Alaska had a cold front move in just in time for spring break. The high was in the teens all week in Anchorage so what better way to escape slightly-above zero temperatures than to head north to Fairbanks to enjoy some negative double digit temperatures. The 6.5 hour drive to Fairbanks is spectacular! The highway hugs the Chugach Mountain Range up to Wasilla and then follows a section of the Alaska Range, including Mt. McKinley/Denali, up to Fairbanks. We were extremely lucky in that both days coming and going, the sky was perfectly clear without a cloud to be seen. Denali was out in her full glory both days. Although the drive was long, I scarcely opened a book because the mountains looming on both sides kept me mesmerized and entertained. I didn’t want to miss any of it! The road took us through Denali State Park and Denali National Park and Preserve.
The kids loved the glamorous Fairbanks Marriott. Although we only stayed two nights, the kids took full advantage of the pool and hot tub. I am so grateful that I live in this modern age– swimming in a warm pool while -25 degree temps rage outside is a beautiful luxury.
We packed a lot in to our one day in Fairbanks. We headed over to the World Ice Art Championship and Kids Park. We dressed in a lot of layers complete with hand and foot warmers to ward off the cold. Archie kind of reminded me of Randy, Ralphie’s little brother, from “A Christmas Story” when he can barely move in his snow suit. It was so ridiculously cold, we only lasted just over an hour. One can’t really comprehend that kind of cold until one experiences it. Just our luck, Fairbanks warmed up 50 degrees two days after we left.
The ice sculptures were amazing and incredibly detailed! The kids park was super fun with a bunch of sculptures the kids could climb on with lots of slides. We went back later that night to see everything all lit up! It was awesome and really worth the drive to see them.
After the ice festival in the morning, we headed over to North Pole, Alaska for lunch and to check out Santa’s house. Now we can say we have actually been to the North Pole. The street lights had red striping on them like candy canes and the streets had Christmas names like Santa Claus Lane, St. Nicholas St, etc. Santa is in Hawaii until May so just the gift shop was open. It wasn’t that cool. Even the kids weren’t impressed but it’s something fun to see once. I’m guessing it’s more fun in the summer when Santa is there and the reindeer park is open.
After North Pole, we drove an hour through forest to a natural hot springs, Chena Hot Springs. Adam’s boss and his family were there with us which made it a lot more fun for the kids. I doubt we would have stayed as long (3 hours) if the kids didn’t have friends to play with. There’s a big indoor pool with two hot tubs and then outside had a large hot tub and the natural hotspring itself. It was fun to sit in the hot tub and pool outside and watch everyone’s hair get frosty. Some people had an inch or more of frost on their hair and beards.
We drove back to Fairbanks, ate a quick dinner and headed back to the ice festival. Needless to say, the kids slept pretty well that night.
The summation of spring break in Alaska this year:
The minute spring break ended, the temperatures jumped up to a spring-like 45 degrees! Come on spring, don’t let us down!!