Pair Unforgettable Experiences with Aurora Viewing in Alaska

By Explore Fairbanks / BT Editor
August 28, 2023
Wim pauwels x QPK4 XMJY3w unsplash
Aurora borealis flashes across the stars and night sky by Wim pauwels - Unsplash

As the nights grow longer and the temperatures begin to cool, the aurora borealis returns to the skies above Fairbanks, Alaska. While aurora activity occurs each day throughout the year, August ushers in the darkness needed for northern lights viewing. The onset of the Aurora Season, which spans August 21 through April 21, means eight months ahead of spectacular opportunities to see the northern lights. Aurora viewing on its own is a remarkable experience, but what if it could be elevated by combining it with a thrilling or rejuvenating activity? Explore some of the ways to make a northern lights excursion that much more unforgettable.

Capture the curtains of lights

Aurora borealis over Fairbanks, Alaska by Tommy Tang - Unsplash

Many local businesses have skilled photographers and guides who are eager to assist you in setting up your camera to capture photographs of the northern lights. If you'd rather step in front of the camera, a variety of tour operators and aurora businesses will take your picture against the stunning backdrop of the aurora borealis giving you the chance to take home a once-in-a-lifetime keepsake.

Find the best photo ops with: Alaska-Wildlife-Guide, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Aurora Bear - Aurora & Wildlife Photography, Steven Miley Photography

Enjoy serenity and solitude while ice fishing

Connect with a knowledgeable guide to help you drill through the ice that can reach up to four feet in thickness. As you patiently wait for the aurora to appear overhead, drop your line to catch chinook or coho salmon, Arctic char, or rainbow trout. Some outfitters will prepare your freshly caught fish in a warm and comfy hut right on the spot.

Ice fish with: Rod's Alaskan Guide Service, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Alaska Fishing and Raft Adventures

Have an adventure with furry companions

The swirling aurora in the night sky serves as the perfect backdrop for taking a quick 30-minute ride in the basket of a dog sled. For the more adventurous, learn to mush your own team on a multi-day excursion into the Alaskan wilderness. Whether you opt for a quick jaunt or embark on an extended adventure, Alaska's high-energy and adorable sled dogs will steal your heart.

Book dog sledding with: Firewalker Alaska Malamutes, Last Frontier Mushing Co-op, Rod's Alaskan Guide Service, Alaska Aurora Adventures, A+ Dog Sled Excursions and Tours

Relax in the hot springs

Aurora borealis over Chena Hot Springs by Jo San Diego - Unsplash

Easily accessible from Fairbanks, take a dip in a natural hot spring pool while the northern lights dance above you. Imagine yourself floating in the warmth despite the crisp air around you. Enjoy the rejuvenating mineral-rich springs to relax your body and warm your soul at the end of an adventure-filled day.

Relax with: 1st Alaska Tours, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Chena Hot Springs Resort

Ride through snowy trails

Experience the rush of snowmobiling under the northern lights. Snowmachines – as they are most often called in Alaska – are one of the easiest ways to get into the incredible snowy areas that surround Fairbanks. With the assistance of a knowledgeable guide, you'll receive the necessary equipment, expert guidance, and an invigorating journey through the backcountry, all while the aurora swirls above.

Snowmobile with: Rod's Alaskan Guide Service, Alaska Aurora Adventures

Seek out magical wildlife

A full moon glows over the mountains in Alaska by Jonathan Wheeler - Unsplash

Envision a truly enchanting evening combining the beauty of the northern lights and the fun, playful energy of reindeer. These whimsical, domesticated cousins of caribou make engaging and entertaining companions to stroll alongside and visit with. Let the magic of the reindeer and aurora borealis forever leave a mark on your heart.

Find guides from: Alaska Aurora Adventures, Aurora Bear - Aurora & Wildlife Photography, Murphy Dome Yurt

Journey to the Arctic Circle

Travel north from Fairbanks to discover a landscape like no other. While it's not recommended to traverse the Dalton Highway yourself, especially in winter, it's easy to connect with a guide or tour company to fly or drive you to the Arctic Circle and beyond. Whether you opt for a single-day trip or an unforgettable overnight one, scanning the skies for the aurora above the Arctic Circle certainly is an opportunity not to be overlooked.

