While we were in Fairbanks, we decided to spend a few days at Chena Hot Springs.
I’m really glad we did! Founded over 100 years ago, Chena Hot Springs is the most developed hot springs destination in Alaska. And G does love hot springs!
There are so many things to do here. These are our top 5:
- Obviously, there are the famed northern lights… the gorgeous Aurora Borealis… Well, I say they are gorgeous… we’ve never actually seen them properly, I SOOO wanted to make the most of the snow train that chugs up the mountain at 9pm and returns at 2am for the best chance to see them.We were excited to set off! I was so sure – after failed attempts in Iceland and Finland – that THIS would be where we got to see the mystical lights…
But alas… a combination of cloudy skies and tiredness meant that this happened….
Both children fell asleep on the most uncomfortable chairs ever!! And the northern lights didn’t show 🙁 We were booked to go up the night after, when the forecast was better, but neither of the children were at all interested, so I had to settle for asking for a call from the hotel reception in case the northern lights came out… that call never came 🙁
We did see the northern lights on the flight home from Alaska so, in J’s brain, it’s been ticked off our bucket list… but on my personal list…. they are still well and truly on my ‘list of things to see’! But that said, Chena is still one of the best places in the world to see the lights and it’s vey well catered for so if they are on your list, this is one place you should consider.
2. Then there are the kennels. The kennels are just magical. We had a great time meeting the puppies and going dog mushing. I have to admit, we knew nothing about the Yukon Quest (a 1000 mile long dog mushing race, which happened to be finishing in Fairbanks while we were there) but surely there is no sport quite as ‘Alaskan’ as dog mushing. There are almost 100 dogs here, and they are eager – oh so eager – to get going! It was inspiring to see the dogs so enthusiastic about their job!!
G adores animals. All animals… but I think husky puppies have a special place in her heart now. The kennel staff are utterly dedicated to the dogs – the more you want to learn, the more they will teach you!
3. There is an Ice museum with a bar!!! One of our bucket list items was to have a drink at an ice hotel and they don’t come much better than this one! This is the world’s largest year -round ice museum, kept at a chilly -7C!! It’s created by an award winning ice sculptor, Steve Brice and his (equally award winning!) wife, Heather and it’s truly stunning.
We had our drink at the ice bar and G decided that throwing the ice glass into the hot spring stream was good luck…
So that’s exactly what we did!
I don’t know what her wish was, but I hope it comes true for her.
4. The resort. It’s really hard to pinpoint this one – we found all the staff incredibly helpful, and the grounds just lovely – from looking at the old aircraft and cars, to meeting the reindeers, but our favourites were:
a. The science lab… J is a science nut so just loved it in here. It’s not that big, but it’s very interactive and I reckon we spent hours in here over all!
b. The restaurant… Oh come on, you must be expecting me to mention food at some point. They served fries, chicken and diet coke… All was well with the world. Oh, and there was good wifi in the restaurant. Ticked all the boxes for J… And G got a rose for valentines day 🙂 Happy days
c. The wildlife walks… these are very well marked out and easy to stick to…. and just like walking through Narnia.
5. THE HOT SPRINGS!! I absolutely saved the best till last… These are amazing hot springs. There is an indoor (heated but not hot) pool and indoor hot tubs and an outdoor hot tub that the children can use. There is also a lake for use by adults... we did take a look (and we were reprimanded!!!!) but it’s too hot and steamy for the kids (though apparently this is not why children are banned… it’s to do with H&S and water cleanliness) We had SOOOO much fun in these! And what’s better than running from your apartment to the hot tub at -40C in your snow boots and swim wear 🙂
There are lots of other things to do here and tours that operate… these were our favourites!