What I love most about Fairbanks is the light. In the summer, the sunset-sunrise timeframe that spans midnight is a show every night. In winter, the hoar frost that forms on the trees lights up in pinks and oranges when the sun shines low on the southern horizon. My favorite time of year is March when friends and family go down to the Chena River to barbeque and watch the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race. It's a great way for people to gather together on a sunny winter day.
1.) Downtown Fairbanks
I always love to take visitors on walking tours of the back streets of downtown Fairbanks, where a few of the old cabins still remain and where the yards are a mishmash of gardens and firewood and old cars. Stop into St. Matthews Episcopal Church ((1030 Second Ave., 907-456-5235), a reconstruction of the original 1903 church, and see the unique stained glass windows depicting scenes from the church's history. Complete your walking tour at the old cemetery on the east end of Fifth Avenue.
2.) Steese Highway
Head out of town on the Steese Highway, take in the view south to Mount McKinley and the Alaska Range from the Hagelbarger Road overlook, and then continue on to Cleary Summit. There is no better place to pick blueberries than from the acres of berries near Pedro Dome, approximately 25 miles north of Fairbanks.
3.) Thai cuisine
4.) Richardson Highway
For dinner, we love the Thai House Restaurant (412 Fifth Ave., 907-452-6123), a small, family-run restaurant featuring truly authentic food. The great thing about the Thai House is that there is no wrong choice; everything is good. Gong Op, which is shrimp with silver noodles, and Woon Sen, chicken with basil leaves, are two of our favorites. Vegetarians will enjoy the tasty tofu dishes, such as tofu with yellow curry sauce. Friends swear by Bahn Thai (541 Third Ave., 907-452-8424) and Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine (388 Old Chena Pump Rd., 907-456-2200) in the Chena Pump Plaza.
Of course a perk of living in Fairbanks is the ability to travel to other nearby places in Alaska. No matter how hard I try, I cannot visit my favorite places often enough. The Richardson Highway
takes me to Chitina to fish, or to Kennicott and McCarthy, or even down to Valdez. It's a wonderful scenic drive through the Alaska Range, over Isabelle Pass, past Summit and Paxson lakes and the volcanoes: Mount Wrangell, Mount Sanford and Mount Blackburn. If you have time, stop and see Ron Simpson and his model of the Copper River Railway in Copper Center at the (201 Loop Rd., 907-822-3003). And when you get to Valdez, go to the Valdez Museum
and Historical Archive (217 Egan Ave., 907-835-2764), and then to the museum annex to see the model of Old Valdez, the town that was destroyed by the 1964 earthquake. Still looking for something to do? I love the town of Eagle on the Yukon River. It's a unique little village just barely on the road system. Whew. You can see why we get exhausted in the summer and have to rest up all winter.