Book with: 1st Alaska Tours, Alaska Aurora Adventures, Alaska Safari Sultan Tours

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Top Attractions in All 50 States

From north to south and from coast to coast, America is packed with diverse landscapes that are worth exploring for every type of traveler. Each state has its own culture and landmarks that make them unique. Courtesy of musement Outdoor enthusiasts have a plethora of places to choose from. National parks and outdoor attractions make up almost one third of the most popular attractions in the United States. From the greats like The Grand Canyon (Arizona) and the urban oasis Central Park (New York) to lesser-known gems like Blackwater Falls State Park (West Virginia) or the Gulf Islands National Seashore (Mississippi) and its beaches, you can get a taste of cultural activities while enjoying Mother Nature. Hersheypark: Hershey, Pennsylvania - Istock/ gsheldon Thrill seekers and families with young ones will be glad to see that ten states across the country have amusement/theme parks as their number one attraction. Snap pictures with Mickey and your favorite Disney characters at Walt Disney World (Florida) or Disneyland Park (California). Otherwise, you can escape to the east to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Virginia). Got a craving for chocolate? Head to Hersheypark (Pennsylvania) and see what the hype is all about. The Alamo - San Antonio, Texas History buffs will be able to turn the clocks back at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation (Michigan) where they can witness some of America’s most historical items, discover what life was like in the 1830s at The Alamo (Texas), or jump on board the World War II battleship turned museum at the USS Alabama (Alabama). Jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium: Atlanta,Georgia - Istock/Gau Souza Animal lovers across the states have the opportunity to visit some of the world’s best zoos and aquariums. From Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Nebraska) and its one-of-a-kind exhibits to the world-renowned Georgia Aquarium (Georgia), one of the largest in the world, to the west coast’s Oregon Zoo, the United States offers plenty to admire. Research done by Musement, the digital discovery and booking platform for travel activities and experiences around the world. To see the full list of all 50 attractions click here.


