planet with everything draped in snow. It’s such a beautiful sight to see during the Winter and Spring season.

We attempted to see the Northern Lights, but had no luck! We’ll have to make another trip to find them.

Onto our Alaska travel guide where we recommend tours, restaurants, lodging and more!

What to Do?

Here are activities that we HIGHLY recommend. Depending on when you visit, try activities that are seasonal to get the most of your visit.

Anchorage + Girdwood

Girdwood is about 1 hour from Downtown Anchorage. It’s where you’ll find a lot of outdoor activities.

  • Snowmobile with Glacier City Snowmobile Tours. Their tours were AMAZING! It’s a half day event with two opportunities in the AM and PM. Their guides are very experienced and great at keeping us safe. We were able to ride out and see Spencer Glacier. The tour is approximately 4.5 hours long and TOTALLY worth it. We’ll definitely be doing this experience again!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Ski or snowboard for FREE! If you’re flying into Anchorage on an Alaska Air flight, take your ticket to the Alyeska resort to ski and snowboard for free! See the complete rules here. Alyeska is located about 55 minutes south of Anchorage.
  • Alyeska Aerial Tram ($35 per adult per ride) was a good experience for those who want to get to the summit without snowboarding or skiing. There is a fine dining restaurant (Seven Glaciers), Roundhouse Museum, gift shop, cafe and amazing sunset views from the top.

top of alyeska ski resort with Kathy schimiggyAlyeska aerial tram top of the mountain Alex Tran

  • Alaska Wildlife Conversation Center (AWCC) offers an opportunity to visit Alaskan wild animals. You’ll see 17 different kinds of animals including Buffalo, Lynx, Moose, Foxes, Coyotes and more. Opt to drive or walk the 1.5 mile path around the center.
  • Fur Rondesvous (AKA Fur Rondy) is a party to celebrate the Iditarod! We went during COVID and they moved the starting path out of Downtown Anchorage. Unfortunately, we were unable to see the races because they did not allow spectators this year. Also check out the snow sculpture championships, which are held during Fur Rondy.

schimiggy max and me sport wear it to heart leggings schimiggyFairbanks

  • Chena Hot Springs Resort – Relax in the Chena Hot Springs while trying to catch the Northern Lights. It’s only $15 for all-day admission and located approximately 1 hour north of Fairbanks. Lockers are 50 cents per use. We recommend staying overnight and enjoying all the activities they have onsite. We visited the ice museum, went dog sledding, and ate at their delicious restaurant where they harvest fresh vegetables from their onsite greenhouse. We’ll definitely be back!

Chena Hot Springs poses Fairbanks Alaska Travel Guidechena hot springs kathy butt

  • Ice Art Championships – Founded in April 1990, volunteers, corporations and businesses get together to continue the tradition of Ice Sculpting in Interior Alaska. The tradition began with the early celebrations of spring involving Ice Thrones for the Winter Carnivals of the 1930s.  The event hosts over 100 ice artists, representing 9 countries and, many states of the United States. Tickets are $16 for adults and proceeds go towards supporting non-profits in Fairbanks.
  • Dog Sled Tour – We ended up taking the dog sled rides at Chena Hot Springs Resort. It was so much fun! The ride is about 12 minutes long and you get to hang out with the dogs before and after in the kennels. Make sure to take lots of great videos and photos. The scenery was amazing!
  • Ice Fishing
  • Ice Museum Tour – This tour takes you into their ice sculpture museum and is completed with an Appletini in a shaved martini glass for only $15. Afterward, take your glass and smash it against the ice block outside. You can also stay in the Ice Museum overnight but may need to stay bundled up. It’s a constant 22 Fahrenheit degrees in there.
  • Stay at the Gnome Home! We enjoyed our stay here. There are two rentals side by side. We rented the gnome home which sleeps 4. It was $172 a night and was super fun to stay in for the evening. The only drawback is that the Gnome Home doesn’t have a shower or kitchen sink. We would have definitely extended our stay if it had a shower.

gnome home fairbanks alaska schimiggy Where to Eat?

