Don't be fooled by the initial appearance of this sprawling city with the typical fast-food spots, malls and hotels; this region in the heart of Alaska's interior has a lot to offer. If you're lucky enough to be here between late September and early April, you can view the spectacular Northern Lights, or aurora borealis. At the old Gold Dredge No. 8, you can pan for gold, just as people did at the turn of the century in this gold-rush town. The town's gold mining heritage is also reflected at the University of Alaska Museum and Alaskaland Pioneer Park, a Wild West-style theme park that recreates early Fairbanks and includes a replica of a Native American village. Fairbanks is a starting point for some great adventures, such as the scenic 160-mile Steese Highway Drive or the McKinley Explorer railroad that runs to Denali National Park and Anchorage. Energetic outdoor types can hike, mountain bike, canoe, cross-country ski or take a slow river-float trip; others can relax on a river cruise aboard an authentic sternwheeler riverboat.