"Who knew Fairbanks was so fabulous! " Michelle
This article originally appeared on NatGeo’s Intelligent Travel blog on Jan. 2, 2013.
Photographer, writer, and music industry publicist Anne Kristoff splits her time between New York City and wherever her husband, a Blackhawk pilot, happens to be stationed. Living in Fairbanks (her hubby is at Fort Wainwright) and blogging about Alaskan art and culture on AK vs AK has been a nice change of pace. One thing she loves about Fairbanks is that it makes you stronger: “I can now say: 40 below? No problem.” Learn more about Anne on her website and on Twitter @AnneKristoff.
Fairbanks is My City
Paddling down the Chena River. (Photograph by Christen Bouffard, Flickr)
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is for a ride along the Chena River from Pioneer Park all the way through downtown and over to the Fort Wainwright Army Installation.
Summer is the best time to visit my city because it’s dark and 40 below zero in the winter.
You can see my city best paddling down the Chena or from high above on Chena Ridge.
Locals know to skip overtly touristy attractions and check out the local arts scene instead.
The Alaska House is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
Pioneer Park documents Fairbanks’ early days. (Photograph by Jimmy Emerson, Flickr)
In the past, notable people like painter Bob Ross and football star Daryn Colledge have called nearby North Pole home.
My city’s best museum is UAF Museum of the North because it provides a great history of art and culture and gives you a sense of past and present ways of life in Fairbanks. It also has a very unique design and sits high atop a ridge on the west side of town.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that you need a car in winter. Biking in summer can be fun. All in all, it’s an easy place to get around.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is hiking Angel Rocks or Granite Tors (if the bears are not out), paddling the Chena River, or berry-picking on Murphy Dome.
My city really knows how to celebrate summer because there are 24 hours of daylight!
University of Alaska’s Museum of the North. (Photograph by Jason Ahrns, Flickr)
You can tell if someone is from my city if they just get it done and don’t complain.
For a fancy night out, I go to dinner at Lavelle’s downtown and probably a concert put on by the Fairbanks Concert Association.
Just outside my city, you can visit Denali National Park.
My city is known for being rough and tumble, but it’s really a mecca of pragmatism, and a place of ideas and interesting people.
Denali National Park is about 120 miles from Fairbanks. (Photograph by Vivek Vijaykumar, My Shot)
The best outdoor market in my city is Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market.
Sam’s Sourdough Cafe is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and the Hawaiian cheesesteak cart on Old Steese is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read The Daily News-Miner.
My city’s biggest sports event is Ice Dogs Hockey. Watch it at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I catch a free movie at the Morris Thompson Center.
To escape the crowds, I take a ride across Goldstream Road.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Frances McDormand because it’s not frilly, but really good.
Silver Gulch is on tap everywhere in Alaska. (Photograph by Travis S., Flickr)
The dish that represents my city best is moose or salmon and Silver Gulch beer is my city’s signature drink.
Immaculate Conception Church is my favorite building in town because it has a ton of history, it’s on the banks of the Chena River downtown, and the walls and ceiling are pressed-and-painted tin. It evokes the Deniro/Penn film We’re No Angels.
The most random thing about my city is that most of its streets are dead ends.
The Blue Loon is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Rock n Rodeo.
Baseball under the midnight sun could only happen in my city.
Witnessing the aurora borealis is worth suffering through the cold. (Photograph by Jason Ahrns, Flickr)
In the spring you should watch out for the “break-up” (when all the ice finally melts and everything turns to mud).
In the summer you should stay up all night to chance seeing a rainbow at 3:00 a.m.
In the fall you should grab the last bit of outdoor activity that you can – a bike ride on Farmer’s Loop, a hike through Creamer’s Field.
In the winter you should suck it up and deal with the sub-zero temperatures. When else can you see the aurora borealis?
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the ice-sculpture competition in February and March.
The best book about my city is poems by Robert Service or John Haines.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is ”White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because there are pockets of amazing things and people to marvel at around every turn.
Anne, you did indeed capture the finer points of “our” city. on another topic: can you contact me? I have a medium format camera, Rolleiflex you once told me you were looking for such.