Fairbanks Part I: Salmon Bake, Santa Claus and Aurora Express

Everything under the Alaskan Sun

Chapter 2

From Denali National Park, Fairbanks is another 135 miles further north. Read about Denali NP here. Our first stop was Gold Dredge No. 8 Tour. We walked in to find out that it had been fully booked that afternoon. I didn’t realize this tour was popular and made a mistake by ‘not’ making an advanced reservation. We were lucky to be able to book ourselves for the next day.

North Pole and Santa Claus House

After that, we went to a small town called North Pole, Alaska. It’s only 15 miles from downtown Fairbanks. The main attraction here is the Santa Claus House.


The Santa Claus House is nothing but a large Christmas store. If you’re over 12 and not into Christmas or Santa, I don’t see a point in visiting here. But if you have nothing to do like we did and want to kill some time, you can come and check it out since it’s so close.

Oh, one cool thing that you can do is to send a postcard from here and get a memorable postmark ‘North Pole’. Well, it’s not as cool as a postcard from Hell (Michigan) or Intercourse (Penn). But it will do.

Aurora Express

At 3 o’clock, we checked in at the Aurora Express B&B which is one of the most unique places I’ve ever stayed at. (Another place was Hostel Celica in Slovenia, a former prison.)

It’s choo-choo time!

‘C’mon ride the train, hey ride it.’ (This song just keeps popping in my head!)

Mike and Susan were excellent hosts and took good care of their train cars. We were to stay in a renovated hospital car. But Susan also showed us this classic sleeper car.

Here’s our car. Welcome on board!

Comfy living room with fun colors.

Huge master bedroom

An extra bedroom

A full kitchen

This car was in service as a hospital car during WWII. So we were discussing whether someone had died in here. Would there be any spirit in here? Etc, etc. Food for thought for a sleepless night. Lol. (The answer is probably no.)

The location is perfect. It’s up on the mountain overlooking the Chena River.

Pioneer Park and Salmon Bake Restaurant

We hanged out for a while before heading to Pioneer Park.

It’s a theme park featuring various attractions and museums that will bring you back to the good old Alaskan days.

Fairbanks antique car club happened to have an auto show that evening.

For dinner, Susan recommended the Pump House which offers good Alaskan food and is frequented by locals. But since we were very hungry, we decided to go to the Salmon Bake Restaurant which is conveniently located right inside the Pioneer Park.

In Denali, we stayed at Denali Park Salmon Bake. In Fairbanks, we ate at Salmon Bake Restaurant. And in Seward, we ate and stayed at Salmon Bake Restaurant and Cabins. Do you see a pattern here? (No, I’m not a salmon bake fetish. It was pure coincidence. ;P)

Anyway, this is a cheesy-Disney restaurant full of tourists. But hey, you ARE tourists. So you gotta do some touristy stuff sometime. It can be fun. Salmon Bake is like a park within a park. The ground is beautiful and has all kinds of cool stuff and a neat gift shop.

Gold dredge

Dredge bucket

Time to get my first Alaska salmon bake (grill?)

The cake was divine. And the Alaskan berries…yum! I helped myself a couple of rounds.

Back to Aurora Express, stuffed. This is the northernmost part of Alaska in the trip, so I stayed up for the midnight sun. (Hubby didn’t care and had already gone to bed.) This is as dark as Fairbanks can get during the summer months. Lovely view from our bedroom. I didn’t actually see the sun because our room faces southeast.

The next day would be filled with fun activities. We’d go panning for gold and cruising along the Chena and the Tanana rivers in a stern-wheeler.

Well, folks, Happy Independence Day!

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9 comments on “Fairbanks Part I: Salmon Bake, Santa Claus and Aurora Express

  1. […] Fairbanks Part I: Salmon Bake, Santa Claus and Aurora Express « Traveler's Lounge says: July 4, 2012 at 11:15 am […]

  2. Alex Khoo says:

    Very nice series of photos!

  3. frizztext says:

    unbelievable: Gold dredge – the old machine …

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