Pioneer Park offers a little bit of everything for visitors to the Golden Heart City.
If you want history, head to Pioneer Park. If you want fun for the kids, go to Pioneer Park. If you want to eat on the run or have a family-style dinner, go to Pioneer Park.
With five museums, multiple attractions, shops, lots of places to get some grub plus arts events, playgrounds and picnic areas and more on the 40-acre site, the historically-themed park gives the visitor an opportunity to learn a lot about Interior Alaska and early Fairbanks.
Most of the buildings in Gold Rush Town are homes of prominent Fairbanks founders, moved to the location when the park opened as the “Alaska ‘67 Centennial Exposition” in 1967 to celebrate the 100 years since the United States purchased Alaska from Russia.
Originally known as Alaskaland, the name was changed to Pioneer Park by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly in 2002.
There are several historic exhibitions located at the park at 2300 Airport Way — Harding Car, Kitty Hensley House, Pioneer Air Museum, Pioneer Museum, Riverboat Nenana, Tanana Valley Railroad Museum, Lavelle Young Wheelhouse and the Wickersham House.
Other attractions in the park include the Canoe Alaska, Bear Gallery, Big Stampede Show, Crooked Creek Railroad, Roela’s Carousel, First Presbyterian Church, Dance Hall, Salmon Bake and the Palace Theater.
You can do plenty of shopping on the grounds, as well. Shops include Kiersten’s Photography, CHARMS by CJ, Fairbanks Arts Association, Just Originals, Little Willow, Oh So Wonderful, and the Pick and Poke Gift Shop.
If you are looking for some food, there’s plenty of it, with the Alaska Salmon Bake, Frosty Paws, Gold Rush Ice Cream Parlour, Souvlaki, The Bag Ladies of Fairbanks and possibly others all offering up something to please.
If you’re into the arts, the Bear Gallery in the Centennial Center for the Arts offers monthly shows, and there are Gazebo Nights featuring different local musicians or storytellers at 7 p.m. daily at the gazebo. There’s a square dance hall as well.
New for 2019 is Market Mondays featuring the work of local artists, vendors and entertainers. The weekly event will include a beer garden and food trucks parked in the Gold Rush Town. Market Mondays starts the first Monday after Memorial Day and runs until the Monday before Labor Day.
Classes are offered throughout the summer by the Folk School Fairbanks, which is headquartered at the park. Classes focus on a variety of topics including woodworking, blacksmithing, storytelling and vehicle maintenance.
Pioneer Park also features two large playgrounds stocked with plenty of equipment, a picnic area, horseshoes, volleyball, a carousel, a three-hole disc golf course and a narrow-gauge train that takes passengers for a ride around the perimeter of the park.
The park is open year-round. Concession hours, however, are from noon to 8 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is no general admission fee, but some museums have admission charges while others accept donations.
Pioneer Park also welcomes RV visitors to stay in the parking lot for $12 per night for a maximum of five consecutive nights. No reservations are required, but RV visitors should register at the dropbox in the parking lot. There are no hook-ups available. Potable water is available onsite.
IF YOU GO
What: Pioneer Park
When: Concessions open from noon-8 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.
Where: Main entrance on Airport Way between Peger Road and Wilbur Street
Cost: Admission is free, cost of attractions varies.
More info: On Facebook at Fairbanks North Star Borough Pioneer Park