Photo: University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks has character, no doubt about it.
One of the best activities to do when visiting is to explore the many unique museums and visitors centers we have locally. These establishments expertly share the history, stories and local way of life here in the Golden Heart of Alaska. So, get a solid picture of what it’s like to live in interior Alaska by heading to any of the museums and visitor centers below.
University of Alaska Museum of the North
Perched on the west ridge of the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, the iconic University of Alaska Museum of the North is an outstanding facility for many reasons. At the museum, visitors discover Alaska Native cultures, natural wonders, diverse wildlife and 2,000 years of Alaska art. Not only that but you can experience breathtaking architecture (inspired by glacial crevasses, alpine ridges, the aurora borealis and break-up on the Yukon River) and views of the Alaska Range. There are movies daily and a Museum Store and Café on site. Open year-round.
Discover big things at the UA Museum of the North!
Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center
Definitely your first stop upon arriving in Fairbanks. Explore Fairbanks offers excellent visitor information 7 days a week. Exhibits at the Morris Thompson include “How We Live,” an in-depth display of Interior Alaska’s history and people. Walking through, visitors are greeted with everyday sounds of the Interior, beginning with a raven’s call, Athabascan fiddle music, the deep roar of a float plane taking off and the musical honking of migrating geese. A replica fish camp, hunting camp, public use cabin and a northern lights show add to the realism. Admission is free.
The center also houses the Tanana Chiefs Conference Cultural Programs and the Alaska Geographic bookstore. Additionally, the Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center (FAPLIC) is located on the 1st floor and staff is available to assist with resources through "one-stop shopping" for public lands information, maps, trip-planning assistance, and resource education.
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum at Wedgewood Resort
If you are interested in the motoring history of Alaska, look no further than our local Antique Auto Museum. The collection features over 80 vehicles, including horseless carriages, steamers, electric cars, speedsters, cyclecars, midget racers and 30s classics.
Remarkably, all but a few of the automobiles are driven, making this a true "living museum." Just as incredible is the vintage fashion collection paired with the vehicles. With over 100 outfits on display, take a colorful glimpse into the museum's extensive collection of vintage fashion and historical clothing.
Be sure to bring your camera - there's even an automobile you can climb into for photos!
Photo: Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
North Pole Visitor Information Cabin
Located in North Pole, Alaska, the North Pole Visitor Information Cabin is an authentic log cabin (complete with sod roof and grass) that was built from local timber in the 1960's by a local homesteader. Operated by the North Pole Community Chamber of Commerce, stop in to ask for directions, get maps, make reservations and shop for made in North Pole and Alaska made gifts. Be sure to sign the guestbook and have your picture taken next to the Welcome to North Pole sign!
Photo: Keith Spanberger
The Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs Resort is home to the world’s largest year-round ice environment in the world, the Aurora Ice Museum! It was created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, all harvested at the resort.
The Aurora Ice Museum gallery features amazing ice sculptures created by 16-time world champion ice carver Steve Brice and his wife, Heather a 7-time world champion.
As you step inside the ice museum for the very first time, you notice the 25-degree temperature and are mesmerized by the ever-changing colored ice crystal chandeliers overhead depicting the aurora borealis. Parkas are available free of charge to use during your tour and don’t forget to treat yourself to an Apple-tini, served in a hand-carved ice martini glass, at the Aurora Bar inside.
Photo: Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
The Fairbanks Ice Museum
The Fairbanks Ice Museum is billed as "The Coolest Show in Town." The Ice Museum, in the historic Lacey Street Theater on the corner of Second Ave. and Lacey Street, is home to the Ice Showcase and Freeze Frame.
Freeze Frame is a dynamic large screen multi-image presentation that tracks, from start to finish, the process of creating world-class ice art. Very cool. The Ice Showcase is a walk-in display case that maintains a constant temperature of 20 degrees. Inside are the results of hours of work on over 40,000 lbs. of world-famous Fairbanks ice. The sculptures can be viewed in a warm comfortable auditorium, through the glass-fronted case.
Museums in Pioneer Park
You could easily spend all day at Pioneer Park. And on a nice summer day, it’s a great place to have a picnic and learn about Fairbanks history. This 44-acre historic park has a Gold Rush Village filled with authentic buildings from downtown Fairbanks, an art gallery, eight museums and loads of historical displays and presentations. There’s also a carousel, playground and choo-choo train to keep kids (and the young at heart!) occupied. Additionally, Explore Fairbanks staffs a small visitors center at the park entrance, look for the little log cabin.
- Pioneer Air Museum: Dedicated to the preservation of our unique aviation history, from 1913 to present.
- Riverboat Nenana: In the center of the park sits the Nenana, a steamship built in 1933 and worked on the Yukon River for 21 years.
- Tanana Valley Railroad Museum: Home of the oldest operating steam locomotive in Alaska and Yukon Territory and the oldest gold rush artifact in Fairbanks. Rides on the railroad encircling the park are available daily.
- Pioneer Museum: Featuring objects, photos, documents and books of early Fairbanks and the interior, including showings of “The Big Stampede Show.”
- Wickersham House Museum: This national landmark, built in 1904, provides a look at early house construction and furnishings of the period.
- Kitty Hensley House: This cabin dates to the early 1900’s and is furnished to reflect living in the early days of Fairbanks.
- Harding Railroad Car: This passenger car was one of three used to carry as delegation including Warren G. Harding in 1923 to a ceremony marking the completion of the railroad between Seward and Fairbanks.
Fairbanks Children's Museum
If you are traveling with kids, you might want to check out the Fairbanks Children’s Museum. Like children's museums around the world, the Fairbanks Children’s Museum provides a rich environment that stimulates children’s natural curiosity and creativity. The interactive museum environment offers children unique opportunities for discovery, to freely and joyfully explore, engage and connect and also gives visitors a chance to interact with local moms and dads.
Photo: Fairbanks Children's Museum
Creamer’s Field Farmhouse Visitor Center
You don’t have to get out of town to walk trails and view local wildlife. You can do it all at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterflowl Refuge! The Farmhouse Visitor Center provides guided nature walks and organized educational events throughout the year. The various Creamer's Refuge habitats offer homes for a diversity of animals, but its special role is for stopovers and summer use of migratory birds. Friends of Creamer's Field also put on various events throughout the year, including the amazing Sandhill Crane Festival in August.
Photo: Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
Fairbanks Community Museum
The Fairbanks Community Museum features exhibits on the Klondike Gold Rush, Early Fairbanks, The Great Flood of 1967, Winter in Fairbanks and The Driving Spirit Dog Mushing Museum which features a detailed history of the use of sled dogs in the Far North. Admission is free, however, donations are greatly appreciated.
Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Museum
On July 18th, 2013, the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation opened a museum at 825 1st Avenue in downtown Fairbanks. The museum is designed to honor the 108 pioneers that have been inducted since 1997. The inductees are arranged through time, which features different events in Alaska's rich mining history. These include pre-Gold Rush activities, pioneers of the Juneau Gold Belt; and pioneers of the Alaska-Yukon gold rush, and then moving into other categories such as pioneers associated with copper and coal mining, pioneers associated with strategic mineral developments, and pioneering families and individuals of modern placer mining.
As you can see, there are no shortage ways to immerse yourself in the life of a pioneering Alaskan. Click on the links above to get more information including hours of operation.
You can also request a Visitors Guide to get even more great information about our town to help with trip planning. We hope you take the time to visit these wonderful places on your next visit to Fairbanks and learn all you need about life in Arctic Alaska!