Yes, Santa Claus does have a zip code. It’s 99705—North Pole, Alaska. And it’s a place where more than 400,000 pieces of mail arrive each year addressed simply to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.” (Community volunteers work overtime to respond to each and every letter!)

If you’ve misplaced your Christmas spirit—or you’re the kind of person who can never get enough of it—North Pole is your destination. As the town’s slogan says, North Pole is “where the spirit of Christmas lives year-round.”

If you’re planning a visit or a move—or if you’re just curious about this whimsically named place—we’ll give you a full run-down on North Pole, Alaska, including the best activities, attractions, and things to do in the area.

But first, a little history…

How Did North Pole Alaska Get Its Name?

In 1944, Bon & Bernice Davis were scouting for a place to establish a homestead in Alaska. To them, the area that now forms the central part of the city of North Pole seemed perfect. According to the rules set out by the Homestead Act, they were required to live on the land, build a home, and farm at least 10% of it. They did just that and were issued a patent to the land

The Davises sold some of their land in 1952 to a development company, which led a campaign to rename the area North Pole. Their plan? To attract a toy manufacturer that wanted to market their toys as “made in the North Pole.”

Although no such toy company ever materialized, one of the members of North Pole’s first city council, Con Miller, built a trading post in the city, which he called the Santa Claus House. The store specialized in basic necessities and acted as the town’s post office for nearly 20 years. When the Richardson Highway was rerouted, the Millers built a new Santa Claus House along the new highway. Over the years, the store transformed to a neighborhood stop for supplies into a store that celebrates all things Christmas.

North Pole went through some ups and downs after its renaming. Area residents were initially divided on the issue of incorporation. Additionally, the town’s population dipped to a low of 265 in 1970. However, the town did officially become incorporated in 1953, and the population is a robust 2,243 today.

In that time, the city has leaned into its name. In North Pole, you’ll find Christmas-themed businesses and streets such as Santa Claus Lane, Snowman Lane, St. Nicholas Drive, and Kris Kringle Drive, plus several festivals in the winter months.

What’s the Best Way to Get to the North Pole?

Street sign called St Nicholas Drive

You’ve got a few options to get to North Pole, Alaska:

  • Fly into Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) – North Pole is a 13.5-mile drive from Fairbanks, which takes about ~18 minutes.
  • Drive from Anchorage – If you love the open road, the 371-mile drive might be the way to go. Add a stop at Denali National Park and Preserve to make a genuine road trip of it.
  • Take the Train to Fairbanks – The Alaska Railroad’s Denali Star Train and Aurora Winter Train both serve Fairbanks. From there, you can rent a car to drive to North Pole.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit?

That’s the beauty of North Pole, Alaska! Since it’s always Christmas, you can catch that yule-time spirit all year round. That said, if you come during winter, you’ll get to enjoy some extra special events, including:

  • The Candlelight Ceremony & Tree Lighting Ceremony – On the first Sunday of December, join the North Pole community for a candlelight ceremony and a community carol sing-along. Directly after, celebrate the lighting of North Pole’s official Christmas tree next to the Santa Claus House.
  • North Pole Winterfest & Holiday Bazaar – Early in December, the North Pole Community Chamber of Commerce hosts this event at North Pole Plaza Mall. Share the holiday spirit with residents, peruse a selection of local vendors, and enjoy a fireworks display.

Unfortunately, the city’s yearly Christmas in Ice festival has been discontinued. The December–January festival, with its ice sculptures and fireworks, was a local favorite.  According to its Facebook page, Christmas in Ice been canceled indefinitely.

Where’s the Best Place to Stay ?

Your main option will be the Hotel North Pole, located right in the heart of the city. If you’re committed to the Christmas spirit, why not reserve the Santa Suite? It comes complete with its own Christmas tree and other thematic decorations.

You could also opt to stay in nearby Fairbanks, which has a full range of national brands, including a Clarion, Candlewood Suites, Hyatt Place, and Springhill Suites, as well as some locally owned lodgings.

