Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

Anchorage: 34°/48°/Mostly cloudy

Fairbanks: 23°/48°/Partly sunny

Juneau: 40°/50°/Showers

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Fairbanks: Golden Heart City has something for just about everyone

The Barrow dancers and drummers perform late Friday at World Eskimo-Indian Olympics.

The Barrow dancers and drummers perform late Friday at World Eskimo-Indian Olympics.

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2012 Alaska Visitors Guide - Front

Alaska Bird Observatory

The nature center on the grounds of Wedgewood Resort provides information, exhibits and programs on a variety of Alaska birds. Guided bird walks and local birding information are available. The center has a gift shop and easy trail access to Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.

Where: 418 Wedgewood Drive

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday

Cost: Free; donations encouraged

Phone: 451-7159

Web: alaskabird.org

Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

The 2,000-acre refuge started life as a dairy farm during the Gold Rush. Today, both migratory and resident birds visit the refuge; they include Canada geese, sandhill cranes, pintails, golden plovers, shovelers, ravens, owls and mallards. In addition to open spaces and wildlife, there are about five miles of nature trails for visitors to enjoy. The farm buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The trails are always open and there are special events year-round.

Where: 1300 College Road

When: Open daily

Cost: Free

Phone: 452-5162

Web: creamersfield.org

El Dorado Gold Mine

Take a trip into Fairbanks' gold-mining history. Ride the Tanana Valley Railroad, pan for gold and visit a permafrost tunnel.

Where: Mile 1.3 Elliott Highway, Fox

When: 9:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily, mid-May to mid-September

Cost: $34.95 adults, $22.95 children ages 3-12

Phone: 479-6673, 1-866-479-6673

Web: eldoradogoldmine.com

Georgeson Botanical Garden

Explore the gardens and discover what can be grown under the midnight sun. Thanks to summer's long daylight, giant vegetables and beautiful flowers are guaranteed at the garden. Take a trip through the experimental perennial and rose gardens. Play in the Babula Children's Garden, have a picnic or volunteer to pull weeds.

Where: 117 W. Tanana Drive

When: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Cost: $2

Phone: 474-1944

Web: www.uaf.edu/snras/gbg

Golden Days

The festival of summer and Fairbanks' Gold Rush history includes a parade, pancake breakfasts, historic re-enactments, a river regatta, music and the Rubber Duckie Race.

Where: Downtown Fairbanks

When: July 21-26

Cost: Free

Phone: 452-1105

Web: fairbankschamber.org

Large Animal Research Station

See musk oxen and caribou up close at the University of Alaska Fairbanks facility. The tour presenters have a natural-science background and offer information about the unique Alaska animals.

Where: Yankovich Road

When: Hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily

Cost: $10 adults, $9 seniors, $6 students

Phone: 474-5724

Web: www.uaf.edu/lars

Midnight Sun Festival

Fairbanks' largest one-day festival takes place on the longest day of the year and usually draws 40,000 people. The festival features live music, performing arts, crafts, dancing, food, a vintage car show, gold panning, games and contest prizes.

Where: Downtown Fairbanks

When: Noon to midnight June 21

Cost: Free

Phone: 452-8671

Web: downtownfairbanks.com

Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center

This is the starting point for a visit to Fairbanks and the Interior. At the center, which opened late in 2008, is the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Alaska Geographic Store and other helpful resources. In addition to plenty of information and exhibits, free films are shown daily at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

Where: 101 Dunkel St., Fairbanks

When: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Cost: Free

Phone: 459-3700

Web: morristhompsoncenter.org

Pioneer Park

The park is the perfect setting for summer fun in the midnight sun. Activities at the historic theme park include a Gold Rush town featuring Alaska gifts and crafts in authentic log cabins, picnic areas, canoe and kayak rental, an art gallery, train rides, playgrounds, President Harding's railroad car, folk dancing, museums showcasing early Alaska life and a diorama of the Yukon River aboard the stern-wheeler SS Nenana. The park also has live shows with music and comedy skits about early Fairbanks. Park-wide Wi-Fi is available.

Where: 2300 Airport Way

When: Noon to 8 p.m. daily, Memorial Day

to Labor Day

Cost: Free; many activities have separate prices

Phone: 459-1087

Web: www.fnsb.us/pioneerpark

Riverboat Discovery

Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Chena and Tanana rivers, including a walking tour of the Chena Indian village. See late Iditarod champion Susan Butcher's dogs, a floatplane display and the wedding of the rivers.

Where: 1975 Discovery Drive

When: 8:45 a.m., 2 p.m. daily

Cost: $54.95 adults, $37.95 children ages 3-12

Phone: 479-6673, 1-866-479-6673

Web: riverboatdiscovery.com

Santa Claus House

It's Christmas every day at this unique gift shop in North Pole, featuring an assortment of Christmas gifts, collectibles, apparel and local crafts.

Where: 101 St. Nicholas Drive, North Pole

When: Open daily

Cost: Free

Phone: 488-2200, 1-800-588-4078

Web: santaclaushouse.com

University of Alaska Museum of the North

With its stunning architecture and award-winning exhibits, the University of Alaska Museum of the North is a must-see for visitors. The museum's Gallery of Alaska gives visitors an excellent introduction to this vast and diverse state. Highlights include the state's largest gold exhibit, an extensive collection of Alaska Native artifacts, the world's only restored Ice Age steppe bison mummy, and videos on the aurora, a whale hunt and Alaska Native dances. The Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery presents a full range of Alaska art, from 2,000-year-old ivory carvings to contemporary paintings and sculptures. The Place Where You Go to Listen is a unique sound and light exhibit. In summer, there are multimedia programs on the aurora borealis, winter and Alaska's art in the auditorium. The museum offers special exhibits, family programs and lectures throughout the year.

Where: UAF campus, 907 Yukon Drive

When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, May 15 to Sept. 15

Cost: $15 adults, $14 seniors, $8 youths, free for 6 and younger; price includes auditorium shows

Phone: 474-7505

Web: www.uaf.edu/museum

World Eskimo Indian Olympics

The event brings together athletes, dancers and artists from several cultures for a unique Native sports gathering. Events include the blanket toss, one- and two-foot high kicks, drop the bomb, the four-man carry and the ear pull/ear weight competition.

Where: Carlson Center

When: July 15-18

Cost: $8 ages 5 to 15, $10 ages 16 to 60

Phone: 452-6646

Web: weio.org

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