The best areas to stay in Fairbanks

While there are some things you can't control based on where to choose to stay (like auroral activity), you want to stay at a place with dark night skies.

Aurora can be seen from the entire Fairbanks area, even downtown, even the Costco parking lot, and even if you are standing underneath a giant streetlight. But the best aurora views will be where it is darker. The details of the shimmering and dancing color will be clearer, prettier, and more easily seen where the sky is darker rather than where city lights are on. It is not only the lights from individual lamps themselves, but the large light pollution bubble they cause for miles around. Learn more on the light pollution page.

Borealis Basecamp

Just 25 miles from the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, Borealis Basecamp offers an experience unlike any other. Here on 100 acres of pristine boreal forest, Borealis Basecamp is immersed within the Alaskan wilderness. At night, outside and inside blend together in transparent swirls of light and dark. View the dancing lights of the aurora borealis from a modern geodesic igloo, explore the rugged landscape, and understand the allure of the far north.

This is my top recommendation for accomodations in Fairbanks. If you are coming to see the aurora, you need to stay at Borealis Basecamp! If you use my promo code, "THEAURORAGUY," you will receive a 5% discount on your reservation!

Use my code "THEAURORAGUY" to save up to $500.

while availability lasts!

Want to book a hotel? Think again!

None of the hotels in the Fairbanks area are outside of light pollution and therefore are not optimal for aurora viewing. The cluster of hotels near Walmart on the east-side of town come close to meeting viewing needs, but securing a north-facing room is crucial.

However, even then, overpowering security lights in parking lots can completely hinder observation. For a better experience, consider walking or driving to a side street with a clear north-facing view. La Quinta Inn and Pike's Waterfront Lodge near the airport offer acceptable viewing conditions, but the overall presence of security lights and city illumination is suboptimal. Past possibilities have been marred by the addition of numerous streetlights and excessively bright security lighting.

It's important not to rely on hotel staff for Aurora notifications; signing up is recommended, but depending on it is not advisable. Many staff members may only respond to significant aurora events, potentially missing brief or low-horizon displays.

Monitoring data, webcams, and the sky personally is advised, with the exception being if the staff are experts in space weather or active aurora chasers.

Considering these challenges, I suggest opting for cabins, BnBs, short-term rentals, or lodges for accommodation.

If you're booking an aurora tour that exclusively picks up from hotels, consider renting a car or hiring a taxi to transport you from your chosen accommodation to the tour's pickup/dropoff point. Additionally, I advise to contact the tour operator to discuss transportation options if your chosen accommodation is near Fairbanks but not a hotel; they may still be able to arrange transportation for you.

  • Aurora Ridge Cabin

    The Aurora Ridge Cabin is a secluded 3-bed, 1-bath cabin that offers the perfect blend of comfort and modern amenities. Postcard-worthy views of nature surround the cabin. The cabin is located only 20 minutes from Fairbanks International Airport, and five miles from town on maintained roads. This location is ideal for aurora viewing and a nice place to stay.

    Book now 
  • Frontier Village Cabins

    The Frontier Village Cabins are a small traveler’s community nestled in the birch forest between North Pole and Fairbanks Alaska. There are no shared spaces in your guest house. It’s home. This location is in a dark sky area and great for viewing the aurora.

    Book now 
  • Serendipity Cabin

    The Serendipity Cabin is located just outside of Chena Hot Springs, Alaska. Enjoy a true Alaska getaway at this relaxing and quiet location, without the annoying LED lights at the hot springs. The remote location of this cabin makes it perfect for enjoying unspoiled views of the aurora.

    Book now 
  • Little Cabin in North Pole

    Little Cabin in North Pole is the Aurora Borealis Notifications cabin. Up to three people can stay at the cabin and enjoy beautiful views of the northern lights. Aurora can be seen from the cabin, and Chena Lakes is very close for additional night sky views or recreation.

    Book now 
  • Alaska Aurora Adventures

    Alaska Aurora Adventures is located just south of North Pole. The location is outstanding. Several cabins are available. The aurora viewing lodge is on the property where you can learn the science and photography of the northern lights, enjoy refreshments, and wait for the aurora in a warm inviting room.

    Book now 
  • Aurora Villa

    Nestled in Fairbanks, Aurora Villa is an ideal spot to enjoy the aurora. Explore the beauty of the northern lights, indulge in cozy comforts, and make unforgettable memories in this intimate retreat. Your Arctic getaway starts here.