Beyond the Fall Foliage, Explore Peak Color in Asheville's Arts Scene

From captivating hikes to immersive art experiences, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer unique opportunities to experience colorways this season. North Carolina is a popular spot for autumn vacations, thanks to its incredible mountain foliage—but did you know that there's a vibrant arts scene, too? Create a fall vacation dedicated to both natural and man-made beauty with a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to nature's symphony of crimson and gold hues, this season offers art experiences that invite visitors into painted landscapes and imagined worlds. Below are some of the events and activities coming up this year that showcase local art and entertainment. And, when the day's adventures are over, guests can rest their heads at an artfully designed boutique hotel that will transform an overnight stay into a dreamscape. Experience local artwork and visual installations A mural in West Asheville by Wes Mcfee - UnsplashKrafthouse: Forest of the New Trees is a first-of-its kind immersive art installation at the Center for Craft. The self-guided experience created by local visual artists, filmmakers, poets, performers and costume designers invites visitors into an imaginary realm, inspired by Appalachian craft traditions, indigenous wisdom, and the ancient wildness of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the world's oldest mountains. Return visits will reward guests with new perspectives. The exhibition runs Sepember 23-October 13.Asheville, nicknamed “Foodtopia” for its distinguished culinary and farming scene, now has an appetizing art exhibit dedicated to food as a focal point in culture and life. The Art of Food is a collection of works by some of the most preeminent postwar and contemporary artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Enrique Chagoya. On view at the Asheville Art Museum through October 22.The Second Saturday gallery hop just got a new set of wheels. The ArtsAVL Connect Trolley offers free rides to artist galleries and studios downtown and in the River Arts District. Riders can hop off or on at any stop along the route. The trolley runs every second Saturday from 12-8 p.m.Every first Friday of the month, more than a dozen artists at The Refinery AVL Creator Space and Gallery open their studio doors to visitors. El Mercadito, a new addition to the gallery space, is a collection of drawings, sculptures and mixed-media artwork by Luis Alvaro Sahagun centered on Latinx narratives. As the grandson of a curandera, or healer, Sahagun calls his artmaking “a mystical instrument” that forges a spiritual connection to heal wounds of conquest, colonization and capitalism. A bright purple mural celebrating Latinx heritage now stretches across a wall along Coxe Ave., near downtown. The artwork, titled “Eres Un Orgullo Latino” (which means “You Are Latin Pride”), was designed and painted by Leslie Reynalte-Llanco as part of Buncombe County's Creative Equity Mural Project. Visitors can discover more of Asheville's murals, graffiti and public sculptures with Mountain Mural Tours. In addition to checking out the area's street art, tours include information about the artists, their inspiration and local history. Enjoy fall weather at these outdoor events A couple and their dog enjoy the outdoors in Asheville by Alyssa Graham - UnsplashYa'll means all in Asheville. This year's Blue Ridge Pride festival kicks off the morning of September 30 with a procession through downtown, culminating in a day-long celebration in Pack Square Park. The annual free event features musical acts, food trucks and dozens of vendors.Burial Beer Co. hosts its premiere event, Burnpile, at its Forestry Camp Facility on October 14. The annual beer and music festival includes a full-day concert alongside a tasting experience from a diverse lineup of more than 50 of the country's best breweries. This year's lineup features Deer Tick, G. Goodman, and MJ Lenderman.This year's LEAF Festival (October 19-22) pays homage to first nations, indigenous and Latinx communities, centered around the theme of “Legends of the Americas.” The three-day music festival at Lake Eden in Black Mountain features a lineup of renowned musicians and performers, including Halluci Nation, Martha Redbone and Son Rompe Pera.Unroll a picnic blanket and head to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre for Shakespeare under the stars. The Montford Park Players wrap up their 20th season of Shakespeare in the Park with The Tempest, running September 1-30. Another show at the amphitheater, Wonderland Legacies: Alice's Adventures in Murderland, makes its world premiere October 6-28. Written by local playwright Will Storrs. Stay in a colorful new hotel A bold, daring new boutique hotel is set to join the River Arts District this fall. The Radical is a 70-room contemporary hotel and living art installation that breathes new life into a once abandoned building while preserving beautiful evidence of its past lives. With rebel luxe interiors by Suomi Design Works, the hotel's richly layered design features original street art, including work from decades past as well as modern additions. Now accepting reservations for stays beginning Oct. 8, 2023.On the heels of The Radical opening, Lark Hotels and Hatteras Sky will also introduce an artful love letter to Asheville with the opening of Zelda Dearest, a 20-room boutique hotel inspired by the passion, style, vibrancy and intoxicating personality of Zelda Fitzgerald. — For more information on travel to the Asheville area this season, including weekly color reports, a fall foliage tracking map, and autumn adventure ideas, visit


