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The North Pole Is a Real Place; Here’s Where Santa Lives

The North Pole Is a Real Place; Here’s Where Santa Lives

Where can you walk down roads like Santa Claus Ln., Kris Kringle Dr., or Snowman Ln.? You guessed it: North Pole, Alaska! It’s true; you can visit this city near Fairbanks to make all your Christmas dreams come true.

North Pole Alaska Welcome Sign
North Pole, Alaska, is a less than 20-minute drive from Fairbanks.

We’ve gathered all you need to know about visiting this Christmassy town, including the best times to visit and what you’ll see when you go there. Without further ado, let’s get on our merry way.

Here’s Where All Your Letters To Santa Went

If you were one of the many writing letters to Santa each year and putting them in the mail, it could be that they landed in North Pole, Alaska. 

That’s right, more than 400,000 Santa letters arrive each year addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.” And there’s a North Pole Post Office to receive each one. Once at the post office on South Santa Claus Lane, North Pole community members volunteer their time to respond to each letter.

North Pole Alaska Santa Claus House
You’ll find Christmas cheer everywhere you look in North Pole, Alaska.

Can You Really Visit North Pole, Alaska?

It’s true, North Pole, Alaska, is a real place you can visit that attracts people from all over the world. 

A small town of only 2,700 residents, the North Pole sits about fifteen minutes outside Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s not quite the North Pole–you know, the one you envision to be at the very tip of the globe. The city we’re speaking of is around 1,700 miles south of the geographic North Pole and over 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

But still, we think this small Christmas-loving town is worth celebrating. And hey, it’s not every day you can say you visited the North Pole.

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How Did North Pole Become a Year-Round Christmas Town?

Founded in 1944, a property development company named the town “North Pole,” with the idea that they could market it to be the perfect place for a big toy factory. Unfortunately, that idea never came to fruition. 

Instead, homesteaders Conrad and Nellie Miller moved to the area and decided to open up a trading post in North Pole. Conrad was already known to dress up as Santa and visit children in local villages, so he aptly named the trading post “Santa Claus House.”

The trading post served as North Pole’s first post office for almost 20 years. And Conrad went on to later serve as the mayor of North Pole for 19 years.

Can You Visit Santa in North Pole, Alaska?

Yes, you can! Santa occupies his post in North Pole’s Santa Claus House for the majority of the year. You can even visit him during the summer. From June to the end of the year, he visits with kids of all ages to hear their Christmas wishes.

Santa's Chair at Santa Claus House
What do you want for Christmas? You can tell Santa in person when you visit Santa Claus House.

Is it better to visit the town of North Pole in the summer or winter? Find out here: What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Alaska?

What Are the Best Things to Do in North Pole, Alaska?

North Pole, Alaska, is a destination for Christmas lovers, but it offers more than that. If you go during the winter, time your visit so you’ll land there during Winterfest, a holiday festival held for two days in early December. 

Or travel there between late November through December for “Christmas in Ice.” This ice sculpture exhibit features work from artists worldwide. Let’s check out some of the other happenings there. 

Visit Santa Claus House

Where else would you find Santa Claus House than at 101 St. Nicholas Dr. in North Pole! You know they aren’t kidding with a slogan of “Where It’s Christmas Every Day!” 

North Pole Alaska Santa Claus House
At Santa Claus House, you can shop for Christmas decor, ornaments, and toys.

As you drive up, you’re greeted with a 42 ft, 900 lbs statue of Santa standing outside the building. Inside, you’ll find a store full of Christmas decor, ornaments, and toys. And of course, Santa’s there, too. There’s even a “letter wall” where you can read some of the letters they receive from kids all over the world.

This place is open year-round, and as we mentioned earlier, Santa visits for many months of the year outside the typical Christmas season. Before you leave, don’t forget to mail your friends and family postcards to receive a genuine North Pole postmark.

Visit Rudolph and All His Reindeer Friends at Antler Academy

After your Christmas fun at Santa Claus House, head next door to the Antler Academy (of Flying & Reindeer Games). From Memorial Day to the end of the year, you can pay to go inside the reindeer pen and visit Santa’s reindeer team. You can learn about, feed, and even get your picture taken with them. The other months you can watch them through the fence.

