Going the bed-and-breakfast route is a good choice in Fairbanks. At the B&Bs I've listed here, you can save money over a hotel and get a private room just as good while staying in a unique place with interesting people. The Fairbanks Association of Bed and Breakfasts lists about 10 more on its website at www.ptialaska.net/~fabb. The visitor bureau also provides B&B information and up-to-date vacancy data in person at the Morris Thompson center, or by calling tel. 907/459-3785.
There are many hotels here in the expensive category, so I have included one for each taste. The enormous Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge (www.princesslodges.com; tel. 800/426-0500 or 907/455-4477; fax 907/455-4476) also merits a mention as a luxurious and well-run hotel in a pleasant setting near the airport (it's quite similar to Pike's Waterfront). However, in summer, the Princess usually books fully with the owner's cruise-line clients. Rooms are most often available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Marriott Fairbanks Springhill Suites (www.marriott.com; tel. 800/314-0858 or 907/451-6552; fax 907/451-6553) offers spacious rooms in a prime spot in the center of town, and has Lavelle's Bistro and one of the few hotel pools in town.
Going with the Flow
Many of the large, top-quality hotels in Fairbanks -- including the Princess, Westmark, Pike's Waterfront Lodge, Sophie Station, River's Edge Resort, and Wedgewood Resort -- cater to enormous escorted tours, which flow through town on a rhythm set by the arrival of cruise ships hundreds of miles away. As a result, certain nights are booked up every week many months in advance, while others are wide open. Fortunately, this flow alternates on different nights for different companies, so when one hotel is full, another is empty. If you find your first choice is booked, just call one of the others. If they have rooms, ask for a discount, as they may have a lot of empty rooms.
Hostels & Camping
There are several hostels in Fairbanks. Among the best is the homey Billie's Backpackers Hostel, near the university, at 2895 Mack Blvd. (www.alaskahostel.com; tel. 907/479-2034). It's a charming place with a charming owner -- a real home, but quirky and fun. Billie assigns bunks as people arrive, and you could luck into a private room for the same $30 a night she charges everyone. Rooms are coed, and the price includes tax, all linens, coffee and tea, the Internet, and much else. The Alaska/Yukon Trails shuttle stops out front. To find the hostel, turn south off College Road on Westwood Way and look for the first house on the left just past Mack Boulevard. I also recommend the hostel at GoNorth Alaska Adventure Travel Center, near the airport.
Tent camping is a good way to go in Fairbanks, with its mild summers and ample public lands, but stock up on mosquito repellent. In town, Chena River Wayside (tel. 907/455-8881 or 452-7275) is located where University Avenue crosses the river. (The campground is also known as the Chena River State Recreation Site and should not be confused with the recreation "area" of the same name.) Sites are surrounded by birch and spruce, some are near the river, and there are flush toilets. Arrive early to camp close to the river instead of at one of the noisier sites nearer the road. Eleven sites have water and power hookups for RVs and cost $25 a night; another 45 drive-in sites for tent campers or RVs, without hookups, are $17; and 5 tent-only walk-in sites $10. Getting a bit out of town, there are superb public campgrounds at Chena Lake Recreation Area and along Chena Hot Springs Road.
Fairbanks has plenty of commercial RV parks, some with full service and then some. Pick up a list at the visitor center. Among the best is River's Edge RV Park and Campground, at a riverside bend of the Chena at 4140 Boat St., off Airport Way and Sportsman Way (www.riversedge.net; tel. 800/770-3343 or 907/474-0286), with lots of services, including shuttles and a tour desk. Full hookups are $42 and tent camping $24. The same people operate the cottage resort and restaurant next door.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.