Head to the Gulf Coast for Fall Festivals, Adventures, and More

As summer breezes transition to cooler temperatures this fall, the Gulf Coast becomes even more alluring. Beach vacations are still on the table here through October, but peak summer crowds have passed. Visitors can take advantage of a slew of unique events celebrating local culture, seafood, and more from Texas to Mississippi during the fall season. If you're headed to the region to enjoy continued summer-like weather, be sure to add some of these great events and activities to your itinerary. Indulge in the best local seafood Galveston Island Shrimp Festival – September 22-23, 2023. Prepare to indulge in a seafood lover's paradise at the Galveston Island Wild Texas Shrimp Festival in Texas. Hosted by Yaga's Entertainment Inc., this festival will be held at the vibrant Saengerfest Park downtown. Savor the finest shrimp gumbo the Gulf Coast has to offer while participating in a seafood cook-off, gumbo tasting, L'il Shrimps Parade, and live music. Bring the whole family to enjoy a children's area and a Strand merchant walkabout.Biloxi Seafood Festival – September 9, 2023. Travelers looking to purchase their big catch and have fun at the same time can partake in the Annual Biloxi Seafood Festival in Mississippi. This annual event is a celebration of seafood heritage in the City of Biloxi. Attendees will enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts, and kids activities.Gulf Coast Shrimp Tasting Festival – October 14. Also in Biloxi, Mississippi, the Gulf Coast Shrimp Tasting Festival will feature “Wild Caught” gulf shrimp dishes from local restaurants and caterers. Sample more cuisine at food and cultural festivals Galveston Island by Vashti Collins - Unsplash Taste of Long Beach – September 28, 2023. Travelers can enjoy local food and drinks from various eateries, as well as live music and more, at the 14th Annual Taste of Long Beach in Mississippi.Galveston Greek Festival – October 14-15, 2023. Get ready for two days of Opa! and YaSou! at the Galveston Greek Festival in Texas. Immerse yourself in authentic Greek cuisine, wines, beer, live music, dancing, children's activities, and tours of the Church. Discover unique gifts from Greece, including icons, jewelry, ornaments, and more. Imported grocery items will also be available for purchase. Don't miss this opportunity to experience Greek culture and cuisine.Island Oktoberfest – October 27-28, 2023. Experience the essence of German heritage at Island Oktoberfest in Galveston, Texas. Join the festivities at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Galveston for a weekend filled with traditional food, drinks, live performances, games, and activities. Come dressed in your finest German costumes and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Admission is free, so bring your friends and family to partake in the celebration. Get crafty at seaside art events Mississippi Songwriters' Festival – September 21-24, 2023. Next month, the 14th Annual Mississippi Songwriters’ Festival kicks off with over 125 songwriters in over ten venues from Ocean Springs to Gautier in Jackson County.ARToberFEST – October 21-22, 2023. Art enthusiasts will find their haven at ARToberFEST, a juried fine art festival featuring diverse artists, food, and live music on Postoffice Street. Amid Galveston's Victorian architecture, art galleries, and shops, this event promises a captivating experience. Even if you can't attend in person, you can still enjoy the festival virtually. Proceeds from ARToberFEST benefit The Grand 1894 Opera House's education and community outreach programs.Mermaid Arts & Crafts Show – November 11-12, 2023. The Mermaids Arts & Crafts Show takes place from on the grounds of the Historic Train Depot in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. This unique art event boasts vendors from across the region. Gear up for car shows Cars in Biloxi, Mississippi by Anna Breaux - Unsplash Lone Star Rally – November 2-5, 2023. Rev up your engines for the Lone Star Rally, a thrilling event packed with entertainment for all ages in Galveston, Texas. From juried bike shows and car displays to free concerts on two stages, this year's rally guarantees non-stop excitement. With over 40 free musical performances ranging from classic rock to country, attendees are in for an unforgettable experience. Join the festivities at Saengerfest Park and Beach Central Park.Cruisin' the Coast – October 1-8, 2023. The Annual Cruisin’ the Coast, takes place with stops along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This highly anticipated event features thousands of classic cars lining Highway 90 for an entire week of rock 'n' roll, sock hops, swap meets, and live music. Head out for an adventure on the water The bayou in Mississippi by JP Valery - Unsplash In Biloxi, Coastal Waters Outfitters offers inshore, offshore, and rig fishing with Capt. Kyle leading the way. From sitting back and learning the ropes to reeling in lines and targeting specific trophy fish – Coastal Waters Outfitters is ready to create a perfect day on the water.In Pass Christian, Mississippi, Southern Comfort Fishing Charters offers six available boats, seven days a week, ready to customize and meet the needs of every fishing-enthusiast. Their trips specialize in inshore light tackle fishing throughout the Mississippi Sound and Louisiana Marsh areas. Travelers can expect to find speckled trout, redfish, flounder, triple tail, and black drum during their excursion.In Long Beach, Mississippi, travelers can explore the Wolf River with Wolf River Canoe & Kayak, where white sand beaches, winding waterways and more await – a perfect playground for amateur to experienced kayakers alike. At Wolf River, guests can choose from a 4.5-mile, 10.6-mile, and Full Moon 4.5-mile paddle.Near Gulfport, travelers can embark on a journey with Round River Kayak Adventures and explore various Coastal Mississippi waterways on a two-hour sunset tour or four to six hour trips, including all fishing equipment & tackle needed to fish till your heart’s content.In Pascagoula, travelers can explore the largest free-flowing water in the lower 48 states on a 10-mile paddling excursion through the Pascagoula River Blueway with the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.On September 23 in Diamondhead, Mississippi, travelers can attend Paddle Paradise, an event to promote kayak launches and the Rotten Bayou Blueway. Paddle Paradise will have free goodie bags ready for the first 150 guests. Registration opens at 8am, and the 4-mile “fun” paddle begins at 9am.


