Chances are, you became a travel nurse because you crave adventure. If you’re a travel nurse who craves extreme adventure, you should definitely consider an assignment in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fairbanks offers you the opportunity to experience Mother Nature like few other places on the planet can, with its epic mountain ranges, winding rivers and sparkling lakes that are home to some of the most extraordinary wildlife you will ever see. And speaking of extraordinary sights, if viewing the Northern Lights is on your travel nursing bucket list, you won’t find a better spot to see them than Fairbanks, Alaska. This is our city guide for nurses wondering what to eat, drink, do and Instagram while on a travel assignment in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Believe it or not, the borders of the state of Alaska and Russia are only slightly more than two miles apart, (and our nurse geography buffs are probably aware that in fact, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867) so it should come as no surprise that you can find an excellent Eastern European restaurant here. Specifically, the menu is Romanian and Moldovan, which is similar in many respects to cuisine you might find in your favorite Russian restaurant. Borscht, pelmeni, perogies, crepes and hearty dark bread are all standouts. Don’t forget to save room for dessert, as their infamous, authentic honey cake is to die for. You won’t want to miss a chance to dine at this Fairbanks hidden gem on your next travel nurse assignment there.
When you take a travel nurse assignment in a colder climate, it’s nice to have a list of go-to restaurants that offer comfort food to warm your bones, and Chowder House is just such a place. It isn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but the menu options will have you dreaming of eating here long after you leave Alaska for your next travel adventure. Hot chowder made with fresh-caught local seafood is an obvious favorite, especially with a side of warm, crusty, house-made bread. Halibut chowder, clam chowder and smoked salmon chowders are local favorites, but sandwiches made with fresh ingredients on their homemade bread are just as popular. Don’t forget to complete your meal with one of their famous milkshakes and a slice of homemade pie.
Travel nurses know that cities in cooler climates usually have the best coffee shops, and Fairbanks, Alaska is no exception! This city offers the full spectrum of coffee shop atmospheres, whether you want to grab a cup and go, or you prefer to laze the day away online shopping and people watching. McCafferty’s is sort of the best of both worlds, offering fast and friendly service but also a cozy space with free Wi-Fi and an air of nostalgia if you plan to hang out and chill. This local favorite boasts a lively downtown location and offers a variety of coffees, teas, soups and baked goods. Live music performed by a variety of both local and traveling musicians takes place on Friday and Saturday nights.
Fairbanks isn’t exactly known for its hopping nightclub scene, but there are several bars and clubs where you can have a drink or two while you mingle with the Alaskan locals. One of the city’s most beloved dive bars is The Boatel, which proudly hangs a sign inside that reads, “Sleazy Waterfront Bar.” The establishment is located on the Chena River and is a favorite of kayakers who often take a beer break here on their journeys. The bar is known for its friendly service, live music and excellent views of the sunset. This bar is cash-only and does allow smoking, so please keep this in mind if you plan to visit.
There are city parks and then there is 44-acre Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska, a city park which allows visitors to experience 100 years of Alaskan history through its narrated train tour and mock gold-rush town featuring numerous historic buildings. Part regular park and part theme park, Pioneer Park was opened in 1967 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Alaska Purchase. This is an excellent place to learn about Alaska and also to enjoy a variety of festivals and other entertainment events that often occur here. There is plenty of green space if you just want to enjoy a peaceful day of walking or taking in the scenery as well as some local people watching. Admission is free.
Located 25 miles outside of Fairbanks, Borealis Basecamp provides travel nurses on assignment there a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Explore pristine Alaskan nature at its finest within the destination’s 100 acres of private land via snowmobile or dogsled. Rent a mushing guide and be led through the snowy forest by a team of sled dogs. Enjoy fresh, local dining options in a yurt which features exceptionally large windows overlooking the spectacular landscape and its inhabitants. Or, enjoy the ultimate in luxurious Northern Lights experiences when you spend the night in one of Borealis Basecamp’s exclusive fiberglass igloos with 16-foot windows across their ceilings, for the ultimate view.
Some of the most spectacular photography on Instagram and perhaps in the world is of the Norther Lights. The Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis as it is formally known, is a natural light phenomenon that is predominantly visible in high-latitude or Arctic regions of the world. Lucky for you, that includes Fairbanks! The official Aurora season runs from August 21 through April 21, which gives travel nurses on assignment in the city plenty of opportunities to enjoy this bucket-list experience. There are plenty of locations to see the Northern Lights, but if you really want to indulge, consider spending a night in a fiberglass dome at Borealis Basecamp.
Beauty will literally surround you in Fairbanks, Alaska, but travel nurses on assignment here will find some of their best photo opportunities within Denali State Park, home to North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley. The park itself features six million acres of pure Alaskan wilderness, and offers numerous outdoor adventures, as well as dining, shopping and lodging opportunities. The most breathtakingly beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes, heavily populated with Alaskan wildlife including moose, wolves, sheep, bears and reindeer will leave both you and your Instagram followers spellbound. This is a must-see experience for travel nurses heading to Fairbanks, Alaska.