The North Pole. Growing up, we all heard different stories about this place. We have watched movies and read books describing what the North Pole is like. Many people believe it is near the top of the Earth, in a place that stays cold and covered in snow year-round. A place that is full of magic. And why would anyone think any differently. It is the home of Santa Claus, the Elves, the reindeer, the Northern Lights, and many magical stories.
However, the actual North Pole is quite different than what we were told as kids.
The North Pole is not at the top of the Earth in the Arctic Circle, but it is close. The North Pole is actually in Alaska, just outside of Fairbanks. And while it is not the magical place we once believed it to be, the candy cane poles helped make for a fun and memorable visit.
My family and I visited the North Pole in July of 2015. The sign my eldest is standing beside (above) is at the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center is inside an original Alaskan cabin-style house, with a grass roof to help with the cold. Inside, you can find your usual selection of Alaskan sentimental objects, along with a lot of information on the history of the North Pole. They have cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee for free. The staff is very merry and very helpful. One of the neatest things inside the Visitor’s Center was a map of United States. Visitors to the Center were asked to put a pin in the map indicating where they are from. My eldest thought that was really ‘cool’ and just had to add a pin for us and for my in-laws.
Another cool place one must visit while visiting the North Pole is the Santa Claus House at Santa Land. I mean, how can you NOT have a Santa Claus house at a place called the North Pole. The Santa Claus House is one of the biggest ‘businesses’ in all of the North Pole, and rightfully so! The Santa Claus House did not disappoint; the place was pretty awesome.
From the outside in, the Santa Claus House is decorated in Christmas glory. In fact, the picture at the very top is just one of the murals on the outside of the building. Inside, there are even more decorations, which you can purchase. Many are made there in the North Pole. There are also your typical souvenir ornaments and decorations. There is also, of course, Santa Claus himself. He was super nice to all of us and even allowed a FaceTime call with my niece back in Georgia. She couldn’t believe it!
Outside the Santa Claus house were other things to do as well. There is Santa’s sleigh, a kissing Claus photo op, a flower garden, and some interactive things like feeding and petting his reindeer. That’s right. ALL eight reindeer are there with their names on their harnesses. When we visited, they had velvet on their antlers, which was very soft.
Now, you may be wondering, “If you are at the real North Pole, then why are you wearing shorts and a t-shirt”? Well, believe it or not, that area of Alaska is one of the hottest areas in the summer months and one of the coldest in the winter months. The temperature can reach 92F degrees in the summer (it was in the upper 70s to mid-80s while we were there) and has been known to get to 65F degrees BELOW zero in the winter months. And on top of all that coldness, in the winter they can get about 60 inches or so of snow!! The North Pole is place that is mainly visited in the summer months by many tourists because of such bad winter weather.
Also to note, in the summer months, there really is not true darkness. The skies get dusky around 12:30am and only remain that way for about 3-4 hours before the sun begins to shine brightly again. In the winter months, it never gets truly dark during their 21 hours of darkness, like it does here in Tennessee. The dark is more like dusk.
The North Pole was one of our favorite places in Alaska. The town is small, quaint, and quiet. And how could it not be with a motto like “Where the spirit of Christmas lives all year around.” There was something whimsical about visiting and staying at the North Pole, even in the warm summer months.