Here are our top picks for places to eat in both Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Anchorage + Girdwood

  • Anchorage Brewing Company (ABC) – This is our favorite place for craft beers. If you’re into sour beers, do not miss a visit to ABC. They have warehouse seating and a pop up restaurant on the weekends. We tried their delicious braised beef soba noodles and they were great!
  • Jack Sprat – They have the BEST bibimbap and house-made Gochujang. I could not get enough! They also have vegan nachos and delicious wine cocktails. If you’re lucky, you may get seated in their glass deck area and catch the Northern Lights from there. Buy a bottle of the Gochujang for only $10 to take home! I put it on everything.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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  • Simon and Seaforts – We LOVE their happy hour here. They also have the best Alaskan king crab legs in town. Come early to get a window seat and enjoy the view!
simon and seaforts alaskan king crab leg
Alaskan King Crab Legs from Simon and Seaforts
  • Snow City Cafe – Great place for breakfast and take out items. We love their pancakes, breakfast scrambles and chai tea.
  • Bubbly Mermaid – During COVID they take reservations only with a minimum $100 champagne charge. Come in with a private party of 6 to dine on delicious oysters and bubbly! And once you’re done enjoying oysters and champagne, head to the back of the restaurant, through a hallway and into a secret surprise. You can thank me later.
  • Crow’s Nest – This fine dining establishment is located in the Captain Cook Hotel. The cocktails are delicious. We had a beautiful view of Downtown Anchorage.
  • AK Alchemist – Come here for delicious reindeer dishes and amazing coffee and tea beverages. We highly recommend the Thai Spice Chai. It’s freaking amazing. We also ordered the crunch wrap and dined in their heated domes!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Fairbanks

  • Lemongrass Thai – Best Thai restaurant in Fairbanks. We recommend the Tom Yum soup and house cocktail.
  • Pump House – Great place to enjoy Alaskan fare at a fair price and in a saloon style restaurant. We ordered the Reindeer medallions and steamed crab (highly recommend). While it claims to be a fine dining restaurant, the ambiance and price range was actually middle of the road.
  • Seoul Gate – Delicious Korean staples including bulgogi, jjigae (soups), kim bop (rice rolls) and more. Fairly priced. You will need to pay for additional ban chan (side dishes).
  • Spice It Up – If you’ve heard about Halal Guys, you should be excited Spice It Up exists. They serve Indian and Mediterranean fare that is delicious, quick and affordable. The owner/chef also came by to check on us throughout our visit.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Where to Stay?

In Anchorage, we stayed at a nice downtown one (1) bedroom. It was super convenient to get around. We found the place on Airbnb.

In Fairbanks, we stayed at the Gnome Home for a day and at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge for 2 nights. Both places were close to attractions, restaurants, and more.

How to Get Around

We highly recommend renting a car to get around. We booked an SUV with seat warmers because it is VERY COLD during winter.

The agents will recommend studded tires and window protection during the winter season. We found that it was not necessary when we went in early March 2021.

What to Wear

During winter and spring, it’s best to wear clothing that is made for snow. Anchorage and Fairbanks can be brutally cold. While we were in Fairbanks, the temperature reached -1 Fahrenheit. We packed our snowboard gear which helped us get through the bone-chilling cold weather and prepared us for many of the outdoor activities we participated in.

Related: Best Snowboarding Gear for Women and Girls

In Summer and Fall, the weather can be warm enough for tanks, t-shirts and shorts.

We recommend checking the weather prior to packing for your trip to Alaska.

Final Thoughts

So if you’re on the fence about visiting Alaska, we really think you should! I am convinced that Alaska is another planet. It’s so beautiful and a great place to participate in outdoor winter activities.

While we did not catch the elusive Aurora Borealis, we have an amazing time and will definitely be back next year to continue our hunt for the Northern Lights. See you soon, Alaska!

If you found our Alaska travel guide helpful, please share it on Pinterest. Thanks for your support!

travel guide to anchorage and fairbanks alaska

 

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Author

Alex Tran AKA Schimiggy is a fitness fashion, travel, justice, and food-obsessed raconteuse. She currently resides in Seattle and teaches yoga while writing her heart out. Schimiggy Reviews is a lifestyle blog where Alex shares her passions and interests with the world!

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