    Book now 
  • A Taste of Alaska Lodge

    A Taste of Alaska Lodge sits on 280 acres of land that is full of natural beauty and family history, which spans three generations. It is a place unique to any other lodging in Fairbanks Alaska, and is a treat for anyone looking for a true Alaskan experience. A Taste of Alaska Lodge’s secluded location makes it the perfect Aurora Borealis viewing lodge.

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  • Alaska Grizzly Lodge

    The Alaska Grizzly Lodge is 10 miles outside Fairbanks, away from the city lights for prime aurora viewing. Their staff and guides provide you with the Alaskan lodge experience you have always dreamed about. WE will wake you when the aurora appears and help with photography. Enjoy comforts like Wi-Fi and home-cooked breakfasts. Rooms with 1 or 2 beds available w/ viewing decks. Winter Gear and snowshoes available for rent.

    Book now 
  • Hygge House

    Enjoy a private hot tub experience with aurora views or the midnight sun at this Scandi-Alaskan inspired retreat on the ridge. Relax after a day of exploring and immerse yourself in a place designed to bring you warmth, coziness and comfort, also known as: hygge. Secluded, yet only 7 miles to Fairbanks, the Hygee House is great for aurora viewing.

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  • Northern Sky Lodge

    The Northern Sky Lodge is a beautiful log-built Alaskan lodge with breathtaking views of the aurora & wildlife. It is perfect for adventurers, families, events, weddings & corporate retreats. The lodge is on 21 acres, located conveniently only 30 minutes from Fairbanks International Airport and 90 minutes from Denali National Park.

    Book now 
  • Aurora Borealis Lodge

    The Aurora Borealis Lodge offers deluxe rooms designed specifically for aurora viewing. The lodge is located atop Cleary Summit for horizon-to-horizon views to the north from your own room! Each room has 2 queen beds, big sofa, private kitchen & bathroom, TV, Internet, and our signature north-facing windows.

    Book now 
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Come to Fairbanks and enjoy nature's most electric light show!

Frequently Asked Questions about Fairbanks, Alaska

When is the best time to see aurora?

The best time of the year to see the aurora in Fairbanks is February-April. This is due to the clear weather and proximity to the equinox. Equinoxes occur in March and September and for the months surrounding (August-October and February-April), auroral activity is enhanced. March is the single best month for aurora chasing in Fairbanks. Early September is a close second place. The warm weather means skies are clear and roads are bare. If you don't like the cold, then come to Alaska to see the auroras in early September. Due to the midnight Sun, auroras can't be seen from the second week in April until the last weekend in August. In late September to early October, we get our first snow in Fairbanks and the weather usually turns cloudy until late November. This doesn't mean auroras can't be seen during this time of the year, it is just statistically more cloudy during October and November than in other months. By the second or third week of February, usually the snow has blown off the black spruce trees and the weather turns warmer and windier. If you want to photograph the aurora with snowy tres, come in December or January.

How many nights should I stay?

I recommend at least 4-7 nights in Fairbanks to see the aurora. There is no way to predict cloud cover or auroral activity reliably in Fairbanks. Remember that clear skies are necessary to see the aurora. Every night, there is some level of northern lights in Fairbanks, but on very low activity nights, this may only amount to a glow to the north. To maximize your chances of clear skies and a great display, of aurora, you need time, and the more. time the better!

How do you dress for the cold weather?

Temperatures in Fairbanks can reach down to -60 °F (-51 °C). These conditions can kill you if you are outside and not dressed properly. If you don't have the following items, you should either purchase the gear when you arrive in Fairbanks or ideally, rent from an outfitter like Alaska Outdoor Gear Rental.

For extreme cold weather, I always dress in layers.

Bottom half:

  • Wool baselayer (long johns/long underwear)
  • Sweat pants/lined jeans
  • Snowpants (ideally bibs)

Top half:

  • Wool baselayer
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Sweatshirt/hoodie
  • Parka

Extremities (feet, head, hands):

  • Wool socks
  • Winter boots (not shoes; I wear BAFFIN)
  • Balaclava
  • Hat
  • Glove liners
  • Mitten shells

It's very important you try to stick to wool fabrics as much as possible. Wool is breathable and does not get cold when wet. Even in extreme cold weather, you will sweat. Cotton will get wet and you will get cold. Also, buy a size up for any outside layers (e.g., parka). Layers only work at keeping you warm when there is warm air sandwiched between them. Tight-fitting layers will let the cold seep right through them.

