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?
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.