Mark a once-in-a-lifetime winter experience off your bucket list without spending a fortune.
Temperatures may be below freezing and the snow may be piled up outside, but there is perhaps nowhere better to be this winter than Fairbanks, Alaska.
Sure, we know what you’re thinking: Wouldn’t somewhere warm and tropical be better in the cold winter months? And yeah, that vacation choice has its perks, but what Fairbanks has over any beach destination is the stunningly beautiful Northern Lights. And this year you can see them for just a few hundred bucks.
"It's not really a phenomenon that you can describe easily," Amy Reed Geiger, Explore Fairbanks director of communications, told Travel Weekly. "The aurora show is different every single time. Lights might be fast or slow or bright green or red. The way it moves, the way it looks, the way it appears in different places in the sky you really have to see it to understand."
What makes Fairbanks an ideal viewing destination is the fact that it’s located inside what is known as the "Auroral Oval." This, Travel Weekly explained, is a “ring-shaped zone over the far north [that] sees some of the region's most concentrated aurora borealis activity.” Because Fairbanks is located further inland in Alaska, it sees lower precipitation levels, meaning you’ll likely experience a clear sky for optimal viewing of the Northern Lights.
And, according to Explore Fairbanks, visitors who dedicate to staying at least three nights and go out each night to actively look for the lights have a more than 90 percent chance of spotting them. The best times to go, according to Geiger, are fall and spring “because it's a little warmer, but if you want a winter experience, January and February are the best time."
The best part is flights to Fairbanks from the West Coast are running between $280 and $340 for the month of January. Those flying out from New York City can get there for just over $400. To find the best options from your point of departure, check Google Flights.
Once there you can stay at any number of luxurious or rugged hotels, many of which offer sled dog rides and Northern Lights excursions. So go ahead, spend a little and get a lot from Mother Nature in return.