A Local's Guide to Food & Shopping in Fairbanks
The Gold Daughters, Jordan and Ilaura Reeves, grew up in Fairbanks, where their quest for gold started at an early age. The girls spent their summers gold panning at their family’s business, Gold Dredge #8, where they helped teach tourists the art of panning. When the girls were in grade school their parents sold Gold Dredge #8 and decided to get into the mining industry. Jordan and Ilaura now had the opportunity to spend their summers prospecting throughout Interior Alaska hunting for nuggets and shaking their gold pan in every creek they could. Gold fever had caught hold of them both.
In 2012, Jordan and Ilaura starred in an international show on National Geographic titled Goldfathers. The show focused on the Reeves family as they spent the summer prospecting for gold. By the end of summer, they had successfully recovered several ounces of gold…by hand! After the girls finished college at their respective schools where they each played Division 1 softball, Jordan at the University of Oregon and Ilaura at the University of South Florida, they put their bachelor’s degrees in geology and entrepreneurship to use and created Gold Daughters. Locals and tourists alike can indulge in the gold fever that continues to shape the Gold Daughters’ lives at their business, open every day throughout the summer. Read more about Gold Daughters.
What makes Fairbanks worth its weight in gold is the wacky yet witty, hearty yet gritty, spunky yet soulful folks who decide several months of darkness and weeks of negative 40-degree temperatures are normal. Fairbanksans are the toughest, yet most endearing people you could ever meet. We don’t hesitate to help one another, even though many of us thrive in seclusion.
Ilaura’s best day off
When I get a day off work during the summer, it’s usually for one reason — blueberry season! I hop in the car with my golden retriever and head north to the White Mountains. After I’ve worked to fill up my tubs with enough berries to bake mountains of blueberry pie, I head back to town but not before making a stop at the nostalgic Chatanika Lodge. Growing up, my family would dine on burgers and fries at the Chatanika Lodge and play pool and arcade games. I have so many fond memories of Chatanika, from prospecting the hills for gold and old mining relics to swimming and spear fishing for whitefish in the Chatanika River and watching the northern lights dance over Cleary Summit. One of my favorite things to do is drive north up the Steese Highway to see the very best part of Alaska, the vast open spaces.
Jordan’s summer birthday tour of Fairbanks
I am lucky to have a summer birthday, which means I get to treat myself to the gifts that Fairbanks has to offer every summer! My sister usually gives me this day off work so I make the most of it. I usually start my best day with a cup of Bucko’s, a locally owned drive-through coffee stop with customer service that’s as heart-warming as my hot coffee. Then I head to downtown Fairbanks to see what my favorite jewelry store, Gold Rush Fine Jewelry, has with my name on it. My jaw always drops at their incredibly unique pieces and I absolutely love asking to see the biggest gold nugget they have in.
Then I drive down College Road to grab a bite to eat from one of the many drool-worthy food stops along the way. After I’ve had my fill of sourdough from Bun on the Run, I head to my favorite boutique in town, In My Element. Sheryl is the owner and she always makes sure that I leave with high-quality, functional pieces that can withstand the Fairbanks elements while keeping me stylin’! My last stop on my quest to celebrate another year around the sun is Trax Outdoor Center to browse at their amazing selection of LuluLemon and finish with a yoga class. If the stars align, I can catch them on a day when they do goat yoga!
When Gold Daughters closes for the season, we have a couple things we always make sure to do right away. First up is brunch at Ivory Jacks! The signature bacon, the eggs benedict, the bloody marys, the coffee, the pull tabs! It’s the best way to start the day and always feels like a celebration. Then we go on a tour with our friends at Black Spruce Dog Sledding because we feel like it’s our turn to be tourists in Fairbanks. We top off the fun at Hoodoo Brewing Company where we are sure to run into a few friends and have great conversation and food from one of the various food trucks parked there. Before tucking in without needing to rise early for work, we check out the night sky. The end of our summer season marks the beginning of the aurora season, and there’s no better place to view it than the wide-open skies of Fairbanks.
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