Travel Nurse Assignments: Live Like a Local – Fairbanks, AK!
Welcome to Fairbanks, AK! Fairbanks is the northernmost metropolis in the United States, located 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle. In this city, you’re more likely to see someone commuting to work via dog-sled rather than bicycle or car. The sun shines for 24 hours a day during the summer solstice, and gets plenty of sunlight during “Midnight Sun Season” which runs from April-August. It’s also one of the best places in the world to view the Aurora Borealis or “Northern Lights” which are most visible from August-April.
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The extreme climate doesn’t bother locals, who flock to Fairbanks for cold weather activities like ice sculpting, and dog sled excursions. In the summer, the snow melts, and hiking and sightseeing become the popular pastimes. No matter which season you choose to visit, there’s something for everyone here in the Golden Heart of Alaska!
Immerse Yourself in Nature
With over 4 million acres of protected wilderness, and eight national parks, Alaska is home to some of the last great unspoiled wilderness in the nation. Denali National Park alone attracts half a million visitors per year, and is only a two hour drive from Fairbanks. The park is open year round, but there is more to see if you visit during the spring and summer. Bears, moose, caribou, and wolves all call Denali home, and there is a good chance you would see at least one of those animals on any given visit. Hiking is very popular in the summer, and there are a few marked trails mostly near the visitor’s center. You are encouraged to explore the park off-trail, but make sure to plan your route before you start your trek.
Chilling in Fairbanks
There are plenty of activities in town as well. Visit the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks to get acquainted with Alaska’s rich history. With thousands of artifacts ranging from art to natural history, this museum is an engrossing educational experience for all ages, and a must see for anybody yearning to learn more about Alaskan culture.
Pioneer Park is another fun attraction that offers visitors a glimpse of what Fairbanks was like during the Gold Rush days of the nineteenth century, complete with a Gold Rush themed main street. Several historic buildings were moved from downtown Fairbanks to be preserved in the park, and there’s a few shops and restaurants to peruse in the summer.
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In the winter, the temperatures routinely dip below zero, but that doesn’t stop anyone from having a good time. Every February, the world’s best ice sculptors gather in Fairbanks for the annual World Ice Art Championships. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience unique to Fairbanks, and a must-see for anyone visiting in February or early March.
Fun Day Trips
Did you dream of meeting Santa in the North Pole as a kid? Well you can turn your dreams into reality by venturing to North Pole, AK, just 15 min away from Fairbanks! The town features Christmas-themed decorations that are displayed year round, and you can even tour the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Of course, no trip to the North Pole is complete without reindeer. You can join in their reindeer games at the Running Reindeer Ranch, where you can take guided walks through the forest with Santa’s favorite animals.
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Another destination you simply must add to your itinerary is Chena Hot Springs Resort, just an hour away from downtown Fairbanks. This mountain retreat boasts a natural hot springs lake that reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit, and is open all year. In the winter, you can participate in dog sled rides and snowmobile tours. In the summer, you can go paddleboarding or fly-fishing along the Chena River.
Time to Grub
You might not think of Fairbanks as a culinary destination, but there are several eclectic eateries to keep your stomach happy. The Crepery is a Fairbanks staple, and specializes in both sweet and savory crepes. For some fresh Alaskan seafood, stop into The Pump House, a historic restaurant overlooking the Chena River, that serves up gourmet seafood and steaks. For some international flavor, try the Thai House Restaurant near downtown, or spend the night out at the Jazz Bistro on 4th Ave, which specializes in Cuban tapas cuisine. When you’re feeling thirsty, head to Lavelle’s Taphouse, featuring over 30 different taps. If you’re in the mood for spirits, try the Library Bar and Bites for cocktails and wine by the glass.
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