Fairbanks is where warm summer days stay bright for 24 hours, and long cold winter days are dark under a midnight sun. With differences in summer temperatures of 50 to 70 °F and −15 to −25 °F in winter, this is a tale of two cities, depending what time of year you visit.
‘The Golden Heart City’, has long outlived her heady gold crazed mining days but this frontier town still lays homage to its gold rush heritage. The nickname, earned during the 1900s when gold was first found, still promises you’ll strike it rich, though not necessarily with pockets of the precious metal.
Wondrously serene, the Aurora Borealis all-natural light show is the chief draw card for many visitors to Fairbanks, but nature being as unpredictable as she is, you’re not guaranteed of a show. It’s always best to count on the endless other attractions in the area to assure a memorable visit to the city, and Fairbanks’ unique outdoor adventures will be sure not to disappoint.
Fairbanks is not only a jumping-off point for exploring northern Alaska, but some 11,000 University of Alaska (UAF) students call it home, ensuring a high-spirited entertainment scene, no matter the weather.
What is the Cost of One Month of Housing in Fairbanks
As the state’s second largest city, Fairbanks has more accommodation choices than other parts of Alaska. From traditional log cabins, with all the modern cons of course, to unique experiences sleeping on a bed of ice, Fairbanks caters for everyone from those on a budget, to those seeking a memorably unconventional choice.
From $30 a night, Billies Hostel is a clean and friendly budget option. You’ll have to sing for you supper though, as each bed is designated one daily chore. Consider your transport arrangements, as this cheaper option has you located a little out from the center of town, though located on a bus route.
The seasonal Aurora Ice Museum is major draw card for Fairbanks. Housed on the grounds of the Chena Hot Springs Resort, this hotel is pure luxury on ice. Everything is made of ice, including the bathroom! Even if you don’t stay here, it’s THE place to visit for a chilled martini: from $200 a night.
Average accommodation costs: $840 to $5,940
What is the Cost of Transportation for One Month in Fairbanks
Your transport needs will depend on the season, and whether you’re staying longer for working or studying abroad.
Fairbanks’ public transport is budget friendly and will link you to many of the city’s sights and services. Fares are $1.50, or $3 a day pass, with monthly passes: Adult $40 and 6-18 year olds $20, 0-5 free and UAF staff and students travel for free on a Polar Express Card.
The most convenient way to get around is to hire a vehicle from one of the many companies located at the airport and downtown (the more professional companies will pick-up and drop-off at your hotel). Note that if it’s snow season, you’ll be driving on snow tires and Fairbanks fuel costs, at $3.70 a liter, are 14% above the nation’s average. Starting from $1050 (Economy) and $2,160 per month (SUV or Minivan).
An average taxi fare is $17.50 from the airport to downtown, which is 5.5 miles and takes 11 minutes.
What is the Cost of Food for One Month in Fairbanks
Fairbanks delivers dining choices, from frontier favorites in local cafes to elegant restaurants serving halibut paired with fine wines.
A budget option punching far above its weight, favored by the student crowd and travellers alike, is College Coffeehouse. Think comfy couches, fair trade coffee, speedy wifi, and live music all wrapped up a laidback atmosphere. Considering the average price for a coffee in Fairbanks is $4.77, a filtered for $2 and $.30 refill will see you through your day.
If looking for an upscale dining treat with the city’s widest wine selection, make a reservation at Lavelles Bistro. Located downtown, with a chilled-out relaxed vibe, you’ll enjoy fine dining without the pomp: plates from $31-$60.
When staying longer in Fairbanks for work or play, you’ll find affordable groceries at Co-op Market. With locally sourced goodies, a deli selection of soups, salads and sandwiches, the co-op will have you fuelled for a day of sightseeing or work.
4 carts of groceries: 1kg TBone steak, 1kg ground beef, 1kg fried chicken, 1 liter milk, dozen eggs, 1kg potatoes, 1kg bananas, bread, 1 liter juice, coffee, coke, pizza, and a bottle of wine $267.10
What is the Cost of Entertainment for One Month in Fairbanks
Getting orientated in Fairbanks is easy. Start at Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, Alaska Public Lands Information Center or Fairbanks Conventions & Visitors Bureau to get on the right track. With tour and sight information, interpretative displays, maps and wifi, as well as friendly, knowledgeable staff, you’ll be sure to find out what’s happening.
If seeing the natural phenomenon of the Auroras is your priority, do check the forecast when planning your itinerary. Adventurous winter packages can include dogsledding, snowshoeing and more, all centered around the aurora experience.
Enjoy one of Fairbanks’ long summer days, by grabbing a picnic and heading out of town in any direction and be greeted by alpine meadows of brilliantly colored wildflowers, trickling streams and hiking trails. Explore a popular trail at the Granite Tors Trail. It’s a 15-mile loop so allow a full day or an overnight visit to the park. All-inclusive tours start at $99.
Budget $11.50 to see a movie, or $5 for bowling, here.