5 New Walking Tours to Add to Your NYC Trip

If you're headed to New York City anytime soon, you're probably already planning on doing plenty of exploring by foot through this bustling urban center. Why not make it a little more informative and fun by trying out one (or more!) of the city's newest walking tours? The Alliance for Downtown New York, the nonprofit managing Lower Manhattan's business improvement district, has helped develop five new walking tours through its Walking Tour Incubator Grant Program. The walking tours were chosen as winners following an application process that encouraged submissions of compelling and original tour concepts that went beyond the typical downtown highlights. The five entrepreneurs leading the tours have undergone a rigorous two-month incubator, led by the Downtown Alliance, which included one-on-one coaching from tourism industry leaders and a cutting-edge educational curriculum designed for tour businesses. Each winner has also received a grant of up to $12,500 to help develop, launch and scale their walking tour. "Pack your walking shoes on your next visit downtown because these new tours will make the perfect addition to any Lower Manhattan itinerary. There's something for everyone, with each offering a fresh perspective on the neighborhood," said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “As we're in the midst of a busy tourist season in the neighborhood, these new tours are launching at an ideal time.” Downtown LGBTQ+ Activism Walking Tour by Christopher Street Tours A fountain in front of City Hall in New York City by Jimmy Woo - Unsplash Meeting spot: Castle Clinton National Monument This tour visits historic sites that shaped the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement, including spots where pivotal protests were ignited and lead activists fought for justice. Christopher Street Tours describes it as such: "These are the places where unspoken heroes spoke truth to power, igniting pivotal protests and fighting tirelessly for justice. As we explore City Hall, Wall Street, Battery Park, and other landmarks, you’ll be inspired to uncover your own inner activist and become a part of the legacy of resilience, activism, and progress. This tour is not only an opportunity to honor the past but also to celebrate the present and actively contribute to a more inclusive future." Sinister Secrets of the Seaport by the South Street Seaport Museum Aerial view of lower Manhattan by Riley Farabaugh - Unsplash Meeting spot: Ryan Maguire's Bar & Restaurant, 28 Cliff Street Visitors go on a twisting journey through the Seaport, unraveling scandalous stories ripped from the headlines and publications from the 1790s to the 1990s and lurking in the cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and waterfront. Throughout this interactive tour, your guide will provide a new perspective on the history of the area that helped to make New York a global metropolis. Escape to New York - Stories of Faith, Freedom and Fortune by Vivace Tours This route will bring visitors through the history of Lower Manhattan, from New Amsterdam to today, by showing what makes New York City such a unique enclave of people from around the world seeking both religious freedom and fortune. While Vivace Tours hasn't launched yet, more info and booking will become available soon. How To Be A New Yorker: Downtown Edition by Awesome Walks A pedestrian on a busy street in New York City by Adrian Williams - Unsplash "How to Be a New Yorker" is an interactive, immersive audio group walking tour where participants will meet business owners and community leaders, thinkers and doers, and get to see the city through their eyes. Equipped with brand new bluetooth headphones, tourists start the journey with local music. Participants walk roughly 2 hours through Downtown Manhattan, entering real places and meeting – in-person and virtually – the people that shape them, as well as sampling local snacks. Be up for surprises along the way! Culinary Master Dining Experience & NYC Afternoon Culinary Adventure by Inside Out Tours Chinatown in New York City by Amanda Dalbjorn - Unsplash These are two food-themed tours: Culinary Masters is a progressive meal journey featuring three renowned chefs and restaurants, while the Culinary Adventure is a mouthwatering tasting tour across Lower Manhattan led by expert guides. Inside Out Tours also currently offers several other great New York City tours, including a Wall Street Walking Tour, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour, and a Slavery and the Underground Railroad tour.