Feel the spirit of the holiday season in Alaska
Alaska is like no other place in the world, especially in the winter. Snow blankets many of the towns and surrounding landscapes transforming them into a winter wonderland. The breathtaking scenery, unique living culture and thrilling snow sports make any winter visit to Alaska a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But for visitors in search of the spirit of the holiday season, the 49th state is known for adding an extra dose of magic. And it all starts in Alaska’s very own North Pole, just a quick 20-minute drive from Fairbanks.
SANTA CLAUS HOUSE
It’s hard to not feel the holiday spirt after visiting North Pole’s magical Santa Claus House. Inside, visitors will be able to check off their shopping lists for friends and family of all ages. Plus, a visit to the Santa Claus House would not be complete without sweet treats! Fudge, cookies, chocolates and candy are all available from the Sweet Shop. After sampling a few snacks, browse through the Christmas decor and ornaments, apparel, collectibles and Alaska-made toys.
Then it’s time to meet Santa! No matter your age, any visitor can tell Santa what’s on their holiday gift list, take a photo with the jolly old fellow and get some tips on how to drive the sled. The magical sleigh is parked outside right in front of the world’s largest Santa standing at 50 feet tall.
Of course, Santa can’t deliver gifts without his reindeer! Next door to the Santa Claus House is Antler Academy (of Flying & Reindeer Games). Visitors can view Santa’s Reindeer Team in the big red barn next door as they prepare to deliver gifts around the world.
SANTA’S LETTERS AND GIFTS
Whether families are spending the holidays in Alaska or at home, they can hear from the jolly ‘ol man himself with a personalized letter from Santa’s Letters and Gifts. A family-owned business located in North Pole, Santa’s Letters and Gifts offer letter packages, ornaments and Alaska-made gifts like art tiles, poems and Alaska-themed products.
With Santa’s Letters and Gifts packages, all the nicest children across the country can receive an official letter from Santa Claus. All packages come with a personalized letter and include options with a children’s book, activity sets, a stuffed cuddle buddy and more.
RUNNING REINDEER RANCH
If one reindeer experience is just not enough, trot over to Running Reindeer Ranch. A truly unique Alaska experience, visitors can embark on a guided reindeer walk through boreal forest or take a guided tour of the ranch. There’s even an option to stay overnight at a chalet where guests wake up with reindeer grazing nearby.
On the hour-long guided reindeer walk, visitors travel alongside reindeer through a magical birch forest and observe them in their natural arctic habitat. After the walk concludes, guests head indoors to warm up, enjoy homemade cookies and learn more about the reindeer. Ranch visits are a more flexible option for busy travelers as you spend an hour interacting with the reindeer and lots of free time to explore the ranch.
After a day of reindeer games, visitors don’t have to travel far to rest and relax. The Reindeer Haus Lodging is the perfect charming cabin for two. The home is complete with a living room, kitchen and dining area downstairs and full loft with a sitting area upstairs. At this chalet-style house, travelers can wake up to amazing views of the Alaska Mountain Range and reindeer gently grazing nearby. Reindeer Haus guests can even join during reindeer feeding time!
AURORA BOREALIS VIEWING AND MORE
As if magical holiday experiences weren’t reason enough to book your Alaska vacation, visiting Fairbanks in the winter also offers travelers a chance to see the northern lights and try a variety of snowy adventures. Walking in a winter wonderland is really a thing!
By day, spend time dog mushing at a local kennel, fat-tire biking or cross-country skiing on a myriad of trails, snowmobiling and more. In the late evenings, the magical yellow, green, red, blue or purple hues of the dancing lights will liven up any trip. After a day of festive fun with Santa and reindeer, there are several unique lodging accommodations in the Fairbanks area that provide travelers with optimal aurora borealis viewing experiences. At these lodges, travelers can view the northern lights through geodesic igloos, from all-glass viewing rooms, on guided tours and more. For the best tips and tricks on viewing the northern lights, check out our roundup of unique accommodations and tips from an expert.
WINTER PLANNING HELP
An incredible winter wonderland, there is nowhere that embodies the festive holiday spirit more than Alaska! Be sure to check out our winter itinerary suggestions to make the most of your trip. From cozy stays in wilderness lodges, exploring small towns aboard the Alaska Railroad, skiing Alaska’s epic slopes, our winter itineraries highlight trip ideas for all interests. Plus, our free Alaska Vacation Guide is a go-to resource to turn your dream Alaska holiday vacation into reality.
Editor’s note: The health and safety of Alaska’s visitors and residents, along with its member businesses, remains a top priority to the Alaska Travel Industry Association throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Alaska tourism businesses are open under the Reopen Alaska Responsibly plan and can help you decide if it’s right for you to travel now or in the future. We encourage you to stay in touch with your travel providers for the latest updates and guidelines.