What to do: Attractions and Activities

The Santa Claus house in North Pole, AK

The Santa Claus House

The Santa Claus House is the #1 must-do attraction in North Pole. You can’t miss it; just look for the 40-foot statue of Santa Claus along the highway. Inside, you’ll find a gift shop packed with Christmas items, made-in-Alaska items, and plenty of Christmas spirit. Don’t miss the Antler Academy just next door, where you can get a glimpse of the reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh every Christmas.

The Santa Claus House also has a 70-year tradition of sending personalized Santa letters. Each comes with a genuine North Pole postmark, and each is timed to arrive just before Christmas. Plus, you don’t even have to visit North Pole to get yours! Letters are available for purchase through their online store, with variations for the whole family, including pets, toddlers, and not-so-good adults.

Arctic Harvest Farm Distillery

When you’re ready to kick back and take a break from the Christmas spirit, head over to the Arctic Harvest Farm Distillery. On their 350-acre farm just outside North Pole, the folks at Arctic Harvest do everything—plant, fertilize, harvest, malt, ferment, and distill—to produce their whiskey, vodka, and honey ‘shine.

Their tasting room is open Fridays & Saturdays. Check their Instagram for special events, like their fall corn maze and seasonal bloody mary bar.

Beaver Springs Nature Trail - bee on daisy

Beaver Springs Nature Trail

Right next to the City of North Pole City Hall (located at 125 Snowman Lane, of course), you’ll find the trailhead for this 0.8 mile path. Wind through birch and spruce trees, while keeping your eyes out for the beaver, muskrats, rabbits, foxes, moose, and ducks that make their home in the area.

The Beaver Springs Nature Trail is officially part of the 1st Sergeant Thomas Uptgraft Senior Community Fitness Trail. Follow the two-mile loop to get a full tour of the town by foot. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, use the equipment along the way to make your way through 20 different exercises.

Woman overlooking a trail at the Chena River State Recreation Area

Chena River State Recreation Area

If you’re willing to do a little road-tripping, you’ll find the Chena River State Recreation Area about half an hour from Fairbanks. There, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy, like hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, and, in the winter, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.

Or, if you’d rather take a load off, head a bit farther down the road to the Chena Hot Springs Resort. The resort sells daily passes with access to the hot springs lake, indoor heated pool, outdoor and indoor hot tubs, and the locker area and shower facilities. Towel service is also available.

Beautiful picture of massive multicolored green vibrant Aurora Borealis, Aurora Polaris, also know as Northern Lights in the night sky over winter

See the Northern Lights

The Fairbanks-North Star borough is considered one of the best places in Alaska to see the Northern Lights. The whole area is inside what’s called the auroral oval—a prime area in which to witness this natural phenomenon. Although the aurora borealis occurs all year long, it’s easiest to see them in darker skies. Aim for August–April for your best chance of viewing.

Lamb gyro at the Elk's Den Restaurant and Lounge

Follow in Guy Fieri’s Footsteps

Finally, if you’re a fan of Guy Fieri—or just the delicious spots he uncovers—load up the episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in North Pole, AK. You’ll hear Fieri’s take on the town, and he’ll essentially map out a culinary tour of North Pole for you.

Follow in his footsteps by visiting:

Bonus: Grab a coffee from one of our favorite spots—North Pole’s drive-through coffee shop, Polar Expresso. In addition to seasonal offerings and specialty drinks, they’ve also got eats to go—like bagels, burritos, and Dole Whip.

Catch the Christmas Spirit

There’s a reason so many people look forward to the holidays. There’s just something in the air. You might call it the Christmas spirit. You might call it holiday cheer—or simply a festive feeling. However you name it, you’ll find that same atmosphere alive and well in North Pole all year round. For that reason alone, North Pole is worth a visit. And if you need another, there’s no other place like it anywhere in Alaska—or the world.

Moving to North Pole—or somewhere else in Alaska? We’d love to help you get your belongings to your new home! Just reach out to our team for a free quote to get started.

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