Do I need a 4WD/AWD vehicle?

I always recommend renting a good off-road-capable or winterized car no matter the season, but if you only stick to paved roads, you don't need anything special if you are coming to Fairbanks in early-mid September. Once the first snow falls, you want an AWD/4WD car. You also want to check the tread of your tires. Most rental car companies will give you a new car with a fancy AWD/4WD system but with bald tires. Good winter tires are the make or break factor when driving on ice and snow - not even the best driving systems can compensate for bald tires.

If you notice your tires are bald on your assigned rental car, let the rental car company know, or try and find a different car in the same "class" as your original car.

Alaska4x4 Rentals is a popular option for renting a car capable of handling winter roads in Fairbanks.

This advice also applies for Anchorage, although, road conditions vary more in the winter there. In Fairbanks, the roads are packed ice/snow from October until April without much change.

Do I need to book an aurora tour?

You don't need to book an aurora tour, but it is recommended to maximize your chances of seeing the aurora.

Learn why this is in my blog article!

If you want to book an aurora tour, check out the different packages I offer in partnership with Greatland Adventures and Face the Outdoors, two of the best aurora tour companies here in Alaska offering tours in both Fairbanks and Anchorage.

If you want to aurora chase on your own, consider buying my aurora chasing locations guide for Fairbanks as well as my Beginner's Guide to Aurora Chasing e-books.

What are the best things to do in Fairbanks?

While the aurora is definitely the primary attraction in Fairbanks during the winter months, there's so much more to do and see in the Golden Heart of Alaska. Here are my favorite attractions:

  1. Museum of the North
  2. Flightseeing tour to Denali
  3. Tour to the Arctic Circle
  4. Chena Hot Springs
  5. Dogsledding
  6. Castner Ice Cave
  7. Santa Claus House
  8. Winter sports at Ski Land or Moose Mountain

Check out for tons of information on things to do in Fairbanks with recommendations for specific outfitters.

What restaurants do you recommend in Fairbanks?

Even though Fairbanks is a small town, there is a wide variety of good food available! Here are my favorite spots:


  • Little Owl Cafe
  • Great Alaska Roasting Company
  • Lulu's Bagels
  • The Crepery
  • The Cookie Jar


  • Gallo's (Mexican)
  • East Ramp Pizza
  • Hungry Robot (Pizza)
  • Salty's on 2nd (American)
  • Brewsters (American)
  • Chicken Town (Korean)
  • Seoul Gate (Korean)
  • Lemongrass (Thai)
  • Noodle House (Thai)
  • Yes! Noodles (Thai)
  • 49th State Brewery (American; one hour away in Healy)


  • HooDoo
  • Black Spruce
  • Latitude 65
  • The Oasis
  • The Spur
  • Midnite Mine

How cold does it REALLY get in the winter?

Fairbanks can get cold.

During winter, the average low temperatures range from -15 °F to -25 °F, although it's common for temperatures to reach -40 °F, or even -50 °F.  The record cold temperature in Fairbanks, according to the National Weather Service, is -66 °F.

Should I visit Fairbanks in the summer?

Fairbanks is beautiful every part of the year. If you are trying to see the aurora, you should be visiting in the winter, but the summer offers fantastic hiking, kayaking, fishing, and camping opportunities. Fairbanks is the gateway to many remote wilderness areas like the Gates of the Arctic National Park. In the summer, it is also easy to travel around the state and on roads that are normally closed during the winter (e.g., Top of the World Highway and Denali Highway). Every summer solstice, there is a huge festival in Fairbanks to celebrate the longest day of the year.

How do I get to Fairbanks?

There are direct flights from Anchorage and Seattle to Fairbanks all year. In the summer and fall months, there are direct flights from Minneapolis (MSP), Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN), and sometimes other cities. These routes usually end by October. You can also drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks which takes 5-6 hours depending on road conditions. The Alaska Railroad also runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks but takes a full day to make the journey. This is a good scenic and relaxing way to make the journey from Anchorage, though.

Book air travel to Fairbanks as early as you can since last minute tickets, even simple round trip tickets from Seattle, can reach upwards of $1000 USD.

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