Tom and Cait at the Antler Academy
It’s not every day you get to meet Santa’s reindeer! Don’t forget to snap a picture while you’re there.

If you want to meet Santa and interact with his reindeer, check Santa Claus House’s hours before planning your trip to North Pole, Alaska.

Go on a Snowmobile Adventure

For all you adventure fans, explore the winter wonderland with a snowmobile trip. Available from November until April, you can trail past forests, lakes, and mountains. You can even see some Alaska wildlife, like caribou, lynx, ptarmigan, and moose. 

If this is your first time on a snowmobile, you’ll have guidance for this one-hour tour, and you can go at your own pace. If you’re more advanced, you can book an overnight adventure and maybe even catch some views of the northern lights in the process.

Alaska Wildlife Guide and Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service are two reputable options for booking snowmobile excursions.

Snowmobile Tours in Alaska
Adventure seekers can enjoy snowmobiling in the area during the winter months.
Source: rodsalaskanguideservice.com

Try Ice Fishing

Visit nearby Chena Lake Recreation Area to try your hand at ice fishing for rainbow trout, silver salmon, and more. You can rent an ice-fishing house for the day, and as a bonus, the hole is even drilled for you!

If you’re not experienced in ice fishing or want a little more guidance, book a guided ice fishing trip. Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service offers deluxe, heated fishing cabins with a licensed guide. With Alaska Wildlife Guide, a licensed and experienced fishing guide accompanies you to instruct about the local Alaskan culture. They’ll teach you how to drill the ice hole, and you’ll have a heated cabin for the whole experience.

Pro Tip: If you plan to do any fishing, make sure you know How to Get an Alaska Fishing License to avoid fines.

Write a Letter to Santa

Who could pass up a timeless tradition of writing to St. Nick? While in North Pole, Alaska, or even once you’ve returned home, send a letter to Santa. 

Letters to Santa in North Pole Alaska
While you’re at Santa Claus House, you can read letters from some of Santa’s biggest fans!

Aside from the North Pole Post Office, you can also get a personalized letter or package from Santa from several different places. Two good options are Santa’s Letters & Gifts or the Santa Claus House, which has been writing letters postmarked from the North Pole with official Santa seals for nearly 70 years!

Can You Go to the North Pole in the Summer?

Yes, and it’s a great place for a base camp while exploring Fairbanks, AK, which is only 15 minutes by car. Plus, during the summer, you’ll have shorter lines to visit St. Nicholas. Despite the warm, summer weather, the town will still be boasting its year-round spread of Christmas trimmings.

While visiting North Pole, Alaska in the summer, you can explore local Chena Hot Springs to take a dip in the hot spring. Enjoy nearby hiking, and visit one of the many nearby museums to explore the Alaska Native history or to learn about the gold rush history of Interior Alaska. 

If you’ll be traveling beyond the Fairbanks area, be sure to stop at a few of the other Amazing Hot Springs in Alaska You Need to Visit.

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You could also take a day trip to visit Denali National Park and Preserve, a two-hour drive away. There’s also plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options nearby.

If celebrations are more your thing, visit North Pole during one of their summer events. Visit on the Fourth of July for the town’s Summerfest celebration. In August, you can attend the Cruising with Santa Festival. There, you’ll see classic cars galore, including street hot rods and vintage cars. Plus, there are drive-in movies and a street dance.

Is Visiting the North Pole Worth the Trip?

If you have children who go crazy over Christmas, or you’re a big kid yourself and haven’t lost the Christmas spirit, the North Pole is worth a visit. And, with Fairbanks just 15 minutes away, you get all the amenities that come with having Alaska’s second-biggest city nearby. 

Tom and Cait sitting in Santa's Chair
Young or old, you can’t help but smile when you visit North Pole!

We think you’ll be fa-la-la-ing to your favorite Christmas carols all the way home after your trip.

Do you dream of RVing across Alaska? Consider renting an RV for your adventure. Learn more here: Your Complete Guide to Alaska RV Rentals

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Jerry Parkinson

Sunday 5th of December 2021

I have been to the real North Pole many times. It is nothing like the one in Alaska. When I was in the Air Force I flew over the North Pole 1-2 times a week. It is totally barren and covered with snow and ice. The compass just spins like a slow top. It’s not a place you want to put on your bucket list.

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