FAIRBANKS AREA VISITOR INFORMATION
Junior Nationals 2023 Fairbanks
INFORMATION FOR PARENTS AND VISITORS
TO THE FAIRBANKS AREA
The Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) is an area the size of New Jersey with a population of approximately 100,000, located about 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The FNSB includes the City of Fairbanks and the City of North Pole within the area of the Borough. Fairbanks started out as a gold-mining outpost and trading center to support the mining industry. The largest economic drivers in current-day Fairbanks are the University of Alaska Fairbanks, State of Alaska government, the Federal government and the US military, with a major Army post, Fort Wainwright, on the eastern edge of the City of Fairbanks, and Eielson Air Force Base, just east of the City of North Pole, home of the recently-deployed F-35 jet fighters. Although a long flight, or a longer drive from most of the lower 48, Fairbanks is a full-service community with a vibrant cultural scene and a very, very active outdoor community.
TRAVEL TO FAIRBANKS
You can fly to Fairbanks from most major airport hubs in the Lower 48 with a single stop in Seattle. Alaska Airlines provides the most flights daily, connecting in its Seattle hub to Alaska Airlines flights from all over the US. Delta Airlines also provides year-round daily service. The Fairbanks International Airport, on the west side of town, is a 5-15 minute drive from most major accommodations, and only 20-25 minutes from Birch Hill, the competition venue for the 2023 Junior Nationals. Numerous car rental agencies have desks in Fairbanks, but reservations should be made early, as the car rental industry is still suffering from the effects of the COVID pandemic.
There are numerous options for hotel accommodations in Fairbanks. Wedgewood Resort, located on College Road, approximately halfway from the Airport to Birch Hill, is the official Race Headquarters Hotel of the 2023 Junior Nationals. Other housing options include:
- Sophie Station Hotel
Family Lodging Registration at Sophie Station (134 downloads)
- Pike’s Waterfront Lodge (near airport)
- La Quinta (near airport)
- Springhill Suites by Marriott (downtown)
- Westmark Hotel (downtown)
- Clarion Hotel & Suites (downtown)
- Hyatt Place Fairbanks
- Hampton Inn & Suites Fairbanks
- Candlewood Suites
- Best Western Plus Pioneer Park
- Best Western Express Chena River
Driving time from these accommodations to the Birch Hill Recreation Area varies from about 10 minutes to about 20 minutes.
DINING & ENTERTAINMENT
It will probably come as a great surprise to visitors from outside Alaska, but Fairbanks is a hotbed for Thai Cuisine, with well over a dozen locations where you can dine in or take out Thai food. In addition to the Thai options, there is a great variety of dining options covering a broad spectrum of choices: Mexican, Vietnamese, Korean, Italian, Indian, Moldovan, as well as “traditional” American cuisine. Fairbanks dining is normally very informal, so you will not need to dress for dinner. Ask locals for a place to go where you can get a taste of “local color” as well as local cuisine.
Fairbanks is the home of numerous distilleries and breweries with tasting rooms. State liquor laws specify that tasting rooms cannot serve food, but in many of the tasting rooms you can bring your own food, or there may be food trucks just outside the door. In the tasting rooms at breweries, consumption is limited to 36? ounces per person per day.
If you want to prepare your own meals in your accommodations, there are numerous supermarkets in Fairbanks. In West Fairbanks the Fred Meyer and Safeway stores are across from each other. Closer to Birch Hill, between College Road and the Johansen Expressway are Safeway, Fred Meyer and Walmart. Downtown is the Coop Market.
Check the internet for live music options, art galleries, etc.
- The University of Alaska Museum of the North (NOTE: The JN2023 Organizing Committee is working on a special package for visitors with this museum)
- Antique Auto Museum (at Wedgewood Resort)
- Fairbanks Community Museum (at Co-op Plaza in downtown Fairbanks)
If you like outdoor activities, you have come to the right place. The opportunities for outdoor activities is unlimited, with hundreds of miles of trails of all types emanating from and in the area surrounding Fairbanks. Besides cross country skiers, trail users in Fairbanks include, fatbikers, snowshoers, dog mushers and snowmachiners.
Groomed cross country ski trail systems:
- Birch Hill Recreation Area (approximately 35Km of trails)
- University of Alaska Fairbanks (~15-20Km)
- Fairbanks Country Club (Farmers’ Loop – ~5Km of trails, and a restaurant)
Other trails groomed for multiple use
- Creamers Field (ski-joring, walking, skiing)
- Alaska Dog Mushing Association (off Farmers Loop – mushing trails used for many activities; yield to mushers!)
- Chena Lakes Recreation Area (just east of North Pole)
- Tanana Lakes (at the south end of South Cushman Street)
- White Mountains National Recreation Area/Steese Conservation Area trails (trailhead about 40 miles north of Fairbanks on the Elliot Highway)
There are many other trails that are groomed by volunteers for their own use and are open to other users. Ask a local skier for advice about where to ski if you want to explore Fairbanks on skis outside of Birch Hill.
If you want to go farther afield, the entrance to Denali National Park is 120 miles south of Fairbanks on the Parks Highway. If you are looking for something a little less crowded and a bit more remote, you can reach the Eastern Alaska Range/Delta Range by driving down the Richardson Highway for 140-170 miles to reach various access points. In both of these locations you can get pretty close to some high mountains and low-use backcountry. Check avalanche conditions before you venture out.