Vacation in Santaland

Featuring: Anchorage, Fairbanks, North Pole, Bettles

This northern adventure features a scenic rail excursion, hot springs, dog mushing, aurora viewing and even Santa!

Day 1 – Anchorage

Experience the drumbeat of Alaska’s indigenous cultures at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum, or learn about the state’s pioneering bush pilots at the Alaska Aviation Museum. Explore downtown art galleries and enjoy a hearty evening meal and locally crafted beers at one of the city’s many brewpubs.

Day 2 – Anchorage to Fairbanks by rail

Time your trip so you can board the Alaska Railroad for its Saturday northbound run to Fairbanks. The daylong journey includes stops in Talkeetna and Denali National Park and Preserve while traversing the wide-open winter landscape. Alpenglow caramelizes surrounding peaks in shades of orange, pink and purple thanks to hours of twilight during Alaska’s shorter winter days.

Day 3 – Fairbanks

Spend the day exploring local museums, art galleries and cultural facilities, including the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Fairbanks Community Museum and Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum. Pay a visit to the World Ice Art Championships’ outdoor ice park, which features dozens of glittering ice sculptures lit up to dazzle after dark.

vacation in Santaland

Day 4 – Chena Hot Springs

Drive to nearby Chena Hot Springs Resort for a dog mushing tour, then spend the afternoon soaking in the geothermal hot springs. Explore the century-old main lodge building before driving back to Fairbanks.

Day 5 – Fairbanks-North Pole

Experience Christmas no matter when you visit in the neighboring community of North Pole. Visit Santa Claus House for Christmas-themed gifts, decorations and toys and get a photo next to the giant statue of Santa outside. In the evening, return to Fairbanks and check out the events calendar for performances by local arts groups.

2-Day Add-on

Day 6 – Bettles

In the morning, check in with a local flight-service operator for your flight above the Arctic Circle to the village of Bettles. Guided activities in Bettles include dog mushing, wildlife viewing, snowshoeing, skiing and, if the skies are clear, northern lights viewing.

Day 7 – Bettles

Enjoy another day of outdoor recreation and aurora viewing in Bettles. Other options include a flightseeing tour of Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Brooks Mountain Range, or a cross-country snowmobile tour along the frozen Koyukuk River. Return to Fairbanks in the evening.