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River boat Alaska in the midnight sun in summer
Photo Credit: ATIA
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Summer Fun in the Midnight Sun

Summer Fun in the Midnight Sun

Celebrate the midnight sun like an Alaskan by taking part in some of the state’s most beloved summer solstice activities, starting with a midnight baseball game in Fairbanks and moving north to Utqiaġvik, where the sun doesn’t set for almost three months during the summer.

Day 1: Fairbanks

Time your arrival in Fairbanks for June 20. While most events associated with the summer solstice will be held on the closest weekend to the day itself, the annual Alaska Goldpanners Midnight Sun Baseball Game is held on the evening of June 21, no matter what day of the week it is. Since you’re arriving a day early, you’ll have time to get oriented with a visit to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, which has excellent displays on local history and culture. This also positions you perfectly to browse through downtown Fairbanks’s restaurants, gift shops, and small museums, including the fascinating Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and the Fairbanks Community Museum.

Day 2: Fairbanks

Sleep in this morning, because you’re going to be up late! Most hotels in Alaska feature blackout shades on the windows, so the midnight sun shouldn’t bother you. Once you’re up, take advantage of all that sun by renting a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and floating the tranquil Chena River, which runs straight through downtown Fairbanks. You can take out at any of several local restaurants with big decks overlooking the river and enjoy some wild-caught Alaska seafood and a locally brewed beer for dinner.

The Midnight Sun baseball game starts after 10pm and lasts past midnight, so you’ll also have time to try your hand at gold panning and visit one more museum: the University of Alaska Museum of the North, located a short drive from downtown, is among the top attractions in the state. Once you’re at the ballfield, chat with your fellow spectators and you’re likely to discover that many of them traveled from far away to be there for the game.

Day 3: Utqiaġvik

Your day starts early with a flight to the northernmost community in Alaska, Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow). Upon your mid-morning arrival, you can take a tour of the village with a local tour operator, visit the Iñupiat Heritage Center, and be treated to a cultural presentation featuring traditional singing and dancing of the local Iñupiat people. Spend the night in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), where you can watch the sun circle low over the horizon without ever dipping below it.

Day 4: Utqiaġvik

Get up early enough to go wading in the Arctic Ocean and take a photo under the whalebone arch on the shore, easily one of Utqiaġvik's most iconic sights. Avid birders will want to book a late flight home and stay long enough for a tour focused on the many migratory bird species that fly north to Utqiaġvik to nest and raise their young under the midnight sun.

Optional Add-Ons

Most flights out of Utqiaġvik go straight to Anchorage, which makes an excellent home base for exploring down the Kenai Peninsula or renting a car and driving north to Denali National Park and Preserve via the Parks Highway. You can also drive the Richardson Highway from Anchorage or Fairbanks to the tiny, friendly port town of Valdez, also known as Alaska’s Little Switzerland for its spectacular alpine scenery. Ideally, you should allow at least three days for any of these trips. With all the summer daylight you can rest assured that there’ll be ample opportunities for sightseeing along the way, no matter at what hour you’re driving.

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