While friends lounge on a sandy beach, or pound their fists into well-worn baseball gloves at Spring Training games, you and your kids can be experiencing one of the best spring break destinations on the planet. Fairbanks is a pretty hot place for cool stuff involving the outdoors, and, thankfully, most of it is pretty affordable, too.
While March temperatures still hover around the 0F mark at night (and often below), daytime temperatures will be completely manageable with the proper clothing. Boots, mittens, hats with ear flaps, face guards/balaclavas, and non-cotton layers will aid your family in a comfortable, warm experience. Try REI or your local sporting goods store for the best value for your family’s budget.
Fly to Fairbanks via Alaska Airlines, or, if you have a larger chunk of time, fly into Anchorage and take the Alaska Railroad’s Aurora Winter Train (north on Saturday, south on Sunday, with fly-rail packages available).
Stay at one of AKontheGO’s recommended Fairbanks hotels, with kid-friendly service and amenities to appease all styles of travel.
Enjoy a full range of interesting activities unique to Alaska. Below are some great bets for families:
Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center in downtown Fairbanks is the perfect place to begin your northern exploration. Home to the Fairbanks Convention and Visitor Center, Tanana Valley Chiefs Conference, Alaska Public Lands Information Center, and Alaska Geographic bookstore, this is one-stop shopping at its best. Be sure to visit the fabulous exhibits, watch short videos, and gather all the information you’ll need for dining, activities, and hiking/skiing trails. Hint: just outside is the wonderful Chena River trail, a great walking/skiing trail along the frozen Chena River. Great views of downtown and the crazy “antler arch”. Go see it.
Ice Alaska is an annual event celebrating the World Ice Art Championships. In a new home just a mile from the previous location, Ice Alaska is perfect for kids. Ice slides, an ice playground, and beautiful sculptures wow even the littlest visitors. Go at night for a lighted treat.
March brings sled dogs to Fairbanks for the Open North American Champtionship Sled Dog races, and kids factor highly in the 1,2, or 3-dog races. How cool is that to see someone your own age racing a team of dogs? Bring your camera; this is one cool sporting event!
Take an indoor break at the Museum of the North on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, overlooking the beautiful Tanana Valley. Big kids will enjoy the scavenger hunt, while younger ones will like the huge animal displays. In 2014, the Fairbanks Children’s Museum should be part of the facility, too, and we’re looking forward to more interactive options for kids.
If meeting up with Santa’s main mode of transportation strikes your fancy, make a stop at the Running Reindeer Ranch, located about 20 minutes north of Fairbanks in the scenic Goldstream Valley. Take a short walk with the reindeer, learn a ton of interesting information, and have a cookie and cocoa snack at the end of your journey. Read our recent post about the ranch, HERE.
Still not finished? How about skiing at one of our nation’s farthest-north ski areas? Yes, indeed, Fairbanks offers two public ski areas, Mt. Aurora Skiland and Moose Mountain. Both are open in March, and both offer great deals for schussing down the dry powder of Alaskan slopes. Before you head out, however, do double check your family’s tolerance to cold; some days are still pretty chilly, even by Alaskan standards!
Keep your eyes on the sky for the aurora borealis, or northern lights, too. Best viewed during – guess what – March, the aurora is a swirling square dance of green and red across the northern sky, and an unforgettable experience for anyone, kids included. Try 1st Alaska Outdoor School’s tours, or, if your kids are photography buffs, their Photography Tour, offering tutorials by local photographer Ronn Murray, an excellent teacher.
Springtime in Alaska means snowy fun, definitely something to talk about when the kids return to school! Make plans now for Spring Break 2014; you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood.