If you are in or around Fairbanks, Alaska I highly recommend a visit to Pioneer Park. It’s a perfect way to spend a day with family and friends . It’s also an ideal destination for a school field trip. It’s fun, educational and it offers an authentic glimpse into Fairbanks’ local history from the Gold Rush period and onwards.
Kids and adults will find all sorts of things to enjoy as there’s a long list of exhibitions and activities spread over 44 acres of land. They have a period style train that circles around the entire park where you can catch a glimpse of various time periods and discover everything the park has to offer. A great way to start to start out your visit so you can hone in on the more interesting parts of the park that appeal to your own personal interests. They also have a genuine presidential cart, the same one Warren G. Harding used to travel around the US.
If engineering is your passion you will find a host of interesting things to see, original antique locomotive engines, a one of a kind steam paddle boat (The Nenana), that is the largest paddle boat in the US. There was a time when everything arrived to Fairbanks by river, so it’s no surprise to see this here. You can board the boat but it’s docked on dry land but it’s still amazing to see it in all its glory. There’s also an aviation exhibition.
You will also discover a picnic area, shopping village, barbecue court where you can sample local cuisine including world famous fresh Alaskan Salmon. Other features include a ‘Gold Rush Town’, ‘Native Village’ and ‘Mining Valley’. You get a true glimpse in to the origins of Fairbanks and the gold rush era. There are several buildings including museums that show scale model towns, an art gallery that holds regular exhibitions. You can easily pass a full day visiting the park with everything that’s on offer.
This is a really fun way of teaching Alaskan history to kids as you get to experience it first hand in an interactive way. Kids are far more receptive to learning when they can have fun in the process. Pioneer Park ticks off all the right boxes in this respect.
The park is dog friendly provided all four legged friends are strictly kept on a leash and under control by their owners, naturally visitors have to clean up if their pets soil any green areas (bag and scoop on the ready which you’ll find available on site).
Outside of national parks and preserves, Pioneer Park is easily the best free thing to do in Fair banks Alaska.
General admission to the park is free of charge. Not all services and facilities are free of charge.
Not only is the park free to access, it’s also open throughout the year 7 days a week from 5:00 until 24:00 for general access, however, specific features of the park have various opening hours and many exhibits and museums are not open on major holidays such as Christmas and they tend to have more regular business hours. It’s best to call ahead or send a quick mail for confirmation of what’s on and what’s closed for the date you plan on visiting.